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Old July 5th, 2008, 08:00 PM   #1
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Twilight Sentinel Trouble

1995 Olds Regency Elite with all the whistles and bells. Bought this car in 2003 and everything worked. Last fall, the auto headlights started turning off while driving at night (downtown lighting). Then, they stopped working all together. Since it was cold, I didn't feel like taking anything apart. I took it to GM and they spent an hour diagnosing that it might be anything, fixed nothing, charged me 100 bucks. In cold weather, when I started the car to let it warm up sometimes the headlights would come on. Soon as the car went into gear, the headlights went out.
The dash switch is good, but to make sure I swapped it out for a new one. I went to the boneyard and found a couple of same year parts donors and replaced the (green) headlamp control module. What a PITA to take out!! Anyway, that didn't work either. Right now I'm turning the headlights on and off manually, but I really like the auto system. Anybody got any ideas? As far as I'm concerned it IS worth fixing if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
PS: I can do basic troubleshooting, so please keep it simple. Thx.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 07:37 AM   #2
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Allan, if you took your car to the dealership already and they didn't fix it I suggest taking it back and asking them why it is still broken. I am always wary of taking an automobile to a repair shop because I feel they are generally out to scam people that don't know anything about cars.

If you already replaced the switch and control unit for the automatic headlights then I guess the only thing left to replace is the sensor. As I recall they are mounted in the dash close to the windshield. I recall hearing that this feature was a weak point of the early 90s GM cars. Perhaps the control box you got from the salvage yard was bad.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 10:02 AM   #3
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Lightbulb

Thanks, that's 2 of you that are on the same page. Ok, I never checked the light sensor. All I did was covered it over to simulate darkness. I'll give that a shot next. It is on the left side, but it's not one that's covered over. Those two little hooded units are part of the heat sensing units (so I've been told) for the automatic AC.
To get to that sensor though means taking the whole dash apart, because some of the lower valences have to come off before you take off the top. Probably try this in the next couple of days. It's raining now so I've got to wait for dry weather.
BTW the headlight control module is a discontinued part. I asked a DIFFERENT GM dealer about getting it. They did a search and could only find 1, and it was in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. Figuring it could be had for a good price, I called the dealer. Yup, really good price $253.00 + tax plus shipping. Took the control module to an electronics shop. They checked it and couldn't find anything wrong; all the solder was good and continuity was good too.
And finally, I did complain about the $100 for nothing. And no matter who I talked to, I might as well have talked to the wall. Appears that GM is so busy making money off other people, they don't care about my complaint.

Thanks, I'll let you know if it works out.

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Old July 6th, 2008, 10:42 AM   #4
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That is a bummer that the people at the dealership didn't help you out. Take Paul's advice and talk to the general manager. Or you can always ask to talk to the owner of the dealership. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
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Old July 6th, 2008, 10:50 PM   #5
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Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease, sometimes it doesn't. Don't know how it is where you are, but if I need something done at GM they now have a booking appointment that can be up to 2 or 3 weeks down the road, unless it is an emergency. Then you only have to wait about a week.
I bought my wife a 1996 Saturn SL1 fully loaded new from the local dealer. (Ok that was a bad thing to do, but I was living on the edge and she needed a safe car for her and our new son) Everything was fine until they serviced it at 36000 miles. Put some kind of additive in the engine and some wierd BVR700 additive that had to be added to the gas, and detuned the transmission. It used to get an honest 62 mpg on the highway doing 70. Now it barely gets 44. By the next day, there was oil dripping onto the floor of the garage. The car was just over 5 years old (ya, she doesn't drive it much). Anyway, I did some research and found that Saturn had a "hidden warrantee" because they had so many failures of this type and it would allow the dealer to repair at no cost to the customer for 100000 miles or 6 years. I had EVERY single document showing service on the car from the day it was bought. Met with the service mgr. He hemmed and hawed, finally said he would cover the parts if I covered the labor. Huh??? the labor was 1200.00 and the parts were 140. NOPE. Met with the GM zone rep. He denied that there was a warrantee, even when I showed him a copy of the web page from GM.

