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Old 12-30-2019, 10:25 PM   #1
firebomb2222
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2000 SL2
Default Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) Dash Lights Issue

Hi All,

So I've been struggling with my I/P lights not illuminating my dash for some time now. However, usually if I turn my car off and back on again it will fix my issue. Today has been the first time this hasn't worked and I'm forced to try to figure out what's going on.

First off, here is what I've tried to do already:
  1. Checked my Fuses per fdryer's suggestion in this post: IGN1 fuse, BODY fuse, BODY COMP fuse, IGN3 fuse... No burns, blackened insides, or damaged guts.
  2. Checked out ground on my IPC connector for my dash. Tested A6 & B4 for zero ohms against any part of the car's ground. I used my own paper-FSM to verify.
  3. I Confirmed that there is negligible resistance (using a Fluke 77 DMM) and also just tested on myself to verify that my body indeed has some resistance... so far I've verified I'm not made completely out of copper.
  4. Checked my battery terminals and put some anti-seize on them just to make sure I got good contact... I do.
  5. Ran the car for 10 minutes pulling as much power as I could think I could pull to test that my alternator was working correctly (see below for why)

Other strange things:
  • When driving home, I lost my IPC lights mid-drive and ALL of my dash stopped working; this included my speed indicator + tachometer + all other indicators. I still had my SES light on (stupid p0410 light which is very unrelated and I'm too lazy to fix in the cold Maine winter), and the shift-up indicator light for my manual transmission.
  • During this problem, I also could hear my engine's RPM's indirectly through my speakers and radio system (whine up as I accelerated, and whine down as I let off the gas). Very much think this is a ground issue.
  • when I was almost home the whine went away and i got partial power back to my IPC so I could see my speedometer + other stuff running directly from BCM.

Okay, last thing to mention. Just this weekend, my alternator died (and because I wasn't close to my house) I had it replaced by one of my trusted mechanics near my folk's house. Anyhoo, this should be unrelated but with electrical things like this I can't be so sure.

Thanks everyone for your help and Happy New Year!

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Old 12-31-2019, 04:18 PM   #2
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Default Re: Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) Dash Lights Issue

what year of Saturn? If it is gen 3 the radio lights and heater controls should dim with the IP dash lights when you adjust the dimmer potentiometer. These lights are all on the same circuit. If your fault is with all the lights above, the issue is not the IP. I have re-lamped two GEN 3 instrument clusters with LED bulbs. Please remember these cars are all at least 18 years old now and the circuit boards in the IP can crack or have cold solder joints, all comes with age. The usual place of a fault is the solder around that multipin connector. Junk yard clusters should be cheap. If its just the IP and not the radio and heater lights, just go get a used cluster. Some of the idiot lights are LEDS and are not on the dimmer cct.

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Old 12-31-2019, 04:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) Dash Lights Issue

^ I think you hit the nail on the head - dimmer pot. I was about to go into meandering thoughts of a possible bcm problem after reading the initial post then read your reply...... The dimmer pot is a low voltage signal from the bcm to the tell the bcm how much to dim the i/p lights. With electronics, no more 12v dimmer pots. Pulse width voltages are used to pulse the i/p lights. This may be seen when videoed with some cellphones or digital cameras or video cameras. Some are familiar with seeing videos of propellers looking like they're turning slowly or helicopters with their rotors spinning slowly. All are at their normal speed but the high speed electronics have electronics inadvertently recording at a higher rate than these speeding props and rotors as if they slowed down due to stroboscopic effects. If recorded, the i/p would show the same effect on video depending on the recording speed.

Tap the dimmer pot and see if the i/p lights suddenly brighten. If this works, the dimmer pot is worn.

...
VCX NANO

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Old 01-04-2020, 04:29 PM   #4
firebomb2222
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Default Re: Instrument Panel Cluster (IPC) Dash Lights Issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Tap the dimmer pot and see if the i/p lights suddenly brighten. If this works, the dimmer pot is worn.
Thanks to both of you for the technical insight! This is a S-series 2000, so GEN3, as far as I understand. I've been playing around with the potentiometer dimmer; some of the cluster lights work, if I leave the pot at full; If I touch the thing, the IP lights die. I'm going to buy a new/new-to-me potentiometer and see if that solves my issue, those are cheaper than an IPC. I'll report back on the results.

Cheers mates!

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