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Notes From the Road

Dim Bulbs: Troubleshooting Auto Lamp Problems
By Wayne Scraba/

 For more info on troubleshooting lamps, check out the following photos:
Always Check the Car's Light Switch
Look at the Switch – One place few people consider when they’re tracking down faults in the lighting circuit is the actual switch. Switches can eventually wear out, however it’s more likely that a fault can be traced to a loose connection. The bottom line here is, don’t discount the switchgear.
Check the Light Dimmer Switch
Check the Dimmer Switch – Hi and Low beams (bright and dim) are most often controlled by way of the turn signal stalk. On older cars, the dimmer switch was positioned on the floor, and consequently operated by your foot. At that location, it was vulnerable to road debris, water and general wear (on both sides of the car). In both examples (floor and column) be sure to examine all connections carefully when troubleshooting lamps.
Make Sure the Headlights Have Not Burned Out
Check the Headlights – Headlights, whether sealed beams such as this or lamps with replaceable bulbs, burn out. That should be no surprise. In both cases, head lamps are exposed to the elements, and you can be assured their connections can often become a source of trouble.
Research Where to Find the Fuses and Circuit Breakers
Locate Fuses and Circuit Breakers – Plenty of vehicles use relays, circuit breakers and heavy-duty fuses for the headlamp circuits. Before tearing into the electrical system on your passenger car or light truck, consult the owner’s manual and determine the locations of the appropriates fuses and circuit breakers. They can be the source of your trouble.
This Brake Light Switch is Easy to Locate; Not All Are
Check the Brake Light Switches – There are a couple of different brake light switches. This arrangement is the most common. Here, the switch is a mechanical device mounted ahead of the brake pedal. As the pedal is released, the switch opens and the brake light goes OFF. The switch is usually easy to access and relatively simple to adjust. Consult your vehicle service manual for the exact process.
Check the Taillight Bulbs and Connections
Check the Taillight Bulbs – Taillight bulbs are accessed from the backside. You’ll find the bulb and bulb connection simply clip into the back of the lamp housing. In many cases, the taillights live in harsh environments (for example, a pickup truck). Check the bulbs and pay special attention to corrosion on the connectors.

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