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Old 08-11-2013, 10:27 AM   #1
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Instrument panel lights not working '97 KS

I'm hoping someone here has sone advice for solving a problem I have with the lights for my gauges on my '97 Kountry Star MH. It is a front engine diesel model which seems to be pretty rare but it has been a good coach.

First, let me say that all my exterior lights are working fine and that all the gauges, back-up camera monitor, radio, and all indicator lights are working as they should. The only problem is that the instrument panel lights do not come on when the headlights are turned on. Turning the knob which usually changes them from bright to dim does nothing - not even an occasional blink.

The only other clue I can give is the light panel around the toggle switches (ICC Flash, Gen On/Off, etc.) in the center of the dash comes on when I start the engine but those immediately go off when the parking or headlights are pulled on. I don't remember if this is normal or not.

I've already spent about 8-12 hours looking for the cause but have found nothing yet. All fuses are good (checked with a volt/ohm meter) and all connections have been checked for tightness. I have not been able to trace out the ground wires because of the clutter under the dash and the wires being bundled together. I'm thinking I have either a bad ground or the headlight switch may be bad. Any ideas?

Thanks! ----- Jim
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:39 AM   #2
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Hi Geaux Tigers,
If you think the problem is a bad ground(s), make a new ground wire to the chassis. I gave up tracing ground wires, years ago. If I think the ground wire is the problem I just run a new wire. My coach has quite a few extra ground wires. One can not have too many ground wires.
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:30 PM   #3
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I have the same problem. My guess is the headlight switch itself. If I rapidly rotate the switch, I can sometimes get the instrument lights to come on. Potentiometers are susceptible to corrosion in a humid environment, over time. I am going to try replacing with a new one.
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:53 PM   #4
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Worked on this a little more tonight. I took a wire and jumped directly from 12 volts to the light connection of one of the gauges. All instrument panel lights came on and the lights around the toggle switches at the center of the dash also came on. This eliminates the bad ground theory.

So I immediately thought the headlight switch was my problem. Ohm meter indicated the potentiometer on the headlight switch was good. Pulled the fuse for the instrument panel lights on the chassis fuse block under the dash and checked it again. It is good. Checked for voltage in the socket for this fuse and 12v comes in when the headlight switch is pulled on but still no voltage at the gauges after re-installing the fuse. I expected the voltage coming to this fuse to vary when I turned the dimmer switch but it stayed a steady 12 volts. The dimmer must come into play further down the line.

The hunt will continue tomorrow night by trying to trace out the wires from the chassis fuse block to the gauges.

------ Jim
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Old 08-11-2013, 10:14 PM   #5
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Your checks appear to vindicate the headlight switch, but remember, there are multiple contacts and movements within that switch. I'd retain a little suspicion in that direction.
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:24 AM   #6
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Spent most of last night fixing another electrical gremlin with the bedroom lights by the bed but after that I looked at the instrument panel lights again. JFXG, I think you are correct about the headlight switch. The ceramic disk that holds the potentiometer coil just looks too loose to me even thought the coil wire itself checks good. Now, if I can only get the knob off the switch, I'll go get another one. Turning clockwise, counterclockwise, pulling straight back with fairly significant force didn't budge it. It was sprayed with WD-40 and hopefully it will soak in. Tonight I'll give it another try.

-------------- Jim
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:37 AM   #7
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Removing the , knob and shaft, from those switches is a real .....{ self imposed edit } . When holding the spring loaded latch pin in , vary the amount of tension you apply. It is possible to push too hard and bind the shaft; instead of releasing it.
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:20 PM   #8
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Skip426, where is this latch pin? Does this pin release the knob from the shaft or does it release the shaft from the switch housing?

------------ Jim
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Old 08-13-2013, 11:52 PM   #9
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The latch pin , spring loaded with a curved head 3/16" diameter. Is on the opposite side of the switch from wiring plug in. Usually can not be seen only felt. It releases the shaft from the inside of the switch. Pushes in about 1/4".
Disconnect the chassis batteries before you remove the shaft as the lights will be on and you can easily short out the switch when you loosen it for removal.
I looked on the NAPA web site , and the pictures they show of the switch do not show the release. If you have any trouble , re-post , I'll pull mine out and post a picture.
Most of our vintage RV's use a early 70s Chev P/U , headlight switch.

Under $10 last time I replaced one.
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Old 08-26-2013, 08:07 PM   #10
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Thank you, Skip426. Sorry, we've been away from the computer for a couple of weeks. During that time, we used our MH and I now think it is definitely the headlight switch. I didn't have time to remove the switch & find a new one before we left but the WD40 I put on the knob & shaft to make the removal easier must have lubricated something because everything worked the first time I had to use my lights. Now that we are back I still plan to replace the switch.

------- Jim
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Old 09-04-2013, 02:20 PM   #11
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Jim
I finally pulled my panel and had a look at the switch. There was corrosion visible on the rheostat spring...which is what controls the amount of current that goes to the dash and instrument lights. I merely cleaned the switch with CRC Electronic cleaner and a little brushing and a nail file. My dash lights now work as good as new...almost.
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