Lights on in dash

General information about the first-generation Nissan Maxima in the US. What was the Datsun 810 became the luxury leader Maxima in the US in 1981.

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TheDieseliminator
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Lights on in dash

#1

Post by TheDieseliminator » 14 years ago

I've been trying to figure out an issue I'm having with these 6 warning lights coming on all at the same time in my 82 Maxima diesel. The lights don't necessarily come on right after you start the car up either. Mainly they come on when you turn the steering wheel while driving down the road and when you press the brake pedal to stop. They do not constantly stay on when driving the car also. The first 3 lights out of the 6 that come on are located in the main instrument panel where the temperature guage, fuel guage, and speedometer are located. These warning lights are the battery light, brake light, and door (not shut) light. Then, the other 3 lights that come on are the fuel filter light, stop/tail light, and washer fluid light. These lights are located in the middle of the driver's seat and passenger's seat above the heat/AC controls and tape/radio. All 6 come on at the same exact time! It's pretty weird. First thing I thought could be wrong was the alternator wasn't functioning properly, but got it tested at my local alternator/generator shop and it was putting out 14 volts. So the alternator is fine, but I believe the colprit could be the voltage regulator. Right now I'm having the same alternator/generator shop look at the alternator further to see if any internal parts are bad. It's off the car and I gave them a new voltage regulator I bought at the auto parts store to them in case that is the main problem. Any advice for me? Thanks.

Salvy

glenlloyd
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#2

Post by glenlloyd » 14 years ago

Hello
Speaking only from experience with this type of problem on Volkswagens, have you checked the ignition switch? Start the car and then hold the key in the run position and then move it (not turn) up and down and back and forth, to see if you can trigger this problem. For VW's this happens when a previous owner has had a keyring with too much weight.

Also, it could be other connections in the steering column itself, wiper stalk, headight stalk etc, you'll probably have to dismantle the column and see what's going on inside their.

It just doesn't sound like a voltage regulator to me, I'm betting it's nearer to the instrument cluster, and with the symptoms you describe I'd start looking either in the steering column itself or in close proximity.

BTW, welcome to the forum.

Steve A
97 Jetta TDI, 86 VW Golf D
89 VW Fox diesel, 92 MB 300SD W140

gir - won't the sploding hurt?
zim - silence!

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asavage
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#3

Post by asavage » 14 years ago

Salvy, two things:

a) The voltage regulator is (I think) a solder-in job, and isn't easy. I just did this on an SD22 Hitachi three weeks ago, so it's fresh in my mind. Get a quote on replacement labor before authorizing it. And definitely change the brushes! They solder-in too, but can be changed on the car -- they unscrew.

b) I am at work and can't check, but I think there's a bulb-check circuit that's activated in the "Start" position of the ign. switch. Ditto to Steve's advice on wiggling the key to try to reproduce. I'll check the wiring diagram when I get home.

BTW, if you don't have a Factory Service Manual yet, get one. There's a canned eBay search link under "Service Information" in the FAQ. They run from $5 to $30 or so, and you won't find a better printed reference for your Maxima than the FSM.

Regards,
Al S.
Last edited by asavage 14 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

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asavage
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Re: Lights on in dash

#4

Post by asavage » 14 years ago

TheDieseliminator wrote:Mainly they come on when you turn the steering wheel while driving down the road and when you press the brake pedal to stop . . . the battery light, brake light, and door (not shut) light . . . the fuel filter light, stop/tail light, and washer fluid light.
OK, I've spent a bit of time with the FSM, and the relevant page in the 1982 FSM is EL-66. It shows somewhat muddily a Bulb Check Relay. Muddily, because the diagram includes Gas/Diesel/USA/Canada options, and a pile of overlapping diodes in that circuit.

First, I looked at the Owners Manual (I used the '83 manual, because I've got it handy sitting here), and verified that these bulbs are supposed to be ON with key ON, engine OFF: Washer fluid level, alternator (battery), oil, brake, door warning. Maybe others, but those stand out.

Of those, the oil & alternator (battery) lights are not controlled by the Bulb Check Relay. The rest are.

