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Old 11-29-2009, 07:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Trunk Dome Light?

Sorry if this is a stupid question, I've searched the site and can't find the answer to the best of my ability. Please post a link to the answer if you would.

I just got a 1998 Forester, and it works great. However, the trunk dome light doesn't come on when I open it. The light works when I switch it to "ON", but it doesn't work on "DOOR." Any ideas?
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Old 11-29-2009, 07:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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There are a number of possibilities. Does the regular dome light come on when the lift gate is open? If so, then there's something wrong with the cargo area light itself or its wiring. Remove the light assembly, make sure all the wires coming in to it are securely connected and that the switch contacts look good.

If neither light comes on when you open the lift gate then it's likely that something has gone wrong with the switch at the lift gate. They do get dirty and/or wear out. Find it, remove it from its mounting, pull the connector off of the switch, and short together the two contacts in the connector. Be careful that the wiring doesn't spring back into its hole when you have the switch disconnected! If the light comes on then you have a bad switch. Does it feel abnormal when you push it in—rough, too soft, that sort of thing? A shot of WD-40 or equivalent might bring it back to life, especially if it still has a solid feel to it. Otherwise it's off to the dealer or the junkyard for you.

You are fortunate in that the earlier model Foresters don't appear to have the complicated and expensive sealed modules controlling these lights (at least according to my diagram). The wiring looks very straightforward.

Of course there is the simple possibility that the bulb is burned out!
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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There are a number of possibilities. Does the regular dome light come on when the lift gate is open? If so, then there's something wrong with the cargo area light itself or its wiring. Remove the light assembly, make sure all the wires coming in to it are securely connected and that the switch contacts look good.

If neither light comes on when you open the lift gate then it's likely that something has gone wrong with the switch at the lift gate. They do get dirty and/or wear out. Find it, remove it from its mounting, pull the connector off of the switch, and short together the two contacts in the connector. Be careful that the wiring doesn't spring back into its hole when you have the switch disconnected! If the light comes on then you have a bad switch. A shot of WD-40 or equivalent might bring it back to life. Otherwise it's off to the dealer or the junkyard for you.

You are fortunate in that the earlier model Foresters don't appear to have the complicated and expensive sealed modules controlling these lights (at least according to my diagram). The wiring looks very straightforward.

Of course there is the simple possibility that the bulb is burned out!
Thanks for your very helpful post. I will go out and diagnose this soon and follow up with the result.
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Old 11-29-2009, 11:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks again for your help. Indeed, when the hatch opens, the front dome light turned on, but not the back. So, I took apart the rear dome light assembly and determined that the switch itself was fine there. Then I took apart the hatch trim and unbolted the latch (where the connector switch is wired). This was loose, and even after some jostling and unplugging and replugging, it still is a little flakey. But, now at least the rear dome light turns on when the hatch is opened.
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Old 11-30-2009, 04:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That's (pretty) good news. It does sound as if your 99 is wired a bit differently from what my diagram would indicate, but the diagram is one that purports to cover many of the early years and there could have been minor changes along the way. I'm puzzled that there appears to be a flaky switch if indeed the front dome light is coming on solid when you open the hatch, as it should be the same switch controlling both. The switch appears to go directly to the rear dome light, and also it's in parallel with the four door switches through a diode that restricts the action to one-way. Opening doors won't turn on rear dome light.

Anyway, I won't argue with success! Maybe the switch will become better with some WD-40, gentle massaging, and TLC.

Usual advice also entails checking for a good ground. Many door switches get that directly through their mounting, though the (admittedly suspect) diagram appears to show that yours has an actual wire going to ground—somewhere. It would be the black one. If you can find that place then make sure it's a good connection. Anything near a door is subject to corrosion. Also, try connecting the switch straight to a good ground and see if things get better.

PS: I see that one of our members is parting out a 98. That might be a source for a replacement switch, if indeed the switch is the culprit.
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I think I will need to take it apart again and take some pictures or something. Also, I have a 98, so maybe that's different than a 99 in terms of wiring (though I wouldn't think so).

Here is the behavior, when the rear dome light is actually working and set to "DOOR":
1) Open any door but the rear hatch: front dome light goes on, rear dome light stays off.
2) Open the rear hatch only: front dome light goes on, and so does the rear dome light.

Is it normal for only the front dome light to come on when any four of the front doors are opened? Or should the rear dome light also come on when the drivers door is opened, for example?

I'll check out my wiring diagram for the 98 and see what that uncovers, and I'll take pictures too. :)

Thanks for your help!
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Old 11-30-2009, 11:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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That is exactly how it's supposed to work! There's a diode between the rear circuit and the doors circuit. It allows current to flow from the rear circuit to the front, but not back the other way.
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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That is exactly how it's supposed to work! There's a diode between the rear circuit and the doors circuit. It allows current to flow from the rear circuit to the front, but not back the other way.
Well that explains why my dome turns off when the front doors are closed when on door setting, I presumed it meant when the hatch open exclusively this turns on the light. I never put much thought into it as I just hit the n position lol.
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Old 05-16-2012, 03:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Decided to bump this thread instead of making a new one. My cargo light doesn't turn on when the hatch is opened, but turns on when the switch is moved to the "on" position. I took the trim pieces off the hatch tonight, and here is what I found. The plug was sitting just like this:



The plug is a bit chewed up and it looks like the wiring was wrapped with electrical tape by a previous owner, as opposed to looking like a factory tape job. However, I have no idea what it's supposed to connect to. Does anyone have a part number/description/location/etc. for what it should plug in to? I looked around by the latch as best as I could, and felt around, but didn't find anything. I did short the terminals together and moved the cargo light switch to the "door" position, and both the cargo light and dome light came on, so the circuit works, but I have no idea what component I'm missing. It looked like someone had been in there before to change out the lock actuator for the hatch, as it had the typical junk yard paint marker vehicle description written on there, plus some of the clips and such were missing, so I'm sure whatever component it is was probably removed and never put back for whatever reason.
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Anyone?
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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IIRC the wiring goes to the latch (look though the hole inside the door)... reconnect it and it might work...

BUT as the electrical switch is integrated in the latch mechanism, it tends to fail after 10 or so year as internals wear and oxidate. If that is the case then the easiest thing to do is just to replace the latch (that green thing in the center of the door, held with two bolts) with a new one - or unplug the wiring. Careful with connecting rods and adjustments - try it out before putting interior trim back in place ;)
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I looked as best as I could, but didn't see/feel any sort of electrical connector on the latch. I may have to look at it again. Yeah, I don't want to have to remove/replace the latch unless I have to. I can live with the cargo light not working when the hatch is open so far, but don't want to introduce more issues by messing with too many things to try and fix it.
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