That's when I realized that their slogan "Saturn - a different kind of car, a different kind of company" was really nothing but horse s***. So, this car now has 68000 miles on it, still leaks all over the floor of the garage, but I'll be darned if I'll pay them to fix a problem that should have been on warranty. I'll NEVER buy another one of their cars. Oh, and BTW, all the GM dealers here refuse to work on a Saturn.

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Old July 7th, 2008, 04:23 PM   #6
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Arrow Update

Ok, today I got ahold of GM to see if I can get an ambient light sensor for the Twilight Sentinel. Ah ha ha ha ha ha ...... Nope. Don't make 'em anymore. Not even available from GM Vintage parts. (interesting because I thought GM had to inventory parts for at least 10 years past production, and this part is available even on up to 2004).

Andy ( the part guy - he's a really decent old fart) did tell me to check 1992-1996 at the boneyard. Said Cadillac or full size Buick was the best donor for Olds. Hmmm??? ok. Going out tommorrow to check. Rather screw up their wrecks practicing taking stuff out than buggering mine up.

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Old July 7th, 2008, 07:43 PM   #7
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Good luck finding the part you need.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 07:02 PM   #8
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Spent 4 hours today at the boneyard. ???? Only 1 Olds 98 and it was the wrong year. Couldn't even find a 88 LS or LSS in the right year. No caddies??? No Buicks???? What is going on here? Going to another one tommorrow.

Oh well, a bad day at the boneyard is still more fun than a good day in the office.

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Old July 8th, 2008, 09:43 PM   #9
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Paul,
Nope, they didn't give me a part number because they say it's "discontinued". Anyway, I'll try again tommorrow at a different yard. If they don't have anything, I'll just wait for a month until the inventory changes and go again. I was really shocked that there wasn't much to choose from. But, as you must be aware there is a huge turnover at recycling. Sooner than later, I'll get something. By the by, does anyone know WHAT it is that causes these things to fail? Is there some way to repair them without replacing them?

If I don't find one tomorrow, I'll post to LYK. Right now the days are so long I don't use the lights most of the time anyway.

I'd be curious to know if you find a stocking part number when you get back to the office on Monday.

Best regards,

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Old July 11th, 2008, 07:13 PM   #10
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I went to another wrecking yard today. Lots of donor cars.
So, I've never had to take the upper dash apart before, it was just limited to the dash cluster. (this car has the optional digiital dash).

So, after about 35 minutes of diddling around in an 90 degree sweatbox, I pulled a crowbar out and gently persuaded the old lady to give up her dash. You'd be amazed at how hard it is to get that sucker off!!!

Even after I'd busted several mounting brackets and got the dash pad off, it was still not clear how Olds got it on in the first place. Unless any of you know the secret, or can point me in the right direction, I'm just going to forget about the twilight sentinel. If I was paying a body shop, I'm betting it's gotta be a job that takes 2 hours just to get out.

Oh, and BTW, once you've got the dash pad off, the light sensor it easy to get. Only thing is, where does the tiny wires on that thing go to? I don't want to cut them because I don't know if that will create another problem or if they are fibre optic.
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Old July 12th, 2008, 07:05 AM   #11
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I had a 93 Buick LeSabre and I recall it wasn't too difficult to get the dash off. It came off in a couple of pieces. There were lights that went the entire way across the top of the dash and that piece came off seperately. Of course, I guess the 98 is bigger and built differently than the LeSabre which would be similar to an 88. Anyways... Good luck!
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Old July 13th, 2008, 08:35 PM   #12
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I'm pretty sure that if I had the body manual for this car it would be easier. But I don't and haven't seen any around even on the web.
Anybody got the manual for 1995 Ninety Eight Regency Elite? Should be the same from 1994-1996. The dash on the 88 series should also be the same from 1994-1998. Any help would be very appreciated. If you can scan the info, send it to me via PM email. Other than that, the one at the wreckers the other day was a real Beeeaaatch.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 02:24 AM   #13
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http://www.faxonautoliterature.com/p...70%26yr%3D1995

