some bulbs out

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Hi all,

I drive a '96 Toyota Camry (automatic shift, 4 cylinders). At least two of the light bulbs inside the vehicle do not work (personal light near the rear view mirror, and the door light at the top of the car). I just recently replaced 6 bulbs (three side marker lights, license plates, and the high mounted stop light). The ones on the inside do not seem to be burned out. I've also checked all the fuses corresponding to the lights. They seem intact. I didn't really think the fuses were the problem anyway, because according to the manual, one fuse might have multiple functions, like this light and the radio, so if the radio is working, the whole fuse might be intact. But anyway, I digress. If anyone has any simple steps I could follow myself to find the problem, please let me know. I should mention that the extent of my car knowledge would be changing the light bulbs I just mentioned, and changing my oil a couple times. Thanks in advance!

posted by  JaneiR36

Check bulbs with OHM meter. Check bulb connector for voltage with doors open or whenever the lights should be illuminating. If you don't have access to an OHM meter, just try replacing the bulbs.


posted by  DodgeRida67

I tried replacing bulb over the rear view mirror way back, nothing changed. I'll probably see about buying an ohmeter and / or replacing the door light, though. Thank you.

posted by  JaneiR36

I'm having trouble prying the lens cover off the interior (door) light, like the manual says to. Whatever I do, I feel as if I'm going to break it. So I cannot even access bulb to check if it's okay. Any tips?

Also, how might I go about using the ohmeter for the interior light?

(EDIT: removed something about needing a ground to connect the black terminal of the multimeter, but an ohmeter doesn't need a ground, just any two points. However, I still need to know across which terminals I would have to connect the meter. I figure where the base of the bulb touches and... ? )

posted by  JaneiR36

first, I apologize for the apparent monologue.

Small update: I used an ohmeter across the personal light bulb terminals, which I figured would be the base of the bulb, and the metal that wraps around the stem of the bulb. No resistance reading (0). I did this while the key was in the 'on' position, and also when the car was fully running.

Still having difficulty prying out the transperant plastic cover of the interior light. If I apply too much pressure with a knife or that small metal thingie from a nail clipper (the little part that goes over the file), it presses against the plastic housing of the interior light and starts to deform it.

posted by  JaneiR36

I hope you don't mean you did this: Put your meter on OHMs setting, and put the test leads on the terminals when the light should be on. It should have been on the voltage reading then. Any current or voltage running through your meter other than the battery in the meter will ruin your meter.

Use your OHM setting to test your bulb. Put one lead on the bottem of the bulb, and one lead on the side. If you get any reading at all your bulb is ok. If not, bulb is shot.

If the bulb tests OK, you need to check if your getting voltage to the bulb. Pull the bulb out ( should be out already ) put your meter on DC VOLTS (in the range of 10-15 volts) and put the hot test lead on the tab at the center and bottem of the bulb harness. Put the other lead ( negative ) on the wall of the harness.


posted by  DodgeRida67

yes I screwed up the bulb resistance measurement before. Luckily the meter is still operational :)

Bulb is fine. There's no voltage coming in. (0 V).

posted by  JaneiR36

Do you have a workshop manual?
If you do in the back normally there is the wiring diagrams. these will help trace the fault. Have you checked the fuse?

posted by  cinqyg

Reading this entire thread, maybe this should have started "remove the bulb from the holder first!"

posted by  HighWayMan has a downloadable manual for a 1996 Camery under repair information. I have found the wiring diagrams in it are more accdurate than the ones in Haynes manual.

posted by  tbaxleyjr

I have the Hayne's repair manual for my car. I couldn't find circuits for those two lights - personal or interior. Even if I could find them, there would still be the issue of not understanding what all the symbols mean (but I'm pretty sure I could have started finding out if I at least had the diagrams). I guess those circuits were deemed non-essential by the Hayne's people.

I've checked the fuses, they seem alright. This particular bulbs fall under the 20 A DOME fuse. Which protects the following circuits: Audio system, interior light, clock, ignition switch light, personal light, trunk light, luggage compartment light, vanity mirror light, electric moon roof. Since most of those work just fine, can I assume the fuse is okay? If not, I suppose I could try to change it out, anyway. Please let me know what you think.

posted by  JaneiR36

Thanks! I've been able to check out the index of the stuff they have there, but my connection is slow, so I'll have to download the info somewhere else later today. The first couple links even have stuff about how to understand the schematics! Cool!

posted by  JaneiR36

On all makes and models of cars if your having an electrical problem always check the ground first
1.connect your positive(red) lead of your ohmmeter to the lightbulb (either side dont matter)
2. connect the negative(black) lead of your ohmmeter to your batter ground

car off btw

if you get resistance high than 500 or so ohms it's a bad ground which the wiring diagrahm should tell you where the ground is

good luck

posted by  Pieface

I'm unable to perform this test because the leads on my multimeter are too short. They didn't have longer leads in the two auto part stores I've been to. Any ideas? I bought some splicers (or whatever they're called) and some wire, but I'm not sure what to do with them. I also don't know if altering the multimeter leads is such a good idea.

posted by  JaneiR36

Good news on the interior light front!! I was finally able to pry off the lens cover. I used a plastic 'spatula' thingie that came with some makeup... I'm still not sure what it's really supposed to be used for. Although the bulb looked okay, there was no resistance across it, but there was a voltage drop across the terminals (without the bulb!!, I'm getting it!.... slowly :) ). Anyway, I changed it and now it comes on when the door opens.

Still no change on the personal light situation. I looked at all the bulbs in the Autozone wiring diagrams and none of them was the personal light. Am I missing something? If someone could point me to an exact link (please), I'd really appreciate it.

posted by  JaneiR36

Got some results:

resistance from either bulb terminal to battery ground: no reading (or infinity, I suppose).

WithOUT bulb in:

Voltage from base bulb terminal to battery ground w/car on, light switch pushed in: 12.32 V.

Voltage from side bulb terminal to battery ground: 0V.

With bulb in, the voltage from both terminals to battery ground = 12.32 V

Basically, the side terminal reads 0 if the bulb is NOT in, and 12.something if it is.

Voltage with leads across both bulb terminals: 0V

Only problem is I still don't have a wiring diagram to tell me where the ground is. Maybe you all have some educated guesses?

And for anyone who's curious, I extended the leads using a length of wire and a splice connector. I stuck the wire on one end of the splice, and the black multimeter lead in the other. So the negative lead touching the battery was actually the other exposed end of the extra wire. I tested this connection by comparing results taken with and without the extras and they were identical.

posted by  JaneiR36

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