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gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Old 10-03-2013
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gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Ok, I'm new here. I just bought a 2000 Civic EX coupe and the dash lights flash for a second when I turn the light switch then go off. That tells me they do work and I'm thinking that the problem may be in the turn signal stalk/lever. All fuses are good inside and under the hood. The car does have an aftermarket radio and a security system which appears to have been installed by Larry, Moe, and Curly, who used splicing connectors and tapped into the wiring that plugs into the turn signal stalk/lever.

I did a thorough search on this topic before posting this, so I hope I didn't overlook something. It really sucks not being able to see the speedo at night. All the other lights in the instrument cluster work fine, just the backlighting for the gauges is all the seems to be affected. I did check the dimmer switch with a jumper wire and it made no difference.

Thanks
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

I'm think i'm gonna pull the head unit tomorrow and double check the power and illumination wires. It is weird that the lights flash for a split second while turning the parking/head lights on.
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Ok, pulled the head unit and they didn't tap into the red/black illumination wire, it was capped off with a butt connector. I guess my problem is in the turn signal stalk itself, unless anyone has any other ideas.
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

If your other "dimmable" lights are working & dimming with **** (hvac buttons etc) then I think you are getting voltage, maybe try gently moving the connectors leading into cluster with the parking lights on and see if cluster lights flicker or try to work when doing so.
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Just took a closer look at it, the HVAC lights aren't on either, it seems that the whole circuit gets energized for a split second then continuity is lost. To be as specific as possible, when you twist the end of the turn signal stalk the lights flash right before it gets to the first position (parking lights). There is no further flash when going further to the head light on position.

This behavior is why I suspected the switch. Is there a way to jumper the connection until I can get a new switch/turn signal stalk?
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Use a voltmeter, check at any dimmable dash light bulb:

While not working, is it missing the power side or the ground side?
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

I'll check that in the morning, my voltmeter is at my Dad's. What are your thoughts for each scenario? I can check those too, and thanks.
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Originally Posted by Engineered69 View Post
What are your thoughts for each scenario?
Eliminate guessing is the goal.

Logical and methodical approach to diagnosis.

A wiring diagram is the road map.

HINT: If you find that the lights lose their ground, would you still want to buy the headlight switch?
HINT: If you find power at fuse #30 while the headlight switch is on, yet no power at the dash lights, would you still want to buy the headlight switch?


not being able to see the speedo at night. All the other lights in the instrument cluster work fine, just the backlighting for the gauges is all the seems to be affected.
What about the lights in all of the switches on the dash (cruise main, defog, hazard) ?
What about the lights in the heater panel? EDIT: Now I read the answer, nevermind.

IF you have an automatic, what about the PRNDL lights in the gauge cluster?
What about the light in the shifter window?


I did check the dimmer switch with a jumper wire and it made no difference.
Which wires did you jump? What were the colors?
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Old 10-04-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Do the park lights work on the outside of the car??????????
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

The dimmer module (behind the dimmer ****) are a common issue on 6th gens missing dash lights.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

I pried the dimmer module out of the dash and jumped the red/black wire with the black wire, it made no difference. I read in another post that you could try that to see if your module was bad.

I'm gonna take it apart in just a bit to see if it is power or ground that is the issue. Thanks for the insight ezone.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

and jumped the red/black wire with the black wire, it made no difference.
A wiring diagram would show that you just connected power to ground.
Go recheck your #30 fuse now, it's probably blown.

Jumper red wire to black wire at the dimmer instead and retest.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Thanks, i'll try that now.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Ok, fuse #30 was blown. However, with or without the jumper installed, only the light directly behind the odometer lights up when I turn the headlight switch on. The dimmer also works like it is supposed to when installed allowing you to dim the light by rotating the ****. That one light is not enough to even see the speedo clearly. Damn, I wish I was a better electrician....lol
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Damn, I wish I was a better electrician....lol
The circuit is intact.
Start inspect/replacing bulbs.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Alright, will do. I noticed that the previous owner replaced the gauge backlights with blue ones. They were the ones that I saw flash before when I would turn the light switch. You couldn't miss them, they were really bright. I may have blown them somehow while tinkering.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Might have been LEDs too.
Damned kids. LOL
Now it might be anyones guess if everything can be returned to stock.

