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  #1  
Old 08-04-2009, 12:31 AM
DMoneyTT DMoneyTT is offline
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Angry Dome light problems...not the typical fix

So, this is my first post on this forum. I am usually on Twinturbo.net finding little projects and upgrades for my Twin Turbo 300ZX. I have a 1996 Ranger regular cab w/ a 2.3 and 5 speed...no 4 wheel drive. No options except AC. I really love this little truck, and I used it as a parts getter for my business for 8 years. It has 199,000 miles on it right now, and it performs perfectly in every way except one. The dome light does not shut off when the doors are shut. I have searched through the posts on this matter, and read posts from other sights. The WD-40 trick did nothing, so I removed the door panel, and pulled the connectors from the latch mechanism. I noticed that the top connector went to a switch that controlled the door ajar chime. This switch is working perfectly, and when I unplugged it, my door chime subsided. So, I plugged it back in and pulled the connector to the bottom switch. Why Ford decided to use two seperate switches that should perform the same function is beyond me. There really is no excuse for such wasteful engineering. After unplugging the dome light switch, it still did not go off. So, I took a short piece of wire that was stripped at both ends to jumper the connection...thus bypassing the switch. I figured that if the light was staying on when the switch was open/unplugged, it should turn off when the circuit is closed/jumpered. No dice. The light stayed on whether the circuit was open or closed. This has me thinking that either it is looking for a precise impedance to turn off the light (which would be insane on a plunger-type switch) or that I have some sort of short existing somewhere in the wiring. I pulled back the boot that shields the wires where they enter the door at the doorjam, and all the wires look fine. Does anyone have any ideas that I have yet to try. The design of this switch is obviously poor, but it seems that the switch may not even be the problem. I noticed one guy said that he banged on his dash and the problem went away. That's not exactly what I want to hear, but there must have been something wiring related running through that area.

Any ideas that you guys can give me would be greatly appreciated. I am getting really sick of having to pull the fuse or bulb whenever I don't need the light.

Thanks,
Derek
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  #2  
Old 08-04-2009, 07:04 AM
Buddythetruck Buddythetruck is offline
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This probably won't be too much help, but here is what I know about the dome light in my regular cab '97.
There are two positive wires that plug into the dome light. One is always hot, while the other is only hot when a door is open. This is how you have the option for an always on light, or an only when doors are open light.

Sorry I can't help much more than that.
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  #3  
Old 08-04-2009, 09:24 AM
RangerJustin RangerJustin is offline
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I know this may sound dumb, but sometimes the simplest things are forgotten...but did you you roll the dimmer switch too far and it is always on and just a simple roll back would shut it off...?
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  #4  
Old 08-04-2009, 09:44 AM
scooby stew scooby stew is offline
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silly i know but dose the light have the 3 way switch on off on when door is open ?????????? on my last ranger the plunger button was held in by 1 screw took it out it was rusty put a new screw in and it worked fine it was a bad earth worth a try
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  #5  
Old 08-04-2009, 07:11 PM
DMoneyTT DMoneyTT is offline
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It is not the switch on the dash that can rock all the way up to turn on the interior light. Well, at least that switch is not making any difference, though I suppose it could be faulty. It does click audibly when the switch is activated and deactivated for the dome light...just no effect on the light. I have only two connections in my dome light, a switched positive and a constant ground. It is the single bulb, basic dome light. No switches or side bulbs. I thought that maybe the relay was sticking, so I swapped in another relay and the results were the same. Is it possible that it is the GEM? I know that one guy said smacking his dash fixed this problem (though probably just a coincidence) and the only way that should do anything is if the switch on the dash is bad or the GEM is malfunctioning. When I first removed my door panel and pulled the connector to the dome light switch, I was sure that it would go out. When that didn't work, I grounded the switch, thinking that it would go out. Neither method worked, so I am inclined to think that the switch is fine, but I have some sort of wiring gremlin. If it was just the switch, I probably would have just removed it and spliced the connector into the door ajar switch, since it is working perfectly, and this would cost me nothing. I am thinking about just putting in an interior light from another vehicle that has a switch, and having to turn it on every time instead of having it come on when the door is open. It just seems ridiculous to have to do this, when it shouldn't be so complicated to fix. Otherwise I love this truck for it's simplicity, but the 2 switches on the latch is definitely a step in the wrong direction when a single door plunger is cheaper to produce and easier to replace. I'm not throwing in the towel on this fix yet, but it sure is aggravating. Any new ideas would be really helpful. Thanks to those who have replied. I'll definitely be using this forum whenever I have a ranger related issue.
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  #6  
Old 08-04-2009, 09:39 PM
DMoneyTT DMoneyTT is offline
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I went in through the passenger door today and installed the bulb. It did not turn on. Then, when I opened the driver side door, the dome light did come on. It will not turn off when I shut the door. So, I pulled the door panel for the millionth time (thank god it's so damn easy) and removed the plunger switch that controls the light. I can push it all the way in, or let it rebound all the way out, and neither condition turns the light off. Also, before I opened the driver side door, I tried to turn on the dome light with the dash switch (the one that adjusts the gauge brightness) and it had no effect, so that is obviously not working either. Could the dash switch's malfunctioning cause my door latch switch to malfunction as well? It seems odd that every switch that controls the dome light has given up at the same time. So, my passenger side door does not ever signal the dome light. My driver side door will always turn it on (for those rare times when it decides to shut off...does it time out to save the battery?), but never turn it off, and my dash switch does nothing to turn it on. The dash switch does effectively control the gauge cluster luminescence. I am starting to think that this is not a simple switch issue, and there is some sort of controller that is malfunctioning. I am going to look for a wiring schematic for the truck, but it appears that the only "smart" system in the truck is the GEM. I'm starting to think that the GEM may be the source of my problem, but if it is, I doubt that it would be cost effective to replace it.
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  #7  
Old 08-04-2009, 10:13 PM
DMoneyTT DMoneyTT is offline
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More to add:

