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Old 04-29-2003, 07:38 PM   #1
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Question IP, HVAC lights out

Last night I drove away from home in my 1993 SL2 with my headlights on and the lights on the instrument panel and heat/vent/AC panel were all fine. Shortly after that I drove home again with my headlights on, but the instrument panel and heat/vent/AC panel were all dark as if the dimmer switch was turned all the way down. I turned the lights off and on, I played with the dimmer switch, and still no instrument panel or heat/vent/AC panel lights. The dashboard gauges were working fine by the way.

The list of maxifuses and minifuses in the owner's manual have the fuses for the IP grouped with other things but these other things seem to be all working on my car (radio, power mirrors, tail lights, etc.). What could be causing this lighting issue? The dimmer switch? A fuse? Wiring? (I swear that I didn't screw around with these wires ever!) Has anybody else ever experienced this issue? Any ideas?

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 04-29-2003, 10:46 PM   #2
Hot93SC2
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Default lights out!

I have actually experienced the exact same thing. You're lights just went out they do that after a while. Mine did the same thing first one side of the heater control lights went out and shortly after the other side went out. I just replaced the bulbs, after coloring them red of course hehehe, and they worked just fine. Its probably not a fuse. And you probably do not have a wiring problem. Try replacing the bulbs and let me know if that works. They are about $7 a piece though, and you will need two. Pretty lame they are not very big bulbs, just spendy! If you have any other questions on how to put them in just ask. If you have any other problems feel free to ask me, I know a lot about fixing Saturns because I work with Saturn mechanics all day long. I work for Saturn of beaverton in Beaverton,OR. And if I don't know the answer I will be happy to ask a tech for you and write you back with the answer.

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Old 04-29-2003, 11:07 PM   #3
David 93 SL2m
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2007 ION-3 Sedan
Default

Thanks for the reply and the advice! Isn't it odd that all of these bulbs went out at the same exact time in my 1993 SL2? Replacing all of these bulbs is probably a great idea because they never did seem to be that bright.

I forgot to mention that the light behind the AC button in this car went out a few years ago but I didn't bother replacing it... I know where that button is and I can feel it. Also my wife never complained about it!

Okay, here is another question - probably an easy one. The sliding knob for the temperature on the HVAC panel is hard to move. I temporarily removed the radio to see if there was anything obstructing the movement but there wasn't anything in the way. I lubricated both cables as best I could without taking the HVAC unit out and even tried lubricating the plastic guide for the sliding knob on the top of the HVAC unit (all of this is sort of exposed) but that didn't help either. Any ideas? Meanwhile the HVAC controls in my 1996 SC2 slide like a hot knife through butter!

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 04-30-2003, 03:53 PM   #4
piratepress
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Hey David, believe it or not I had the exact same problem with all the lights going out at once too. The first night it happened, I noticed the stock 10amp fuse was blown so I replaced it. The next night it blew it again, all within about two minutes of the headlights being on- it didn't blow it with just the fog lamps. So I go home and switch the 10amp out for a 20amp. Well, the lights stay on but something starts burning under the dash, definitely not a good sign! So I drop in a 15amp and it seems to provide enough juice to keep the lights going but not enough to burn anything. BTW, this happened almost a year ago and my lights are still doing fine! Also, I like Hot93SC2's idea of painting the IP bulbs red!

...
2006 Ion Redline- GMPP Stage 2

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Old 04-30-2003, 04:52 PM   #5
saturnofokc
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Default

on your question about the a/c mode selector being hard to move. That is your a/c mode door. The felt cover is coming off. It is very hard for a novice to replace as it is burried behind the dash in th HVAC module. A saturn shop will charge you about eight hours labor to replace this. Not cheap. I will look up some bulletins to see if I can help you with your inop dash lights I haven't run into this problem before. My knowledge of older saturns is limited.

