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Litronics acting goofy


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Very recently, the factory-installed Litronics on my '01 986S (just out of warranty, wouldn't ya know it) have been acting a little goofy. Sometimes when you click the switch, they flicker and fail to ignite. They look just like flourescent lightbulbs going bad (which I suppose in a way they are). Click the switch over and back a couple times, and all is forgiven and they ignite.

I don't think it's a matter of bulbs failing, as they both do it exactly the same and both fire together when they fire. That also seems to rule out the ballasts. Maybe a voltage thing? Should I try peaking up my battery (the car is daily driven)? Any other ideas?

I really, really don't want to shell out for a new Litronic system! :huh:

-Paul

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  • Admin

Since it is both and flicking the switch seems to help - then the switch seems like a logical choice (as adsach said). Another possibility is that the socket where the lights plug in (inside the fender) may be corroded or dirty. In at least one case I saw where one of the holders allowed the socket to push back when the light was pushed in and the light was intermittent.

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I actually don't suspect the switch, only because it is only the Litronic elements that flicker. The DRLs, corner lamps and tail lights all click on faultlessly. Also, it might be tough to suspect the fender sockets, since both lights seem ganged in their response (problem is tied to both lights -- they either both fire or neither -- never individually). Seems to indicate something systemic, rather than component-level, no? It also seemed to start about a month after my warranty expired (urrrg.). Also, it's not really the motion or type of motion on the switch, rather simply giving the bulbs another startup crack from the ballasts.

I'm stumped.

-Paul

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Can't you replace the ballast only on the Litronics?

I had the same symtom on my previous car with a retrofitted Xenon system. It only happened to one side though. After replacing the ballast, everything was back to normal. We tried replacing the starter and bulb initially but that didn't help.

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Well, that's a decent potential cause, although the problem is with both, and then both fire. What are the odds of both balasts simulataniously acting up, then firing in tandem? Seems like something more systemic, perhaps voltage related or something.

-Paul

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I actually don't suspect the switch, only because it is only the Litronic elements that flicker. The DRLs, corner lamps and tail lights all click on faultlessly. Also, it might be tough to suspect the fender sockets, since both lights seem ganged in their response (problem is tied to both lights -- they either both fire or neither -- never individually).

Don't the DRLS, corner lamps and tail lights all click on with the first turn of the light switch and the Litronics only on the second turn? If this is the case then the fact the the other lights turn on faultlessly shouldn't necessarily rule out the switch as the problem is most likely confined to the second turn. It would also seem to make sense that since both litronic exhibit the same behavior that the probem is up stream of the ballast themselves and the switch would seem to be the first and easiest thing to replace. Although as I just typed that I think some type of fuse or relay would be easier and probably the first place to look.

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I'll look into all of those, thanks! The thing is, they are getting power. They flicker like an old florescent tube, they just don't fire. And the whole problem is very intermittent. Last night, they worked fine every time! Perhaps something in the switch is causing some resistance in that circuit that fires the ballasts? Maybe that relay is aging badly?

This just in -- perhaps it's temperature-related? Last night was unseasonably warm (high 60s) here in Atlanta. I'd have to think about it, but it just seemed to start when the weather got colder. Maybe not, and I'm grasping at straws, but I am grasping at straws! ;)

-Paul

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  • 1 month later...

Paul, I've just joined the forum, did you solve the problem?

I can say that the contacts used in the switch for the DRLs or sidelights are a different contact entirely to the one for the Litronics. You say they flash like old fluorescents, if the arc does extinguish, the ignitors will pulse to re-strike, but this will be random and each side will act independently.

Your symptoms suggest an intermittent high resistance, likely in the switch but not definitely. Without getting too technical, its to do with contact whetting - that is - a contact may have a high resistance, but once you can get a current to flow, its resistance drops. This is achieved by you flicking the light switch on and off.

Remember, it could be in any one of the components from fuse, trough switch, all the various plug couplers until it splits for each headlight, as both flash together. An autoelectrician with a multimeter should be able to trace the voltage through the circuit fairly quickly.

If all that fails, there *may* be a problem with one of the headlights, where a faulty unit could be shorting the power from the other, but you'd hope a fuse would blow if this happened.

Give us some feedback of how you get on!

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  • 5 weeks later...

I did. Well, my dealer did. ;) It was the switch. At least they couldn't figure it out, so they swapped in a new switch and that seems to have solved it. Haven't had an issue with it since (over a month). [fingers_crossed]

-Paul

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  • 1 year later...

Hello,

I have been having same problem (as that Paul had) with my 02 Boxster S and I am taking it to the dealer tomorrow. Thank you Paul and everyone else for the suggestions that would mention to the dealer to avoid extra work charged. Does anyone know how long is the warranty for the xenons? I bought mine in October 2001 (2002 model).

Edited by scapie
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Hello,

I have been having same problem (as that Paul had) with my 02 Boxster S and I am taking it to the dealer tomorrow. Thank you Paul and everyone else for the suggestions that would mention to the dealer to avoid extra work charged. Does anyone know how long is the warranty for the xenons? I bought mine in October 2001 (2002 model).

I'm having the exact same problem on my '01 S. Please post the results from your trip to the dealer.

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In a case like this where both lights respond the same always rule out the switch first. Litronics are an inductive load which means they are a lot more sensitive to resistance, low voltage, worn switch, loose connections than standard incandescent lights. Sounds like you solved the problem.

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  • 6 months later...

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