What engages the Bulb Check Relay? The "L" terminal of the alternator, which also furnishes the ground for the alternator (battery) light. In other words, when the alternator is not producing at least battery voltage (ie, engine not running) and the key is ON, power is furnished to the alternator (battery) lamp and the Bulb Check Relay, and the ground for both of those is internal to the alternator (actually, the hot side of the field (also the output of the secondary/diode trio), for those famiiar with the alternator's internals). Check out the diagram on EL-21 for a good diagram on how the alternator and Bulb Check Relay interact.

Once the alternator is spinning and producing current, the "L" terminal voltage will be close to system voltage, and with both sides of the Bulb Check Relay's coil and the battery light at about system voltage, no current flows, the Bulb Check Relay disengages and the battery light goes out.

How could the Bulb Check Relay activate when driving down the road? If the relay or associated wiring was at fault, I could explain all the lights you list coming on . . . except the alternator (battery) light. Since that one's coming on too, you have to have the wire to the alternator's "L" terminal dropping substantially below system voltage. I'd guess at least six to eight volts drop would be necessary to engage the Bulb Check Relay, based on work I've done with small automotive relays in the past.

Most likely cause? Alternator is ceasing to run at times. Because you can trigger the problem by apply force to the vehicle (braking and turning simultaneously), it could be either wiring or internal to the alternator. If it was internal to the alternator, it might not show up on an alternator bench test.

So, it comes back to what you already suspected: alternator or the wiring feeding the alternator specifically. It really can't be anything else for those symptoms.

If the "B", "S", or "R" terminals (esp. the "S") have a bad connection, the alterator will drop offline, it looks to me. Inspect that connector that plugs in the back of the alternator for worn/loose tension on the female spade terminals.

If your alternator guy doesn't find anything amiss, and if you're willing, I can ship you a known working alternator on loan for testing (I have two on a shelf, both bench tested OK).
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

TheDieseliminator
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#5

Post by TheDieseliminator » 14 years ago

Al, I do have a 1981 Datsun 810 diesel factory shop manual, but don't have the complimentary shop manual that's titled "1981 Datsun 810." Since I have an 82 Maxima diesel I wish I had the 1982 FSM. Now I do know that the voltage regulator is located internally in the alternator and my dad and I came up with it being the part that was most likely bad. Unfortunately, I didn't get a price on the labor/work it would take to replace the regulator in the alternator from the shop. I basically gave them the alternator to diagnose further and replace the regulator if it was bad and anything else that was bad too. Got an update too, yesterday I called the shop and asked if they had disassembled the alternator. He said he did, the voltage regulator did turn out to be bad, and the rectifier was also bad. So, he said he'd be able to get the parts to fix the alternator and call me when he was finished. Well, he called me today at about 3 PM and said he was finished. Asked him what the charge was on my work and it came out to $75 and some change. Now I know I probably could have bought another alternator for less than that, but I look at it as this alternator I have got repaired is still working fine. The vacuum pump is in great shape and the two internal parts that were replaced do go bad I guess. At least my dad and I were right about the voltage regulator being bad. I just hope the 6 lights that come on at the same time in the dash don't come on anymore. And if not, I'll have to see what's going on with my bulb check relay. Thanks for the help Al and Steve.

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asavage
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#6

Post by asavage » 14 years ago

Since I have an 82 Maxima diesel I wish I had the 1982 FSM.
Did you run the canned eBay search in the FAQ? The cheapest 1982 FSM available right now is $39, but one was up for auction last week and it didn't sell -- less than $10 shipped. Check it out, then contact the seller and offer to buy it for $10. Chances are, he'll sell it. Very good price for a very good manual.

Next, $75 is a very good price for any work done on this alternator. You won't buy a rebuilt alternator for anywhere near that price. The diode assy is a very common failure item, as is the voltage regulator. Here's a diode assy from an '82 SD22 (diesel 720 pickup) that I rebuilt last month -- these pics are going on a full-on web page detailing the process someday, complete with part numbers. The SD22 alternator is NOT the same as the one used on the LD28, but is still a Hitachi and is very similar. Some parts may interchange. Click on any picture for a much larger version.

Image Image Image

What you're looking at here is one of the main diodes (of six) under the white potting silicone that Hitachi used. The anode (or cathode, depening on the polarity of the diode) is physically not mounted in the substrate anymore. These are nominally 25A diodes (the rated output of the assy is 50A) but these are pretty dinky diodes, physically, to handle 25A IMO.
Image Image

The regulator on these Hitachis die due to voltage spikes induced when the brushes go to hell, and the alternator starts going from full output to nothing as the brushes begin to not conduct consistently. The regulator is an "always replace" item on this vintage Hitachi. However, they do not usually "come and go", they are usually just plain dead, so my guess is that the regulator itself is not the cause of the "lights coming on" issue.

