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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone, newbie on here (I will post in the new member section later). I got an issue with the gauge cluster flickering along with the headlights. Based on my search on here and the net. I decided to remove the dash and headlight switch. I cleaned the pins and the plug and then applied die-electric grease. Still flickering ugh. So after alittle more testing, I have found that bumps don't affect it nor does the cc being set. What does affect it is the speed, it only seems to happen if I'm going over 50mph. 🤔 again doesn't matter if cc is set or not. I'm lost any help would be greatly appreciated. Oh I also check and tightened the pos and neg jump posts.
 

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Thatone****guy - welcome!

What year and engine?

So - at the speeds that the flickering occurs, is it uniform and constant, or does it sporadically come and go from second to second and randomly vary?

• If flicker is very constant when it's occuring, varying strictly with (I assume engine) speed, I wonder if you have a bad alternator diode, which would give a periodic dip in the system voltage - "periodic" not in terms of seconds, but fractions of a second. My theory would be that the frequency of the "noise" on the system voltage and resulting flicker would be more visually noticeable at some speeds more than others. The frequency at certain speeds would be in the audible range, so you may also be able to hear those frequencies as constant quiet "squealing" coming from the alternator or cluster that varies pitch with engine speed.

Maybe one of the first things to check is the green fusible link the branches off of the positive battery cable badly corroded and possibly fractured. That can cause intermittent connection between the alternator output and the battery, causing flicker and poor battery charging.

If you disconnect the 2-pin connector on the alternator and run the engine at the speeds that normally cause the flicker, if no flicker, the alternator or fusible link may be the problem.

• If the flicker is very sporadic at the speeds it occurs, I think there's a weak connection somewhere - could be +12 volt connection or a ground connection.

If you have an FSM, you could study the wiring diagrams (section 8W) to identify all of those power and ground paths and connections. (Ground points are designated in the format "Gxxx", xxx being a 3-digit number). Points to consider: Pos. and neg. jump posts (not just being looose, but corrosion between the surfaces of the three cable terminals, which can be invisible - you may have to disassemble, lightly sand the cable terminal contact surfaces, wipe clean, apply light coating of grease as anti-corrosion, re-assemble), battery post connections (loose clamps and/or battery acid corrosion) and cable condition, main power connection to PDC (the fuse box under the hood on driver's side), various main body ground points on the body and in the engine compartment (there's one near the passenger-side headlights - G106). There are also one or two braided flexible ground straps between body and engine heads that can corrode (the fine metal strands turn to fine green or white dust/powder) and break.

NOTES:
IMPORTANT: Disconnect the neg. jump post before putting a wrench to the positive jump post nuts. If you don't, you will get a dead short from +12 volts to ground when the other end of the wrench inadvertently touches nearby grounded metal - dangerous to you and potentially damaging to wrench and car.

When disassembling, re-assembling, and tightening pos. jump post, use two wrenches - one on each nut, otherwise the stud will just spin rather than the nuts loosening/tightening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the info!! Sorry completely forgot about year and engine. It's a 2000 with the 2.7L engine. I did see somewhere that some dealerships were separating G106 and G105 grounds. If 106 is by the pass HL assembly 105 must be close by I'm guessing? So to answer your question about the flickering. It's kinda of sporadic, it will go crazy for a few minutes and then nothing for mile or so. Again the headlights and cluster are the only things I notice. The radio doesn't dim or any other int lights. I will start with your idea about the alternator and then go through the wires from there. I just wanted to make sure it's not just the headlight switch first .
 

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I'm not saying it's not the headlamp switch - it does control dash and headlight on-off via multiplexed signals to the BCM.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So, alittle more testing this morning on the way to work. They are only flickering if I turn on the defrost mode on the climate controls. Which would be putting more load on the system correct? So I'm guessing that I have an issues with voltage. I'm going to dive in this weekend to some of the checks and tests that you posted to do. Just wondering if my thinking is right about it being a voltage issue. Cause I'm thinking I can eliminate the headlight switch as part of the problem.
 

