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Old 08 Feb 2019, 09:06 pm
SpaceMouse's Avatar
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Location: SF Bay Area / Central Valley
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Question Random Electrical Glitches

Hey everyone,
My '06 Touring has been doing some funny electrical stuff lately. Or maybe I've just been noticing it more now that I'm driving more often at night.
The headlights will dim momentarily (just a half a second or so) at random intervals. No loss of power, nothing else happens at the same time, just an occasional "blink" of the headlights. Less often, they'll get really bright, again for maybe a half a second.
I've been ignoring this, thinking that maybe it's just a random voltage regulator glitch. Then today, maybe 5 minutes after setting off on my way home, I went over a bump and ALL of the warning lights in the speedometer's enclosure came on. They went out after a second or two, and everything seems to work just fine, but I'm waiting to be stranded by some catastrophic "I tried to warn you" failure.
Does any of this sound familiar? I seem to recall that the Multi-Function Switches go bad after a while...

TIA
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Old 08 Feb 2019, 11:40 pm
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

...and suddenly it's way worse. Every 30 seconds or so the instruments all die (the speedometer, tach, fuel gauge, etc all head for zero), and all the warning lights come on. It's just like when you first start- all the lights light up, then go out, except for the seat belt light, which stays on for a few more seconds.
The good news is that the engine keeps running. The bad news is that I've got absolutely no idea what's going on.
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Old 09 Feb 2019, 12:23 am
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceMouse View Post
Hey everyone,
My '06 Touring has been doing some funny electrical stuff lately. Or maybe I've just been noticing it more now that I'm driving more often at night.
The headlights will dim momentarily (just a half a second or so) at random intervals. No loss of power, nothing else happens at the same time, just an occasional "blink" of the headlights. Less often, they'll get really bright, again for maybe a half a second.
I've been ignoring this, thinking that maybe it's just a random voltage regulator glitch. Then today, maybe 5 minutes after setting off on my way home, I went over a bump and ALL of the warning lights in the speedometer's enclosure came on. They went out after a second or two, and everything seems to work just fine, but I'm waiting to be stranded by some catastrophic "I tried to warn you" failure.
Does any of this sound familiar? I seem to recall that the Multi-Function Switches go bad after a while...




TIA

Nothing to add here that helps, except I get the same very occasionally, or did. It's really weird - you "sense" the lights going out rather than actually see them flicker.

One thing I can say is that I haven't (touch wood) had it for a while, and that coincide, now I think about it, with having changed out the belt and the rollers and tensioners ( not to confuse you, but there are technically 2 tensioners on the diesel, not just the sprung one)

Now, it could be that a combination of an old belt and tensioner bearings starting to go south (which they were) has stopped a momentary seizing and belt slippage happening...?
or could it be that because I had to drop the alternator off to change the rollers, although I didn't have to undo the connections to the alternator, as it swings out of the way, I obviously gave them a wiggle and made sure they were sound before replacement.

I don't offer this as a cure, but as a thing to think about. For the record my roller bearings were a but grumbly, but were actually a lot worse for wear when they were off than they appeared to be, or sounded, while still on the car.
It might be worth having a poke round that area and see whats what.

PS: you can check for roller / tensioner / belt noise easy enough - drop the belt off and start the car (briefly) and listen to the difference.
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Old 09 Feb 2019, 12:30 am
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceMouse View Post
...and suddenly it's way worse. Every 30 seconds or so the instruments all die (the speedometer, tach, fuel gauge, etc all head for zero), and all the warning lights come on. It's just like when you first start- all the lights light up, then go out, except for the seat belt light, which stays on for a few more seconds.
The good news is that the engine keeps running. The bad news is that I've got absolutely no idea what's going on.
Hadn't seen this before I replied.

Get underneath and check ALL connections ESPECIALLY earths to the engine, alternator leads etc.

Really give them a good yanking about and make sure they are sound - be aware that a lead may "look" fine, and under moderate wiggling about might even feel sound, but can be shagged out - ie wires internally broken while the outer insulation appears perfect, soldered joints dried out, crimping broken - and the cause of all your grief.
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Old 09 Feb 2019, 01:13 am
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpaceMouse View Post
...and suddenly it's way worse. Every 30 seconds or so the instruments all die (the speedometer, tach, fuel gauge, etc all head for zero), and all the warning lights come on. It's just like when you first start- all the lights light up, then go out, except for the seat belt light, which stays on for a few more seconds.
The good news is that the engine keeps running. The bad news is that I've got absolutely no idea what's going on.
I would suggest checking the 7 ground wires attached to the drivers inner side fender. Sometimes they corrode and you can't see it until you take the 7 ground wires apart.

If the ground wires check out good I would check the PCM. On one of my Pt Cruisers if the PCM gets hot it does the same symptoms you have. I have to order the PCM soon before the weather gets hot again. One other member took a heat gun to it after disconnecting it from the firewall and it did what looks similar to what yours is doing on one side of the PCM.
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Old 09 Feb 2019, 02:29 pm
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

Yup!
Sounds like a loose connection somewhere...or the PCM.
Don't forget to double check your battery terminals being loose.
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Old 09 Feb 2019, 04:32 pm
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

Okay, this is hugely helpful. The previous owner replaced the PCM (he threw in a receipt for almost half the cost of the vehicle when I bought it), so I'm hoping that's still okay. I cleaned up the passenger side fender ground when I replaced the timing belt last year, so that should also be okay.
I've heard the nightmare stories about the 7 wire grounding bundle, but how do I access it? Got any links to articles about cleaning it up?
Again, thanks!
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Old 09 Feb 2019, 05:09 pm
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

The drivers side to the right of the airbox.

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Old 09 Feb 2019, 06:38 pm
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

My younger son Pricie was having the same dimming, blinking head light problems with his 05 PT Vert. All connections, wires and terminals were diligently checked and found to be fine. Finally he replace his battery and all is well again. But in his case the other good suggestions were tried first.
Good luck, Happy PTin', ptprice
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Custom Cool Vanilla White, 3 Coats. 2.4 DOHC 16V SMPI Eng. Vanity Cover, 4 Spd. Auto Trans. 2.6 Overall Top Gear, Lock-up Torque Converter. Aluminum Chrome Clad 16" X 6" Wheels, P205/55 R16 Cooper Touring tires, Touring Suspension. Chrome Package; Side Spears, Grills, Fuel Filler Door, Door Locks, Handles, PRND3-1 Bezel, Silver/Chrome Shift Ball/Knob, Bright Spoke Leather Tilt Steering Wheel. Chrome Tail Lights, 3/8" Belt Trim. Cruise Control, Power Mirrors, A/C, Deep Tinted Sun Screen Glass, Power Moon Roof, Fog and Back-Up Lights, Rear Spoiler, Variable Front Wipers W/Washers, Rear Wiper/Washer, Key less Entry, Replacement 2001 Dark Taupe Grey Suede/Leather Trim Seats, Dual Under Seat Storage Drawers, Drivers Side Power Seat Height Adjust. Full Length Console, Locking Glove Box, Overhead Temperature/Compass Console, Rear Shelf Panel, AM/FM CD GPS Navigation Radio, 6 Premium Speakers, Back up Camera/ 7" Monitor.
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Old 10 Feb 2019, 07:26 pm
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Default Re: Random Electrical Glitches

When the problem happens, with the car running rapidly push/tap the key in and out. if the problem stops replace the key switch and the mechanical switch no need to replace key tumbler. Spring in either one or both is weak. When you turn key a spring is released that pushes a plunger that activates a micro switch
(four or eight) energizing electrical components. the flashing occurs when spring weakes allowing the plunger to oscillate.
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