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Headlights turn/flick on and off after about 20 minutes of "on" time

Hello, I have a 1998 wrangler with some headlight problems. after about 20min of driving the headlights, and headlights only start to turn on and off. if i turn the headlights off (parking lights only, switch halfway in) for about 2 minutes or so, the headlights start to work again for about another 10 minutes. it seems like some thing is getting hot or a relay is bad, but can’t find a relay in the wiring diagrams. In my online forum research i have seen replacing the bulbs, new headlight switch, and even replacing the blinker stick. Any solid leads on where I should start? I now keep my fog lights on in case I lose the headlights at a critical time, as those do not fail either.


When my 92 Explorer did that, it was the headlight switch. . . internally the heat would cause a terminal to warp and lose contact.
Replaced switch, problem solved.
But that was a 92 vehicle so , not sure of your 98, but looking up your 24 dollar switch on Auto Zone it appears to be a similar style as the Explorer and that’s where my problem was.

  • yes, a dimmer switch could do that too , but I sure would start there.

When the headlights go out . . which switch feels hot ?

Hard to predict what you will find when you diagnose this but start by examining the headlight switch. This vehicle uses the old fashion headlight switch from the 1970’s, these develop burned contacts and/or burned connectors.

thanks ya’ll. i’ll give it a try. I changed it out about 4yrs ago when the dome/dash lights kept going out. must have got the cheap Chinese version. I’ll give it another try.

I agree. Its flicking on and off because it is on a circuit breaker that resets itself. The switch would be a good place to start but when I had this problem I disconnected the sun sensor for the automatic lights and the problem went away.