SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 29, 2012

Owner can't get 2003 Grand Am's high beams to work

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Larry Rubenstein

---- — Q: My car is a 2003 Pontiac Grand Am with 105,000 miles. The problem is with the high beams. I pull the turn signal lever to turn them on, and nothing happens. I have replaced both bulbs, and still they don’t work. Because the car is 9 years old, I am trying to be a bit frugal with the repair money I spend on this car. Can you tell me how the system works, and where the problem might be?

A:

The headlight system on your car is not a simple switch and wire system, it goes through a relay in the under-hood fuse block. Starting from the beginning of the circuit, your headlight and dimmer control is part of the multifunction turn signal, which is grounded on the left, front side of the dash. Whichever position you put your headlight switch on, it sends a ground signal to the under-hood fuse block, it loops around and sends a ground down the pink wire to the high-beam bulb. The power for the high beam comes from fuse 51 in the under-hood fuse block. But if the low beams work, your fuse has to be good. With that information and using a test light, you should be able to diagnose where the circuit has failed. Be careful, however, the ground signal is in a double pink wire harness on plug No. B7. The ground out is also a double pink wire harness on plug No. F6. If you put power to either of them, you may blow a relay or a body control module, which is very expensive and is looped into the system.

Q: I have been looking at new cars, and I am confused which car I want to buy. After two weeks of hunting, I am stuck between a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord. Which do you think is a better car?

A: Both cars are very good cars indeed. I have always told people you need to try a car on, just like you would a new suit or a new dress. A 20-minute road test just doesn’t cut it for me. I need to drive a vehicle for at least 100 miles to be sure this is the car I want to drive for the next seven years. Sometimes the dealers have loaner cars, and if you put a down payment in place dependent on your road test, most dealers will accommodate you for the extended road test. You want to look at things like your comfort in the driver’s seat after 45 minutes. You want to look at your access to the radio controls, as well as how well you can see the dashboard instruments. Are the various switches easily accessible while you drive? Does the air conditioner overpower you, or is the HVAC system one with fine controls? How are your feet on the gas pedal and brake? Lastly, check for a vehicle that has adjustable lumbar support. If you plan to drive for any distance, the lumbar support is very important for a comfortable drive.

Car Care Tip:

Winter preparations should include a coolant flush, examination of belts and hoses, and a thermostat replacement.

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Larry Rubenstein is a master technician who owns a North Shore service station. His column appears every Saturday. Write to Larry at The Salem News, c/o Auto Scanner, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915, or send an email to scanauto@aol.com.