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Old August 5th, 2011, 09:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Headlights flash on/off when I put the high beams on my 69 cutlass

Don't understand whats happening but when I put my highbeams on the headlights flicker on and off and its just the headlights any help will be appreciated thanks to all
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Old August 5th, 2011, 09:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I suspect your floor switch for high beams is going bad or the connection there is loose or corroded.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 09:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks I will check the switch out but the connection is good and were it plugs in looks like new but will check better tonight.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 09:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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If there is a uniform time and frequency of the flashing, then i would expect the circuit breaker on the switch has gone weak. Selecting high beams double the current load.
This happened on my Ford a while back. Replacing the headlight switch is the cure.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 11:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I had that problem with only one light. with lows on it was fine. When the highs were on the right side low beam went off. I replaced the light and it works fine now.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 12:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Don't understand whats happening but when I put my highbeams on the headlights flicker on and off and its just the headlights any help will be appreciated thanks to all
You probably got one of them ex police interceptors with the flashing headlights
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Old August 5th, 2011, 12:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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You probably got one of them ex police interceptors with the flashing headlights
Having an issue like this is a good way to get yourself road-raged here in Dallas (or anywhere nowday...)
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Old August 5th, 2011, 12:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Even here in wisconsin that road rage happens everynow and then lol

Yeah its strange all four lights will flicker on and off when the high beams are on. I am picking up a new dimmer switch on my way home hopefully it resolves the problem!
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Old August 5th, 2011, 12:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Like Bart Simpson Said, "check your shorts"!
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Old August 5th, 2011, 01:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Having an issue like this is a good way to get yourself road-raged here in Dallas (or anywhere nowday...)
Wow! You know I never even thought of that Rob! Better get those lights fixed pronto + don't drive at night till they are. Probably is the highbeam footswitch or a bad connection at the footswitch? Fortunately those are still easy to get and easy to install.

Beeks69,
Just a quick thought, does the flicker happen when the car is stationary, or only while moving? If it's just while moving I'd tend to look for a loose connection. Also check it with the engine on, then with the engine off.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 01:22 PM   #11 (permalink)
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It happens when the car is stationary and moving. Car does not have to be running for this to happen just turn the lights on and in 5 seconds you have a light show going on LOL
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Old August 5th, 2011, 02:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Floor switch's don't cause the problem that you describe. That problem is the headlamp switch circuit breaker keeps resetting. Headlamp switches rarely go bad, so keep reading, and you will find the answer to the problem. I would look for a short, and the short can be inside of the headlamp bulb itself. Unplug each headlamp bulb one at a time, and see if it makes any difference. I will bet that when you unplug one of the bulbs, the problem will go away. That will be the bulb that needs replacing.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 02:36 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Floor switch's don't cause the problem that you describe. That problem is the headlamp switch circuit breaker keeps resetting. Headlamp switches rarely go bad, so keep reading, and you will find the answer to the problem. I would look for a short, and the short can be inside of the headlamp bulb itself. Unplug each headlamp bulb one at a time, and see if it makes any difference. I will bet that when you unplug one of the bulbs, the problem will go away. That will be the bulb that needs replacing.
How can you be so sure of that without the car in front of you? I have been turning wrenches on Oldsmobiles for 40 years. Unplug the connector from the floor dimmer switch and see if you have headlights. A loose connection will cause the headlights to go off and on and pressing the switch will cause intermittant failure. It could be a few other things too as have already been mentioned but one should not say what it is or is not by simply reading about a problem. Wouldnt you agree?
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Old August 5th, 2011, 02:39 PM   #14 (permalink)
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It was not the dimmer switch put a new one in and it does the same thing. I will try unplugging one headlight at a time and see what happens. I will let you guys know what I find!!
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Old August 5th, 2011, 02:53 PM   #15 (permalink)
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It was not the dimmer switch put a new one in and it does the same thing. I will try unplugging one headlight at a time and see what happens. I will let you guys know what I find!!
This can actually mask any problem with the circuit breaker, as removing a headlight will reduce the current draw.
Only way this test is valid is if you replace each headlight with another identical one to keep the current draw the same.

