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Headlights Weak, '83 Brat

83 1983 Brat 1983 Brat Headlights weak alternator Electrical 83 Brat

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29 replies to this topic

#1 Feanor

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 02:02 PM

So my Brat has always had pretty weak headlights, but lately they have been downright unreliable. My car runs completely fine, but when I go to turn the lights on at night, my headlights flicker off. When they turn off, I also hear a strange electrical sound (sounds like a servo or something like that). It doesn't happen every single time that I try to run my headlights, but pretty close. I don't think it's the battery, and I already took my alternator out and had it tested, but it passed the test just fine at O'Reilly's. Could it only be bad wiring that is doing this, or does anybody have any other ideas of what the problem might be?

 

p.s. The right headlight shines weaker than the left. I don't know if that is significant or not.



#2 Feanor

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 02:05 PM

Oh, and would I only check the wiring that goes to the headlights or alternator? or could bad wiring anywhere be causing this problem?



#3 rdweninger

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 02:32 PM

Sounds like a relay.  Under the dash - above left driver leg area - pull the fuse box - you'll see maybe 4 relays (2" cylindrical) -  Replace with same relay or search for Loyale 2.7 's thread about upgrading to the Bosch relay.



#4 mikaleda

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 04:53 PM

Yep I would say you probably have bad head light relays.

#5 Feanor

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:08 AM

Oh, Thanks a ton for the tip. I would've had no idea. What are the advantages of replacing with a Bosch relay?



#6 Feanor

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 01:37 AM

And where can I buy headlight relays? I don't see them on rockauto.com



#7 Feanor

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 06:12 PM

I just found this article, which explains all of the ways to set up a headlamp circuit that will deliver optimum power to the headlights in a car. http://www.danielste...ys/relays.html      What do you guys think about what he says? You can read the article, but most of it is just over my head. From what I understood, he suggests putting the relays closer to the power source or the headlamps, using thicker gauged wiring, and I think that's it...



#8 Mykeys Toy

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 07:08 PM

I think as long as you talk to someone there via email or phone so that they know you have a switched ground the kit will work.  You can build one yourself also. ( there is a diagram somewhere on the site )  It really isn't that hard I tested it out on my hatch and made such a difference I did not need to get aftermarket h4 stuff or go hid.  I do think that the available kit looks much better than what I put together though and probably makes for a cleaner install.

 

Mike



#9 turbosubarubrat

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 08:02 PM

had this problem on a 83 turbo wagon somebody installed another radio and it cut into power on stuff so it was setting off the headlight relay :rolleyes:



#10 bratman2

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:34 PM

May not be it but have you tried new headlights. When I bought my Brat back in 97 three of the four headlights were as you described, worked but dim. I installed four new headlights and that cured the problem. I guess they were half burned out or something.



#11 mikaleda

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 09:57 AM

May not be it but have you tried new headlights. When I bought my Brat back in 97 three of the four headlights were as you described, worked but dim. I installed four new headlights and that cured the problem. I guess they were half burned out or something.

Sometimes sealed head lights will crack around the seal and allow moisture in, wich in turn washes the reflective coating off making the head light dim. Changing the relays would probably make a big differance if the head lights don't.

Also there is write up in here by gloyal that shows how he rewired his headlights, might be worth a search.

#12 Feanor

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 03:00 PM

What is a switched ground?



#13 rdweninger

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 03:06 PM

That means power is always going thru the headlights.  Then as the returning wire is headed to ground, it passes thru your switch.

The other method (other vehicles like American made) involves power going thru your switch first, then heading to the headlights, then to ground.



#14 Feanor

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 03:20 PM

ok, I think he mentions something about that in his article under the heading "SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR GROUND-SWITCHED SYSTEMS " 



#15 Mykeys Toy

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 11:16 AM

This link is primarily for car audio guys but older car will benefit also.  I will help minimize voltage drop even further is you plan to add other things to your brat.

 

http://www.the12volt...~TID~73496~PN~1

 

I am currently working on this one.. It seems the maxima alt has a B+ stud that is too short to add a huge wire (4AWG)  lol



#16 Feanor

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 06:57 PM

Thanks for the tip Mykeys Toy. Improving the big three looks easier to do than upgrading the entire headlamp circuit.



#17 ruparts

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 11:26 PM

So my Brat has always had pretty weak headlights, but lately they have been downright unreliable. My car runs completely fine, but when I go to turn the lights on at night, my headlights flicker off. When they turn off, I also hear a strange electrical sound (sounds like a servo or something like that). It doesn't happen every single time that I try to run my headlights, but pretty close. I don't think it's the battery, and I already took my alternator out and had it tested, but it passed the test just fine at O'Reilly's. Could it only be bad wiring that is doing this, or does anybody have any other ideas of what the problem might be?