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Old July 14th, 2008, 06:41 AM   #14
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Reading these posts about the poor service from GM dealerships, knowing what they did to Oldsmobile, and hearing about what they may do to Buick and have done to downsize even more; I have decided that GM is being run by a bunch of sixth graders from timbuktoo. Sheesh!
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Old July 14th, 2008, 12:30 PM   #15
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Paul,
WOW. That's great information. You are right on the money about where the light sensor is located, and yes the 2 sun load sensors are attached to the same filler strip. Just so I got it right, I DON"T have to remove the dash pad to remove the sensor? Kind of wondered about that. Any tips on how to get the defrost "grill" out without breaking it? (hope we're talking about the same thing here. I'm thinking its the long thin plastic part that runs between the dash pad and the windshield)
The other thing I'm not sure about:
I understand the part about removing the sensor by twisting it out of it's holder. Is the sensor a 2 piece unit? The one at the wrecker last week twisted off just like you say, but it's attached to 2 wires that run back into a harness. Does the sensor "sit in" the part that twists out? I'm a little unsure about this. I would have cut the wires and taken the sensor last week, but I didn't even know how to get to my sensor without wrecking the dash pad.
If you have a parts guide that shows the dash assembly, I would REALLY appreciate if you could scan or copy it and sent it to me on a PM email.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 12:34 PM   #16
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Norm
Thanks for the link to faxon. Forgot to check them out, and whadayaknow? They got it.
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Old July 14th, 2008, 12:44 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Oldsguy View Post
Reading these posts about the poor service from GM dealerships, knowing what they did to Oldsmobile, and hearing about what they may do to Buick and have done to downsize even more; I have decided that GM is being run by a bunch of sixth graders from timbuktoo. Sheesh!
No, I don't think you're right Dan. 6th graders are way smarter.

I do agree that in spite of the "lip service" most dealerships flog at maintaining good customer service, it's not what it used to be. And I know that every dealer has its share of really good staff, and others who are just putting in time until they go home. Back in the day when Dad introduced me to the world of Olds, SERVICE was walked and talked by everyone from sales, to parts, to service and bodyshop. If they didn't fix it the first time, it was a rare thing. I was impressed at how confident I felt returning to a GM dealer to get work done because of the dependable service (sometimes the price was a bit high, but that was worth it considering the service) It appears that today's society has come to accept poor service as being better than no service. I disagree. Poor service is the same thing as No service. That's why I stay away from dealers unless I absolutely have no choice.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 04:09 PM   #18
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The "headlamp automatic control ambient light sensor" looks like it is the left-most sensor on top of the dash, but my illustrations are sometimes not accurate. It looks like there are 2 other sensors up there - both are sun load temperature sensors for the climate control. There is limited stock at 3 Canadian warehouses. There are 551 of them in Lansing.

Anyway, the light sensor is part number 914032. Lists for 54.32. This sensor interchanges with so many other vehicles from 1984 through 2005 that I'm not even going to attempt to list them. It's in group 2.485 just in case you want to ask your parts guy why he couldn't find it...
HEY PAUL!!!!
GOT IT. I went to the pick and pull today. Tried your suggestion about getting the dash vent off first. I took my time, and it was easy!! Took off 2 vent caps and put them back on just to make sure I didn't break mine....
The ambient light sensor comes right out of the brown holder. Use a fine flat blade to start, then just wiggle it out. Don't have to cut any wires.

Got home, heart was pounding. Took my dash vent cap off. Found out the dash mounting screws were loose. Tightened them. Installed the "new" used ambient light sensor. POW!!! Works perfect. Tried it a couple of times, put the dash back together.