If loose connections or wiring is the problem, the connections or terminals will often be burned and or melted. Look for things like this, too.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 02:54 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Do the headlights go off then right back on, only doing this once every time you hit the dimmer switch? If so, it's normal. The internal contacts of the switch open the low beams and close the high beams and vice versa. The switch is designed as a "break before make" switch so that you don't have all SIX headlight filaments on at once (four high beam filaments plus two low beam filaments) to avoid tripping the circuit breaker in the headlight switch. Usually if you press and release the dimmer switch fast enough, you don't notice it, but if you press the dimmer switch very slowly, you see this happen.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 03:03 PM   #17 (permalink)
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No they flash on and off like crazy until you put the low beams back on
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Old August 5th, 2011, 03:17 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Just unplugged the dimmer switch and lights went off. checked grounds everything looks good wiring all looks in excellant shape. Unplugged one headlight at a time and nothing changed still flashed on and off. I AM RUNNING OUT OF IDEAS!! Thanks for everyones input lets get this figured out haha I also replaced the head light switch on the dash but this problem was before I did that. So now I have a new switch on the dash and a new dimmer switch. Figured I would give you guys that info thanks

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Old August 5th, 2011, 03:36 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Stock replacement headlights I presume and no "super bright" aftermarket ones?
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Old August 5th, 2011, 03:43 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I put in halogen lights would that make the difference? Low beams are halogen also
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Old August 5th, 2011, 04:21 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Regular halogens are fine, as long as they were not sold as super bright or high power or such that may draw more power than normal.
When you unplugged one light, did the flashing rate change? Does unplugging 2 lights make it stop?

Please give an approximate ON time and OFF time in seconds. If it is random, take an average.
Are they going completely off and completely on or dimming also? If dimming, then next step is to check the wiring connector behind the fuse block on the firewall. Perhaps a bad connection there?
It is very hard to troubleshoot over the internet - please be patient...
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Old August 5th, 2011, 04:46 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Since they are flashing on and off so rapidly it would appear still there is too much load on the breaker and it is tripping and resetting automatically. Even though the switch is new the currant is too high.... Some more looking and tracing of wires may be in store.
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Old August 5th, 2011, 07:03 PM   #23 (permalink)
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When did this all start? Did you buy the car this way? Has someone been under the dash and wiring things? Does your little red dash high beam indicator come on?
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Old August 5th, 2011, 08:14 PM   #24 (permalink)
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No they flash on and off like crazy until you put the low beams back on
1) does the car have a Guidematic system ?

2) has anyone added any lights to the car other than the factory original?

4) Is the car bone stock, or has it been altered.

4) It appears that the problem is on the high beam side of the lighting circuit. Start looking for chewed or melted wires under the hood or dash.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 03:02 AM   #25 (permalink)
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The car is completely stock no mods it has the 2 speed tranny no one has messed with the wiring on this car. Ever since I bought the car it had this problem. My little red dash high beam indicator does not come on. All the lights go completely out there is no rythem to the lights the flicker on/off like crazy no specific time but when you turn the high beams on they stay on for about 10 seconds and then the light show begins. I will try unplugging 2 lights and see what happens. Thanks to all for there help on this it is greatly appreciated
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Old August 6th, 2011, 03:49 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I'm on the headlight switch side now, too, though a short elsewhere in the high beam wiring cannot be excluded yet.

Why not unplug all the bulbs, turn the switch off, then check the resistance from any one hot terminal to ground (should be ∞), then put a voltmeter or test bulb from the terminal to ground and turn on the high beams (should read battery voltage, shouldn't flash). If you've got measurable resistance to ground, and / or you've got flashing with all the bulbs disconnected, you've got a short in the wiring. If not, you've probably got a bad component, like a bulb with a short or a bad breaker in the switch (switch is about $12 at the auto parts store).

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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:42 AM   #27 (permalink)
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You have a ground wire on each side of the car that comes out of the plug for the low beam headlamps. The ground wire is screwed directly to the radiator support in the area of the headlamps. Remove the ground, clean it up so it has a good connection to the radiator support and reinstall it. (you might need to remove the battery to get at this wire for the driver's side) You should also have a ground wire from the negative battery cable that connects to the driver's side fender. Is that connected and if so, clean up that connection. If in doubt and for a quick test, run a ground wire from the battery to the same ground on the headlight harness. You will only need to do this for one side and obviously the driver's side is the closest. See what this will do.
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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:45 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Good advise MD chanic. I am going to attack this problem a little differently, by suggesting that you remove the switch, and see if a terminal got bent over when the switch was replaced. It also might be that some wires came off, and were plugged back into the wrong terminal openings. I see this as a direct short across the high beam circuit. If it were a ground issue, then there would be a dim bulb(s) on the side that has the bad ground. Time to start thinking outside of the normal events.

