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Panel Lights Going Nuts !!

1354 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Mike Gerber
Yesterday I hop in the 1989 Camry, it's been parked for 10 days.

Fired it up, drove up the driveway and noticed several panel warning lights flashed for a momment when I bounced up the driveway. Hmmmmm.

Washed the dirty beast and went in to shower. Jumped back in the Camry and she work crank over... fidle, fidle, fidle (late for work) then slooooooow cranking, then nothing.

Crap, battery's dead !!

Put her on the battery charger and drove the Town Car to work.

The Camry fires right up and now the panel warning lights are all on:
Brakes Warning, Charging Warning, Lights Warning are all lit up.

Checked all the relays and fuses under the hood, they all check good.

Drove her around the block, bounced her around a bit and the warnings are still lit.

Any idea what else to check ??
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You might have a (partial) internal plate short in the battery. Got access to another batt.? This happened on aircraft once in awhile and drove us nuts in the Navy (due to corrosive environment). The - side becomes positive, But still LESS positive than the + side allowing 'normal' + to - flow for other functions on the car, but also allowing trace current flow to a ground point in reverse. The lamps attachment points or sending units act as a ground. (IE: Less positive than the voltage on the Neg. wire.) Imagine (or draw on paper) a + wire from the batt. going to a sending unit (switch that is open normally) Now put 12V on the Neg. wire coming the other way thru the lights. The attachment point on the 'downstream' side of the sending unit acts as a ground now, and the lamps stay lit. Oddly enough, when there was an actual problem, and the sending unit closed sometimes the lamps would go OFF because there was equal voltage on both sides! (No current flow) A + wire shorted to a - wire or attachment point in the guage cluster might cause this. GOOD LUCK! These kinda' elect. problems are frustrating. Try a different battery (Just jump to your wires after disconnecting them from your battery) first tho' to eliminate that posibillity. Then it will be a wire by wire trace job I'm afraid.:(
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Good tip...
The battery's fairly new due to some thieves releaving me of the old one.

I'll give it a try regardless.

Have your alternator checked.
Thanks Guys...
I'm going to have a good look at the possibilities you mentioned and post the result when I get though this current mess..
Sounds like a classic Ground Problem. Get an electrical diagram and I'll bet those lights all have a common ground through a relay or the ECM.
glennedkins said:
...I'll bet those lights all have a common ground through a relay or the ECM.
Another good tip...

I believe the shop manual I got off eBay does have the wire schematic too...

Thanks again...
Thats what I'm talkin about (above) ......Common ground W/ a pos. wire shorted to it, then feeding back through the lamps to a chassis ground point.
Similar problem with mine

I have the same 89 camry. Recently what has started happening is it takes a slow pickup. It takes like 30-60 seconds to go from 20-30 and later it is fine. When i try to step on the accelerator, there is no increase in speed but the Charge and Brake lights on the panel lit up and the RPM goes a bit high even at lower speeds. The battery is going dead for the second time after such circumstances.

Once when i recharged the battery and ignited it went on well for 4 days and all of a sudden it is dead again now.

Kindly help,
I had the same thing before, I think that the alternator is dead. After changing it, then all the warning lights off.
I am sure the alternator. To check it, start the engine, open the hood and unhook your battery wire, if engine stops, then it's it or use the current measuring thing. I got the same problem, because the car ran on battery only, I change that altern. then my car works great, but I gave it up because it's too old.

Do you think it is becasue of this that the car has a slow pickup. And if it is the alternator what specifications do you suggest ??? as i read something about the 70 & 180amps stuff. I will for sure try that tomorrow as it is parked at my work place right now.


es250nut and Camry005man are correct. It is a failed alternator causing all the problems. Camry005man is incorrect on one point. Do not start the car and then disconnect one of the battery cables. This was an OK test of the alternator about 30 years ago, but should not be used today. The voltage spikes this can cause can destroy some of the expensive electronic parts used on today's cars. A better test is to use a DVM. Test the battery with the engine off. Normally it should be around 12.25 to 12.40 volts for a fully charged battery. Yours will probably be under 12 volts. Now start the car and repeat the test. With a good functioning alternator you should see around 14 to 14.5 volts. Your's will probably read the same battery voltage you read before starting the car or just a bit less. The defective alternator is also causing your car to run poorly as the battery gets weak. You need 12 volts to the coil to start with to produce a good spark to the plugs. You probably have less than that, so are getting a very weak spark.

Check out the alternator as I specified before and I'm pretty sure you will find it defective. An aftermarket rebuilt alternator should run about $100 exchange and takes about 15 minutes to put on. Just remember to disconnect the battery before working on it.

Good luck.

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