Need help with a Dodge Charger question.

Electrical and Ignition

  1. cruiser

    cruiser Well-Known Member

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    Hello All: Cruiser here. And yes, I know this is a B-body question, but here goes anyhow. I was driving my very stock 1969 Charger last night. About 35 minutes into a 60 minute drive, I noticed the ammeter was flickering pretty wildly between plus or minus 10 amps. I also noticed that the headlamp switch was noticeably warm to the touch. I had the high beams on at the time. When I switched the headlights off, the ammeter returned to normal. I didn't notice if the headlights were flickering with the movement of the ammeter needle, as it was still light out. The car has a solid state voltage limiter in the dash, the Mopar electronic ignition conversion, and a solid state voltage regulator. I didn't notice any unusual melting or heating at the bulkhead disconnect. So what's going on here. I was quite concerned about the temperature of the headlamp switch and I don't want to start a fire in my dash. Could it be a problem with my foot dimmer switch? Headlamp switch? All underdash wiring is very stock. Ideas?
     
  2. George Jets

    George Jets 1967 Dart 2 Door FABO Gold Member

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    Sounds like it's time to replace your headlight switch. Heat is resistance.

    50 year old switch with moving parts and corrosion over time. Try the dome light and the dash lights dimmer, see if they are acting funny too.

    Might as well put in the foot dimmer switch at the same time, they are running down in the dirt and moisture.
     
  3. cruiser

    cruiser Well-Known Member

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    Okay, I
    Okay, I'll check it. Why would it cause the ammeter to act like that?
     
  4. George Jets

    George Jets 1967 Dart 2 Door FABO Gold Member

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    Electricity follows the path of least resistance. Sometimes it backfeeds trying to find its way back to the source. Especially if bad grounds are in the mix.
     
  5. Dana67Dart

    Dana67Dart The parts you don't add don't cause you no trouble FABO Gold Member

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    There is the key. If anything is hot it has excess resistance. Could be loose connections, warn out switch contacts, etc.

    My 67 dart headlight switch conectors had been loose for so long that they melted the plastic around the connector.

    I was able to get another good plastic and tighten up the connectors and clean them properly and re assemble.

    On a side note... My ammeter bounces when my turn signals are on. It goes to slight discharge then bounces to charge, swinging to around the first tick momentarily. I think it has to do with how the ammeter works and how the voltage regulator works. Basically a momentary overcharge while the VR recovers from the high current draw when the turn signal lights are on. Like water hammer in the pipes, if you had a pressure gauge on the pipe you would see the pressure drop from static when you open the valve, then slam the valve shut and you would see the pressure rise sharply for a moment then settle back to static pressure ( yes I know voltage is pressure and amps is flow, but the alalogy still holds water pump intended)
     
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    • 72bluNblu

      72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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      What headlights are in the car? If you have a set of halogens in there the high beams might be drawing more current than the factory wiring/switch want to deal with.

      And all of the normal check the grounds, check the switches, check for loose connections stuff applies too. But the headlight wiring and switch on these cars can't handle a ton of current, and a newer set of halogens could do them in. @crackedback makes a really nice headlight relay wiring set up that solves the factory wiring issues with the headlights.
       
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      • RustyRatRod

        RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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        I highly recommend this upgrade as well. Cannot say enough good about it. Take the load OFF the headlight switch and uses it as a trigger for relays. Very nice setup. I have it on Vixen and love it.
         
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        • George Jets

          George Jets 1967 Dart 2 Door FABO Gold Member

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          What's the ballpark price on the headlight wiring upgrade?
           
        • Bewy

          Bewy Well-Known Member

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          Check for worn brushes in the alt. Like the ones in your elec drill, they do not last forever...
           
        • RustyRatRod

          RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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          Chit if I remember. It's WELL worth it. @crackedback, how much is it now? When I did mine, I upgraded to Cibie E code H4 conversions with good Osram bulbs. When I say night and day difference, that ain't no lie. VERY high quality kit too. Rob is one hell of an asset to the site.
           
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          • Car Nut

            Car Nut Mopar Master

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            • George Jets

              George Jets 1967 Dart 2 Door FABO Gold Member

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              Nice Kit, night and day difference.
              Made in USA
               
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              • AAndrews

                AAndrews MOPAR .. Move Over, Plymouth Approaching Rapidly!

