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Ask Ted Ritter Your Own Question
Ted Ritter
Ted Ritter, Toyota Master Tech
Category: Toyota
Satisfied Customers: 4385
Experience:  Toyota Master Tech, ASE Certified
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Toyota Corolla The parking lights and tail lights wont turn

Customer Question

The parking lights and tail lights won't turn off in my 98 corolla even after the key is out. The high beam indicator flashes when the key is in. I have pulled the drl module and they still will not shut off.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Toyota
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Hello and welcome to!

I see you've pulled the DRL Module, but there is another relay.. the DRL relay that I think may be shorted. Try pulling the DRL relay and see if that fixes things. That's the only part I can see that would cause your symptoms.

Otherwise, you'd have to have a shorter Taillamp Relay *AND* a short circuit in the HIGH BEAM indicator circuit at the same time, and the possibilities of that is next to nil.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
With the drl relay that you showed and the drl module both out, the parking lights and tail lights are still lit up.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
On the backside of the interior fuse box, remove the TAILLIGHT relay.

If the lights stay on now then there is a short-to-power somewhere in one of the taillight circuits... I have to wonder if this is internal to the instrument cluster itself.

Edited by Brad on 2/18/2011 at 10:33 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Where is the interior fuse panel? There's a panel attached to the left side of the clutch, but I don't see one that machtes the schematic you sent.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Yeah it should be behind the left side of the dash. The taillight relay is mounted on the backside of it.

Just below the taillight relay is the integration relay... this might have something to do with your problem as well.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I found it, does this mean I have remove the panel below the steering wheel and unfasten the fuse box from its mount to access the back side of it?
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
Yes unfortunately it does
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Pulling the tail light relay made the lights go off and the alarm stop. Does this mean it was the culprit or could it still be something else?
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
OK right next to the taillight relay is the rear defroster relay. See if it has the same part number stamped in it. If so, you can swap them out and see what happens, as its possible the taillight relay is stuck.

If the part number is XXXXX then you can't do this.

Let me know if you can or can't do this and I'll get back to you tomorrow.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
<br />Sorry for the delay.  The relays were the same, so I used the defroster relay in the tail light relay spot.  That did not fix the problem.  Again, when the relay is out, the lights go off.  
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
OK on the other leg if the circuit, something has to be grounding that relay to keep the taillights on.

The only two things on the ground side is the DRL module, and the headlight switch.

Since the DRL parts are removed, that can't be the cause so the problem has to be either in the headlight switch itself, *OR* the wire on that circuit is shorted to ground.

The next step will be to unplug the headlight switch and see if the lights go out (with the relay installed).
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Ok, the headlight switch is disconnected and the lights are still on.
Expert:  Brad replied 6 years ago.
There is one wire... it is light green in color (light green with a black stripe down by the headlight switch) and it supplies the ground to engage the taillight relay when the headlight switch is on, or when the DRL relay is engaged.

If the DRL relay is removed, and the headlight switch is unplugged, then there is a short in that wire. This could be in the wire itself, or in the relay box itself.

The only other possibility is if there is an aftermarket device wired in (such as an alarm or remote starter) that is malfunctioning.

You need to follow that wire and look for a place where it may be pinched, shorted out, broken.. and this can be a very time consuming process.

Another option is to cut that wire close to where it goes into the relay box, and also down by where it goes to the headlight switch and simply splice in a new wire, however this may disable the DRL permanently should you wish to restore it in the future.

CLICK HERE for the diagram for your taillights. I circled the wire you need to look at in red, and the arrow is pointing to the DRL relay.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
There are no aftermarket devices installed, so it can't be that. When you are talking about the relay box are you referring to the one under the hood by the window washer? I don't see any green and black wire going into that box. I did find it out of the headlight switch, but I lose it somewhere around the fuse box. It seems like the easiest thing to do would be to splice in a new wire, but I'm confused as to what you mean by relay box.  Update:  I did find where the wire meets up with the drl control module behind the glove box, but I'm not sure if you meant there, or the drl relay under the hood.<br />Update 2:  I tested for continuity with one end of the ohm meter on the green and black wire where it plugs into the head light switch, and at the other end of the meter where the green and black wire plugs into the drl control module behind the glove box.  There was no continuity.  Is the wire I need to jump?  If I jump this wire, do I need to reinstall the drl control module and reconnect the head light switch to see if it fixes the problem?<br />
Expert:  Ted Ritter replied 6 years ago.