Best for last: The ambient light sensor is smaller than a dime. The cashier at the parts counter looked at the 2 that I had, shrugged her shoulders and said, "keep em, no charge".

Man, I got out of there quick. Like you said, these list for over 60 bucks each. There is "hidden treasure" out there.

TO ALL WHO COMMENTED ON GM SERVICE:
You're right!! I'm going back armed with what I know now and I'm not a mechanic. But their staff is and should have at least had a clue about the sensor. Took me 15 minutes, start to finish and it's FIXED. Took them over an hour, charged around $100.00 and they didn't know what was wrong. BOOO

I'll let you know how it turns out.
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Old July 21st, 2008, 03:05 PM   #19
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Allan, that is cool that you got the sensor fixed. Good luck dealing with the GM dealer. BTW, why do you have a pictrue of a light rail mass transit system on your signature?
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Old July 21st, 2008, 04:39 PM   #20
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Allan, that is cool that you got the sensor fixed. Good luck dealing with the GM dealer. BTW, why do you have a pictrue of a light rail mass transit system on your signature?
Thanks Jesse, Dan asked me the same thing. Answer: I moonlight/daylight as a Rail Instructor/Examiner. The picture just happens to be the first train of it's kind in the world. It's still being commissioned.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 09:18 AM   #21
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SWEET! Now only if it had an Oldsmobile engine in it.
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Old July 29th, 2008, 10:56 PM   #22
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SWEET! Now only if it had an Oldsmobile engine in it.
Yup, and if it was built by Olds, it would probably be running by now.....

Update on the dealer:
Called and talked to the service manager. He doesn't sound too interested in anything. Very defensive about how his people did the BEST they could to find something that COULD be anything.

He is willing to review the invoice and would like some documentation about how I got information that NOT ONE OF HIS HIGHLY TRAINED MECHS knew.

That's horsehockey!!! There's way too many GM cars out there with twilight sentinel not to have a working knowledge of the basic /common problem areas.

Anyway, I'm going to copy and paste some of the info that was provided by you good folks (special thanks to Paul) for them so they can EDUCATE their staff.

Maybe I'll get some money back. Tell you one thing, I wouldn't go back there for service again.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 07:09 AM   #23
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Don't let that guy yank your chain. If you continue to inquire about a discount for shoddy service then you will eventually get it.
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Old July 30th, 2008, 09:28 PM   #24
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Yup, and if it was built by Olds, it would probably be running by now.....

Update on the dealer:
Called and talked to the service manager. He doesn't sound too interested in anything. Very defensive about how his people did the BEST they could to find something that COULD be anything.

He is willing to review the invoice and would like some documentation about how I got information that NOT ONE OF HIS HIGHLY TRAINED MECHS knew.

That's horsehockey!!! There's way too many GM cars out there with twilight sentinel not to have a working knowledge of the basic /common problem areas.

Anyway, I'm going to copy and paste some of the info that was provided by you good folks (special thanks to Paul) for them so they can EDUCATE their staff.

Maybe I'll get some money back. Tell you one thing, I wouldn't go back there for service again.
Allan,

You are dealing with an idiot...(see red). Go to the next level ....the General Manager. If he is not available or won't speak with you, go find the DEALER. Be polite but firm in your quest. You will be rewarded for your efforts. Good luck.
BTW-Not all GM dealers don't care.

Regards,

Fred
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Old July 31st, 2008, 08:45 PM   #25
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You are dealing with an idiot...(see red). Go to the next level ....the General Manager. If he is not available or won't speak with you, go find the DEALER. Be polite but firm in your quest. You will be rewarded for your efforts. Good luck.
BTW-Not all GM dealers don't care.
Thanks Fred, I know that you are right about it's probably just this one guy being a dufus. But it's really frustrating dealing with people like that where you have to bear the proof or they don't believe you.
Just curious, but do you work at a dealership? Sounds like you know your way around there.
I'll let him know that I want the G. Mgr in on the next discussion.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 08:45 PM
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