Ford circuit breaker location

gary__May 31, 2008

Does anyone out there have a book or first hand knowledge of the headlight circuit breaker location in a '93 Tempo?

Symptom I'm chasing is after the headlights been on for a while, they rapidly flash on and off. Checked the bulbs, checked the wiring for pinch points as best I can. No hint of a burned wire anywhere. I'm out of patience. Ready to take a guess and try replacing the circuit breaker...except I can't find one anywhere that operates the headlights. I'm beginning to wonder if ford in its' infinite wisdom built it into the switch. I'm about ready just to rewire the low beams to operated via a relay from a separate switch on the dash and call it good. The car has no monetary value to speak of so functional is good enough if it comes to that.

The plastic arm the works the blend door broke years ago. Been directing the air flow from defrost to ac as needed with wire from a coat hanger since, so this wouldn't be the first 'rigging' done on this car anyway.

Thanks

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mxyplx

Some years ago I drove for an outfit got fed up with that kind of problem. They ran the headlights direct from the battery thru a switch on the dash. Down was low beams, up was high beams, middle position was off. No relays, no circuit breakers, no dimmer switch, no more headlight failure in the middle of the night in Bigfoot country (a definite plus).

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 5:50PM
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john_g

The circuit breaker is INSIDE the headlight switch. That's why you cannot find it. (If it is used on this model, some started using a 40amp main fuse and then seperate individual fuses.)

Check the headlight switch connector for overheating and melting. This always goes for the dimmer switch too if it's mounted seperately.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 6:16PM
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jemdandy

I had a similar problem with GM headlamp switches, the older ones mounted on the dash. These, too, have a thermal breaker built into the switch, also has the dimmer potentiometer. These swithces were put together with crimp tabs and some of those tabs were part of the electrical circuit. After a few of years, the plastic parts shrink and the tabs in the electrical circuit loosen. (In my opinion, a bad design detail.) These heat and causes the breaker to trip. Headlamps may flicker too.
On mine, it would trip out when on high beams, but was ok on low beams.

As luck would have it, mine failed at dusk while I was on the way home. An oncomming police curiser saw my headlamps acting up and I was fiddling with the high-low beams. He turned around and chased me down - thought I was signaling him. LOL - I had some explaining to do. I made it home with the low beams.

My solution was to replace the switch since I already had another one. However, I experimented and found that I could repair the unit by soldering the offending connectors, only the ones in the electrical circuit. I chose to continue with the new switch and keep the repaired one for a backup. One never knows if he messed up the thermal trip calibration while soldering. That shouldn't happen if the solder job was done quick enough without overheating the internal parts.

By the way, did you find a problem in removing the switch from the dash? The knob and shaft won't pass through the hole, and the knob is permanently fastened to the shaft. There is a trick. The knob and shaft will come out of the switch. Somewhere in the switch housing is a small release button, usually on top. Press this down and the shaft will pull out.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 7:40PM
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gary__

I went ahead and replaced the switch. After I started, I remembered I'd changed this switch before in this car years ago. Last time it had no dash lights. A wire or two looked just a little toasty, but not bad at all. Could have even been from the bad rheostat in the last switch. Don't remember. If that doesn't fix it, I'll check out the dimmer. I didn't look for it the other day, but I assume it's on the steering column down by the brake pedal somewhere. The problem occurs both on high and low beams if that gives anyone a clue.

I can be a hayseed mechanic, but even I wouldn't hard-wire the lights without a relay to pack the load and a circuit breaker just in case. The car is shot, but it still gets my daughter from point a to point b. Doesn't have to be fancy, but I don't want it to burst into flames either. : )

Thanks for the tips

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 8:09PM
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jemdandy

Oh!! I finally got the picture: I believe that we are talking about two different "dimmers". The one I refered to is the dimmer for adjusting the brightness of the instrument panel lamps. That one is built into the headlamp switch. It's a wire wound pot and is operated by rotating the light switch knob. In some cars, it has an "off" position when rotated to full counter clockwise position.

The other dimmer is the one that toggles the headlamps beams between low and high. Typically, when you have a panel mounted headlamp switch, the high-low beam selector is a separate item and located elsewhere. You'll have to hunt for it. Floor mounted dimmer switches were dropped a long time ago. In your car, it may be incorporated with the turn signal stalk.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 1:28AM
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gary__

Finally remembered to ask my daughter how the lights have been working since I replaced the switch. She says no more problems so I assume the circuit breaker was inside the switch as john g said and it was just wimping out. Glad I didn't have to hay wire something for it. I do stuff like that in a pinch but really don't like doing things that way.

Thanks for the tips.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 11:08PM
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