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                Totally agree!

                One of the best upgrades I did on my car.
                 
              • Mattax

                Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                While a relay harness can be a help, the Charger is different than the A-body cars in several respects.
                1. Its a four lamp system.
                That requires a different relay harness with more wires.
                It also means that none of the lamps that can be used on out A-bodies can be used.
                It takes the smaller diameter lamps, and last I looked there was no particulalry great H4 replacement for a 4002.
                upload_2022-5-5_9-20-42.png

                2. The Charger got larger diameter 16 gage headlight wires vs the 18 gage used in the A-bodies.
                upload_2022-5-5_9-24-28.png

                Granted its only 16 ga from the headlight switch to the dimmer, and that needs to carry current for 4 lamps when high beams are on.
                upload_2022-5-5_9-26-8.png

                The Charger also got a 20 amps circuit breaker in its headlight switch.


                Since turning off the headlights stopped the battery from charging and discharging 'wildly', the modifications don't seem to be the cause.

                If the battery was supplying power to the headlamps, lets say because the alternator was failing, then when you turned the headlights off, the ammeter should have indicated charging and then returned to center.
                If there was a short after the headlight switch, the circuit breaker should have opened.

                Got to think about this a bit more as there may be enough clues here to point you closer. Could be something loose in the switch or in the wiring. Can't rule out hte alternator/VR and circuit yet either.
                In the meantime, I would check a few things.
                Battery condition. If you have a load tester or a charger, make sure the battery is fully charged. If not, measure voltage with engine off. Should be at least 12.5 Volts. Leaving the voltmeter on the battery, start the car, and see what the voltage drops to. When its running, observe the ammeter and the voltmeter.

                Turn on the headlights low beam with engine off. The ammeter will show the draw from the battery. Note that and any erratic behaviour.
                Turn on high beam. Does the draw increase? Is the behaviour steady or not?
                Turn off lights and recharge the battery using a charger.
                If any erratic behavior or high current draw is seen during the test, stop immediately.

                If not too inconvenient, visually check the headlight switch connector terminals and wires. Same at the dimmer switch.
                Maybe do the same behind the headlight buckets. I've seen wires chafed and rubbing where the conductors rub against each other (cross wire short) as well ground short - but those trip the breaker.
                 
              • RustyRatRod

                RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                The @crackedback harness helps regardless of headlight type, even with sealed beams. But if you also upgrade to a good quality H4 headlamp conversion at the same time, you're going to rival and best some new car headlight systems on your fifty plus year old car. I cannot preach how worth it this mod is.
                 
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                • RustyRatRod

                  RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                  Correct and @crackedback has a four headlight harness available. IMO, it's worth doing to JUST take the load off the headlight switch. Even with everything normal and in good operating condition, they get HOT.
                   
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                  • 72bluNblu

                    72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                    Yup, I have one of @crackedback headlight harness' for my Challenger, which is also a 4 headlight set up.
                     
                  • Mattax

                    Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                    There has not been a good H4 option to replace the 4002 lamps, at least that was so for a while.
                    The 4001 high beam only lamps have some options, but they are not H4 - which is a hi/low lamp, but IIRC H3.
                    Dan Stern I'm sure has some suggestions.
                     
                  • RustyRatRod

                    RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                    Somebody needs to tell that to Sesquehanna Motorsports.
                    https://www.rallylights.com/lighting/headlamps/l/5-3-4-round-conversion
                     
                  • Mattax

                    Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                    I believe some people have tried. :(
                    Apparently H4 bulbs are difficult to make effective with the smaller diameter lens.
                    Explanation is here: https://www.candlepowerforums.com/threads/who-has-the-best-sealed-beams.288782/
                    Also See 5.75" H5006 sealed beam & H4 Photometrics at Dan Stern Lighting
                    Stern doesn't show the "vision plus" on that page but between him and 'Virgil' on Candlepower forums, if there was something reasonably good, they'd know.

