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Thread: headlight switch wiring

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    Registered User kenmataya's Avatar
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    Default headlight switch wiring

    OK, here's a tricky one, i have a 70 240Z, i may or may not have the correct headlight switch ( see attached ) but i have not headlights now, but if i connect the white/red to the green/yellow next to it the head lights work. my question is, what should the white/red wire connect to? (my schematic doesn't show a white/red wire to the headlight switch )Click image for larger version. 

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    I would start (as I did) by opening up the switch and inspecting the springs, spring caps and the switch tabs and terminals. Worry about the wiring after you have a known good switch.

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    What schematic are you working with? The one I have shows a W/R wire to each the Turn Signal AND the Headlight circuits.

    In fact, the W/R wire is the direct connection to the Alternator and Fuse Box.

    Check the connections at the combination switch as it seems one is crossed.

    FWIW
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    I'll differ on opening up the switch first. Lots more to go wrong with that approach. Check the wiring first before you start disassembly, oftentimes that's where the problem will be found.

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    Looking at your pic again, you might want to investigate that lone Black wire right below the W/R wire with no end. That may be the ground for the whole Comb Sw. Assy. which is required for the Headlight Circuit.

    E

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    Good eye E. The reason I would have opened the switch for an inspectios was the corrosion on the metal parts in the pick.
    Last edited by 5thhorsemann; 09-22-2012 at 04:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenmataya View Post
    OK, here's a tricky one, i have a 70 240Z, i may or may not have the correct headlight switch ( see attached ) but i have not headlights now, but if i connect the white/red to the green/yellow next to it the head lights work. my question is, what should the white/red wire connect to? (my schematic doesn't show a white/red wire to the headlight switch )
    What schematic are you using? IIRC the supplement for the 71 has the white/red identified. It's about as close as you'll find for a 70 FSM online. You can download it from http://www.xenons30.com/reference.
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    I agree they do show some age, but in my experience, it takes a LOT before the interior of the switch gets bad enough to stop the juice from flowing.
    You usually get intermittent and dim long before total outage.

    E

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    thanks for all the input! switch does work, there's just no juice in the white/red wire. it looks like the switch is from a later model car, ( mine is VIN 5535 ), so i found the correct schematic - and yes it should wire to the ammeter and fuse box! no idea what that black wire is, but its connected directly to the white/red, so its not a ground!

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    The black wire is CONNECTED to the W/R ??? That must be a PO re-wire of some sort.

    Datsun used Black exclusively for the ground circuit. That is, you see a black wire and you know it connects to ground.

    I'd double check that.

    E

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    Registered User kenmataya's Avatar
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    the wiring looks to be a bit of a kluge... picked up some 16GA wire, and i'll hook it to the fuse box.

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    Don't add one bad kludge to another. The fuses are downstream from the switch. That is to say that the switch is between the battery and the fuse box. Please download the reference I mentioned before. Look at the circuits going to the steering column and ask questions. Several of us have studied the wiring diagrams in detail and are willing to help.
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    yes, i will connect it to the white/red line that connects to the back of the ammeter - using this schematicClick image for larger version. 

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    I hope you're planning on using something larger than 16 AWG unless you want to replace some fried wiring. I can't remember for sure, but that white/red is at least 12 gauge. Using 16AWG is about the same as putting in a fusible link. If you add up the loads coming off the switch, you will find that 16 AWG won't cut it.
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    sorry, i got 14GA, which is same diameter as the white/red line - 3.4mm

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    I would recommend you wait before you start making new connections even if they are to "replace" missing ones.

    You may inadvertenly complicate the circuits and possibly cause another catastrophic failure later.

    Many times the solution to this type of problem may be as simple as reviewing all the connections; correcting obvious mistakes, and simply cleaning both grounds and connections. Think of it this way, the car DID have operating headlights at some point, and from what you're posting this is a new problem and not a result of changes you've made to the car.

    On the other hand, if the headlight outage IS as a result of some other modification recently (new radio, changed the combination switch, dropped the steering wheel and column and therefore disconnected it...) then THAT is where you want to start, by re-examining what you LAST did to the car.

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    i had to replace the blinker side of the switch (A), it was mechanically sloppy, so i swapped it out with another (B - year unknown) which worked OK for a while then the left signal wouldn't work. pulled it and it turned out to be mechanically sloppy and i couldn't figure out a way to correct it. i took switch A and fixed it and now i'm in the process of putting it back in when all the problems began. and i just found a thick gauge hot wire (red/white) taped off in the wire bundle, but according to the schematic that should just lead to the headlights and shouldn't have any voltage.... and again i thank everyone for their help on this one, its very confusing.

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    I would be eternally grateful if someone who knows how to read those switch diagrams would write a tech article on how to read them. End of hijack.

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    Ahh... now we're getting someplace.

    That Red/White wire is the "return" leg of the high beam circuit coming back from the headlights for the dimmer switch to in turn direct to ground. The Low beam
    "returns" on the Red/Black wire.

