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Old 02-28-2018, 06:32 PM   #1
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Hi/Lo beam light inverted?

Hi!

I acquired a 1997 E-250 (5.4L V8) back in 2005, and since owning it, there have been some electrical quirks with the gauge cluster, to include not lighting up when the headlights are on, and most of the lights remaining off when running. The one exception is the High beam indicator, which remains illuminated when the lights (and stalk) are both on low beam. When put to high beam, the high beam indicator goes out & the lights are on high beam. The van has been otherwise issue free for the last 13 years besides the usual gas/tires/oil. I can drive by feel without the dashboard illumination at night just fine- That said, I would be far more comfortable if I could get the lights to function.

When turning the key through the ignition, the dashboard lights do work, they illuminate briefly.
The radio & AC controls light up & function as intended.

I've read through some other forums and it has been suggested that it's a result of poor grounding that is causing the issues. I did take the dashboard out to check for any obvious issues at the end of summer last year and the only thing I noticed that a few of the screws meant to hold it in place were missing. Does anyone know if Ford used those screws for grounding?

Before going out and buying parts, I just wanted to ask if there was a general consensus that poor grounding is a likely culprit for the dash lights not lighting as intended? Other possible reasons that would be worth checking?

Thanks!
Erik
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Old 02-28-2018, 07:25 PM   #2
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My first guess was a bad ground somewhere, but that'a only a guess and I have no idea where that might be. The factory electrical manual (available on Amazon) lists all grounds and ground points. That might be a good place to start.
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Old 03-01-2018, 05:45 AM   #3
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From your description it sounds like the previous owner or someone else has been fiddling around the cluster--check for signs of repair etc to the existing wiring.

Which lights are not illuminated when running---just the dash lights or other exterior lighting? The lamps for cluster illumination are easily replaced.

Initially this could all be related to the main headlight switch too. If the existing one is OEM it could have developed issues just through simple use.

Here's an eBay link to a very nice EVTM for your year chassis: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1997-FORD-L...xWpRc4&vxp=mtr--I'd highly recommend having one of these, never know when they come in handy.

Also a complete set of shop manuals including an EVTM: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1997-Ford-E...ZaltmZ&vxp=mtr That's far more than you really need or want but worth a look.
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Old 03-01-2018, 08:45 AM   #4
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From your description it sounds like the previous owner or someone else has been fiddling around the cluster--check for signs of repair etc to the existing wiring.

Which lights are not illuminated when running---just the dash lights or other exterior lighting? The lamps for cluster illumination are easily replaced.

Initially this could all be related to the main headlight switch too. If the existing one is OEM it could have developed issues just through simple use.

Here's an eBay link to a very nice EVTM for your year chassis: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1997-FORD-L...xWpRc4&vxp=mtr--I'd highly recommend having one of these, never know when they come in handy.

Also a complete set of shop manuals including an EVTM: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1997-Ford-E...ZaltmZ&vxp=mtr That's far more than you really need or want but worth a look.
The Quigley was something that my uncle had as a 95+% complete WIP ski van. He found a company that was selling a Quigley truck that had an engine fire (The extent of which, I honestly don't know. I don't think it was anywhere as bad as that would typically suggest; I haven't found any evidence of a large fire, still has a clean title. He likely knew who it was who was selling it), and also purchased a rolled clubwagon at about the same time. The interior of the clubwagon went into the Quigley, the spare V8 still resides at his house in Wa State.

My uncle passed away in 2005 (I was 7 at the time), and one of the possessions my father brought back to CA was this van. Neither my father nor I know what issues the van had that he was working on when he passed away. He was in the business of heating/ac/electrical for houses, so we both agree if it was a simple fix, he would have done it. Not necessarily meaning that the fix is hard, just not obvious.

The only things that I know were not there from the factory is a Bulldog remote start system (Since sold out to Viper.), and a trailer brake controller. Not sure/don't think that those would affect the dashboard lights.
Both headlights have been replaced (brighter/better quality) after one burnt out -- I am convinced this is not the issue, as the headlight replacement was probably 2010-ish, and the issue has been since 2005.

All exterior lights work, most interior lights work with exception to 1-2 of the passenger/reading lights & rear dome light that have burnt out over time and likely just need new bulbs.

As far as the electrical diagrams, there are two thick books in the truck, one of which is for the electrical with good diagrams that I should be able to find the ground points in. They look different than those linked, but I think I remember the covers having a year range on the front cover from 1997 to 2003 (Since the manuals include wiring for the 5.4, 6.8 & 7.3).

I'm a university student up in Bozeman right now... and while it is warming up, I'm not too excited to go tearing things apart at 10-20 degrees!
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Old 03-01-2018, 10:24 AM   #5
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The Quigley was something that my uncle had as a 95+% complete WIP ski van. He found a company that was selling a Quigley truck that had an engine fire
If it's the van that had the engine fire, the problem could be anywhere in the wiring harness. I once had a truck where the cig lighter stuck in and it overheated the wiring to the point it melted the insulation and shorted a couple wires. I ended up cutting off the harness cover everywhere I could access it until I found a tiny spot where two wires were touching. You could have similar issue. Take a good look at the wiring harness under the hood, just above the engine, where it runs along the firewall, it could have been directly affected by the flames even if only for a few seconds.
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Old 03-01-2018, 11:29 AM   #6
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If it's the van that had the engine fire, the problem could be anywhere in the wiring harness. I once had a truck where the cig lighter stuck in and it overheated the wiring to the point it melted the insulation and shorted a couple wires. I ended up cutting off the harness cover everywhere I could access it until I found a tiny spot where two wires were touching. You could have similar issue. Take a good look at the wiring harness under the hood, just above the engine, where it runs along the firewall, it could have been directly affected by the flames even if only for a few seconds.
Worth looking into, but I wouldn't be surprised if the motor up in Washington was the original block in the Quigley. Looked pretty rough, of course, that could also be because it has sat in the corner of the garage for 15+ years.

I suppose this is the major headache of trying to troubleshoot this... It's parts from two vans from 13 years ago, and anyone who might have known anything has to remember 13-15 years back and even then they probably weren't too involved with fixing it. Might be original wiring harness, might be the one from the second van.

I'll put this on the list of things to check if the grounding checks out. Likely that I will put off the troubleshooting until I am back in California and the weather is more friendly.
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