2003 Chevy Tracker - Headlights Issue

Oh, where to begin?

I’m having trouble with the headlights on my 2003 Chevy Tracker. When it’s light out, my headlights come on automatically when I release the parking brake, but turn off if I turn the switch that would normally turn them on. When it is dark out, or I drive under a bridge etc, they turn off and I can’t manually turn them on. I can “flash” my headlights, but if I turn them on as if to leave them on, they don’t turn on. This problem started about the same time that my AC blower stopped working, so I replaced the blower motor resistor and all fuses (I’ve heard that the blower motor resistor is also involved with the headlights). This fixed the AC, but had no effect on the headlights.

I can trick the lights into turning on at night only by shining a bright light directly on the sensor - they turn back off as soon as I remove the light.

I took it to Pep Boys for a basic electrical diagnostic to see if I might be missing something silly, but once I described the problem they wouldn’t even bother - told me to take it to the dealer and have the body regulator module reprogrammed. I figured that was what I would hear, but better safe than sorry? Before I spend all that money with the dealer or an electrical shop I want to see if anyone has seen a similar problem.

So, any ideas?

Have you tried cleaning the face of the sensor? Also check your owner’s manual, maybe there’s a way to disable the automatic feature for turning the lights on and off, so it just becomes like a normal car, switch it on, switch it off.

If none of the above work, yes, you probably need to use a shop with specific expertise on this make/model, such as a dealership.

So the DRLs/daytime running lights and flash to pass are working exactly as they are supposed to.
On my Fords the flash to pass & DRLs bypass the main headlight switch & it is the 1st thing that i would check.
A quick look at the wiring diagram will tell you if yours is wired the same as my Fords. If it is, check the main headlight switch.

87_Ranger You’re correct, DRLs and flash to pass are working fine but headlights/brights can’t be turned on manually. I’ll check out the switch and will comment back if that’s it!

George Thanks for the input! Yes, I’ve cleaned the sensor and as far as I can tell there is no turn off for the DRLs as they are a safety feature. I’d be happy to be corrected on that though!

Number 18 in the diagram is the headlight relay. Check if it clicks when you turn the headlight switch on.

Nevada_545 That is so helpful, thank you!

@Nevada_545 I just checked and it does click when I turn the headlight switch on and off. I assume that means it’s not the source of the problem?

That indicates the headlight switch is working. The headlight relay provides a ground for the dimmer switch/headlights. Here are the diagrams.

The relay could be working but the relay contacts could be bad. You could swap the relay to see if it fixes it with another one.