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Chris (aka- Moose)
Chris (aka- Moose), Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 48692
Experience:  16 years experience
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2001 Ford Taurus: sedan..Instrument panel..illuminate..headlamps

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2001 Ford Taurus SES sedan. Instrument panel (and PRDNL) does not illuminate when headlamps are turned on. All idiot lights do work at ignition. Dimmer switch (part of headlight switch asembly) does indeed turn overhead light on/off at furthest extreme, but no effect on dashboard. Problem seems to occur in winter, came back on in May 08, now reappeared.

MY QUESTION IS, can you tell me whether I should replace the switch assembly (very easy) or take apart the instrument panel to try replacing a bulb, and if that, how many general illumination bulbs (not idiot light stuff) are there back there?

HelloCustomer I'm Chris, a current Ford Lincoln Mercury employee.


Thanks for visiting Just Answer. I will do my very best to help you resolve your concerns


Lets get the switch and cluster out and actually check the illumination feed and check the bulbs. It may also be a printed circuit board concern on the cluster if the bulbs and power are good.


Did you notice I posted an answer for you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX of what you sent is stuff I already have. I know how to take the cluster out, and the switch/dimmer out. What i need to know is this: "Given the facts below, can I (or you)determine whether the problem is in the switch (easy fix) or the IC?":
FACTS: -- The dimmer works. It dims the radio and digital clock display, and at the farthest point, it clicks on/off the overhead courtesy light.
     --- the headlamp switch DOES turn on the headlamps
     --- the ASHTRAY light also works.
     --- all the idiot lights do display on the cluster at ignition
I want someone who can read the wiring diagrams and tell me, by process of elimination, whether the problem is in the switch or the IC. I don't want to do both, and I don't want to take out the IC unless I know that the problem is in there.
I can gladly help you with this but I will need the cluster out to actually check to see if you have illumination power there on the single wire and then check each bulb terminal. This will tell you if its the bulbs or printed circuit board or a command from the switch. Sorry I was unaware you new all the disassembly diagrams and wire diagrams I sent. This was not included in the original post. Your looking at a concern at the cluster most likely since the ashtray is also on this circuit and it works.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
OK. So you think the problem is in the cluster.
If I take the cluster out, I can't drive it. So I need to know the troubleshooting process in advance. I can't have it disassembled for a few days while we email each other back and forth, step by step.

SO I need to know how this service works. I'll gladly accept your answer if it means that we keep pursuing the problem (by email)and you will tell me how to check out the IC electrically, especially which wires to check. Taking out the IC means disconnecting the battery, so there's no way to "try something" and then "test it" by turning on the lights. (Someplace in the basement I have a little ohmmeter, but I've never used it.)

If I get this thing all disassembled, then what?

You will need a DC volt meter to do the testing. You can leave the battery connected if you choose. Most all techs including myself do. This is mentioned to prevent any possible shorts or incidental air bag explosiion which I have never heard of occuring. There are only 2 wires to check which is power in and ground for the illumination from the switch at the cluster. Yes you can reply as many times as needed before or after an accept. I am online every single evening.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
OK. Let me look for the volt meter (could be part of ohmmeter). By the way, here's more info/history. My car was parked overnight in a warm garage. When I took it out, temperature outside was 50F. THE IC LIGHTS CAME on when I put headlights on. Left it on street overnight. No lights. Waited until warm outside (50F)and turned on heater full blast directed to windshield and legs. Lights came on after 10 minutes (96F inside). Amazing. Something is expanding with the heat and making contact. History is that I don't have this problem in the summer, but for 2 years it has gone off in the winter. Have a nice Thanksgiving. Will be back after find voltmeter, and will "accept".
Contacts and electrical connections both can be affected by heat. Looks like your going to need to do test when hot and cold to find the signal loss.
Chris (aka- Moose) and 2 other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Ok. I have disasembled the panel and taken the instrument cluster out and compressed the connections and fiddled with it and , now, it works. I actually re-seated the two electrical connectors at the back top of the instrument cluster. FYI, the back circuit board tends to warp a little according to temperature and this sometimes causes loss of connection with the pins/plugs. I've raod tested it over serious bumps with no problem.

So I am going to close this and pay you. Your info helped me decide what to do, and prevented me from buying a new switch, and convinced me to put the time into taking the cluster out. Thanks a lot. I will do whatever I have to, to pay this off, so you get it.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Did you get paid?
Done, Thanks and good job