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Old 05-01-2003, 10:20 PM   #6
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Mad

Quote:
Originally posted by piratepress
Hey David, believe it or not I had the exact same problem with all the lights going out at once too. The first night it happened, I noticed the stock 10amp fuse was blown so I replaced it. The next night it blew it again, all within about two minutes of the headlights being on- it didn't blow it with just the fog lamps. So I go home and switch the 10amp out for a 20amp. Well, the lights stay on but something starts burning under the dash, definitely not a good sign! So I drop in a 15amp and it seems to provide enough juice to keep the lights going but not enough to burn anything. BTW, this happened almost a year ago and my lights are still doing fine! Also, I like Hot93SC2's idea of painting the IP bulbs red!
Okay, all of the maxifuses and minifuses under the hood were fine. Then I looked at the minifuses by the center console. Bingo! Minifuse number 13, labeled "dim," 5 amps, was blown. The owner's manual says this fuse is for, "cigar lighter right light, radio, ashtray light, perf/norm switch light, PRND32 light, heat-AC control head display lights." I guess "dim" abbreviates "dimmer" and this must be it. I didn't check it at first because I don't have the ashtray light connected, I don't have a perf/norm switch, and I don't have an automatic transmission. I do have a radio and it is working but it is an aftermarket radio and the dashboard dimmer switch never worked on the aftermarket radio display. But wait...

I replaced the fuse with another fuse of the same rating and turned on my parking lights. Pop! Then I tried a higher amp fuse. Pop! This time it was minifuse number 15 which does all the parking lights, IP cluser lights, and a few other related things. But fuse 13 was okay. So I replaced fuse 15 and tried again. Pop! Then I tried a few more fuses. Pop! Pop! Pop!

To make a long story short, I toasted half a dozen fuses. As it stands now, I am back where I began: no dashboard lights or HVAC lights. But at least the parking lights are working!

I don't want to have to take the dashboard and instrument panel cluster apart, to either troubleshoot this or to replace the little bulbs. Looks like I'll just live with this.

Quote:
Originally posted by saturnofokc
on your question about the a/c mode selector being hard to move. That is your a/c mode door. The felt cover is coming off. It is very hard for a novice to replace as it is burried behind the dash in th HVAC module. A saturn shop will charge you about eight hours labor to replace this. Not cheap. I will look up some bulletins to see if I can help you with your inop dash lights I haven't run into this problem before. My knowledge of older saturns is limited.
8 hours? The hourly rate at my local Saturn retailer is over $100 per hour! Jeez, I'll just live with this too.

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 05-02-2003, 01:03 AM   #7
satwag
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Default

You might try testing each parking light wire for continuity going to ground, just a guess.
good luck...

...
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke

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Old 05-04-2003, 09:54 AM   #8
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Default Re: lights out!

All of the parking lights, side marker lights, and signal lights tested alright.

One of my friends had a suggestion. Open up the instrument panel and add my own lights. This might be a good idea. I could use LEDs rather than expensive little bulbs (lamps) and even get my choice of colors (white, red, blue, yellow, green). Afterall, either way I'll have to open up this part of the dashboard. I could wire them up so that they are always on when the ignition is on (i.e. when the power windows have power). And yes, with resistors so that they don't blow within a second or two the first time I use them. But adding a potentiometer to control brightness would be out of the question because the LEDs would either be on or off. I'd have to do a few circuits each with its own on/off switch and one or two LEDs per circuit. My wife will scream for sure now! Radio Shack, here I come...

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 05-04-2003, 10:40 AM   #9
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Happy

In another thread (http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...threadid=18753) at SaturnFans somebody that capitalizes each word in each sentence pointed out a web site for the LEDs:

http://www.superbrightleds.com/

This will be a fun project.

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 05-04-2003, 12:57 PM   #10
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Default

8 Hours of labor = 2 hours to fix it, and 6 hours to eat a sandwich and think about what a damn good job he did.

Can I sign up for the $800+ invoice to fix the lever in my $1500 car?

David, my car does the same thing. Although, the weather and temperature seem to affect it somewhat. I guess I'll live with it too.

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Old 05-04-2003, 02:52 PM   #11
David 93 SL2m
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Default

The easiest way to fix the sliding lever for the HVAC unit is to find one at the junk yard from another 1991 - 1994 Saturn with AC. We live in a world of disposable items and often it is better to replace something than to repair it. Good examples are older electronic things like VCRs, stereo equipment, and anything relating to a computer. In most cases we can get something brand new that is smaller and faster and probably has more functions for less money than repairing the older thing.

