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'87 Headlight Low Beam Issue

Old 04-09-2018, 04:18 PM
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'87 Headlight Low Beam Issue

Hey guys, tried searching the forum to see if anyone had this particular issue, but I didn't see a direct answer so figured I'd ask here. I've got a 1987 Maxima (unsure if GXE or SE) where the driver side low beam isn't working. Putting fresh bulbs in didn't change anything, but I do get the "headlight burned out" warning on the dash. The cornering lights aren't turning on either, but it looks like the issue isn't fuse-related either. I'm guessing it's the headlight sensor, but I don't know where that is. I haven't tried taking the combo switch apart yet, although I've unmounted the headlight side of it. Plug in contacts seem fine. Help?

Last edited by Blue Milk; 04-09-2018 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 04-09-2018, 09:34 PM
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Have you tested for power at the headlight relay yet...Both power from the switch which energizes the coil that closes the relay contact and the #30 post which has power at it straight from the power bus. Test your light low beam contact for continuity back to the #87 at the relay I believe you have a relay per side. But need to confirm the switch is good and the wiring to it is good!
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Old 04-09-2018, 10:48 PM
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I have not done that just yet. Where is the relay that I'm looking for?
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:42 AM
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New wrinkle. With on high beam, both headlights function and the cornering lights activate as well. "Headlight bulb burned out" warning indicator comes on with low beam and of course with the driver's lower beam not working, the cornering indicators don't work as well. Cruise control also is nonfunctional, so maybe it's the stalk?
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:37 AM
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don't think it will be the stalk since that would effect both, start going though wiring, cleaning grounds and checking plugs and cleaning them, if the head light warning light is on you have a broken circuit somewhere
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:52 AM
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Just to make sure I'm following, a bad stalk would mean that both high and low beam would be affected the same? What's the best way to clean the grounds & plugs? And what do you think might be the reason the cruise control doesn't work? Activating the system via the dash-mounted switch lights up the corresponding light on the dash, but I can't set a cruise speed.
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Old 01-10-2019, 12:54 PM
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Blue Milk, did you resolve your problem, please?
I am having a similar problem now, and am hoping your solution will work for me.
My 86 Maxima wagon's right (passenger) side low beam does not work, and lights the "headlight burned out" warning light. All others work -- both high beams, markers, turn, cruise.
My mechanic checked, and informed me:
* The problem is not with the bulb or the fuse.
* From wiring diagram, seems to be the switch, which has separate wires for each light.
This answers Blue Milk's last post's question that "... bad stalk would mean that both high and low beam would be affected the same …", apparently NOT. Apparently the switch has separate wires for each light, i.e. 1 for left low, 1 for right low, 1 for left high, 1 for right high, etc. So any one contact going bad/ burned in the switch would fail that one light only.

Hoping someone can confirm, or point me to where else to look. Otherwise, I shall proceed with a new switch from RockAuto (for $116), and update this post with results.
Thanks.
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul N M View Post
Blue Milk, did you resolve your problem, please?
I am having a similar problem now, and am hoping your solution will work for me.
My 86 Maxima wagon's right (passenger) side low beam does not work, and lights the "headlight burned out" warning light. All others work -- both high beams, markers, turn, cruise.
My mechanic checked, and informed me:
* The problem is not with the bulb or the fuse.
* From wiring diagram, seems to be the switch, which has separate wires for each light.
This answers Blue Milk's last post's question that "... bad stalk would mean that both high and low beam would be affected the same ", apparently NOT. Apparently the switch has separate wires for each light, i.e. 1 for left low, 1 for right low, 1 for left high, 1 for right high, etc. So any one contact going bad/ burned in the switch would fail that one light only.

Hoping someone can confirm, or point me to where else to look. Otherwise, I shall proceed with a new switch from RockAuto (for $116), and update this post with results.
Thanks.
I changed the control stalk out and that got my low beam issue resolved. It didn't get the cruise control fixed (that's been dead for years), but I'm not concerned about that really.
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Old 01-19-2019, 08:23 PM
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Thank you, Blue Milk, for your answer. It gave me the confidence to order & install a new control stalk.
That did the trick; the faulty low beam is fixed (and everything else also works as before).
It feels a little stiff and 'sticky', but I assume that is only because it is new, and will get smoother.
RockAuto's description of the item says its warranty is for 3 years/30,000 miles, so that seems safe, i.e. if it lasts 3 years, surely it should last much longer, say another 30 years!
I plan to try open up the old switch at my leisure, to see if I can fix it; it still looks like new, except for the faded color of the stalk part.
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Old Yesterday, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul N M View Post
Thank you, Blue Milk, for your answer. It gave me the confidence to order & install a new control stalk.
That did the trick; the faulty low beam is fixed (and everything else also works as before).
It feels a little stiff and 'sticky', but I assume that is only because it is new, and will get smoother.
RockAuto's description of the item says its warranty is for 3 years/30,000 miles, so that seems safe, i.e. if it lasts 3 years, surely it should last much longer, say another 30 years!
I plan to try open up the old switch at my leisure, to see if I can fix it; it still looks like new, except for the faded color of the stalk part.
Happy to help! I'm intrigued by the fact that this is the way that our cars work, but I'm glad that it gets the job done. I've been having what appears to be a dim driver headlight, not sure if it's due to the reflector array getting corroded and stuff or if I have a voltage issue somewhere, though the issue has been there since before the stalk died. Time to bust out the multimeter, I suppose?
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