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Author Topic: Headlight issue - low beams not working  (Read 1526 times)

Offline Jeremy Schofield

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Headlight issue - low beams not working
« on: 03:05:05 PM / 13-Dec-19 »
Hi all,

I’ve recently been gifted a one owner, garage-kept, 1987 200sx with 93k miles on it that I am in love with. Everything works, is original and in immaculate condition except that the low beams do not work on either side.

High beams on both sides work and the headlight warning light does come on when low beams should be on.

I’ve read posts with similar problems (where one side stops working) and it seems that this car may have had a similar issue because low beams were jumped from one side to the other but disconnecting that did nothing. Tested for signal and power and received a signal indication when the switch is engaged to turn the low beams on but no power after. Headlights pop up fine when high beams are turned on or using the separate switch on the dash. Checked fuses, bulbs, fuseable links, replaced the headlight relay and took apart the combination switch (first layer only) to check for corrosion or bad connections, cleaned everything up and still no luck. The switch looked fine from what I could see.

My next step would be to buy another combination switch and see if that solves the issue but I'm only finding the entire column (left and right switches for headlight and wiper) for $400 when I only (maybe?) need the left combination switch for the headlights/turn signals.

Any thoughts on where I can locate a combination headlight switch that will work? I could take apart the one I have further but I am hesitant to do so without a backup or even knowing if that's the issue.

Thanks,
-j



« Last Edit: 03:30:23 PM / 13-Dec-19 by Jeremy Schofield »

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Offline tgposkitt

Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #1 on: 07:02:41 PM / 13-Dec-19 »
Try posting to the Facebook groups too. Congrats on the car, it looks sweet!

Offline rednucleus

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #2 on: 11:39:33 PM / 13-Dec-19 »
Welcome! What a great looking S12.
So when you rotate  the switch to get low beams, do the lights not even pop up?
Do you have a FSM - excellent schematics are included. I will browse mine (though an 85) to refresh my memory on lights function
Here's a FSM for sale
https://www.ebay.com/itm/1987-Nissan-200SX-Factory-Service-Manual/123949804701?hash=item1cdbfbec9d:g:rrUAAOSwQGtdsFw3
Post Merge
In '85, FSM shows 8 relays and 2 diodes associated with lights functioning. I wouldn't replace the switch until checking all of those. There's a trouble shooting section and parts location in the FSM
« Last Edit: 12:29:30 PM / 14-Dec-19 by rednucleus »

Offline Jeremy Schofield

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #3 on: 03:28:53 PM / 14-Dec-19 »
Thank you.

When rotating the switch to get low beams they do not pop up and the error light comes on in the dash. They pop up fine when the highs are turned on or with the separate switch. Even with them up and switch engaged the lows do not turn on. It is showing a signal coming through when the lights go from off to low beams on but no power after.

I do have the owners manual but not the FSM. I will buy one and take a look; thanks for your advice.

Offline rednucleus

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #4 on: 04:45:06 PM / 14-Dec-19 »
Looking at the trouble shoot guide - 1st question is "do headlights open", if "no" next question "do lights come on" - if "no" next item is "check light switch" - there's a diagram of switch pin plugs to test continuity at all the switch rotation settings; if "yes"  next item is "check retract control relay"
Once they are up using the dash retractor switch (and light switch off), when you then turn the light switch on to low beams, do they stay up when the retractor switch is turned off?

Offline Jeremy Schofield

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #5 on: 06:30:54 PM / 14-Dec-19 »
Yes, they stay open when the retractor switch is turned off with the low beams on.  Just to make sure I got you correct, I opened the headlights with the dash switch with the headlights off, then turned on headlights (lows- at which time the headlight warning light comes on in the dash) and turned off the dash switch. The headlights remained open but off. Turning the switch on the column to off closed the lights.


If the highs are on when I switch on headlights, they pop up and function as expected. With the highs are off (lows on) the lights don’t pop; a signal is sent to low beams but no power.

I’ve ordered the FSM you linked to also.

Thank you for all the help!