Hello, I usually don't get involved when another expert is but I have read this and previous posts for the problem you are having, I have seen this problem a few times on this year model Corolla. Replacing the DRL relays will not correct this and will just burn out the new relays, the real problem is a loss of ground which increases resistance in the circuit and this causes the DRL relay to burn out, there are two relays, one under the hood and the main relay under the dash above the glove compartment.This relay has to be replaced but not until the cause is fixed.

Look at the fuse panel on the lower left of the dash where the fuses are, there are several connector going to it, check each connector's wires for signs of overheating, usually it's the brown/black ground wires, there is a ground bus connector under the dash on the left,it may be taped to the main harness, it has a bunch of white/black ground wires going into it with a terminating conector on the end, these wires may appear burned and discolored,

remove the connector plug on the end, you will most likely a lot of corrosion inside, this is the problem. This is a ground distribution point, it has a couple of ground wires coming in which supplies ground to the rest of the wires. What I have done a few times is to just wire a new ground connection bypassing the original, once all those white black wires are grounded the problem is solved.

Again, I normally don't jump in when someone else is involved but you don't seem to be getting anywhere with the answers you are getting so I hope this helps, if I'm wrong you don't have to accept and you can relist.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks Ted. I'm done for the day with this, so I will take a look tomorrow and accept after I've had a chance to see if this helps find the problem.
Expert:  Ted Ritter replied 6 years ago.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I don't see any burnt wires, but when the problem happened, my girlfriend says there was a burning smell, so something burned out somewhere. Just to review what I've tried... currently I have the drl control module (the circuit board behind the glove compartment) removed. I have the headlight switch unplugged. I have tested the tail light relay (the one that goes on the back of the fuse panel that is located behind the storage bin) by switching it with the rear defrost relay and the parking and tail lights still stay on. I currenly have that relay plugged in. I have tried removing the drl relay from under the hood, but the lights stayed on, so that relay is still in place. I tried removing the drl fuse from under the hood but the lights still stayed on so I left that in as well. I was in the process of tracing the green wire with a black stripe from the headlight switch to the drl relay. Unfortunately, I can't tell from the wiring schematic that Brad attached the true path of this wire. The diagram shows it going from the headlight switch (I have located it at this point) to the "daytime running light relay (main)" I can't tell if this means the relay under the hood, or the drl control module behind the glove box. (I'm also confused by the terminology of the drl control module behind the glove box, are you calling this a relay too or is there another relay there that is not the drl control module that I'm missing?) I have found the wire where it plugs into the drl control module, but I'm not sure if it is a direct a direct path from the headlight switch or if it goes through the fuse panel or out to the relay under the hood. (I did not see any green and black wire going into the relay under the hood)
Jumping this green and black wire would be simple if I can get confirmation that I need to jump it from the headlight switch directly to the drl control module behind the glove box with no stops in between. If this is what I need to do, I need to know if I then need to plug the headlight switch back in and reinstall the drl control module to verify that this corrected the problem. Sorry for the complicated explanation... I'm probably in over my head, but at this point it seems like a waste to put all the panels back on and take it to a mechanic!
Expert:  Ted Ritter replied 6 years ago.

Thanks for the reply. The DRL (main) is the one behind the glove box, did you locate the connector under the dash that has all the white/black wires going to it and is it in good condition, no overheating or corrosion?

I won;t be able to get back until later this afternoon, I have an appointment to keep. I'll take a look at the wiring diagram later but just wanted to make sure those ground connections are intact.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I don't see any signs of corrosion on the ground that is underneath the passenger side door, nor do I see any evidence of burnt wires going into the main fuse panel.
Expert:  Ted Ritter replied 6 years ago.

That's what i was afraid of, I think the problem is internal to the junction block where the relays and fuses are, there is an integration relay on this junction block as well, I would try replacing the entire junction block/integration relay unit.