Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

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levigideon
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Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby levigideon » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:28 pm

So this is a new one for me. I got the red wagon driving smoothly and somewhat reliably. I can drive it during the day all I need, but when I run the headlights for a while while driving they die out after about 5 minutes and then some seemingly random electrical problem follows.
:yuno:

First time around they just shut off and no lights would work at all for anything until I let things sit for a minute (and cool down?). I thought I solved it by cleaning all my grounds and making sure all was in order there, but now that's not the case. Today it happened again, but after I shut everything off, my dash lights all stayed on, no matter what I did with the headlight switch. I disconnected the battery, then reconnected it. Everything was off again and my headlights came back on when I pulled out the switch. It all worked normal like disconnecting the battery reset something.

Bone stock electrical system on a 71 510.

Anywhere in particular I should start looking? Or should I just start digging though the harness with a test light and multimeter until something seems funky?
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby 510freak » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:34 pm

Bad headlight relay?
Taterhead » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:35 am wrote:[quote="Taterhead » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:41 pm


Sorry, I was channeling my inner flatcat.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby levigideon » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:39 pm

Never gave me any trouble before... But I'll look into it. I'd rather replace all the relays with modern parts anyways.

Yesterday when it happened the body grounded to the engine via the return spring, causing my throttle to stick and the spring to stretch.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby 510freak » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:41 pm

Try tapping the relay,if it happens again,it "should" click off
Taterhead » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:35 am wrote:[quote="Taterhead » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:41 pm


Sorry, I was channeling my inner flatcat.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby wayno » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:19 pm

If it is grounding threw the throttle cable, then the engine/battery ground connection/cable is bad, or the engine to body ground/cable is bad.
The one time I goofed and and left the ground cable from the engine to the body/frame ground loose, my throttle cable melted to its sleeve at half throttle, I was lucky and just half a mile from home, so I fast idled all the way home on back streets.
Check all your battery cable size cable grounds, battery to engine, engine to frame, and frame to body, they all have to be there.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby izzo » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:26 pm

i would imagine maybe your light switch is fucked. Take it out, take it a part and look inside of it.

Neighbors mustang was doing the same thing. Replaced the headlight switch, done deal. May not be your case, but that's why i suggest taking it apart and looking inside of it. Could be all corroded and dicked up.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby Laecaon » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:31 pm

Head light relay, and light switch have the full current going through them. If either are a bit corroded, it increases resistance and will heat them up to a point of failure.

Are you killing fuses?
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby Laecaon » Sun Nov 17, 2013 9:34 pm

Ill also see if I can get a write up about switching to a modern relay. I have done this...
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby levigideon » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:49 am

I'll check the switch and relay after work tomorrow. Oddly enough, no fuses blew. :thumbs:
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby datsunmike » Mon Nov 18, 2013 3:26 pm

levigideon wrote: Today it happened again, but after I shut everything off, my dash lights all stayed on, no matter what I did with the headlight switch.


No fuse is going to power the dash lights when the switch is off. This is likely a failure in the headlight switch.

If you are careful you can pry back the folded metal tabs that close the switch to hold the parts in. Have a care as you may only get one chance. Bending these tabs more than once may snap them off. You can take out the sliding parts and the brass contacts and clean them. May even be something in there that's broken like a spring.

To remove the switch unplug it first. Pull switch out fully. Grip the brass stem tightly with needle nose pliers and at the same time push inward on the knob and turn to release it. Now loosen the nut on the front of the dash and push the switch through and retrieve.



A short is a path around a load to ground and would either blow a fuse, which is what they are supposed to do, or melt a wire starting a fire. An open (or bad) connection would cause the lights to go out. This could be a dirty or worn contact, often intermittent. The dash lights staying on could be something loose/broken inside the switch making contact where it should not. This would not be a short strictly speaking.

The lights going out could also be a poor fuse contact that heats up and 'opens'. So replace the headlight fuse and check the fuse clips are clean and grip the fuse securely. As stated this won't cause the lights to stay on. Likely both problems are in the switch.
My Datsuns, like good friends, have never let me down. At least in any way that was not understandable and thus fixable.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby draker » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:04 pm

datsunmike wrote:
levigideon wrote: Today it happened again, but after I shut everything off, my dash lights all stayed on, no matter what I did with the headlight switch.