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Hard to say, but probably.

Does the cabin blower happen to be on higher speed when the problem occurs? I ask because the blower motor pulls a lot of current on higher speeds. If you have a high resistance (loose or corroded) connection point in the power or ground paths from battery to the headlights and cluster, the added current of the blower motor could be just enough to put things over the edge. (High resistance + current => voltage drop (by Ohm's law) & heat at the point of high resistance => even higher resistance => even more voltage drop and heat => => => flaky operation.)

You may be able to measure voltage drop between various points A and B in the power and ground paths between battery and headlights. If so, keep moving points A and B closer and closer together to ID the problem point. You may be able to detect high heat when you touch the bad area. The two most common weak spots for that kind of problem are at the battery posts and the positive jump post.

Any measurements you make are meaningless unless the problem is occurring when you make the measurements. That makes troubleshooting difficult on intermittent problems. If you figure out how to turn the problem on (by going to defrost mode, or turning the blower on high speed, or whatever), troubleshooting will be infinitely easier.

Can't assume you/we are on the right track yet, but you/we might be.

Be sure the battery itself or the charging system (primarily the alternator and the green fusible link) or connections at the battery posts are not the problem or part of the problem. Measure the voltage across the battery posts with engine running (preferably at 2000 rpm or slightly above) when the problem is occurring. If not between 13.5 and 14.5 volts (closer to 13.5 in warm weather, closer to 14.5 in colder weather), then that could be the problem. If it really is the problem, I would expect to see considerably below 13.5 volts (again, only when the problem is occurring). If the battery itself or the connections at the battery are the problem, it makes a difference if the meter leads are on the posts themselves or the cable clamps, and a difference in those readings will tell you if it's the battery or a poor connection between battery post and cable clamp.
 

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I wouldn't think it would cause the problem. The lower cable on the negative jump post connects to the transmission. I think the braided straps are redundant to the cable from battery to neg, jump pos and neg. jump post to transmission, which is bolted to the engine - so you've got some redundancy of battery-engine-body grounding. But wouldn't hurt to repair/replace.

There should be a another braided strap on the driver's side (not sure if that's true for all years). The braided strap on the passenger side branches - I think the other half attaches to the engine cradle or a bracket on the cradle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok, well I won't get to hyper about that ground strap then. I thinking it maybe the pos battery term, it's almost broken in half where the bolt passes through it. Both the neg and pos battery terminals where barley tight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Wanted to give you an update. I found the problem it was the ac compressor. The clutch must be going bad and causing the engine to jump all over the place when under heavy loads. So I took the compressor belt off and then tightened the prime belt good and tight and no more flickering of the headlights or cluster. The only other possible is the compressor is fine, and maybe the prime belt wasn't tight all the way. The 13mm tensioner bolt seemed kinda of loose. I will put the ac belt back on at some point just to verify, but it's going into fall here in michigan so not having ac currently isn't a huge deal.
 

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Did I mention?: Check that your alternator belt is tight.

Oops! I guess I forgot to mention that. 🤣
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hahahaha all good no worries lol, I learned alot about the car already hahaha. Like I said it could be the compressor, it's sounded like the clutch was slaming in and out hard. Sometime I will verify, but for now I'm just happy no more flickering lol. I appreciate all the help very much.
 

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Hahahaha all good no worries lol, I learned alot about the car already hahaha. Like I said it could be the compressor, it's sounded like the clutch was slaming in and out hard. Sometime I will verify, but for now I'm just happy no more flickering lol. I appreciate all the help very much.
For consideration:
• Compressor clutch bearing sometimes fails allowing the clutch pulley to tilt and drag against the compressor body (creating metallic rubbing noise, and eventually wearing a hole in the compressor body).
• If a.c. system has had leaks or improper servicing, a.c. system could be low in oil, putting compressor at risk for failure. Compressor can get very noisy on its way to failure.
• At final stages of failure, compressor can lock up, smoking the clutch and/or belt.
 
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