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1997 Chevy S10 headlight/running light flicker

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New User

Sep 15, 2009, 11:01 PM

Post #1 of 3 (5828 views)
1997 Chevy S10 headlight/running light flicker Sign In

My 1997 Chevy S-10 (3-seat model)truck has 103,000 miles on it, and I'm having trouble with the headlights/brights. I'll try and be as detailed as possible:

-There are three lights settings on the truck (always-on running lights, headlights, and brights).

-Some months ago, I had my brights on driving at night, and suddenly the brights began disengaging and switching to the running lights at random intervals, then switching immediately back. The brights would switch to the running lights for a split second, then return (producing an audible click-click noise from the glove box, where the relay access is). The longer I let it continue, the more frequent the "click-click" became.

-The situation improved when I just avoided using the brights altogether. Unfortunately pretty soon, even the regular headlights would occasionally do the "click-click" thing and switch to running lights and back.

-It has gotten progressively worse over the last few months. Now, after having driven for 20-30 minutes of driving with headlights, the truck begins flickering running lights and headlights. With this comes a semi-persistent "click - click," "click - click" noise coming from the glove box with each switch. This same thing happens (only faster and more frequently) when I use the brights. Note: the headlights flicker between regular and running light settings, but the tail lights/brake lights seem to remain on as if everything were normal.

I learned that turning off the headlights myself, then turning them on would solve the problem (for a while) and I would get a couple flicker-free minutes. Pulling over and turning off the car would seemingly reset the situation. Again, as time has passed, the old, "switch on/off yourself" fix no longer is effective, nor is the, "turn off the car, then back on" approach.

My father (who is a retired mechanic) removed the running lights relay from the relay access in the glove box, hoping it would fix the system. When the relay was removed, then the lights would simply alternate/flicker between "on" and "totally dark." The running light option was gone. Dim lights are better than none, so I put the relay back in.

The new solution is to turn off my head lights anytime I can, because after about 10-20 seconds with the headlights off, I can get uninterrupted headlights for longer stretches of time.

However, I'm sure I must be violating some rule of the road with these flickering headlights, and I hate having other drivers give me dirty looks because they figure I'm just flashing lights at them or trying to get attention. I would be open to suggestions, because my father's stumped on this one, and I'm calling in outside help! If any other details are required, let me know, and I'll be happy to help.

Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Sep 16, 2009, 5:28 AM

Post #2 of 3 (5816 views)
Re: 1997 Chevy S10 headlight/running light flicker [In reply to] Sign In

It's acting like it has a bad combination switch which is also the dimmer switch but that would have to be tested manually coming out of the switch.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

New User

Nov 10, 2009, 11:20 PM

Post #3 of 3 (5680 views)
Re: 1997 Chevy S10 headlight/running light flicker [In reply to] Sign In

My '97 S10 had the same symptoms. Hammer Time's advice was right on. I replaced the switch and all is good now.

For testing the switch: when the parking light is turned on, the circuit should close between the Black wire (connector 1) and the Orange wires (connector 5). If you add the headlights, the circuit should also close between the Red wire (connector 3) and the Yellow wire (connector 4). [On the wiring harness for my S10, there are no wires going to connectors 2 and 6.

It was tough to remove the switch. I finally figured out that I could remove the vent for directing air (just to get a better grip). Then the soft panel surrounding the switch and the vent could be partially popped out. It was then possible to release the 2 clips that lock the switch in place. Finally the switch and wiring harness could be brought out together for disassembly, testing and repair.

Thanks Hammer Time! Smile

1997 Chevy S10 headlight/running light flicker

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