Headlights flickering at gear shifts, blinker activation, etc - Subaru WRX Forum
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#1 Old 04-24-2011, 02:28 PM
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Headlights flickering at gear shifts, blinker activation, etc

First Post in the forums, look forward to joining the community. I bought a 03 wrx w 93000 miles and a few mods already done to it. Mostly rims, bov and apexi turbo timer. I got the car checkout at a independent subaru shop and all came back good except for minor mechanical issues that can be fixed easily.

With that in mind I noticed on the drive home (at night.... i traveled a ways to find my perfect wrx by the way, and it took 3 weeks) the lights would flicker when i hit the blinker, then flicker again when it went off. Now this started to be a randomn issue, but it usually happened.

One night when i started the car and turned the lights on, they shut compelety off for ten seconds then came back on. By the way each time they flicker or go off I hear a clicking sound from the passenger side, sound like the cab but not sure.

This also happens occasionally at gear changes too. My timer has a volt guage on it and that always reads at least 13.9. The car has an upgraded engine ground system and i would love to know where to start with diagnosing this issue. i ahve a multimeter

thanks in advance for any ideas!!
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#2 Old 04-24-2011, 09:02 PM
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It almost has to be a connection issue, but I haven't ever heard of this happening to anyone before.
look around a ton of forums, this doesn't sound to be something Subaru specific.so just dig and dig
also at night while its parked with the lights on.. get out and wiggle some harneses under the hood and at the steering column and see if you can make it happen by doing that?..idunno...worth a shot!......GL..

Randy-
2002 blaze WRX- sold:(
2004 Wrx-sold
2011 Wrx limited
99 Fozz- sold
Eagle eye crew
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#3 Old 04-25-2011, 06:02 AM
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Upgraded grounding system or just an aftermarket grounding setup?

You have a turbo timer installed as well ? Who did the timer install ?

Paul
2002 WRX Sold
2007 WRX Sold
2007 STi totaled
2007 Foz XT sold
2007 MS3
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#4 Old 04-25-2011, 11:11 AM
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Start simple and check that the battery terminals and cable connections are clean.
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#5 Old 05-04-2011, 12:50 AM
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when i bought the car it had the grounding setup done to it... but it looks like more than grounding, there are probally 40 wires all throughout the engine bay that are obviously aftermarket... i can attach a pic in the next couple days.

But i started diagnosing where the clicking sound came from, behind the glove box. took the glove box off and nothing seemed to be loose but i left it off to hear the clicking better and the lights stopped flickering. the only thing i disconnected was the glove box light, dont know if it was screwing up the circuit or what, but they did flicker once in the last week, so im still hunting. but that is definately better than 20 times in a half hour

The turbo timer was installed when i got it, the previous owner installed it and dont know how to check if it was done right or not, here to learn...

i did notice that the voly gauge on the timer shows inconsistent reading from 13.5 to 14.4.... i do car audio work and thats not good.... so there might be electrical issues, where would be a good spot to start checking?
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#6 Old 05-04-2011, 05:36 AM
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Probably in the glovebox. Not sure in your car if you have relays behind there or not.

Attaching a pic of the mess in the engine bay won't help if there's that many wires.

Have you had your alternator checked yet?

Paul
2002 WRX Sold
2007 WRX Sold
2007 STi totaled
2007 Foz XT sold
2007 MS3
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#7 Old 05-04-2011, 12:05 PM
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The shop said I should get a new batt, and it seems like the alt charges inconsistently too... I heard somewhere that you can check em yourself w a multimeter, I got a nice digital one... anyone know how to do that?
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#8 Old 05-04-2011, 12:49 PM
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Did they even test the battery?

