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Electrical Nightmare

I have a 1992 Honda Accord station wagon. Recently the most confounded thing happen.

My head lamps and dome lights work, but all the other lights: turn signal, parking and tail lights have all stopped working.

I have tried replacing the fuses but Everytime I turn on the light light switch they all blow except for the head lights.

The fuse box has been tested by an electrician with a tester to no avail.

HELP. I can only drive my car during the day but that’s still risky with no brake lights.



Was this electrican employed to fix the car or did one just happen to stop by for a beer and took a 2 min look at the car and pronounced it OK?

Try some of these techniques:

Diagnosing a problem like this over the net is near impossible but that bit about an electrician testing the fuse box with a tester is a strange one. :slight_smile:

On something like this, one needs a good electrical manual (preferably a factory one) and the process of elimination has to start.

About all I can do is point out few minor possibilities that could cause this.
One is a sagging filament in a taillamp bulb. In some cases involving a double filament bulb one filament will get hot and sag over time. Eventually it may meet another filament and create a short or excessive current draw.

Poor electrical connection at any one of a number of wire connectors. A poor connection means high resistance, higher current draw, and/or electrical arcing.

Failing main lighting switch (headlight switch). It’s possible over time for the combined current draw of the lighting to melt things inside of the switch which can then lead to a short.
Sometimes, not always, one can look at the switch and tell if there’s a problem because the plastic housing may be deformed or even melted from heat.

If the lights are controlled by a multi-function stalk switch on the steering column, That’s the most likely cause…

The trouble you are having is most likely due to a short in the wiring for the dash lights. I don’t know why the tech would look for a problem in the fuse panel. It is the load that is having the trouble.

Edit: Since the trouble happens when the light switch is turned on you could replace the fuse and then your rear signal lights should work ok. Just don’t turn on the lights.

This sounds like a dead short to ground. Do you have a wiring harness for a trailer installed on your car? If so, this might be a place to look.

As a first step, with everything off, try the emergency blinkers. If the fuse blows, then check all the sockets and the wiring to the sockets. If the fuse doesn’t blow, then proceed to the following:

Try the turning signals without turning on the headlights. Does the fuse blow? If it does, then start by checking each of the sockets and the wiring to the sockets. If the fuse doesn’t blow, then step on the brake, with the headlight switch still off. Again, if the fuse doesn’t blow, then you’ve eliminated another possibility. If it does blow, then the brake light switch may be shorting to ground.

If neither of the above tests blow the fuse, then you are left with the tail light circuit.

Hello folks,

This is to clarify the part about the electrician testing the fuse box. What he did was remove all the bulbs out of their sockets, connected and tested for a short by probing each fuse slot. He came up empty and didn’t find a short.

WHAT fuse(s) blow? If we knew which circuits are affected, we may be able to tell you where to make disconnections untill the fuse(s) stopped blowing. From there, it would be possible to narrow the problem even further.

The following fuses go out:

  1. Brake lights
  2. Parking/Tail Lights
  3. Turn Signals
  4. Dashboard

Hard to say without looking at a wiring diagram, but the only thing I can think of that would be common to all those circuits is a lamps out warning module.

Does your car have a lamps out idiot light on the dash?

BTW, did you try what Triedaq mentioned?

Is it only when you turn on the headlights that all the fuses blow?

Here is what you can do to find the trouble. Place a ohmmeter on the lead of the fuse end that ties to the load side of the circuit (Not the power side of the fuse). Place the other probe on a good chassis ground. Since the headlights aren’t having a problem it will help to isolate them from the testing. You can do that by disconnecting the battery ground cable from the battery. Now you can turn on the light switch and you should see a low resistance to ground. Remove and replace wires one at a time on the light switch until the resistance goes up. When you see a higher resistance then you have removed the lead with the short on it. You can now then track down the trouble from that lead. You can also replace the battery connection and the fuse so if you don’t find the trouble right away at least you should be able to use the rest of the lighting circuits without trouble.

To answer your questions:

  1. I haven’t tried Triedaq’s suggestion yet (Will do over the weekend).
  2. Yes there is “lamps out light” on the dashboard (doesn’t come on now)
  3. Yes, the new fuses are fine till I turn on the head lamps
  4. And as an addition, the hazards don’t work either

You have an electrical short in the red/black striped wire somewhere after the headlight switch. The power for this wire comes from fuse #23 (15A). Fuse #20 (10A) powers the Hazard Warning Switch. Fuse #1(?) (7.5A?) powers the turn signals.
An electrical short is a very low (even zero ohms) resistance from the wire to ground. A lot of amps flow through the short to ground and blows the fuse. That’s what has happened to your car.
The resistance check your electrician attempted would have to be done with the headlight switch turned ON. I think that when your electrician checked the red/black striped wire circuit, from the fuse socket, he didn’t have the head light switch ON.

Thank you all for your contributions.
My electrian and I will work on the car this weekend.
Will Keep you posted.

Thank you all for your help and cooperation.
Thank you!!!

Well you’ve gotten lots of good feedback on this from the other posters.

I’ve never heard of such a crazy problem as flipping one switch & blowing 4 fuses. I’m sure we will all be most interested in what you find. Please keep us posted.

BTW, are the fuses blowing with one click/running lights only or 2 clicks/running lights + headlights of the headlight switch?

YES!!! Great idea. Cougar wins the prize. There might possibly be something that only operates with voltage, but the idea of removing the fuse-blowing energy from the battery, then turning things on is a good thing to check. If there is a headlight relay it will not operate, right?

But, this sounds basic, and in any case is a great way to eliminate a lot of stuff in a hurry.