The lower switch that is mounted in the door latch assembly is the door ajar chime switch. My ranger does not have a door ajar switch, but if the keys are in the ignition without the car running, it will chime. Also, if the door is open while the lights are on and the car is not running, it will chime. I do not understand at all why they needed to put two switches in the door that do the same thing.
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  #8  
Old 08-04-2009, 11:24 PM
DMoneyTT DMoneyTT is offline
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I just bypassed the switch entirely, and it made no difference whether I touched the wires together or left them apart. I also impedance tested the switch itself and it is working properly. I would be inclined to think that there is a break in a wire somewhere, but it doesn't make sense that after the truck sat overnight, the power to the dome light eventually switched off, and it came back on when I opened the driver side door. Is there a circuit that will time out if the dome light is on for a certain amount of time? This is driving me nuts.
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  #9  
Old 08-05-2009, 02:07 AM
DMoneyTT DMoneyTT is offline
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Okay, so I let the truck sit for a while and then went back in through the passenger side door and put the bulb in. The dome light did not come on. The glove box light would also not come on when I opened it. The light switch on the dash also did nothing. As soon as I put the key in the ignition (not even turn the key, just put it in) the interior light came on, and I opened the glove box, and it's light was on. It seems that somehow the truck is detecting that the light is staying on too long, and cuts power to it and the glove box light, until either the driver side door is opened, or the key goes into the ignition. The interior light never comes on when I open the passenger side door, nor do I ever remember it doing so. Is there even supposed to be a switch on that door in my base model truck?
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  #10  
Old 08-08-2009, 02:51 AM
DMoneyTT DMoneyTT is offline
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Default Victory is mine!!

So, I finally fixed my problem. Apparently my guess that the system will "time out" if the dome light is on for more than 30 minutes or so was correct. Even though my driver side switch appeared to be the problem, it turned out to be my passenger side switch. I removed the lower switch and cleaned it with Hoppe's No. 9 firearms solvent, which leaves almost no residue and will break down almost any type of metal fouling or chemical residue. I simply let it soak for 20 minutes while swishing it around with forceps. The action is smooth as silk on the switch now, and I lubricated it with graphite powder (which cannot short the switch because it will conduct reasonably well). The dome light is working perfectly now, for the first time since I have bought it. It never bothered me when it was my daytime parts getter, but now that I drive it at night (I work in a bar) this is the nicest repair I could ask for. Only one question: There is an 18 second delay between when I shut the driver side door, and when the dome light turns off. There is no delay after shutting the passenger side door. It is consistently exactly 18 seconds every time. I must assume this is normal. I have never experienced the factory dome light system, so this is all new to me. I guess it's the little things in life. I am in the middle of a Turbo upgrade on my Twin Turbo 300zx, and when I get it done (hopefully this Sunday!!!), I may start looking for a nice 2.3Turbo to swap into my Ranger. It's a tough sell though, as I have just under 200,000 miles and (now) everything works on the truck. Maybe I should just deck the head and port it? I should probably post engine mod ideas in a difference thread...so.....thanks to everyone who helped on this, and I hope that future searches will find these posts helpful.

Derek
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  #11  
Old 08-08-2009, 08:55 AM
Jay FX4 Jay FX4 is offline
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Glad to hear you got it working. Had to be pretty annoying....
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  #12  
Old 07-30-2010, 12:48 AM
PaulBennett PaulBennett is offline
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Default Re: Dome light problems...not the typical fix

What I have learned to do on a previous car and applied the idea to the Ranger, was to cut an aluminum plate about 2" x 3/4" rounding all edges nicely. I fasten it to the door jam just above the existing dome light plunger switch using a pop rivet. This involves drilling a hole above the switch, the drill diameter obviously appropriate for the pop rivet.

Operation: The lever is positioned over the switch plunger button so the dome light switch doesn't pup out and turn on. On the occasional for normal operation, I simply turn the lever to the side so opening the door - dome light on - normal operation recurrs. That obviously must be done when the truck is stopped, not a large struggle to think ahead a few minutes.

My particular Ranger dome light has a switch which turns on either of the 'map' lights individually so that I can still gain light while driving in the dark. I understand some Ranger lights are devoid the integral switch but this mod does afford the ability for them to kill the open-door/light on function.

I engineered and first instituted this modification in 1955 when a couple would need use of the radio, and seat, in an open door situation without alerting the parents that she had arrive home and thereby squeeze another hour out of the situation.
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