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Electrical Gremlins from hell


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So I unfortunately have a lot of electrical problems in my 88, and it looks like someone else has been in there before. 👎

Known Problems:

  • Turn signals flash in dash once or twice then stop, no lights in the actual turn signals
  • All back lighting in the cluster and HVAC controls cuts out seemingly randomly
  • Occasionally all power inside the car cuts out when you tap the brakes, but comes back after you tap them again(?)
  • If the handbrake is pulled when moving, the interior power problem surfaces very rarely
  • The seatbelt light beeps when the interior power comes back after cutting out
  • Pop ups come up when manually cranked down, but won't go back down
  • Automatic seatbelts will stick in whichever position they were in before the interior power cuts out

What I have tried:

  • Cleaning all of the contacts and reassembling the cluster switches
  • Cleaning almost all of the ground points
  • Checked the fusible links box by the battery (mine has been broken but it seems they all have continuity)
  • Cleaning contacts on the passing control relay in the engine bay, the pop up relays in the engine bay, and all of the relays in the tree right by the battery
  • Replaced the flasher with an EL-12

What I haven't checked yet:

  • Passing control relay inside of dash (If you know how to find/get to this please let me know)
  • Cleaning turn signal stalk contacts
  • Replacing ignition switch

If you have any pointers/places to look or solutions to anything on this giant list please let me know :)

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This definitely sounds multi-layered. Problems #2, #3, & #4 sound to me like one of your problems is a loose connection somewhere (slowing down the whole car forces the connection to contact/break). Considering this affects so many things in the interior, my guess is it's highly related to the fusible links/multi-purpose fuses.
Regarding the turn signals, try putting on one turn signal, then wiggle the stalk to see if anything changes. Do your hazards work at all?

Edited by GoldStar
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Start with all your grounds, check every one, one by one. Make sure the bolts are clean etc. Next check all your powers. Start at the battery, then fuse blocks, and down the line. Electrical diagnostics work best when done in a specific order.

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One thing that may be worth looking into would be the ignition switch.  All of your key switched power runs through the ignition switch itself.  If it were to lose contact, some strange occurrences are possible.   It may be worth while to pull that down and clean it up, it's easy enough to do. 

There are instructions in this thread:  

 

 

Does the vehicle remain running when this happens or does it shut down?   If everything goes, you may want to focus on the connections from the fusible link box to the main harness.   I've had that happen of a few former cars.   The connections become corroded.   It just shuts full power down intermittently, have had the headlights go up and down, etc.   

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12 hours ago, GoldStar said:

This definitely sounds multi-layered. Problems #2, #3, & #4 sound to me like one of your problems is a loose connection somewhere (slowing down the whole car forces the connection to contact/break). Considering this affects so many things in the interior, my guess is it's highly related to the fusible links/multi-purpose fuses.
Regarding the turn signals, try putting on one turn signal, then wiggle the stalk to see if anything changes. Do your hazards work at all?

My hazards work perfectly fine, and I'll try wiggling the stalk to see if that changes anything.

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8 hours ago, kev said:

One thing that may be worth looking into would be the ignition switch.  All of your key switched power runs through the ignition switch itself.  If it were to lose contact, some strange occurrences are possible.   It may be worth while to pull that down and clean it up, it's easy enough to do. 

There are instructions in this thread:  

 

 

Does the vehicle remain running when this happens or does it shut down?   If everything goes, you may want to focus on the connections from the fusible link box to the main harness.   I've had that happen of a few former cars.   The connections become corroded.   It just shuts full power down intermittently, have had the headlights go up and down, etc.   

The car still runs perfectly normal when it loses interior power. I'm working on getting a new fuse link box and the little sub box because mine are butchered

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  • 1 month later...
On 4/5/2022 at 1:17 PM, The_Ginger_Stig said:

My hazards work perfectly fine, and I'll try wiggling the stalk to see if that changes anything.

So wiggling the stalk doesn't change anything related to the turn signals. I cleaned the ground in the instrument cluster, the one behind the cluster, and found a very badly connected wire running to my ignition switch that i soldered and heat shrunk. It seems the power no longer cuts out in the interior, but the turn signals no longer even attempt a flash. Hazards still flash the turn signals, just not the actual stalk.

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After I had the column out of my car for a new coupler I had turn signal problems.  Mine just flashed super fast, but the hazards worked just fine.  I replaced the flasher with a heavier duty unit(EL12 maybe?) and it took care of the problem.  It was odd how it didn't happen until after I had removed the column but fixed it.  If you have eyes on your fingertips the flashers would be pretty easy to change!  

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Alright so I have my solution for what was wrong with my turn signals for any poor soul who comes along needed to fix theirs. I had previously taken apart the cluster switches (headlights - fog - off) and apparently I didn't do a proper job of assembling them because one of the contacts was misaligned. You could hear the flasher click maybe once or twice but it would never blink the bulbs in the actual gauge cluster. As soon as I fixed my shoddy job in the switches the turn signals worked perfectly so if you have anything like I did going on, check your switches. 

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Thanks for posting the solution! I wish more people would do that, it sucks when you have a problem and find a thread about it with no conclusion.

I hope you're enjoying the car now.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Of course! I'd hate to have all of you entertain these problems and then never get a thank you out of it, so thank you all for helping :)

Where I am right now however, is that my popups still only go up and have to be manually cranked down. I suspect a failure of the passing control relay in the dash because I've already jumped the passing relay in the engine bay to no avail. Has anyone ever taken one out and know a way to get in through the dash? I would rather avoid pulling the whole thing for just a relay.

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