    Check what you have connected to the Hi/Lo beam switch and see if the R/W wire isn't attached.

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    Mike;
    A real simple explanation of the Switch Boxes that you see in the schematics is tricky but here goes.

    Look at the series of boxes like you would an Excel Spreadsheet.

    The wires on the harness connect to the left side of the box. Each of the wires gets it's own row.
    Each column depicts a switch position, i.e. when the switch is in that position which wires are connected to what wires. That's when you follow the dots (or circles) and the lines to whatever other dots are on the same line. No dot, the wire isn't in play at that switch position, whether the line goes through the box or not.

    Now to translate that into "flow", you can get all esoteric or just think of the electrickery juice as flowing from the battery through the wires and then to ground. There is a "positive" and a "negative" side of the circuit, but I'll let others chime in.

    So, in the example above, the battery sends the electrickery through the alternator, to the fuse box (but not through a fuse), to the H/L switch which when put into the second position (actuating the headlights) then returns it to the fuse box where it gets split into Left and Right circuits as it goes THROUGH the fuse box gaining a fuse for each of the L/R sides. Once through the fuse box, it goes to the H/L themselves and returns to the Dimmer Switch where it finally gets connected to ground.

    Now I hope that all made sense. I didn't add the wire colors, but now that you have the description you should be able to add the colors.

    HTH
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    well, there's also a red/black taped off in the bundle as well..... this going to take a bit of figuring.

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    EScanlon,
    Thanks for the explanation.
    Mike

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    escanlon, the red/white hot wire i mentioned is in addition to the red/white return from the highbeams ( that one is connected ). so i have a red/white 14GA hot wire that was not previously connected to anything. thing is i don't see any additional red/white wires anywhere in the schematic. ( there are at least a half dozen unconnected wires under my dash..... )

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    Can you trace the wires back to connectors and describe the connector (number of connection points, number of wires with colors, and location of the connector)? That could help us figure out your mystery wires.
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    I'm going to have to dig into the harness in the garage which might take me a bit.

    The R/W wire is pretty unique as it only pertains to the High Beam circuit.
    The only other extension of that wire in the schematic goes to the Speedometer's High Beam Indicator Lamp.

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    i'll have to clip some zip ties to track it, it goes into the wrapped bundle of wires - its 14GA, so i don't think its for the high beam indicator.

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    i'll have to clip some zip ties to track it, it goes into the wrapped bundle of wires - its 14GA, so i don't think its for the high beam indicator.

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    problems solved! the blinker assy is from a different year - only 3 wires ( power from flasher , left, right ) instead of 6 ( power from the flasher, power from the brakes, left front, right front, left rear, right rear ). the front and rears were connected together, power from the flasher connected then they'd run a separate wire to the back to power the brake lights. that line gets pretty warm when connected so i'll add an inline fuse to that for the moment and see if i can fix the mechanical issue on the correct year blinker assy i have. as for the lights issue - the white/red is connected directly to the battery with an in-line fuse - which was blown. thanks again everybody for your help on this one.

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    Default revised schematic

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    Glad you got yours figured out! Now that you've done that, I've got a simple question about my headlight wiring and your thread title is so perfect that starting another thread would be a mistake. (I've been wanting to ask, but didn't want to distract anyone from you...).

    I've got a 77 and I want to know why the red/white wire leading to the headlights is a thicker gauge than the other two headlight wires.

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    Bruce, I THINK (I say I said I think) it's because the power comes in on the R/W then splits into two circuits (left and right headlight or hi and low beam, I can't remember which) goes thru the fuse box and on to the head lights on the lighter gauge wires.

    It's been a while since I got into the wiring on the headlights to do the relay upgrade, but I remember it was a confusing design that seemed to be the product of value engineering as opposed to reliability and simplicity.

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    From the combo switch the red/white wire is split into the left and right headlight circuits. Those wires are the fused wires.
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    Thanks for the thoughts guys, but I don't think it's either of those. Let me rephrase with just a little more detail...

    Way up by the headlights just behind the radiator mounting plate, there are three wires leading to each headlight:

    On the right side, the three wires are a) red/white (red with a white stripe), b) red/black (red with a black stripe), and c) solid red with no stripe.
    On the left side, the three wires are a) red/white (red with a white stripe), b) red/black (red with a black stripe), and c) red/yellow (red with a yellow stripe).

    On both sides, the red/white (red with a white stripe) is a thicker gauge than the other two.

    Why? Why? Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveJ View Post
    From the combo switch the red/white wire is split into the left and right headlight circuits. Those wires are the fused wires.
    SteveJ, I believe you're thinking of the white/red (white with a red stripe) coming from the fusible link to the combo switch? That one comes out switched out of the combo switch as solid red and goes to the two fuses in the fusebox. Coming out of the fusebox are the hot wires for each side. Right side gets fused solid red while the left side gets fused red/yellow.

    I'm not talking about any of that... I'm way up by the headlights talking about the red/white, not white/red.