 

p.s. The right headlight shines weaker than the left. I don't know if that is significant or not.

 

Hi,

 i have a 84 wagon , it did have weak headlights , and some other odd electrical wierdness.   on a trip,  during the night, at 60mph , they quit Completely!!   and the volt gage says discharge, so   i put a new alt ,  it made no difference at all. still no lights and guage showed discharge with headlight switch on , even though the lights were not on.

 finally after a post here someone gave me a " check this " reply. 

   he described a ground wire to check , that had given him similar issues in his past.

  it was a Main Ground Wire that was not hooked to anything!,   it is located coming off the Main wiring harness inside the car where it comes through the firewall under the dash near the steering column , its a large black  say 12 ga. wire approx 6inch long and had a large brass ring terminal on it.  i am not sure that terminal was the original since mine was not connected , but it looked factory crimped .  i think  it was around  6-8 inches  above the floor in the area around the column,  but it was easy to locate once you get in there where you can inspect that main harness.   you need to drop down the fuse panel , and the ecm , to get good access to the main wiring harness to find this ground.  

 once i found it and secured it to a good body bracket  my electrical system and headlights and blinkers, guages , all were great,  you should make an effort to check this very important ground wire to see if it is securely grounded. 

i hope this might help, it sure saved my car.   



#18 mikaleda

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 08:52 AM

Good info, but an 83 brat doesn't have an ECM. The wiring may be differant on the car your talking about. It could be there so not a bad idea to take a look.

#19 Mykeys Toy

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 06:19 PM

Try all of the above first starting with the easy and cheap. The Big3  helps a bit with a stock alt (I am not running stock).. The headlight circuit really is pretty easy just time consuming and very worth it..I was with stock alt getting barely 12 volts with the car running.



#20 turbosubarubrat

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 07:10 PM

Good info, but an 83 brat doesn't have an ECM. The wiring may be differant on the car your talking about. It could be there so not a bad idea to take a look.

they have ecm's it depends on the carb., if its from califoria, and if its a turbo(its not a turbo in this case).



#21 Mykeys Toy

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 08:54 PM

I found something to simplify headlight circuit after doing the other stuff  linky below

 

http://www.ebay.com/...c304d71&vxp=mtr



#22 ruparts

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 08:54 PM

Good info, but an 83 brat doesn't have an ECM. The wiring may be differant on the car your talking about. It could be there so not a bad idea to take a look.

 

 Hi, 

 I only mentioned the ecm in case it may need to be unbolted and lowered to gain good viewing access to the wiring harness,  i  know i had to lower the fuse panel .  i believe the main wiring harness from engine bay through the firewall and up through the under dash area would be the same on all the 83-84 models , i'm sure the turbos have extra wires , but that ground wire i outlined , i believe would be there on all the cars and the brats.  i had driven my car for years with dim lights and inconsistant guages,, i am now sure they were finding  a ground through some other component in the circuitit ,,, finally something gave up and i had no lights outside or inside..( this ground wire  has a great deal to do with lighting and guages ), and before i found it i was about to give up and scrap my wagon.  actually i did not find it,, i was told about it here on usmb, thanks ,   and , it instantly fixed ALL my particular problems.    his  ground might not be disconnected ,, but maybe it is,, maybe someone else has similar issues,  thats  why i have gone to leangths to respond about it.


Edited by ruparts, 21 May 2013 - 08:58 PM.


#23 mikaleda

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:30 PM

they have ecm's it depends on the carb., if its from califoria, and if its a turbo(its not a turbo in this case).

IIRC the 84 2wd california carbd cars had an ecu, im not familier with the turbo cars but this isnt a turbo, as far as i know for the NA motors in 83 there was no ecu


Edited by mikaleda, 23 May 2013 - 01:30 PM.


#24 turbosubarubrat

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 08:09 PM

IIRC the 84 2wd california carbd cars had an ecu, im not familier with the turbo cars but this isnt a turbo, as far as i know for the NA motors in 83 there was no ecu

the front end i got for my 85 brat came off a 81 hatch 4wd which had a ecm in it and it was all stock with aea81 and 4 speed dual range. so i dont know subaru did what it wanted which is why stuff gets complicated :banghead:



#25 mikaleda

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 07:13 PM

81 definatly shouldn't have an ECM.





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