No fuse is going to power the dash lights when the switch is off. This is likely a failure in the headlight switch.

If you are careful you can pry back the folded metal tabs that close the switch to hold the parts in. Have a care as you may only get one chance. Bending these tabs more than once may snap them off. You can take out the sliding parts and the brass contacts and clean them. May even be something in there that's broken like a spring.

To remove the switch unplug it first. Pull switch out fully. Grip the brass stem tightly with needle nose pliers and at the same time push inward on the knob and turn to release it. Now loosen the nut on the front of the dash and push the switch through and retrieve.



A short is a path around a load to ground and would either blow a fuse, which is what they are supposed to do, or melt a wire starting a fire. An open (or bad) connection would cause the lights to go out. This could be a dirty or worn contact, often intermittent. The dash lights staying on could be something loose/broken inside the switch making contact where it should not. This would not be a short strictly speaking.

The lights going out could also be a poor fuse contact that heats up and 'opens'. So replace the headlight fuse and check the fuse clips are clean and grip the fuse securely. As stated this won't cause the lights to stay on. Likely both problems are in the switch.


Mike, thanks for taking the time to comment. :thumbs:
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby levigideon » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:52 pm

datsunmike wrote:
levigideon wrote: Today it happened again, but after I shut everything off, my dash lights all stayed on, no matter what I did with the headlight switch.


No fuse is going to power the dash lights when the switch is off. This is likely a failure in the headlight switch.

If you are careful you can pry back the folded metal tabs that close the switch to hold the parts in. Have a care as you may only get one chance. Bending these tabs more than once may snap them off. You can take out the sliding parts and the brass contacts and clean them. May even be something in there that's broken like a spring.

To remove the switch unplug it first. Pull switch out fully. Grip the brass stem tightly with needle nose pliers and at the same time push inward on the knob and turn to release it. Now loosen the nut on the front of the dash and push the switch through and retrieve.



A short is a path around a load to ground and would either blow a fuse, which is what they are supposed to do, or melt a wire starting a fire. An open (or bad) connection would cause the lights to go out. This could be a dirty or worn contact, often intermittent. The dash lights staying on could be something loose/broken inside the switch making contact where it should not. This would not be a short strictly speaking.

The lights going out could also be a poor fuse contact that heats up and 'opens'. So replace the headlight fuse and check the fuse clips are clean and grip the fuse securely. As stated this won't cause the lights to stay on. Likely both problems are in the switch.


Thanks for this Mike. Took a closer look tonight.

Flipped the headlights on... waited for them to flicker off. Tapped the relay once, nothing. Tapped it again... One headlight and the running lights came on. Wiggled the other headlight socket, it came on. The switch got warm pretty quick. So I decided to dismantle it and see what the skinny was with it.

Pretty corroded around the sides of the casing, but the connectors were all in good shape. A little gunk and dirt here and there, but all fairly clean. Decided to clean it out anyways. Hooked it back up, not so hot anymore, nothing flickered off.

Seems it was a combo of both the relay and the switch. I'll probably just swap out the relay with a bosch that we've got laying around.

Lesson learned: You can never clean connectors enough. Time for another vinegar scrub. Gotta see if I can drive this car to Bellingham next week.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby izzo » Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:17 pm

Vinegar works good. So does a pink pencil eraser. Just put it on there, and rub it down to brass again. Works amazing on computer stuff too. I use it on my gauge clusters where the light sockets go. Nothing harsh, nothing wet, cleans it. no finger oil left on there to eat it away... Good shit.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby Laecaon » Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:29 pm

I have always used a razor blade.
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Re: Headlights short out and die after being on for a while.

Postby datsunmike » Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:43 am

Forgot the relay... but the relay can't keep the dash lights on. If you had it (headlamp switch) out sometimes just messing with it will fix it.
My Datsuns, like good friends, have never let me down. At least in any way that was not understandable and thus fixable.

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