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Electrical Problems, headlights and wipers not working

1382 Views 38 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  mainesaabc
89 Saab 900 Base

Seemingly all at once, my electrical went haywire:
-Dashboard shows brights are on, can't turn it off
-Lights don't work
-Right turn signal doesn't work
-Wipers don't work (wiper spray does)
-Right blinker doesn't work
-Only 3rd brake light works (well, the others were just really dim)
EDIT!-Forgot to add horn doesn't work either

After much digging through forums, I did the following:
-New headlamps, all 6 bulbs in front side lights replaced, side marker bulbs replaced
-Checked grounds in rear lights.
-Checked fuses with electric meter
-Cleaned (I think) all grounds

Not recommended in the forums, but I had had enough, I tapped into the ground feeding the right tail light and grounded it to the ground from the left taillight. This gave me blinkers, albeit the right one blinks fast and the left blinks normal. I imagine this might be because there is too much current, but I was having a hard time cleaning the contacts in the left taillight and imagine that is what needs to be done.

I still cannot get headlights to work or windshield wipers.

If I turn the lights on while the blinker is going, the blink gets very slow, like one change per second (ie two seconds for a full on/off cycle).

Based on what I have read it seems like it is either a ground somewhere that I have not found, or the headlight relay. I did not find a lot of good info on the latter, but I took it apart and visually checked it for anything obvious and didn't see anything. I uploaded pictures of it in case someone smarter than me sees something.

Lastly, I am a novice, so please use small words in your reply! :)


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Remove the Ignition Lock Relay (in the fusebox) and see if the terminals are loose, corroded, or melted.
It was in there very tight, but after getting it out, none of the terminals appear loose, corroded, or melted.


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I can check that again. I did clean that ground, but the possibility exists I just didn;t clean it well enough.
Check for loose terminals on cables too.
The items you mention do not share a ground. They do share power sources. A bad connection on either side acts the same.
So I checked the battery terminal voltage and it was 12.8. I then checked from positive to end of battery cable at frame and it was 12.8. I then checked from positive to various parts of the frame and got 12.8 where I had good contact points. I took her for a drive today and issues persist (obviously!). For one, the blinkers work, except when I use the brakes, they then shut off until i lift up on brake.

When I got home, I decided to attempt to lift up the fuse panel to see if there was a mouse nest or anything underneath. It only came up a bit, enough to verify there were no mouse nests, but then all of a sudden I heard a buzzing. My son was sitting in the car and said the tachometer started moving (car was off, key was out of ignition). The buzzing was coming from the Ignition Lock relay, which you had me look at yesterday. If that was bad, could it cause all the issues I am having? I imagine I need to replace it if it buzzes by itself. I actually heard it once before, last year when I was checking a fuse and heard a brief buzz but couldn't locate where it came from.
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When I lifted the fuse box last time it was pretty tight and only came up about an inch or two, allowing about one half inch of view into the guts. All the wires looked brand new, but I follow your logic. Are there any tricks to get the fuse box up further? Is there anything I need to be really careful of when doing it?
I still cant get the fuse box up but I did get it further. Everything looks clean but i will continue my attempts. However, i did learn something. I figured if there was a short and i could reproduce the buzzing (which I could), then I should be able to find the culprit circuit if the buzzing stops while I pull fuses. Success! So.....

The buzzing completely stopped when I pulled the fuse for the wipers. Interestingly, the left (not sure about the right) side marker stayed on when I I pulled the fuse for it, but went OFF when I pulled the fuse for the wipers. Hopefully that is not a red herring, but it seems like I ought to be able to focus my searxh on those two circuits.

Does that new info provide a helpful clue to anyone?

Where is the best place to disconnect those?


So I unplugged both stalks. The wipers were easy as there was only one. The turn signal had 5 or 6 different plugs. I will need some help making sure I put them back right! I took some pics but it was tight in there. Here is what I found:

With stalks unplugged, I was able to put all fuses back in and could not get anything to buzz. I plugged the stalk back in, heard some clicks and a quick buzz I think (I was inside the car). When I plugged it in the RPMs starting revving too...but just on the tach, the car was off. :)

Jim-your comment about the motor trying to park is good. The wipers are stuck up at the moment. So I can unplug the motor and plug the stalk back in to see if the symptoms persist.

