• When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network.

Headlights and half of gauge cluster lighting magically stopped working.

kaj750

Well-Known Member
Local time
8:58 PM
Joined
Mar 11, 2023
Messages
110
Reaction score
64
Location
Fresno, CA
1969 Charger.

Soo... I am finding search results for each of my problems.. but posting in case they are related, seeing how nothing on this car has made any sense to me LOL. Also, I realize none of this is going to make sense to anyone else, anyway... because nothing on this car does. Here goes, anyway....

My current problem:
My headlights have decided to stop working. All other lighting on the car is fine except:
Just before the headlights stopped working, the lights on the the right side of the gauge cluster stopped working. It's from the right half of the speedo all the way to the right. Radio lights up, so it's just the cluster.

random factoids:
*The cluster lights went out before the headlights.
*I've had the cluster out recently. Everything was plugged back in properly and confirmed working other than windshield wipers, which recently, magically started working and are still working. I installed new bulb receptacles in part of the cluster because the old ones had broken tabs/were loose. I believe these are the ones that decided to stop working as I remember working from the amp meter side as it gave me problems originally (the broken tab on the bulb holder).
*One of the times I turned used the headlight switch, the dome light came on, as if I were using the cluster brightness dial.

I'm going to document the process in case anyone else has my specific issue, as I assume it will be unique because this car was built... questionably, by the previous owner. Does any of these things catch anyone's attention right off the bat?

This week I'll start with the usual: testing for power at the light harness itself, double checking grounds, etc. I'm just hoping for a "hey! That happened to me. Try...."

I just can't understand how this part of the car worked perfectly and now it just doesn't. If something happened to change anything, then at least I'd have a clue of where to look.
 
Last edited:
Just spit balling.....ground issues....which is usually the main cause of electrical problems.
 
The only time electrical stuff magically stops working is when the smoke gets released!

Switch probably took a **** or the wiring behind it. Dash lights are controlled by the dimmer on the switch. Headlights can be the switch or the bulkhead connection.
 
Might want to start by telling us what year and model car you have.

OP updated. I didn't even think that it would be a specific problem. duh. 1969 Charger.
Just spit balling.....ground issues....which is usually the main cause of electrical problems.

The only time electrical stuff magically stops working is when the smoke gets released!

Switch probably took a **** or the wiring behind it. Dash lights are controlled by the dimmer on the switch. Headlights can be the switch or the bulkhead connection.

Thanks guys. That's a direction to start. I'll check grounds again and then pull the cluster out... again... and take a look at the headlight switch. Probably just happens to be my luck that the switch picked now to die.

I'll try to get out to look at it today but I'm kinda burned out after messing with a timing issue for the past three weekends.
 
OP updated. I didn't even think that it would be a specific problem. duh. 1969 Charger.




Thanks guys. That's a direction to start. I'll check grounds again and then pull the cluster out... again... and take a look at the headlight switch. Probably just happens to be my luck that the switch picked now to die.

I'll try to get out to look at it today but I'm kinda burned out after messing with a timing issue for the past three weekends.
Don't know how your cluster is grounded but make sure it's not grounded by the dash frame. If it is and you are just sticking it into the hole without screwing it in, then funny things can happen. When I replaced the dash lights in my 66 Belvedere, I stuck the cluster in and no screws and man, talk about things not working right!!! Once I stuck in a couple of screws, things were ok again.
 
Don't know how your cluster is grounded but make sure it's not grounded by the dash frame. If it is and you are just sticking it into the hole without screwing it in, then funny things can happen. When I replaced the dash lights in my 66 Belvedere, I stuck the cluster in and no screws and man, talk about things not working right!!! Once I stuck in a couple of screws, things were ok again.

I learned that lesson already. I was testing systems with the cluster sitting away from the dash. When I found that the cluster grounds to the car.. it kinda made sense to me as to why the cluster was made out of metal. Weird way to do things. I can only imagine the wacky issues you had with it not being mounted though hahaha.
 
before you pull it move the dimmer switch up and down a couple times.
 
On 3rd gens on Rallye cluster the voltage limiter gets a ground wire straight to an incorporated prong to the case. On standard cluster the PCB gets a ground from a wired source too which at the same time also provides ground to the bulbs. Dunno on 2nd gens, but BECAREFUL! if 2nd gens doesn’t get a wired ground able to keep the voltage limiter grounded and is JUST grounded via chassis, an ungrounded voltage limiter won’t work and will keep the door open for 12 volts to the gauges and will burn them.
 
before you pull it move the dimmer switch up and down a couple times.