I really like the HVAC unit in my 1996 SC2. The levers slide like a hot knife through butter. I can even feel some sort of indentation when sliding the lever that directs the air flow. This is nice because without taking my eyes off the road I can adjust the HVAC controls easily. Now if only the buttons on the sliding levers had a little light in each of them then we'd have an easy time seeing where they are set at nighttime. At nighttime I do it by feel alone.

Hmmm... I wonder if the HVAC unit from a 1995+ Saturn will fit in my 1993 SL2....

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 05-04-2003, 11:33 PM   #12
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Default

David,
Sorry it took me so long to replay to this one...PRIME SUSPECTS.the "Light Ring" around the cigarette lighter plug, (if equiped) the ashtray light, and if it's an automatic, the light for the P R N D 2 Shifter indicator. Start with the lighter ring light ESP if you regularly plug things into the cigarette lighter socket...just disconnect the wires going to the LIGHT not the SOCKET and replace the fuse to see if it blows again.

...
Old Saturns never die, people KILL them, so check your damn oil!
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

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Old 05-05-2003, 07:03 AM   #13
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Happy

Thanks for the reply! I'll troubleshoot those areas next. Not a problem with the delay in responding because my car is driveable. While I write this I can see there are others posting issues in the Tech section that are much worse: a car that runs poorly in the rain, idle issues, horn issues, AC issues, rear window issues, brake issues, etc.

Although I've never smoked a thing in my life, I know there is a light ring around the cigarette lighter and I've seen a weak light in the ashtray area. Maybe twice a year I'll use an adapter in the cigarette lighter to recharge my cellular telephone. I removed the bulb from the ashtray area already. I think I saw the light ring was working. I'll double check.

My 1993 SL2 does not have an automatic transmission, so the lights for the shift selector is one less thing to troubleshoot. Also if the performance/normal switch has a light then that is another thing I don't have to worry about.

An area for me to check very carefully is that cigarette lighter area. I tapped into the orange wire there for constant power for a flashing LED on the dashboard. I think I saw the LED was still flashing. I'll double check that too.

I still find it interesting that all the interior bulbs that are affected by the dimmer switch (except the radio but which is a Sony I swapped in years ago) went out at the same time. I doubt these bulbs are wired in series. Also it is interesting that the fuse kept blowing. Burned out bulbs should not cause that to happen.

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 05-06-2003, 09:37 PM   #14
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Question

Quote:
Originally posted by wolfman
Start with the lighter ring light ESP if you regularly plug things into the cigarette lighter socket...just disconnect the wires going to the LIGHT not the SOCKET and replace the fuse to see if it blows again.
Is there an easy way to disconnect the wires going to the cigarette lighter light ring? I can see there is a black wire and a grey wire going to the base of the back of the cigarette lighter but I can barely fit my fingers in there and I can't get it to pop off. I'm attempting this through the area on the left side of the center console where there is a "door" panel that pops off.

Do I need to pull out the HVAC unit or (gulp) remove the center console that surrounds the shifter to get to the cigarette lighter light ring wire harness? Is there a way to pop the whole cigarette lighter assembly including the two wire harnesses off the upper center console?

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 05-11-2003, 08:25 PM   #15
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Dazed

I finally gave up on disconnecting the wire harness that goes to the bulb that lights up the ring around the cigarette lighter and simply snipped the black wire coming back from that bulb. It is physically impossible to reach it unless we take out the thin red box on the back of the inside fuse/relay panel or we take out the HVAC unit. Neither moved more than a millimeter. So I cut the wire and sealed the ends of the wire with liquid electrical tape.

I put in a new fuse for the dimmer switch (labeled "DIM", 5 amps) and turned on my parking lights. Bingo! All the lights that are controlled by the dimmer switch were working again! The parking lights were working too. Wolfman is a genius!

