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California98Civic 03-18-2018 07:50 PM

Ghost fixes lightbulb
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Every once in a while something on my car will fix itself. That seems to have happened today.

For years I've been waiting to fix a left front turn signal problem. So today I have the bumper cover off and the light fixtures out to possibly replace the bulb. Inside the Civic's side marker light bulb are 2 filaments. With the light bulb plugged in and out of the headlight fixture I tested it again. The directional filament would not light up under any conditions and caused the parking light filament to intermittently shut off whenever I turned on the left turn signal. Hazards also worked improperly.

I did a "known good" test by swapping the left front turn signal bulb with the right front turn signal bulb. I didn't do anything else. I didn't clean anything or detach and reattach anything other than the bulbs. Suddenly both light bulbs worked normally. Then I put them back in their original places. And the bulb that has been failing consistently for two or three years of daily diving started working completely normally.

I am guessing that in removing the bulb I cleared some kind of minor corrosion or dust/dirt (the bulb housing was coated in fine road dust).

I suppose it might also be an intermittent open in the wiring.

Or a ghost in the machine.

Frank Lee 03-18-2018 07:52 PM

Her real name is Christine.

California98Civic 03-18-2018 08:08 PM


Originally Posted by Frank Lee (Post 564166)
Her real name is Christine.


"Fear on four wheels"

mort 03-18-2018 10:01 PM


The directional filament would not light up under any conditions and caused the parking light filament to intermittently shut off whenever I turned on the left turn signal.
This the symptom of a bad ground.

California98Civic 03-18-2018 10:20 PM


Originally Posted by mort (Post 564174)
This the symptom of a bad ground.

I wondered about some sort of circuit problem like that when I got the bulb out and could see that it's filaments were intact. But if it is a bad ground, then why did the problem go away without a "fix"? Did remove and reinstalling the bulb somehow clear a grounding issue? I did not clean any connectors. Should I expect the problem to come back if it is a ground issue?

Gasoline Fumes 03-18-2018 10:28 PM

I've seen broken filaments spot weld themselves back together. And then break again. Over and over. Try a new bulb!

jcp123 03-18-2018 11:33 PM

I had a turn signal bulb act up intermittently for several days before it failed altogether. Because it was intermittent, it threw me for a loop. Literally wiggling the bulb socket and jiggling the harness could cause it to come back to life. Like a rube, I didn't even check the actual bulb until I couldn't get it to work again at all.

me and my metro 03-19-2018 10:51 AM

I have found the ground tab inside the socket is failing many times on many different makes of cars. I work on a large Ford fleet now and stock several different socket and connector pigtails. One problem and they get a pigtail, on 88-99 Chevy pickups it was a taillight plate. The plate was basically three sockets mounted to a $40 piece of plastic that the contacts melted and failed. Factory LED lighting has made the newer stuff more reliable.

RedDevil 03-19-2018 11:58 AM

As with many problems, searching for a common ground brings enlightenment :)

Then, I've had more than one lightbulb with a broken filament swinging about accidentally reattaching that with the other end and burning happily for a while, be it a few milliseconds, a couple or years or anything in between.

LEDs fail much more predictably.

California98Civic 03-19-2018 03:43 PM

After consideration, I am gonna clean the connector throroughly and use the 1998 bulbs. I will switch the sides they are on so if the failure happens again, I will get new data to disambiguate what is causing it (bulb or connector ground).

My "Christine" (1983 movie, +1 Frank Lee) apparently wants another chance to get me dead or ticketed and has demented my judgement.


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