I'm thinking that switch could be the issue. When I move it to the top most location, sometimes the cluster flickers on and off a bit. The dome light always comes on when all the way to the top, though. Obviously it's not 100%, but moving it didn't seem to help. I'm seeing rebuilt/new replacements. That may be something to try.

On 3rd gens on Rallye cluster the voltage limiter gets a ground wire straight to an incorporated prong to the case. On standard cluster the PCB gets a ground from a wired source too which at the same time also provides ground to the bulbs. Dunno on 2nd gens, but BECAREFUL! if 2nd gens doesn’t get a wired ground able to keep the voltage limiter grounded and is JUST grounded via chassis, an ungrounded voltage limiter won’t work and will keep the door open for 12 volts to the gauges and will burn them.

I'm thinking to just pull the cluster out and check connections. I know it's not rocket surgery, but maybe something's just not quite on all the way and has worked it's way loose on it's own. I just have to laugh because the car just seems to be getting worse the more I try to fix it. LOL
 
On the B body rally cluster the left side illumination is individual wired sockets... The right side the bulbs twist into a circuit board.... Check the pins on that board, they are known to break....
 
On the B body rally cluster the left side illumination is individual wired sockets... The right side the bulbs twist into a circuit board.... Check the pins on that board, they are known to break....

Aha! Will do. Thank you
 
Mine is a 68 Coronet with non rally. I had similar trouble with the dash lights etc. Both the headlight switch and dimmer had faults. I was able to rebuild/replace both and they now work. The dimmer had a few disconnections. The spring had lost contact with its mate on the brightest end and the ground had lost its connection with the switch chassis so the dome light would not turn on. Ugghhhh. I was able to take it all apart. A bit of soldering fixed both. The headlight switch had failed in the park light position. I was unable to disassemble this one but my car had come with a spare. Besides those 2 I used the Dremel with a brush to clean every connection point. It was a happy day when it all worked! Good luck with yours.
 
I'd try to resolve the headlight issue first.
Aside from the headlight switch and "fusible link" ...there should be nothing to interfere with front headlights .

Smells like that switch, from here...

Pretty much all the replacement parts that you get for our "classic American cars" are all made in China. Try to find an old one...maybe a salvage yard.

Just my opinion
 
As I noted, like everything else in the harness, the bulkhead connector is a common headlight dying issue. Can't count how many times I got, popped the hood, and pushed on the the bulkhead wires to leave the drive in on a Friday night in the 70's and 80's.
 
Another thing to check for the headlights is the dimmer switch...Being on the floor they van get a little damp & that leads to corrosion...
 
As I noted, like everything else in the harness, the bulkhead connector is a common headlight dying issue. Can't count how many times I got, popped the hood, and pushed on the the bulkhead wires to leave the drive in on a Friday night in the 70's and 80's.

I'll check it. Very possible I bumped something while I was messing with the spark plug wires and other junk.

Another thing to check for the headlights is the dimmer switch...Being on the floor they van get a little damp & that leads to corrosion...

Maybe. The car sat in the garage doing nothing between the time it worked and didn't. Still I have a new switch on the shelf, if it comes down to testing it.
 
Turn the headlights on and wiggle the bulkhead connector, Dadsbee probably nailed it....
 
As I noted, like everything else in the harness, the bulkhead connector is a common headlight dying issue. Can't count how many times I got, popped the hood, and pushed on the the bulkhead wires to leave the drive in on a Friday night in the 70's and 80's.
Never had to do that on any of my Mopars during those times.....maybe I was lucky as the only vehicle that I've had a bulkhead connector issue is on my 95 Dakota.
 
I had the same issue on my 64, not sure if the same animal, but here goes.
Left side if dash lights out, same side directional barely blinked.

Spun the light switch back and forth multiple times, it cleaned it up and got the left side of the dash lights back on.

Grounding the front directionals solved the other issue.

Also, I use the solid state flashers, and build a small ground harness for the dash lights/instruments, ground that to a clean spot on the dash or firewall area.
 
Auto Transport Service
Back
Top