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Old 01-21-2002, 01:57 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: An American in Denmark
Posts: 46
Unhappy Warning Lights on Dash - when nothing is wrong!

In my 1991 300E - I have recently gotten a phantom dash light that comes on, on regular occasion - but not always. It the warning light to indicate that there is a bulb blown in the car...somewhere.

Well, I'll be %&ed if I can find the culprit bulb. Anyone have any suggestion to try to put this one to sleep?



1991 300E (Autobahn Modified)
1986 Trans Am (Race Modified)
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Old 01-21-2002, 03:19 PM
G-Benz's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
Posts: 5,711
A few things come to mind, since I had to trace the same problem in mine over a year ago:

If any bulbs have been recently replaced, especially in the taillights, make sure you use the correct wattage. On the inside of the taillight bulb housing, the wattage for each is embossed on the plastic near each bulb socket.

Use the european spec bulbs with the nickel receptacles (like Phillips) and not the gold anodized domestic bulbs you commonly find at Walmart. The dash indicator works primarily by a set resistance, and the metal conductivity of the bulbs can affect the total resistance.

Finally, the metal terminal strips that hold the bulbs in place can dislodge and lose contact with ground, causing the condition. You can press along each strip with your thumb and see if the light on the dash goes out at any time. I ended up bending one of the strips just enough to cause the light to go out, but a month later cracked a lens when I backed into a truck, so I replaced the whole taillight assembly anyway.

Good luck!
2009 ML350 (84K) - Family vehicle
2001 CLK430 Cabriolet (71K) - Wife's car
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Old 01-21-2002, 04:03 PM
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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Jax, FL
Posts: 1,785
Lightbulb Loose lightbulb somewhere.

Most likely in the tail lights, as mentioned before. Remove the tail light assemblies and shake them while they are out. You need a helper to see if the dash light go out. Keep in mind, it could be any light, including the front corners and/or headlights but less likely.
Good luck!
'86 300E
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Old 01-21-2002, 07:26 PM
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one more place...

This happened to me and it turned out to be the lights mounted under the door (the ones that illuminate the ground when you open the door at night). This was on a 1997 E420.

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Old 01-22-2002, 06:13 AM
David C Klasse's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mission Hills in the City of San Diego
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License plate lights are a commonly overlooked also.

Also, I have heard that if your cruise control is not working properly, it can, oddly enough, cause the light to come on.
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1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
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Old 01-22-2002, 08:00 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 962
Note WHEN the light comes on

The other clue which really helps track down the bad bulb or socket is to pay attention to when you get the indicator light. The "bulb out" system is designed so that the indicator light only comes on if you actually use the bulb which is bad. In other words, the system has no way of checking your headlamps if they're not on.

Just be systematic and you'll get it. Start the car, and if no indicator light on the dash, hit the brakes. If the dash light comes on, check out the brake lights thoroughly. If it doesn't come on, try the turn signals . . . the parking lights . . . the headlamps . . . REVERSE lights . . . you get the idea.
'93 400E
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Old 01-23-2002, 10:25 PM
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Location: Omaha, NE
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Any luck?
'93 400E
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Old 01-27-2002, 02:11 PM
Posts: n/a
had the same problem - warning light comes on when applying brakes -- rear lamps all worked !!

A few days later the culprit bulb failed. Could be a bulb that is developing a higher than normal filament resistance as it 'prepares' to fail.

you can remove all bulb one by one and tap each one in your hand (exert some mechanical shock) and the culprit bulb will surely drop the filament in response ...

just my 0000.02's worth

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