The "rectifier" (diode assy) could definitely cause that symptom, however.

(not for your rig) Generically, the diodes can be reused if they test OK -- both electrically, and pulling on the wire that comes out of each. A slight tug is enough: the wire should not move at all. If the white silicone potting bows upward as you tug on the solder lead (wire), the diode is bad. Unlike vintage Delco alternators that I used to love to rebuild, and for which individual diodes are available for replacement, this assy. has to be replaced . . . wait for it . . . as an assy. It took several tries to get one at a reasonable price AND actually in a warehouse on my coast.

Next: $75 wouldn't cover my cost for a diode assy (about $40 cost) and regulator (ditto). I'm wary. Also, an experienced diesel alternator rebulder will always (ALWAYS!) replace that $4 seal at the rear. It's all that keeps the vacuum pump's lube oil in the vacuum pump and out of the brushes and regulator. The brushes really don't like engine oil on them. The rear of the rotor's shaft wears a groove in itself from the seal rubbing on it, even though it's lubricated with engine oil. My rebuilder sells me a dual-lip seal for this application, and he also uses a spacer washer in the seal's bore to move the seal about .030" out from bottoming it the rear housing, moving the seal wear surface on the shaft to an unworn area.

Before you pay for your rebuild, make damned certain you at least have a new seal. If not, do NOT install it, it WILL leak. The old seal will often work just fine until you disturb it, but it's old and hard and after 20+ years it does not have the elasticity to seal after being moved.

I think that if one or more of your diodes was bad in the way that the ones above are, that that will likely fix your lights problem.
Last edited by asavage 12 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

TheDieseliminator
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#7

Post by TheDieseliminator » 14 years ago

Al, thanks for the link to the 82 FSM. I'm going to email the seller and see if I can get the manual for the exact price they didn't sell it for. Now this FSM does cover all the diesel specifications and workings right? About the alternator, went to go pick it up today and payed for it. Was $76.85 with tax. I asked the repair man about what he did and he replaced the voltage regulator and rectifier, as I stated he would do. He also said he replaced all the bearings and brushes too. Unfortunately, I didn't ask him about that oil seal for the vacuum pump. I guess I somewhat feel stupid now. But I know these guys are real good and have an awesome shop/business where they rebuild all foreign and domestic starters, alternators, and generators. I believe if they had to take the alternator apart to get to the internals, they must have replaced that oil seal because the alternator looks much cleaner than the day I took it there. Now also you have to remember I gave them a brand new voltage regulator with my alternator when I dropped it off to get fixed. That above price doesn't include the voltage regulator, since I bought it myself. It cost $31.67 with tax and got it at my local Advance Auto Parts. I can't wait to reinstall the alternator to see if those 6 lights do stop for good. I sure will be happy if they do.

glenlloyd
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#8

Post by glenlloyd » 14 years ago

TheDieseliminator wrote:Al, thanks for the link to the 82 FSM. I'm going to email the seller and see if I can get the manual for the exact price they didn't sell it for. Now this FSM does cover all the diesel specifications and workings right?
That's how I got my 82 FSM, followed one of Al's links to one that didn't sell online and emailed the seller. Worked out great, not the best condition and the back cover and wiring diagram is not so good, but the internal pages are excellent. I had actually bookmarked the one you're going to look into but wasn't around when the auction closed so I forgot to bid on it. At that price a spare isn't unwise if you ask me.

Glad to hear your alternator situation may be resolved. As Al mentioned, that price isn't bad for work on this unit. Where I live it seems you can't get anything electrically rebuilt for under $100 anymore, not by a local shop anyway. You can still buy crap rebuilds from the parts franchises but for a local shop rebuild, which I consider to be better quality, you pay more.

sa
97 Jetta TDI, 86 VW Golf D
89 VW Fox diesel, 92 MB 300SD W140

gir - won't the sploding hurt?
zim - silence!