Then I turned off the parking lights and grabbed my wife so that she could see that the issue was resolved thanks to Wolfman. She came out and I turned on the parking lights. Nothing controlled by the dimmer switch lit up again. Sure enough, the fuse popped (again).

Wolfman is still a genius and I have something really funky going on here.

I will try adding LEDs to the instrument panel area where the little light bulbs are located, tapping into one of the wires for the parking lights for power and for automatic on/off operation. Let's see. Should I go with white, red, yellow, green, or some other color? I vote for red.

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 06-08-2003, 02:46 PM   #16
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Cool

Well, a month of driving at night without being able to see the dashboard gauges in my 1993 SL2 started to drive me bananas, so I constructed a set of red LEDs to light up the dashboard from behind when the parking lights or headlights are turned on.

First I ordered a bunch of red LEDs rated at 12 volts DC with built-in resistors. Then I used my multimeter to determine which wire was positive and which wire was negative. LEDs don't use much current so I bought 24 gauge speaker wire, the thinnest I could find, and soldered the LEDs to the speaker wire. Each LED has its own 4 foot length of speaker wire. The speaker wires all connect to 2 lengths of 18 gauge wire, also 4 feet long each. One of these taps into fuse 13 labeled "DIM" for dimmer switch and the other will go to a ground. The soldered areas are covered with liquid electrical tape. Next I brought this out to my car today to test it. It works! Now I have to take the dashboard cover off, remove the troublesome bulbs, and place the LEDs into position. My LED system has 12 LEDs: 5 for behind the gauges, 3 for the dashboard as "flood lights," 3 for the HVAC system, and 1 for the cigarette lighter ring. Based on the information in the 1991 - 1993 Chilton's manual this should be it. 12 total.

I'll have to post an image of the dashboard at night. For now, here is what I've accomplished:

Building the harness and attaching the LEDs
Getting electrically connected
A view from the passenger's side
A view from the driver's side

And now for the test!

Testing with the headlights/parking lights off
Testing with the parking lights on

Success!

Headlights off...
and
...headlights on!

Hurray! I'm almost there!

By the way it took me about a week to get the harness and the LEDs ready, spending an hour or so every other night working on this. All of the wires will be behind the center console, under the dashboard cover, and behind the instrument panel/HVAC/cigarette lighter when I'm done. Stay tuned for another image of the completed project!

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 06-08-2003, 07:15 PM   #17
David 93 SL2m
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2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Cool

Got the LEDs in, now I'm waiting for dusk to check it all out. I used clear silicone caulk to hold and seal the LEDs. They fit into the holes for the OEM bulbs perfectly. I tested the resistance of the 8 OEM bulbs that I removed from the instrument cluster and 4 of the 8 measured 0 ohms, meaning they were burned out. Come on sunset...!


...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 06-08-2003, 10:40 PM   #18
David 93 SL2m
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Cool

All done! The job came out perfect! The dashboard looks great in the dark. Not too dim and not too bright. Easy to read and soft on the eyes. I should have done this a long time ago.

The only problem I had was forgetting that I disconnected the wire harness to the original dashboard dimmer switch. I removed it and then my new LEDs didn't work. 10 minutes of head scratching and a little profanity, then I remembered that I forgot to plug the old dimmer switch wires back in. Success again.

Okay, here are more images!

The bases of the old top bulbs are blue, not grey.
The bases of the old back bulbs are also blue.

The bulbs with grey bases are for the high beam indicator and the turn signals. And also all of the idiot lights have bulbs with grey bases. I removed the shift indicator's bulb! Hurray - no more up-arrow lighting up to tell me it is time to upshift!

Lots of clear silicone caulk for the new LEDs on top...
...and lots of clear silicone caulk for the LEDs on the back.

The caulk will not only hold the LEDs in place but will also help to keep dust and stuff from entering the gauge area. In addition I used electrical tape to hold the wires near the bases of the LEDs for extra good measure.

Wire looms to keep the wires safe

The top loom on the left has 8 wires for the 8 LEDs in the instrument panel while the bottom loom on the left has 4 wires for the HVAC area. The part of the loom on the right drops down to the fuse panel area below.

