The Chevrolet Express is a series of vans created by GM from 1995 to the present day.
Their versatility, affordability, and large cargo/passenger capacity have made them consistently popular in the US since their creation.
This article explains “Chevy Express Headlight & Turn Signal Problems”…
What Are The Causes, Symptoms, And Fixes For A Bad Headlight?
If your Chevy Express is experiencing problems with its headlights, then it could be down to several reasons.
There might be a problem with the bulb itself, or it could be a more fundamental issue with power or grounding. Alternatively, it might be the high beam switch, the headlight relay, or just some bad wiring.
There are many possible things that can go wrong in this intricate electrical system.
If you have noticed that one of your headlights is working, but the other is either out or flickering, then the most likely problem is the bulb itself.
Problems with the underlying electrics would far likely affect both lights simultaneously. When one is being the problem, it is most likely a bulb issue.
Inspection of the bulb may reveal that the bulb itself is okay but that its wiring needs attention. If the bulb is the problem, it can be switched out for a new one.
If it is the wiring, then it may require some additional repair to solidify and steady the connections.
Power or Ground Issue
If neither of the lights are working and the whole system appears to be dead, then the likely culprit is the fuse.
If the fuse has blown or otherwise gone bad, then the system flat out won’t work.
Look at the filament in your bulb. If there is a gap in it, then that’s definitely a fuse problem. The fuse can be switched out for a new one.
If the fuse appears to be alright, then it might instead be the relay that’s the problem.
High Beam Switch
Have you noticed that it seems only either the low beams or the high beams are working, one or the others, and not both as and when you need them?
This can often be traced back to the high beam or dimmer switch on your steering column. This same switch controls your turn signals.
The switch can be replaced or repaired easily enough, but first a professional needs to get into the steering column and take a look at the connections in and around the switch to confirm that it is a problem there.
Relay Or Control Module
If you have inspected the fuse for your headlight system and found that it is intact and not blown, then the cause of your woes is most likely to be the relay or control module.
You can remove the relay and give it a shake. That’s the simplest diagnostic test.
If you hear a rattle, then you need to replace the relay. It’s like a household light bulb in that way.
To find the control module is a lot more challenging and you will likely need the help of a professional to do it.
You can test the module with a multimeter to make sure the current is flowing.
Wiring in various parts of the system can cause issues. The most likely location for this type of issue is in the light harness.
If all other of the main components appear to be in order, then the best thing to do is start at the harness and test the wires there with a multimeter.
If you detect a problem there, that’s what’s likely causing your lights to flicker or otherwise appear less reliable or weaker in their illumination.
Sometimes you might notice that your lights are working and steady, but not as bright as they should be. In this case, it’s likely not the electrics that are the issue.
When electrics are at fault, there are usually signs of flickering and dimming, and other inconsistency.
This problem is likely caused by things such as fogging of the light lenses, moisture and other contaminants inside the light housing, and possibly even the alignment of your lights.
All of these things can be fixed by a professional mechanic fairly easily.
Inspect the outer casing of your lights for signs of damage like cracks or small holes.
That might explain how and why contaminants are making it into the light housing.
What Are The Causes, Symptoms, And Fixes For A Bad Turn Signal?
Some of the signs and symptoms of turn signal problems are obvious, but others appear more cryptic to the untrained eye.
The main four causes include dead turn signal bulbs, a broken flasher relay or module, a faulty turn signal switch, issues with the other wiring or connectors, and also oxidation in the bulb sockets.
The first and most immediate issue is that a turn signal bulb is dead.
This is now a lesser problem on vehicles with dynamic LED light turn signals where many bulbs perform the function and therefore one dead one doesn’t affect the system.
Older turn signals like those on the Chevy Express, however, can blow out or die.
You’ll know if it’s a dead bulb by the fact that you activate the turn signal and no orange light appears.
You can test this at home in your garage where the light is dimmer and you can see if there’s light. You could also activate each one and have a friend or family member check for you.
The flasher relay/module is what provides the power for the lights to come on and off in the traditional turn signal style.
If the fuse for the relay has blown, or the lead strip connecting it to the turn signal system has been damaged, then it will likely manifest as the turn signal working inside your car on the dash, but no blinker light emerging.
In this case, you’ll need to either repair/replace the power strip or the fuse itself to get the system working again.
Turn Signal Switch
Next, you might have a faulty turn signal switch in your steering column. It’s actually the same basic switch that also controls your headlights and high beam lights.
If the turn signal isn’t working and the headlights/high beams are also not switching on, then that main switch could be the issue.
If you get the help of a professional, they can look at the switch for you and determine if the switch needs repair or replacement.
Wires, Connectors, Or Other Fuses
As with any and all other parts of your lights and other electrical systems, part of the vast array of wiring that makes it all work could be faulty, damaged, frayed, or otherwise damaged.
There is also a chance that the problems in your light and turn signal systems can be traced to a bad or blown fuse.
These are very minor issues and the fuse can simply be replaced.
A blown fuse isn’t exactly bad news. In fact, it’s good news that the fuse protected your system from further damage.
Bulb Socket Oxidation
One further cause of turn signal problems in the Chevy Express is possible oxidation in the bulb sockets.
The connections between the blinker socket and the bulb can become rusted, which disrupts the circuit and cuts off power to the turn signals.
These areas need to be properly cleaned and rust removed, as well as other contaminants like dirt and dust.
If there is undue exposure of the system of exterior contaminants, this should be properly sealed.
Can I Drive With A Bad Headlight Or Turn Signal? Is It Legal?
In every state there are strict laws that govern the use of headlights. Invariably, the laws say:
- Headlights must be used from sunset to sunrise.
- Headlights are required at times of poor visibility.
- Every car must have two working headlights.
Therefore, it is not legal to operate a car in any state without two working headlights.
Other common conditions of many states include:
- Headlights must be used whenever you are using windshield wipers.
- Headlights must be used when visibility is under 500 or 1000 feet.
- Headlights should be used from 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after sunrise.
As for turn signals, you can drive with broken turn signals but you will have to substitute your turn signals for hand signals instead.
It is not advisable to drive any distance with broken turn signals, but it is not technically illegal.
A police officer may pull you over to remind you to fix your turn signals, but there is no state that enforces tickets or infractions for broken turn signals.
This is largely because hand signals can at least temporarily replace turn signals.
With broken headlights, there’s no substitute.