There are about 6 or 7 illumination lights in the cluster alone. IIRC they are standard #194 bulbs, plus a crapload of tiny ones in all the switches.

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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Ok, I replaced all four blue ones with new clear (factory) bulbs, still no fire. This is becoming a real PITA.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

I wonder if the lights the previous owner used killed part of the trace on the flextape. I wonder if it is possible to jumper them from a working bulb?
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Get out the volt/ohm meter and ohm check each bulb.
Then start following the traces on the circuit board?
Start at the bulb/socket that you KNOW works.

Also, shine a flashlight through the holes to see what each bulb is supposed to illuminate. Maybe you didn't pick the right bulbs?


The wiring diagram I have says there is 7 illumination lights for the cluster, plus all the indicator lights.



If the bulbs had a tiny blue condom on them, that was probably factory. Blue LEDs are not.
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Ok, took damn near the whole cluster apart. The white face gauges they installed are lighted ones and they aren't working. They aren't transparent, so they factory lights won't shine through, that's the problem. I had never seen such a thing, so I didn't know what I was looking at until I got in there. There is a main line coming out of its controller which is about the size of an engagement ring box which has three pig tails which the three individual plugs coming from the gauges go to. (One covers tach, one speedo, and one for fuel/coolant). There is a 5 pin ribbon that also comes out of the module that plugs into nothing, but shows 10.15v on two of the pins. I think i'm gonna just tear all that crap out, I think something is missing, maybe a controller switch or something. The name on it says "Epicenter", what the hell is that?
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Oh! Damned kids!

I'm going to guess electroluminescent gauge face overlays.

Did you google it?
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Looking it up now, i'm guessing the module steps the voltage down. I'm afraid to hook them up to 12v and find out. If they worked and ran off of 12v, then I could wire them up to come on like they were supposed too and be done with it....lol. Yes! Damn Kids!
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Old 10-05-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Stands to reason it runs on 12v, since that's readily available in cars and the dash lights run on it too, only with a variable ground potential.

It's already broken so you can't really hurt it much, can you?
Plug it in and find out!
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Good point..... LoL, lets see what happens! Back in a bit!
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Got no response from a 12v input, so I guess they are shot or require more than 12v. I'm yanking them out and hopefully they didn't mess anything else up.
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Alright, took the lighted crap out and now I can see my gauges. I'm glad that is over! Thanks to all for the assistance!
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Old 10-06-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Originally Posted by Engineered69 View Post
Alright, took the lighted crap out and now I can see my gauges.
What does that translate to ??

Bypass dimmer module ??
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Old 10-06-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Originally Posted by CraigW View Post
What does that translate to ??

Bypass dimmer module ??
Hard to tell exactly.

I think the original lights may have been in there and working all along, but the previous owner had installed electroluminescent gauge face overlays that no longer lit up.

IDK about the HVAC and switch lighting either.
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Old 10-06-2013
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Re: gauge cluster backlighting intermittent....

Originally Posted by ezone View Post
Hard to tell exactly.

I think the original lights may have been in there and working all along, but the previous owner had installed electroluminescent gauge face overlays that no longer lit up.

IDK about the HVAC and switch lighting either.

Exactly what he said, the previous owner had installed those electroluminescent lights over top of the factory ones. They are thick white plastic and not transparent, so the factory lights wouldn't shine through. The HVAC lights didn't work because I jumpered the wrong wire on the dimmer and blew a fuse. Once the fuse was replaced and the gauge overlays removed it all works as designed.
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