A quick test before putting it all back together
Another test after reinstalling the instrument panel but before reinstalling the trim

And now, the moment we are all waiting for!

First night view
Second night view

The pictures did not come as well as I had hoped. The LEDs are actually brighter than they appear in these images. I can clearly see the needles on the gauges and for some reason the needles didn't show up here. Anyway, I am happy with the outcome.


...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

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Old 06-09-2003, 01:04 AM   #19
geartooth94
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Wow David you really have a way of plugging away at things! Good job there!

I was wondering, now that you have some experience in the IP/HVAC lighting area you could give me some help, too.

1) I replaced my radio with a new CD receiver by Pioneer. It sounds great, but I have a bulb I believe is out on the right side of the HVAC portion. I noticed it exactly after I put the new radio in. I also remembered that I tried to use a file to cut the rear support bracket for the radio and "banged" the plastic trim right above the HVAC circuit board with the file several times. Then I decided to use my soldering iron as a "file"--much more effective than the real file which was taking much too long, (and no more banging).

2) About a week later, I added an auxiliary input jack (1/8" stereo) to the top of the dashboard right above the 2 center air vents. This meant I needed to slip off the outer dash cover as well revealing the wires to the gauge instrument panel above the steering wheel. I made sure NOT to touch anything there. Sure enough, when I had everything back together again, a bulb is burned out on the tach. from 0 to about 3,000 rpms. After that it is OK, but I can tell it's dimmer down there in those lower revs.....SO.....

Is my Saturn telling me it doesn't like to have its dash taken apart? I can see if a bulb went out from constant "banging" from a file right where a bulb is, but why would one go out from not even touching the remote area it was in? Also, I didn't check the fuses, but if there was a fuse blown wouldn't ALL of the light go out??? Seems odd to me.

Sorry this post is so long!

...
1996 Dodge Avenger ES: 2.5L V6

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Old 06-09-2003, 07:27 AM   #20
David 93 SL2m
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Posts: 3,594
 

2004 VUE 2.2L
2007 ION-3 Sedan
Happy

First, thanks for reading my post and for checking out my images! Also thanks for the compliment. Yes, I can be determined at times. My wife calls it being "stubburn." I like to look at these things like a puzzle in that if we study the problem and try different things then sooner or later we'll find a solution.

My bet is that your 1994 SL2 has simply lost a bulb or two due to age, nothing more! I don't think that you did anything to cause it. Before my instrument panel lights went out altogether I had noticed that the dashboard never seemed bright enough for us. We always keep the dimmer switch on the highest setting. Even so, the dashboard seemed to keep getting dimmer and dimmer. Of course! I was burning out light bulbs! These little light bulbs are very, very tiny: about 1/4" long and 1/8" tall (6mm long and 3mm tall for my Canadian friends). I couldn't even tell the good bulbs from the burned out bulbs simply by looking at them! I think their bases are bigger than the bulbs themselves.

Yes, I agree with you about the fuse(s) and it being odd that one or two bulbs went out while the others are still working.

Yes, we have to be careful when we are near the back of the instrument panel. The "circuit board" appears to be a thin sheet of plastic like the type used for X-rays.

Yes, I had to "modify" that rear support shelf for the OEM radio before I put my Sony radio in too.

By the way, removing the bulb for the upshift indicator was a mistake. This morning I started the car and a few seconds later the SES light came on and stayed on the whole way to work. It was worse than seeing that outline of the arrow light up each time I rev past 2,400 RPMs! So this evening I get to take it all apart again, stick in the little bulb for the upshift indicator, and put it all back together again. Bummer for me. It was the dreaded Quad Drive Module SES code 26.

P.S. Your post didn't seem long to me!!!

...
Current
∙ 2004 VUE 124K
∙ 2007 ION3 112K
...
Past
∙ 1993 SL2 212K
∙ 1993 SC2 140K
∙ 1996 SC2 157K
∙ 1996 SC2 126K
∙ 2001 SC2, 145K
∙ 2002 L200 20K
∙ 2002 SL1 129K
...

REWARD EXCELLENCE!

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