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Headlight problems 1991 plymouth

My headlights only work if I am depressing the lever I normally use to change from low to high beams. My brother says there is a simple short in the relay switch but the mechanic says the whole black box needs to be replaced for about $250. Mechanic also says I should consider replacing the car due to age of it… I am retired on a low fixed income so this is not great news.

Thanks in advance

I’d get another opinion from a second mechanic. I don’t know what “black box” is involved with headlight operation. Switches, fuses, relays, bulbs, and wiring should be about it. There’s no computer operating the headlights (at least I hope not).

How many miles on the car? There are plenty of '91 cars still on the road. I don’t think age alone is a good enough reason to get rid of a car.

Sorry…the black box is what I call the black plastic housing thing attached to the steering column where the turn signal lever protrudes. The lever controls high/low beams,windshield wipers/washer and turn signals. There is push/pull knob on the dashboard to turn the lights on/off.
The car has about 82,000 miles on it and I bought it from the original owner in 2004.I agree about the age not being a good enough reason. What the mechanic said was this is probably the beginning of lots of ongoing big/small problems as plastic ages, etc. I don’t know how to predict this sort of thing but I think I can make my decisions as problems arise. Perhaps I won’t have any problems after this one for quite awhile…

ps Your reply makes me think it could be a short that might easily be repaired rather than replace the whole thing…?

The problem could well be in the multi-function switch, as you say, and they’re not cheap to replace. I have to assume your mechanic has checked the other components to eliminate them as a cause.

This problem does not mean anything all by itself. You can’t predict when a component will fail. You could fix the headlights and something else could go wrong the next day. Of nothing may go wrong for a long time. It’s impossible to know.

aaah: a “multifunction switch”…of course! Thanks. My mechanic has actually not gone in and looked. He chatted with me for a few minutes when I stopped by and set up the appt. He is highly recommended in town, including good ethics, but this is the first time I’ve taken my car to him.

Thanks again. I’m feeling more informed.