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Old 01-16-2009   #1 (permalink)
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Instrument Lights Issue

Hey everyone,
So I've been scouring the forums here and elsewhere to see if I can figure out what's wrong with my car, a '99 Civic HX. First of all, I got it used about 2 months ago and the issue came with the car. Secondly, I haven't done anything to the car to tamper or mess with the problem.

The problem is in my instrument panel gauges and their lights. So, the only thing that actually works in the cluster is my speedometer but it's 10mph off. Anyway to fix this, besides replacing it? But my tachometer, the fuel gauge, and the engine heat don't work.
Now, for the lights part. When I turn the headlight switch on, the lights in the instrument panel don't come on either. Also, the lights around the gear indicator turn off. (You know, the green lights around R and D gears, red around P and N). So, I read elsewhere that a stereo install might cause this. The stereo was already installed (Some fancy Pioneer, looks brand new) but I noticed the orange and orange/white wires were taped up and not connected to anything or each other. Also, my friend has a 99 Civic DX, and when he turns the headlight switch on, everything comes on, his heater panel has lights too, but mine does not.

The funny thing is, all other lights work, my blinkers blink even when the headlight switch is on. Brake light works, engine lights work, low gas light works. Just no other lights. I checked the fuse (number 30) and it's fine, even replaced it for good measure. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you need pictures, I could post them as well. Thanks!
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Old 01-16-2009   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

It could be a different fuse other than 30. Continue checking all fuses would be the first thing I did. My second guess would be to say the stero, but you already said the orange and orange/white weren't connected.

Ill think about it some more today.
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Old 01-16-2009   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

Thanks! I just went to a NAPA, and one of the guys there suggested my headlight switch unit. I'm gonna try and head to a junkyard sometime and see if I can get one that way, otherwise it's a $140 part. I really can't see what else it could be, as I've studied the wiring diagram for the headlight switch control, and every problem seems to stop right there at the unit. I have a multimeter but I have no idea how to use it and what I'd even be looking for in terms of testing the unit.

As for that orange and orange/white cable, I've looked at the installed stereo closer and there's a blue adapter that's spliced onto the main system cable. I can see where the cables from the car connect into the pin adapter where the orange and white are, but there's nothing on the back of my stereo that suggests a dimmer control. Could that be an issue, having those cables coming out of the adapter but not touching each other or anything else? Maybe there's a short inside the adapter? How could I test for that?
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Old 01-16-2009   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

better not to have the orange wires hooked up. thats what causes problem if they grounded out. are you sure the gauges dimmer switch is turned fully bright (clockwise)? have you checked the "small light fuse" at all?
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Old 01-17-2009   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

Great news! I have to tell everyone, I ended up going to a junkyard to pick up a headlight switch, a dimmer switch and a gauge cluster. Right before I left the junkyard, on a whimsical note, I took out my dimmer switch and put in the one I got from the junkyard ($4). It fixed it! I couldn't believe it, so I went and checked out the wiring diagram, tracing where my instrument panel lights go to. So, turns out that after they go through the headlight switch, they then pass through the dimmer switch, the guy that adjusts the brightness. My guess is, as I read in a different thread, that whoever installed my stereo previously forgot to unhook the lead terminal on the battery, causing a short and thus frying that little tiny PCB on the dimmer switch.

So, I believe I may have found the solution to all these issues, as most people report that not even the climate control lights work. For only about $4 from a junkyard, this seems like such an easy fix! Plus, you only need a knife to pop out the switch, unplug it from the socket, then plug the other one in.

Thanks to everyone for their assistance and I hope my fix helps other people with their similar solutions.
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Old 02-26-2009   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

hey thanks for the info. I was having the same problem with my 98 civic hx. after i installed aftermarket radio the dash lights were not working anymore. all the fuses were fine so i figured it was something else. i went to the junkyard and replaced my dash light dimmer switch. i got the switch for $10 but it was worth it. i can now see how fast i'm going at night!
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Old 09-29-2009   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

hey where'd you get the wiring outline at? i have that same problem and the wiring is a mess i don't know where to start
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Old 09-29-2009   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

wiring of what exactly? i may be able to look up diagrams and wire colors for 01-05 civic.
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Old 09-30-2009   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

well its a 97 ex with a 99 engine b16 dunno if that matters but i gotta replace the dash light dimmer. i opened it and its just wires out the ying yang. thanks mang
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Old 10-01-2009   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

might be easier to find parts at a junk yard and replace it
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Old 01-21-2010   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

I'm so happy to find this because I think it's probably my problem: Bought a '97 Civic DX over the weekend and have that EXACT issue with the dash lights. And the last owner had an aftermarket stereo installed because now I just have a big hole in my dash with a lot of wires inside. I'll definitely look into the dimmer switch replacement, thanks!
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Old 05-29-2011   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

I know this post is old! but this well help me out A LOT! because I've been having the same problem with my previous 2 cars n now this civic has the same problem. I can't seem to getaway from it but now I know it could be a dimmer light switch, i'm sick of driving in the dark.

Thanks A LOT.
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Old 04-09-2012   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Instrument Lights Issue

My lights are having a similar problem. I have an aftermarket stereo as well but my lights are all working for the most part but on the speedometer gauge from about 90km to 220km the lights are out 80% of the time and then sometimes come back on. Does anyone know if its possible that it could still be a dimmer switch?
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Old 04-09-2012
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