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    Here's a more much simpler way to describe the issue:

    There are three wires coming off each headlight. At any instant, two of those three wires have to carry the exact same current... One in, and one out.

    What possible reason would there be use a thicker gauge on one and only one of them?

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    The Red/White wire is the RETURN wire for the HIGH beam circuit. The power TO the lamps is the Red (for the Right) and the Red/Yellow(for the Left). BOTH lamps have their return circuit joined at the front of the car for either beam. (Red/Black for the Low).

    The original headlights were 45w/55w (if memory serves) which means that the higher wattage circuit (the high) would have required the heavier gauge.

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    Last edited by EScanlon; 10-08-2012 at 07:07 PM.
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    Yeah, that makes sense at first blush, but think about it... The same current coming OUT of the high beam on the thicker wire had to be supplied INTO the bulb through the thinner wire.

    I'm talking about after they have split for each side. This is right at the connector leading through the fender walls and into the buckets.

    I'll snap some pics tomorrow if I get a chance.

    It wasn't intended to be an easy question...
    Last edited by Captain Obvious; 10-08-2012 at 07:17 PM. Reason: Added a little more clarification

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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    Yeah, that makes sense at first blush, but think about it... The same current coming OUT of the high beam on the thicker wire had to be supplied INTO the bulb through the thinner wire.

    I'm talking about after they have split for each side. This is right at the connector leading through the fender walls and into the buckets.

    I'll snap some pics tomorrow if I get a chance.

    It wasn't intended to be an easy question...
    You forgot to "carry the one".

    You have current being "supplied INTO" EACH " bulb through the thinner wire" then "coming OUT of" EACH "of the high beamS onTO the thicker wire" where BOTH High Beams then merged to return to the combination switch.

    Without the allegory, simply put, you may have a smaller current going into each bulb independently of each other, but when they join to return to the combination switch, you now have TWO small currents (making one bigger one) returning at the same time.

    Make sense now?

    HTH
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    Quote Originally Posted by EScanlon View Post
    you may have a smaller current going into each bulb independently of each other, but when they join to return to the combination switch, you now have TWO small currents (making one bigger one) returning at the same time.
    Thanks for the thoughts, and what you are saying makes complete sense, but that's not what we have here. I'm talking about a point before the two smaller currents join to make a bigger one. At the point I'm talking about, the current for each headlight is independent. The return currents have not yet been joined. The wires I'm talking about go to one and only headlight.

    Here's a pic of the right side. I can guarantee that every electron coming away from the right side headlight on the thicker red/wht got to right side headlight on the thinner solid red:



    The three headlight wires come out of the harness, go through the round connector and pass through the inder fender wall on thier way to the headlight bucket for the right side ONLY. (The left side has it's own three wires that come out of the harness on that side, pass through a similar connector and disappear through the fender wall on that side to feed the left side ONLY.)

    After the two sides join it would make perfect sense to up the gauge, but at the point where I'm talking about every electron coming back on the thicker return wire was supplied through the thinner supply.

    I'm thinking that it was a mistake in the design dept...?

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    i would guess its because the high beams draw more amps than the low beams. the circuitry on these cars is definitely a bit odd.

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    Or even simpler, the R/W wire they used is the SAME wire everywhere they used the R/W wire, and there was no need to source a smaller gauge wire for the short sections it would have been "economical" to use it for. (Which would not have been more economical overall.)

    That is, it would have meant TWO different gauges with the SAME color markings, meaning that it would DOUBLE the possibilities of the wrong gauge being used in the wrong spot.

    So, for simplicities sake, they used the same gauge within the same circuit everywhere. That R/W wire is ONLY used in that circuit and nowhere else in the car's circuitry.

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    Last edited by EScanlon; 10-09-2012 at 12:10 PM.
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    Yeah, I suggested a "mistake" above, and what I actually meant was a "seemingly illogical choice to the uninformed".

    I'm thinking that it was for some ease of manufacturability criteria like what you suggested... They didn't need it for the current carrying ability, but it saved them from having to stock yet another style of wire on the floor? Maybe it saved them from having to stock a different style of connector?

    I've been poking around the headlight wiring lately and I saw that R/W wire. It's been bugging me since I saw it. I couldn't come up with any electrical reason for the larger gauge choice at that location, and I was wondering if I was simply missing something!

    You've got an earlier year, right? Did they do the same thing on the earlier ones? Is that R/W larger than the other two?

  42. #42
    Supporting Member EScanlon's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
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    Mine's an early 71, but it has been years since I've been into the wiring up front. When I refurbished mine, I removed all of the wiring, and cleaned and DE Grease all the connections etc. so I haven't had to get in there for a while.

    I may be working on it this weekend, if the items for my Roadster don't pop up first, and if so I'll look.

    E

    PS, Richard, update your profile with your car's info.
    71 240 920 Gold
    72 240 Orange
    73 240 Red
    67 1600 Sports Roadster Spicy Orange Mica
    68 2000 Sports Roadster Red

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