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Jeff Policky
Jeff Policky, Motorcycle Mechanic
Category: Motorcycle
Satisfied Customers: 2425
Experience:  Yamaha Gold, Suzuki Gold, Honda Bronze, Polaris Bronze, BRP
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My name is ***** ***** and I've got a 1989 GL1500. My left

Customer Question

My name is ***** ***** and I've got a 1989 GL1500. My left saddlebag lights and lower rear center light below the license plate will not work. The right side saddlebag and trunk work fine. I've removed the saddlebag, trunk and seat to try to find a loose connection or fuse but to no avail. Any suggestions where to look next?
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: I've replaced the splice connections in the housing which connects the ground and hot wires together (green and brown)
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Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Motorcycle
Expert:  RSRBOB replied 8 months ago.

Hi and thank you for your question.

Fortunately for us, checking light circuits like this is fairly straight forward. We are either missing power to the lights or missing the ground for the lights. We need to figure out which one is missing. The easiest thing to do is use a test light to probe the sockets and see if you get any power to them. If you are getting power, to check ground, connect the clip on the test light to the (+) of the battery and touch the outside of the light bulb socket. If the light comes on, you have a ground circuit.

One of the two tests should show that we have an open circuit, either the power supply or the ground. Once we determine which one is missing, we can move forward from there to figure out why. Let me know what you find.



Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I ran a jumper wire directly from the + side of the battery to the green wire on the lights not working. Upon doing so, the lights came on. Obviously, there is not power going to the lights. I've traced the wires as far as I can but did find that my brake lights on the lights do work (they are 1157 dual filament bulbs).
Expert:  RSRBOB replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information.

You said that you only have 2 wires coming out of the light socket. If you have 2 wires, one is power and one is ground, you are not going to have running lights and brake lights too. (Unless you have an aftermarket electrical box wired in that turns running lights into brake lights) What is confusing to me is you speak like the other light on the other saddle bag has a working brake light and running light. Are there only 2 wires coming out of that socket too? If it truly is a socket for an 1157 bulb, there should be 3 wires, the 3rd being a ground wire, or some alternate path to ground. I am also working on the assumption the saddle bags are fiberglass and are not grounding through the base of the socket on its mounting surface. If you could clarify those details for me I would appreciate it. Right now I am confused about how a 2 wire socket can have running lights and brake lights without an apparent ground. Has this light socket that is not working right now ever worked? I just feel like I am missing a couple of details here.



Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I will clarify. There is a 3 wire harness going to the brake lights and the saddlebag running lights are spliced into two of the three wires of the brake lights. It is obvious the + wire of the running lights is not getting current. I've traced this 3 wire harness back to the connector plug underneath the seat and there are no broken or cut wires the entire length of the wires. When unplugging the connector, the brake lights will not work on the side of the faulty running lights. When plugged back in, the brake lights work. Hopefully this makes sense to you.
Expert:  RSRBOB replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information and I appreciate your patience in trying to help me understand what you are seeing.

It is a good thing that you do not see any broken wires, but we have to remember that we could have an internal break that isn't visible. What I would like you to do is check for the presence of voltage at the connector you mentioned under the seat. I believe you are saying that is the factory Honda wiring harness at that point and it is where it is connected to the harness for the accessory lights on the saddlebag. Typically there is only one feed wire for the brake lights, so if you have brake lights on either side, that should indicate that the factory wiring is not the problem.

You mentioned "spliced in". If it was spliced in with the 3M connectors, which are the connectors that clamp over the one power wire and then the new accessory slides into the connector half way and it has a sort of M shaped metal tab that is squeezed down cutting through both insulations and making the connection. The sad reality is these are not great long term electrical connections.

What I would like you to do next, since you have already successfully completed a visual inspection of the wiring, is to start checking for voltage on the wires. Usually when checking, you start by checking for the voltage at each connector. In your case I would like to see you start at that connector you mentioned under the seat where the factory harness connects to the accessory harness. Providing you have power there, work your way towards the socket checking at each connector you come to until you end up checking inside the socket itself on the contacts for the light bulb.

If you have any questions, let me know. Hopefully I was able to explain that without confusing you even worse. Let me know what you find and what additional help you need.