Google "How to test an alternator with a multimeter" .... Many a results

Paul
2002 WRX Sold
2007 WRX Sold
2007 STi totaled
2007 Foz XT sold
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#9 Old 05-04-2011, 01:12 PM
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Yea they did test the battery, ill check it out and get back with what I find out
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#10 Old 05-04-2011, 01:28 PM
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Grounding kits often cause electrical problems. I don't understand why, but we always had problems with them at Circuit City when cars came into the bay with them installed. I understand electrical flow, and that's why I don't know why they cause problems so often, but I've found that you don't really need more than a simple upgrade of the stock wiring system even for the best of electrical upgrades (i.e. stereo, lights, etc.). I would take all the grounding stuff off and start fresh with a simple setup again. It's just electrons traveling through metal at the speed of light. After removing the "40 wires" and stepping back to 3-4 good size ones, I would clean the battery terminals and coat them in dielectric grease before I reattached them. That's where I would start. It'll take you a total of maybe an hour to get it done, and your flow will be sufficient that if you need to further continue diagnosis, you know it's working properly. Then I'd trace the headlight circuit, as you know it's happening there. The clicking is the sound of the relay, and for some reason it sounds like your ground (it doesn't actually ground until AFTER the switch) between the relay and the switch is possibly shorted. The circuit will go like:

Constant power (usually a yellow wire, but I don't remember with Subies) to the fusebox, then from the fuse box to the lights, then out to the headlight relay, and back to the steering column into the wand, then chassis grounded to complete the circuit.

Does the car have HIDs installed? Also, because it's happening with the turn signal and on gear shifts, even though not likely, is the wand loose? That's why I would get rid of the majority of the grounding kit and start diagnosing AFTER that. I'd do grounding, battery terminal cleaning and grease, then check the relay, followed by circuit trace, and then the wand, unless the wand is actually loose first.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

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#11 Old 05-06-2011, 11:37 PM
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thank for the good tips honda fan, i was sad to see circuit city go.... better than best buy in my opinion....

so i did some testing on the alt and i noticed that it sometimes dips the batt as low as 13.3... only for a sec or so but with my min function on my multimeter i could trace it... so that definately has to be fixed, i was gonna start with the charging wire to the alt, as that is stock and the upped ground might be throwing off the balance and hindering the charge, no?

about the grounding setup, its actually like 5 wires, not 40, i exagerrated a bit... basically it takes the battery ground and runs a run across the engine bay with 3 grounding points in series. then runs a 4th from one of em to the back of the engine, cant see it very well but it feels like a engine grounding spot.

after looking at it, i dont think its messing anything up.... its a lil overkill but its just grounding. ill do the rest of the big three getting ready for my system and go for the battery, circuits and relays. The big three needs to be done and it will give that ground something to work for, in my opinion... i attached some pics, they are the red wires

there are no hid's but those use less power than conventional after initial startup anyways and the wand is not loose.

honda fan you said check the relays, are those the ones in the engine bay as i do see 2 that are labeled headlights, or the ones by the glove box? i didnt see any in there at first glance
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#12 Old 05-07-2011, 03:52 PM
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Take the grounding kit off and make note of where you disconnect everything. Then try testing the alternator again (this will be the easiest way to rule it out IMHO)

I believe the relays are in 2 places... Above the battery and in the glove area.

Paul
2002 WRX Sold
2007 WRX Sold
2007 STi totaled
2007 Foz XT sold
2007 MS3
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#13 Old 05-07-2011, 07:49 PM
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Idunno, I really just dont think that the grounding is doing it.
I have an HKS grounding kit on my car and hold right around 14 at almost all times. And there are a few more grounds on mine than yours.....plus a big ugly gold terminal circle thing.
But just to rule it out it wouldn't hurt for the 10 minutes it will take you I suppose.

Randy-
2002 blaze WRX- sold:(
2004 Wrx-sold
2011 Wrx limited
99 Fozz- sold
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#14 Old 05-07-2011, 11:09 PM
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ok ill take off the kit and test again, then locate some relays in the glove box and replace em if need be since thats where the clicking is coming from. it might be a couple days though, i work weekends and i like to party so that comsumes a lot of my time though monday....
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#15 Old 05-19-2011, 01:11 PM
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ok i was driving over the week and the lights started flickering again when i hit the blinker. I started wiggling the wand and I was able to make them flicker without activating the actual blinker. The wand does not feel loose by any means but i should definately replace it or fix something in that area first.

Oh and i took the grounding kit off and went back to stock... still having the randomn voltage drops... revving only changes it a small amount, still sitting way low, other times it stays at 14.5 definately got a bad regulator on the alternator... anyone know a cheap way to fix that or do i need a whole new alternator?

No idea where to start w the wand, i took the housing off and not sure what to look for or how to get it apart... any suggestions??
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