Oh and the relay I replaced was just the headlamp relay located by the battery but that wasn’t the issue. Switch looked fine but thought maybe one could be sourced for $40 or so as a relatively cheap way to rule that out without taking the whole thing apart but that might be the next step... I’ll wait for the FSM and see what else to try/look at.
« Last Edit: 06:56:28 PM / 14-Dec-19 by Jeremy Schofield »

Offline rednucleus

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #6 on: 12:30:15 AM / 15-Dec-19 »
So the light switch will not get them open, but once open with the dash switch it will get them closed. And at no time to the low beams light up. Will be fun to see what the fix is. I am leaning toward the column switch. Good pin diagrams in FSM  will help you troubleshoot.

Offline weitrhino

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #7 on: 10:13:12 PM / 18-Dec-19 »
Welcome, Jeremy.

You've got good info on this issue so far so I hesitate to jump in and confuse things. Familiarize yourself with the factory service manual - they're a goldmine of info and pretty well written.

Your notch looks really nice. Is it a 5 speed?

Turn your wheel covers so the tabs do not block the vent holes in the wheels. They'll all line up when installed in only 1 of 4 positions.

Offline Jeremy Schofield

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #8 on: 06:30:36 PM / 29-Dec-19 »
Thanks! Just got the service manual a few days back so I’ve started going through everything. Still leaning towards a switch issue ... I’m taking it apart tonight and cleaning all contacts now that I know which is which and do some testing.

I’ve also been told a d21 switch could be made to work if the current switch is irreparable so I went ahead and ordered one for $20 for the heck of it.

The car is the 2 liter 4 cylinder automatic coupe (xe). It was bought new by my grandmother in nov 1986 and garage kept it's entire life (and still is), under 100k miles. 5 speed would've been nice but not grandmas cup of tea unfortunately. I plan to daily drive her as-is for a time and then keep it as a project car going forward. I like the car as-is; it's fun to drive and gets me around town which is all I need for the time being.  The only issue is the low beams. Thanks for the tip about the wheels also!

Post Merge
Turned out to be the switch. I was able to repair the original.
« Last Edit: 07:36:14 PM / 19-Jan-20 by Jeremy Schofield »

Offline tgposkitt

Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #9 on: 10:44:21 PM / 29-Dec-19 »
Was cleaning it all you needed to do?

Offline Max

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #10 on: 08:08:54 AM / 30-Dec-19 »
I'm curious as well. I've had other Nissan headlight switches fail before and was able to narrow it down to the contacts in the switch corroding. My 88 headlights worked perfectly when I got there car, after sitting the headlights won't go down anymore. Assuming it's the switch. Please let us know how you were able to fix yours!
Post Merge
Found this on the forum.  This high beam inop problem was caused by bad contacts in the switch.  The guy takes apart the switch and fixes the contacts that caused his problem (with videos).  This was my experience exactly on my old G20 with no running lights.

https://club-s12.org/forum/index.php?topic=36479.0
« Last Edit: 12:08:53 PM / 30-Dec-19 by Max »

Offline Jeremy Schofield

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Re: Headlight issue - low beams not working
« Reply #11 on: 01:04:06 AM / 15-Jan-20 »
Yes, just removed the switch, took the cover off the switch, cleaned contacts (I used skinny pieces of fine sand paper, cleaned it out) and reconnected with the cover still off. The switches for the headlights are on the first layer, luckily, so with the cover off I was able to figure out which of the "teeth" weren't making contact (service manual helped here too so I knew which contacts to clean and on what level)  and verify by pushing down on the teeth with something plastic. One of the "teeth" or accordions that wasn't making contact was slightly misaligned so had to be realigned. Once everything was working with the cover off I put everything back together and it's been working for 500 miles or so. I ordered a d21 switch that looks similar which I think I could’ve salvaged some bits off of to get the other switch working if corrosion was the issue and cleaning the contacts didn’t work but I’m just going to return it instead. Hope that helps.   
« Last Edit: 07:37:31 PM / 19-Jan-20 by Jeremy Schofield »