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asavage
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#9

Post by asavage » 14 years ago

TheDieseliminator wrote:Al, thanks for the link to the 82 FSM. I'm going to email the seller and see if I can get the manual for the exact price they didn't sell it for. Now this FSM does cover all the diesel specifications and workings right?
FAQ->Service Information: "Things you should know include that the 1981 810 manual has all the diesel items in a completely separate Supplement, so if you see an auction for an '81 FSM, be certain that you can buy the "other half" as well, or it'll be a lot less usefull. The 1982-3 manuals integrate the diesel info alongside the gasser."
About the alternator, went to go pick it up today and payed for it. Was $76.85 with tax. I asked the repair man about what he did and he replaced the voltage regulator and rectifier, as I stated he would do. He also said he replaced all the bearings and brushes too.
Point of reference: the front alternator brg in a good brand (BCA) is about $26 my cost. I can also buy a "Made in China" cheese-ass bearing for $6. If I put Chinese bearings in my rebuild, I can still call it "rebuilt", but there's a huge difference in quality. 'Nuf said.

I recommend that you ask about the oil seal. You don't have to make a big deal of it, but just tell them that someone you were talking to about diesel alternators mentioned the troublesome seal in the back, and you're wondering if it was replaced, since the paperwork they provided doesn't mention it. Something like that.
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

TheDieseliminator
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#10

Post by TheDieseliminator » 14 years ago

Well, my dad and I installed the alternator on Sunday and test drove the car after it had been done. No more lights on in the dash, those 6 pesky lights don't come on anymore. :wink: Called the alternator/generator shop to see if they put that oil seal in for the vacuum pump and they did not because it was not available. I hope I don't have a problem with mainly the vacuum pump and/or alternator down the road. I really don't think the alternator is in bad shape and hopefully the seal will still do a decent job of what it's intended to do. I do appreciate all the help, information, and pictures too. Thank you.

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kassim503
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a sensor warning light?

#11

Post by kassim503 » 14 years ago

when i bought my 83 maixma, gas there was this wire disconnected at a connecter under the dashboard. it was yellow with a one prong white connector, when i plugged it in a light came on in the warning area and it said sensor in yellow lettering, does anybody know what it means? and how i can fix it?

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asavage
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Re: a sensor warning light?

#12

Post by asavage » 14 years ago

kassim503 wrote:when i bought my 83 maixma, gas there was this wire disconnected at a connecter under the dashboard. it was yellow with a one prong white connector, when i plugged it in a light came on in the warning area and it said sensor in yellow lettering, does anybody know what it means? and how i can fix it?
Reading from the 1983 Owners Manual, pg 29:
EXHAUST GAS SENSOR WARNING LIGHT (Gasoline engine)
When the odometer reading reaches 30,000 miles (48,000 km), this light comes on indicating the required maintenance of exhaust gas sensor in the emission control system.  When the light comes on, have your vechicle checked at your NISSAN/DATSUN dealer or other competent service facility.  This light will remain on until the system has been properly serviced.  Before 30,000 miles (48,000 km), this light comes on only when the ignition switch is turned to "ON" position with the engine stopped.  If the light does not come on, under this condition, check the electrical system for a burned-out bulb or an open circuit.

This system does not operate, after maintenance has been perfomed at 30,000 miles (48,000 km).

Read on!
You're supposed to do a specific set of steps to make sure the O2 sensor has not gotten lazy in switching from lean/rich output signal. Not necessarily replace it, but test it. It tests a lot like the old Subaru O2 sensors did, involving watching an embedded LED in the ECM.

Now get this, from the 1983 FSM, pg MA-17:
For U.S.A. models
After inspection, disconnect warning lamp harness connector so that warning lamp will not come on thereafter.

If sensor should be checked on the 24th month before 48,000 km (30,000 miles) of operation, also disconnect warning lamp harness connector

What they're saying is that, by EPA mandate, they only need to stay in emissions compliance for 30k miles. They don't care if you ever check the O2 sensor after that, though you'll certainly get increased mileage and engine life if the O2 sensor is functioning properly, and it's a rare O2 sensor in that era that made it to 100k miles without dying.

Get the FSM, it's a wonderful book!
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

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kassim503
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Joined: 14 years ago
Location: Stony Brook, NY

thnks

#13

Post by kassim503 » 14 years ago

thanks a million, i dont have the manual and id probably change several o2 sensors before figuring it out

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