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Soldering Required to Replace Instrument Panel Bulb

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William K.
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Platinum
Re: Not a resistance problem. One other option
William K.   6/20/2014 9:29:48 PM
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One other option would be to diconnect the regulator that is part of the engine control module and replace it with a separate regulator module. The replacement could be either a commercial unit or a custom design, either would be simpler and cheaper to service or replace than that ECM, which is undoubtedly very expensive and probably hard to obtain. Alternator regulators are not that very hard to design, since they don't need to have microsecond response times. Fast regulators are always more work to design and to make function correctly.

Amclaussen
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Platinum
Re: Not a resistance problem.
Amclaussen   6/19/2014 2:09:33 PM
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Unfortunately, This car has the regulator embedded into the engine control module... One possible solution is to install a voltage regulator for the headlamps and other bulbs, but as the currents are not small, it would be costly.  Another one is to allow some resistance to be switched-in when the voltage is going too high, like on cold days.  But it is not really a problem on 98% of the days of the year here, so I will leave it as it is for now.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Not a resistance problem.
William K.   6/18/2014 11:53:48 PM
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Amclaussen, then the one remaining option would be to try a different regulator. The only time that I had a similar failure I did have to replace the solid-state voltage regulator, which for that car cost about $17. That was for a 1978 Plymouth. That regulator was a separate module, with two connections and it was simple to replace. If the regulator is built into the alternator it will be more expensive, and if it is built into the"engine control module" it may be horribly expensive. There are methods available to lower the voltage to the lights, but most of them require a bit of technical skil to implement them reliably. A high-current rated power diode in series with the headlamp feed line would drop about 0.7 volts, or two diodes in series would drop 1.4 volts, which might be enough to extend the lamp life a bit.

If you can gain the attention of the car-makers repairs expert, that person may be able to describe the cause of the problem as well as the cure. I have done that a couple of times.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Not a resistance problem.
William K.   6/18/2014 11:53:45 PM
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Amclaussen, then the one remaining option would be to try a different regulator. The only time that I had a similar failure I did have to replace the solid-state voltage regulator, which for that car cost about $17. That was for a 1978 Plymouth. That regulator was a separate module, with two connections and it was simple to replace. If the regulator is built into the alternator it will be more expensive, and if it is built into the"engine control module" it may be horribly expensive. There are methods available to lower the voltage to the lights, but most of them require a bit of technical skil to implement them reliably. A high-current rated power diode in series with the headlamp feed line would drop about 0.7 volts, or two diodes in series would drop 1.4 volts, which might be enough to extend the lamp life a bit.

If you can gain the attention of the car-makers repairs expert, that person may be able to describe the cause of the problem as well as the cure. I have done that a couple of times.

Amclaussen
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Not a resistance problem.
Amclaussen   6/18/2014 1:02:18 PM
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Hi William K., it was not a high resistance problem. I've checked all ground and positive connections and found the alternator-regulator simply puts out too much voltage! (above 16 volts at freezing ambient temperatures only). As voltage drops are now negligible, my car is prone to blow bulbs in those conditions. It was an unexpected consequence of replacing and improving the headlamp wiring with Heavy Duty Relays and heavier wiring.  At least now I can see better at night when my headlamp bulbs are still functioning! Amclaussen.

J. Williams
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Why are the bulbs soldered in?
J. Williams   6/17/2014 6:12:18 PM
Most people dump their cars before they reach ten years old so the bulb issue usually isn't problem.  However, the back lights for the manual HVAC controls on my '02 Suburban are soldered into the PWB that holds the fan/temperature/zone controls plus the push button switches for fresh/recirc, AC, rear defrost, etc.  Mine have burnt out.  Truck has 209K miles and things do wear out, but the prospect of buying a new control unit for who-knows-what at the local dealer or somewhat less from an on-line OEM parts house is not attractive to me.  Nothing else wrong with the panel, just the lights.  That kind of annoyance definitely sours my impression when something is made to be non-repairable for something as minor as a bulb.   

Amazon sells an AC Delco replacement for about $125 and I imagine the dealer price is probably $300 or more.

Being an engineer, I'll just solder in new bulbs (if I can find an equivalent grain of wheat bulb) or replace them with an LED with a dropping resistor.  I know the dimming won't be consistent with the other bulbs, but I rarely use the dimming feature anyways.  

Cadman-LT
User Rank
Platinum
Re: The Way Things Are
Cadman-LT   5/13/2014 5:15:48 PM
It isn't like it used to be. Cars were simple, fix everything yourself. It's all about money now. Make stuff so it breaks...it's disgusting.

Cadman-LT
User Rank
Platinum
The Way Things Are
Cadman-LT   5/13/2014 5:13:53 PM
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They don't want you to fix your own stuff. They want you to come in and pay them tons of money.

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
The extra buck
Battar   5/12/2014 1:39:52 AM
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Jeff says, "I would have paid the extra buck...to save trouble"

The design team at the factory ask, "you and who else?" which is a legitimate question, and they know the answer.

Battar
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Same thing on old stereo gear
Battar   5/12/2014 1:36:40 AM
Amclaussen,

                  There is still a small but growing market for "retro" hifi equipment with 70's look, sound and quality, notably in products by Tivoli, Tangent and Sangean. But for quality you have to pay, and you can understand why a generation growing up listening to Eminem and his ilk, and expecting recorded music to be a free service, are not particularly interested.

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