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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

This is my first post here. I've got an 88 Camry I'm trying to get fixed up so it'll be drivable again. I've got most of it done, however, the only problem preventing a successful state inspection is that my hi-beam indicator in the instrument panel does not work.

I took it for inspection and as the guy was checking it, he said that it came on and then he saw smoke coming out of the steering wheel on the side, and then the light went off. I tried it again later, and even though the indicator did not turn on when I turned on the beam, I did see the smoke he was talking about. But it doesn't happen anymore. The light just doesn't work.

I've read the forums about how to replace bulbs in there and I think I may be able to do it (a total newbie at this kind of stuff). I just don't understand why smoke should be coming out of the wheel. Are there some wires in there that may have shorted or burnt out? All other indicators and lights in the panel work fine. The only one that doesn't work is the hi beam one. Would appreciate any help. Thanks.
 

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My guess would be that the little bulb for the indicator shorted or overloaded to the point that it burned-out violently.

I'd suggest you get behind the gauge cluster and find that bulb. Replace the bulb, and see what happens. Mind you I am purely specuating on the cause of the smoke. If you don't already, get a repair manual. It will show you how to get back there.
Hopefully, someone else will be able to post with more or better information than my own.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Short/burn out is my guess, too. I guess replacing the bulb would be the first step. Another point I forgot to mention was that my left tail light wasn't grounded properly. Everytime I'd press the brake, the main back light would go off and the brake light would not come on. I replaced the bulb but that wasn't the problem. Then I got the bulb screwed down properly into the plastic housing and the light works fine. Could this have been the reason for the short of the hi-beam indicator in the front?
 

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There was probably a short in the high beam switch. I'd check this before tearing apart the dash. Check the fuse as well. It should have burned out and is possibly why there is no more smoke.
 

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hmmm. . . Not sure if that is possible for the two problems to be related. I have a Gen 3. Unless the wires specs are drastically different, it isn’t likely that the brake light and hi-beam indicator light problems are related. They don’t even share fuses.

If the bulb is burned he will have to tear apart the dash to replace the bulb, right?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What is the hi beam switch and where is it? Like I said, I'm totally new at this. The beam itself works fine, just the indicator light doesn't. Also, where would be the fuses for these? In the general fuse box or somewhere else? I guess I'd like to exhaust the other possibilities before I get into the dash and all. Thanks. :)
 

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If the HB is still working and all the other dash lights are working then the fuse is not involved. The switch is inside the column at the end of the light control. Probably near to where the smoke was coming from.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hmm ok. So how do I check and what do I look for? What I'm curious about is how just the hi beam indicator won't work but everything else does. So if this switch that you're referring to is exclusively for the beam indicator then that may be it or the light bulb itself. Why just that one would go out by itself is strange considering it doesn't really get used much at all.
 

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The indicator has it's own wire coming from the sw/. When you get to it, look for a burnt wire and or signs of the short. It could be a simple wire fix or the sw/ itself may be pooched.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I was just looking at the steering column cuz I brought the cam to work today. Will I have to remove the steering wheel or can I get at the switch by removing the panel on top or bottom that attaches the wheel to the body? I think I'm going to open the panel anyways, just to look at what's in there and maybe I'll put in some LEDs or something. I did stop at the Toyota dealership and pick up a bulb they told me would work for the beam indicator. He let me have it for free. :)
 

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Grenaded piston
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bhairya said:
Will I have to remove the steering wheel or can I get at the switch by removing the panel on top or bottom that attaches the wheel to the body?
You might have to remove the steering wheel.

Before you do that take off the upper and lower covers to the steering column. Theres a few screws that go through the lower cover.

Removing the covers should expose the switch.
 

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Road Trippin'
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Where there's smoke, there's melted wire. Your best bet is to try to find the source of the smoke (most likely some melted wire shielding) and follow it.

It's possible that the switch that controls the light somehow shorted itself to ground, which would lead to a nice current spike and the resulting smoke. I would have expected some fuse to blow, but not the fuse for the headlight.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ok, I fixed it! I don't know how exactly, but it works now! This is a major accomplishment for me. The first time I've done something like this...ie open anything in a car! I work with computer hardware so I'm not new to opening stuff up and messing around. But this is my car.

Anyways, I removed the top cover of the steering column, atleast partially. There was a grey wire connected to the lever which controls the indicators and beam. I moved the wire around a bit. Then I opened up the instrument panel and removed it. It was a lot easier than I thought. I wanted to check the bulb to see if it was really bad. So, I switched the hi beam bulb with the left indicator, connected the cables, and turned it on. The beam indicator worked fine when I pulled it back and forth! No more smoke or anything. It just worked. So I put everything back together. I did think about possibly replacing the bulbs with LEDs like I've read on another thread. But this is good enough for now. Atleast I can pass inspection and start driving the car again! I'll look into that another time.

However, I have another problem. I think I've had this for a long time, but I'm not sure. When I pull the lever back and forth the beam comes on and so does the indicator. However, when I push the lever away from me to permanently keep the hi beam on, the lights go off. No headlights, no beam. I think the hi beam indicator stays on, though. Any ideas? Thanks for all your help so far. This forum and people here rock!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Anyone have any ideas? Flicking the beam does work. However, turning it on permanently turns the headlights and the beam off. Thanks.
 

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Grenaded piston
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bhairya said:
Anyone have any ideas? Flicking the beam does work. However, turning it on permanently turns the headlights and the beam off. Thanks.
I would say either the switch and/or wiring is messed up.

The switch is pretty complicated.

I have a factory (Toyota) wiring manual for a 88 Camry, so if you want the diagrams for the switch let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks, 88 LE. I think I'll hold off messing with it for now since it's complex. I passed inspection and I'm happy with that for now. :) Nobody drives on full beam anyway. If I decide to look into it later, I'll ping you for it. Thanks.
 
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