[DML] Pic of Melted Headlight Dash Switch Uploaded
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[DML] Pic of Melted Headlight Dash Switch Uploaded

I've uploaded a pic of my melted headlight dash switch to #5939's
photo album (and did some housecleaning while in there).

Notice the two melted wires are Red/Orange and Black (the one with all
the isulation burned off used to be Black). These are the lines for
the internal illumination bulb. Conventional wisdom is that marker and
tail light amperage melts the switch. While they can't be good for it,
especially considering how cheaply made it is, my culprit was the
internal illumination. Switch was getting twitchy, probably as it
melted internally. At my last fuel stop on a nocturnal trip home from
DC -- 7 hours of continual illumination -- it stopped moving
altogether (couldn't turn the lights off). I fiddled with it and
finally got it moving again, thus didn't think anything more until I
was back on the road and flames emerged from the dash. Fire is bad
even in a car made of metal. In a plastic car it can be downright
catastrophic. Flames were extinguished with my freshly purchased Diet
Coke, every wire to the switch was cut behind the console, I jumped
the headlight relay back on, and drove the rest of the way home with
hazard flashers from the rear.

Page M:18:11 of the Workshop Manual is incomplete (it does not show
either Red/Orange internal bulb power or the Red/Green line to the
marker & tail lights) but it does correctly omit any sort of fuse
BEFORE the dash switch. Were there no ground wire from the switch,
that wouldn't be a problem. In our cases its an unprotected short
waiting to happen. Compare the circuit to Page M:18:06.

I suspect 7 hours of heat from the internal illumination bulb slowly
softened and melted the plastic parts of my switch, eventually
allowing metal pieces to come in contact with each other. That's when
the real heat began.

My ground wire was melted (off & on) all the way to a junction under
the console. Wires adjacent to it were melted as well. I had no choice
but to rewire the entire dash switch circuit, as well as repair other
damage. I took the opportunity to add a relay for marker and tail
lights (only trigger signals pass through my dash switch now). A/C
panel illumination was moved to that relay as well (my panel comes on
with exterior lights now). I have no rear window defroster switch (my
T Panel plate is already melted and pieced back together) so that
illumination line was omitted. I do carry a hand written schematic in
my glovebox because even I need to be reminded exactly what's been
done (I also carry xeroxes of Pages M:07:01-03, the wiring diagram in
both normal and enlarged sizes, and a wiring diagram legend). 

The fire killed my Craig radio (the display was already dead, but it
used to make noise), melted the mode switch vacuum connector and lines
(yet the switch itself survived), and warped my dash vents slightly.
Interestingly, the A/C panel escaped without a scratch -- perhaps
they're tougher than I give them credit for being. 

Surely DMCH added a fuse somewhere in their redesigned headlight

Bill Robertson

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