                    For the High Beams using H1 bulbs in Hella's "Vision Plus" H1 might be a reasonably safe bet.
                    However refering back to now older posts, in 2014 Stern was recommend the Bi-focal H1
                    https://www.candlepowerforums.com/t...to-cibié-5-75-headlights.388402/#post-4482715

                    We can ask if @slantsixdan has something new to add


                    All that said, @cruiser still needs to find the problem.
                     
                  • RustyRatRod

                    RustyRatRod I was born on a Monday. Not last Monday. FABO Gold Member

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                    I agree 100%.
                     
                  • slantsixdan

                    slantsixdan =..=

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                    There's a bunch of off-brand junk on the market, that is true, and even among reputable brands you have to be picky. The Hella 5-3/4" H4 is a poor choice, not worthy even at a low-low price; it is extremely weak on low beam—inadequate seeing distance for normal driving speeds (always has been, now worse because the tooling is worn). This cannot be overcome by brute force (high-watt bulb).

                    The Koito H4 unit (made in Japan) in this 5-3/4" size is particularly good: well-focused and efficient:

                    Koito KDSL14.jpg

                    The legitimate ones take H1 bulbs. There are two good Koito options (pic), one decent Hella option, one or two obscure/difficult-to-get other options (not worth the effort), and, here again, a bunch of junk.

                    Koito KDSL16.jpg


                    There is also one set of extremely good LED headlamps in this size, a commercial-duty product made extremely well in Korea. They are not advertised, and they are very narrowly available; PM me for more details. Expensive and worth it if you can tolerate the departure from traditional-lamp appearance:

                    LH575L_1.jpg

                    LH575H_2.jpg

                    redbeard.gif

                    The most important things to keep in mind on this:

                    • Do not fall for the common myth that ECE ("European", "E-code") lamps are necessarily superior to SAE ("DOT", "US-code") lamps. That's wrong; both standards have plenty of room for good headlamps and too much room for bad ones; just the nature of the badness differs. Also disregard the flowery bulk wrap you'll find, trashing the US lamp standard ("ZOMG LOLROFL THEY REQUIRE 25% OF THE LIGHT TO GO UPWARD LAME LOL" etc) and grossly exaggerating the difference between a sealed beam and (say) a particular H4 headlamp (WOW 300% MORE LIGHT WOW SUPER OSSOME etc). The only generalisation on the subject that's reality-based is that good headlamps are better than bad ones, and "good" and "bad" are objective, not subjective.

                    • While you're busy avoiding the headlite-shaped trinkets, also don't fall for "LED bulbs", blue-glass "whiter light" bulbs, "HID kits", and other such scams. Even then, you still have to be picky; bulb choice matters a lot to how well you can (or can't) see at night. A legit expert I know put up some really good data here; look at the performance difference, especially on low beam, between the standard-wattage, standard-luminance bulb "A" and the standard-wattage, high-luminance (or "high efficacy") bulb "C".

                    • Whatever lights you install need to be properly fed. If you put in halogen lights, this means relays and sturdy wiring@crackedback to a paging telephone, please. If you put in (legitimate) LED lights, the stock wiring in good condition is plenty adequate.

                    • Whatever lights you use must be correctly aimed.
                     
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                    • crackedback

                      crackedback FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                      Thanks for the compliment and referrals for my kits. Yes, I make a 4 headlight relay kit similar to the 2 headlight that takes that load off the OEM headlight system.

                      @slantsixdan hits that is very important is the focus of the light. Just because something is brighter, doesn't mean it is usable and where you want it. Think about a flashlight that has the ability to focus the light. Same concept.
                       
                    • cudamark

                      cudamark Well-Known Member

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                      I'd start with replacing the floor dimmer switch if it's been in the car awhile. They're cheap and prone to all sorts of corrosion and headlight problems. After you change it, see if the headlight switch still heats up.
                       
                    • G70464

                      G70464 Active Member

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                      Definitely change the switch, they burn up easily. I would change to. LEDS like slantsixdan suggested. Though a good h4 housing and dot bulbs are still an improvement over regular bulbs. I did it myself on my 72 Charger SE. With hidden headlights you need a resistor so the relay knows the lights are not on since LEDs have no resistance.
                      No need to ruin your wiring or add a bunch of relays.
                       
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