1998 Honda Civic



March, 1, 2011 AT 3:56 AM

1998 Honda Civic Instrument Cluster Light Problem

Background: Everything was fine. Today I replaced the valve/cam cover gasket and the distributor o ring gasket. Then I power / steam washed the engine so I can see any signs of new leakage. I got it wet enough I had to remove the distributor cap and dry it out.
so it was wet!

Problem: Now it does not have dash lights nor does it have the dash transmission gear selection light when the headlights are turned on (gear selection light works correctly when headlights are off). Fuse is good (visually inspected and even swapped with a known good one). It appears the instrument panel dimmer circuit is working correctly because the radio illumination dims, so does the heater controls, when the headlights are turned on.

I'm assuming I must have some water still in a connection, shorting out, somewhere under the hood. But I don't have a clue where. I did disconnect every connector I could see, blow it out with compressed air to remove any water, then plugged back together.

Don't know where else to look. Any suggestions are welcome.


2 Answers



March, 1, 2011 AT 5:36 PM

Have you checked the dash brightness controller? It could have been mistakenly turned to minimum.

Are other illuminations lights for heater control panel and other switches working?



March, 1, 2011 AT 9:00 PM

My kid would mis-adjust it; not me. I've been a mechanic since about age 15 and know to check the obvious first.

Spent the day tearing the dash apart and running tests using the shop manual. Started at the dimmer plug, got NONE of the expected responses. Pulled the instrument cluster, tested continuity on each bulb. Only 1 passed that test, all others failed, so tracked down some replacement bulbs and installed. Reassembled except for dimmer, ran tests again. Started getting expected results except for the third test, grounding the red / double silver dash line. Tore dash back apart looking for open / break. Didn't find anything obvious. Finally unplugged the fuse box connector containing that line, looked it over, didn't find anything bent / corroded / bad but when I put it back together it passed the test and lit up the dash when grounded this time. Must had been a somewhat loose connection at the fuse panel or a partial open buried in the wiring bundle that is now making connection. Then I reinstalled dimmer unit; no dash lights, obviously bad unit.

So for now the red and black wires are jumpered together so my kid can have dash lights at night. Going to get a replacement dimmer in a day or two.

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