I checked the wiring diagram and there is also some weird stuff on the same fuse: seatbelt sensors and coolant sensor and buzzer. I feel I have two issues, per your comment Jim about lights and wipers not sharing anything.
You all have been great, thank you. So I pulled the plug from the wiper motor then plugged the wiper stalk back in. No buzzing, no weird tach issues, everything appeared (at least for now) as if the symptoms are gone. I can focus my efforts on the wiper motor. Now to figure out why the headlights dont work. I imagine first step is getting everything plugged back in correctly to the stalk....
More analysis. I used my meter to see if I was getting power through the fuses for front lights. To do this i put one probe of meter on one side of where the fuse plugs in and one on the other. On the left side (fuses 16 and 18) i get 13+v as expected for low beam and activated high beam. I get nothing for the right (low or high, 17 and 19). if i put my meter on the passenger side of these fuses and go to a good ground (drivers side just behind parking lights), i get 13+v. I then unplugged the front left bulb and took a measurement from its positive to its ground. Nothing. I took a measurent from its positive to the body ground on the vertical panel on drivers side (previosuly referenced). 13+v! So that would mean i do NOT have a ground at the headlight. I double checked by doing a continuity test between the ground on the headlight plug and the body ground previously mentioned and nothing. I thought I cleaned every ground but there has to be one I missed. Does anyone know which ground the headlights go to? I cleaned and checked the one that goes to the alternator, the frame near where the passenger fog light would be, the one near the engine lift bracket, and the ground mentioned previously. Either there are more or there is a broken ground wire somewhere. At least, that is my thinking now.
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I forgot about this other post I had started but wasn't getting. I should take notes. I will check these wires. Damn. Missing ground wires?
Well, I apologize for being an idiot. sincerely. i had seen that big bundle of wires that seemed odd, but I saw another picture on the internet that looked same so assumed (damn!!) It was supposed to be. I did a few tests, then grounded all of them. Woulntyou know it. Everything works. In an effort to not make this a useless post, can someone post what this termination is SUPPOSED to look like?
Thank you all, as I still learned a lot. Sorry it was a waste!


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I am happy to report after hooking those grounds up, everything is working.....except the right turn signal. The white light comes on (cornering light), but no flashing. As for the ring terminals, that makes sense. I made it a little neater, but man it feels so good to drive I can figure out what else it need!!

I will search the forums for my blinker problem.
Do all lights work with the hazard button?
Yes; all 6 lights including side markers work with hazards on flawlessly. Left turn signal blinks front, back, and side. Right signal results in: rear-nothing. Side marker-nothing. Front-only cornering light.
I assume you have the knee pad out , if so there is a ground point in the cabin near the bonnet release catch
That is a big assumption!! I have not taken the knee pad out. Would the left still workdf that grond was bad? I have not checked that one.
Yes; all 6 lights including side markers work with hazards on flawlessly. Left turn signal blinks front, back, and side. Right signal results in: rear-nothing. Side marker-nothing. Front-only cornering light.
I just thought of something, maybe. In my attempts to fix all the other issues at one point I unplugged everything from both stalks. Could I have put a wire back incorrectly? The brights work properly. Does anyone have a d6oagam of what wires go where on the stalk? Silly that saab decided to use individilual wires on the left stalk!
The terminals are numbered on the stalk, and the wiring diagram shows what wire color to what terminal.
Got it. Will double check later. Looking at the wiring diagram it appears that since my cornering light is turning on the switch is setting a signal period. Send the only thing between my lights and the switch is the repeater. Is there a separate repeater for left and right? And where are these?
I am honestly not sure what would cause this... But presumably the stalk itself.
All fixed. Switch wired wrong. I am 2 for 2 on stupid things!
It's only stupid when you pay someone else. Until then it's an experiment. :D
That lifted me up; thanks! The only remaining light issue is blinkers stop when i press the break. I saw a couple other posts that i will try. I ran short a couple bulbs on my full bulb replacement and i can triple check the ground and wiring back there.

Then, i need to asses heating system with hot air always coming out of outer and cold air from inner. Im thinking vac lines. Also, the heating control lighting is one of the last two interior lighting issues, the other being the door switches i believe.

Thanks again to everyone on this post!
Center vent is just that, a vent, it will not get hot air from the heater, so nothing wrong with the vac lines.
What should i chech with only hot air coming out of side vents regrdless of temp setting?
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