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Doug, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Buick
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Experience:  ASE Certified technician with experience in all levels of automotive repair
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Buick Century: I have a 2001 buick century. Lights on trunk

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I have a 2001 buick century. Lights on trunk lid have not worked for a while. Now parking and tail lights do not work. They had blown a fuse. I replaced it and it held for a couple of days then blew again. When I replaced the fuse again it blew as soon as I turned on the lights. Headlights work. Dash lights do not work. Interior lightst floor and head do work. Help, please.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
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Tracking down electrical problems can be difficult enough as it is, and doing so over the internet I'm sure you can imagine is no easier. I apologize that you have waited to get a response so far.

Luckily the information that you have provided gives us a very good starting point to locate your problem. While any time we have electrical issues and dead shorts (blowing fuses), there is never a straight-forward "always it" answer, the scenario you have painted gives us one big clue as to what is going on.

First off, with relation to your blown fuses, this is obviously going to be a short somewhere, wherein the power wire to one of the lights is touching ground or a grounded wire and shorting the fuse. Be reassured that all of these lighting problems are inter-related, as the outside marker lights are fused on the same circuit as your interior dash lighting (but NOT dome or footwell lighting). This is why the final light failure caused all of the outside markers and the dash lighting to go out at once. The headlights and interior dome etc lights are all fused separately which is why they are all still working.

Now with a lot of operational theory behind us, I'm sure the big question is "what caused it?" Fair enough, and to answer that lets look back at your initial description of the problem. Lights on trunk lid have not worked for a while. This is very informative as there is a specific issue we see not just on Buicks, but on just about any vehicle with lighting on the trunk. This is that the wiring that goes to the trunk is very common to get brittle from repeated opening and closing of the trunk lid. While the rest of the vehicles wiring is in a fixed location and never moves, due to the opening of the trunk and it having lighting built into it, the harness is required to be able to flex and bend with trunk operation.
Where this becomes a problem is the very thing wiring used to power the lighting on the trunk can only take some many openings and closings and eventually the wiring breaks internally causing intermittent or loss of operation. As this worsens the insulation on the wiring can rub then or even break entirely. When this happens, it is simply at the mercy of to road and operation of the trunk lid as to how long it will go before it touches metal and blows the fuse.

Given that we had a failure of the trunk lighting for some time, followed by blowing of the fuse for the marker/dash lights, it is nearly (nearly) a sure thing you are going to find a problem in that trunk lid, most likely where the wires connect from the chassis to the lid. Further long-shots would be a possible cracked/damaged bulb in the lid that eventually allowed the filament to touch metal, however this is not as likely as the harness issue. These harnesses regularly have problems here (And again not just limited to Buicks, it is simply a design issue that can not be permanently overcome).

Get into the wiring going from the chassis to the trunk lid and I'm sure you will find something of interest there. If you are having difficulty you can also unplug the trunk harness (there is a disconnect on the passenger side fender.... follow the wiring from the trunk lid to where it passes through). Doing this will isolate any issues to the trunk entirely.
Doug, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Buick
Satisfied Customers: 8562
Experience: ASE Certified technician with experience in all levels of automotive repair
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Have replaced fuse. The lights still do not work and the fuse is not blown. Even tried a different fuse. Still no good. Please help.


Are none of the tail lights or dash lights working even with the good fuse now, or are dash lights back but still no trunk lights?
Have you performed the indicated inspections for damaged wiring at the flex point in the trunk?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have no dash lights or running lights, front or back after the automatic on feature has turned the lights on. I have daytime running lights, during the day and headlights only after the auto on feature kicks in. I have brake lights and turn signals. No back ups or license light. I visually inspected the wire loom and it looks ok on the outside. Did not go into it.


It is very unusual that you would have blown the fuse, but upon replacing the fuse the power was neither restored nor the fuse blown again.
Are you certain it was the Tail/Lic fuse (15A) in the in dash fuse panel that you replaced, and that it made it's way back into the same socket (there are several empty fuse sockets around it)?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. I am certain. Just double checked.

Do you have a meter so you can see if there is voltage reaching the fuse?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes. How do I do that?

If you have a meter, set it to DC Volts. Then connect the black lead to a good solid ground (the negative battery terminal is best, XXXXX XXXXX solid bare steel). Then use the red lead to touch each of the metal tabs on the top of the Tail/Lic fuse. You want to make sure both tabs say 12V (roughly).
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Ok...put ground on a door hinge bolt and also on some bare metal on the slide mechanism for the seat. I got no response from either side of fuse in either ground location.

Okay that certainly isn't a good thing.

Just to be sure we are on the right fuse, it is on the second row down and second from the right, is that correct?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Can you see if the power changes with the headlight switch turned on?



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I got the same response. Nothing from either side of either ground.


Please go to the under hood fuse panel and verify fuse #34 shown in the picture below:
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK!!!! We have a blown 20 amp fuse in position #34. I replaced and the taillights and running lights work. The dash light still do not work. And why did the fuse blow in the first place?

Alright, we are making progress.

Make sure your dash lighting is turned up and check that in dash fuse to make sure it has power again on both tabs on the top.

The lighting system is relatively basic on this model, and the blown fuse is really going to be limited to wiring damage, shorted bulb, or corroded sockets etc. The fuse will blow whenever there is a decrease in load on the circuit, such as a hot wire touching metal or corrosion arcing in an electrical connector etc. It can be a real pain to find. Again with your trunk lid inoperative, I'd still bet dollars to donuts that you have a problem in there. In the meantime you can unplug the harness for the decklid and see if the fuses stop popping.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Will do that. Thank you for your help.

No problem. Spend some quality time with that decklid wiring.... don't assume since something is inside a plastic loom that it is OK... this is where the failures most often appear on that loomed section of harness by the right side hinge.

If you need anything else just let me know.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Will do. Thanks.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Have wanted to get back to you. I still have not had time with the decklid wire loom. Will get to it. My son has some wire that I can use to splice. I still do not have the gear indicator lights, just above the steering column. Any advice?


Is the entire gear indicator section dark (no indication at all, no PRNDL321 or mileage)?
Is there any change in this between turning the headlights on and off?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No PRNDL321 or mileage either. Comes on about once a month. Fades in and out.


If the display is gone entirely (PRNDL and mileage) and additionally it flicks on sometimes, you will be looking at a cluster issue. This is not too uncommon on this era GM vehicle and there are numerous companies that repair them so you don't have to replace it.

Just on a quick google search this was the first result that will repair the gear display problem for $125 (scroll down to full rebuilt section). With you not having any other issues, they could likely cut you a better deal for just repairing the power issue in the cluster.

And of course there are many other companies that do the same thing, possibly ones local to you. GM got a bit of a reputation for cluster issues from about 1998 onward, and many companies have sprouted to fill the need.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you.

No problem.

I was browsing around that site and they don't specifically mention the Century model, however a quick phone call or email could probably be useful (or browse some other companies that do the same repairs).

Good luck!