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Old August 6th, 2011, 10:58 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I tried the grounds cleaned them up they looked good though but ran a jumper wire and same thing happens really fast flickering on and off still unplugged the 2 headlights on the drivers side and it stopped flickering same with the passenger side it must be a draw issue of some sort I traced all the wiring it looks great. You guys are great for putting time in with me it is apprecited!
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Old August 6th, 2011, 06:12 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Sounds like you're narrowing it to the headlight switch.

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Old August 6th, 2011, 08:17 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Try unplugging the two inner high beam bulbs and see if the problem goes away. Then plug them in and unplug the two outer high/low beam bulbs and see what happens. This will isolate the problem if it is in the wiring or in the switch. If it is truly a case of amperage overload, then the problem will be resolved with each of the above tests, and it can be only one of two items.. Wrong bulbs, or bad switch.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 04:08 PM   #32 (permalink)
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I unplugged the outside lights flickering stops plug even one of the lights back in flickering starts again unplug high beams no flickering. Wiring or switch? It is a new switch and dimmer in the car. I was playing with fuses and the tailight and dash fuse 20a gets super hot where it will burn your finger but does not blow the fuse? Strange to me figured I would give that little bit of input I did take the panel apart and try and cleaned all the connections up good don't know if this is related?
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Old August 7th, 2011, 04:27 PM   #33 (permalink)
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switch, had a '71 chrysler that did the same thing, new switch fixed it. 40 years of metal fatigue on the circuit breaker.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 04:30 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Just to make sure that we are both on the same page.

1) Did you try both high and low beam when the inner bulbs were unplugged?

2) With the outer bulbs unplugged, and the inners plugged in, there was no flickering.

3) With the two inners plugged in, when you plug in either outer bulb, the flickering starts.

If this is the case, then it is a overload problem, not a short circuit in the wiring. I am inclined to believe that the headlight switch has a defective circuit breaker. You could try another pair of outer headlamp bulbs but I don't think it will make any differance. I remember someone asking if they were high output bulbs that you were using, and the answer was no. Please check the part numbers on the back of all the bulbs to verify that they are standard bulbs.
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Old August 7th, 2011, 05:02 PM   #35 (permalink)
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1) yes
2)No flickering when the inner bulbs were plugged in and outers unplugged
3)Yes as soon as I plug a third light back into it they start flickering
I will check part numbers and look at getting a new switch to see if it resolves the problem I will check back tomorrow night and let you know what's going on thanks
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Old August 7th, 2011, 05:05 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Here's one possibility.

Delco costs twice as much.

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Old August 8th, 2011, 04:22 AM   #37 (permalink)
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MDchanic that is the switch I put in only a couple weeks ago. Do you think that could be bad already or did I just maybe get a defective one? Thats my luck haha
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Old August 8th, 2011, 05:14 AM   #38 (permalink)
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MDchanic that is the switch I put in only a couple weeks ago. Do you think that could be bad already or did I just maybe get a defective one? Thats my luck haha
I had several bad experience with B/W parts, so it is possible you got a dud. The H/L switch I got for my Ford fixed the flashing headlights but now the dash lights will not dim - high or off. Too big a pain to replace again.
About as bad or maybe worse than the Cutlass one.
I would spring for the Delco one, but of course buying anything these days is becoming a crapshoot...

BUT BEFORE DOING THAT...
Your hot fuse has me concerned.
Get a voltmeter and check voltage on both sides of the fuse to ground. There should be a very little (if any) difference. The metal inside can fatigue and it could be turning into a resistor...

Also make sure you have 12V there and nothing too much less which would indicate a weak connection elsewhere. Check with and without headlights on. Low voltage to the lights will cause a higher current, since the resistance is constant.
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Old August 8th, 2011, 05:25 AM   #39 (permalink)
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I don't buy any part that is modern for my old cars, unless I have no choice. Too many of the parts are made in some far off country, where there is no such thing as quality control. Find a used one, or search for a NOS part.
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Old August 8th, 2011, 05:34 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Thanks Lady72nRob71 I will definetly give that a try when I get home from work and let you know the results.
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