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headlighs and running lights not working

1426 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  280ZXOwner
Ok so I have a 1978 280z this issue presented itself about a month ago and I haven't figured it out yet. I have replaced all four of the fusilinks and the headlights worked for awhile but still no running lights. Fired it up today to go to work and no headlights again. The fuses all look good tried a new combo switch and nothing. Idk what to do with this issue. Please help me as this is my daily driver and I need it working in orderly fashion!
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headlights and running lights not working

The only real answer is:
Trace and repair by using the wiring diagrams and a DVOM and possibly a short tracing device.
Stabbing at something and replacing parts without any understanding is just an exercise in futility.
But sometimes dumb luck works, for awhile.
In addition to what H4Lights said, a common failure point for the headlights is the grounds in the steering column.
For the parking lights, look at the 8-pin connector under the steering column. Locate the Green/Yellow wire. There is a good chance you'll see where the connector has been burning. You can get replacement parts at Vintage Connections. After you repair your parking lights, consider changing out the bulbs with LED bulbs. That will drastically reduce the current in the circuit. If you also replace the turn signal bulbs, you'll need electronic flasher units for your turn signals and hazard lights. You might also notice corrosion in the parking light sockets. Clean that up, too.
I have checked the fuses and connections but not for a short yet. I was hoping it would be an easy fix. I'm going to check for corrosion in the combination switch and all connections tomorrow I appreciate your guys input. Like I said before wanna get it going asap!
I had a similar problem on my 78. Check the light connection that is in the passenger foot well. Check the wiring diagram, there are several connections down there. I took mine apart, cleaned it and put some di-electric grease on it. Fixed the problem. Good luck!
By "new" combination switch, do you mean ordered from a vendor? If a used combination switch has been wired to an overheating circuit like this, the soldering on the switch will actually melt away... causing the noticeable side effect to an already important issue. I'd also inspect the fuse box for melting.

THe LEDs are a good idea for the side lights, but the tails will not fully illuminate as intended unless you invest in a custom set of lights (which someone on this site I believe was manufacturing). The "LED 1157 bulbs" center the lighting to a circle the size of a quarter and the lens does not illuminate entirely. Almost, but not quite.

The best long term modification is to install relays for these circuits. Your taking high amperage and LEAVING it in the engine bay. The combo switch will have a "remote wire" that only needs enough amperage to energize a relay coil.

And I would disagree with H4's condescending words of advice. Checking/replacing fuses and bulbs is the first and best place to start. The best rule for diagnosing is to start with easy and cheap. Knocking out POSSIBLE culprits fast and without wasting money. Tracing a short is time consuming, usually requiring one to tear apart something in the interior, when a dollar fuse COULD have been it.

Jas & Steve have excellent suggestions about connection repair/maintenance. Di-electric grease, I like to go at connection terminals with sandpaper and spray-can electrical cleaner. Its just like brake cleaner, but less harmful to plastics (found that out the hard way). H4 is right about wiring diagrams, learn them and love them. You'll find yourself spending hours referring to one.
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Find the 12v feed to the combo switch and bypass it. If it works, you know you have a supply problem. If it doesn't work you know the blockage is at the combo switch and/or grounding point. So do the same for the ground.
Ok Has where is that light connection at in the passenger side footwell best description if possible. And as for the combo switch it was a new as brought from a parts store here where I live.
I too recently had this issue. It turned out to be loose/dirty/some corrosion around my grounds and the multi purpose switch used for parking and head lights. Had to disassemble and clean the switch connections. Everything works fine now.
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