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Discussion Starter #1
Noticed something odd this morning on my early morning drive to work. My headlights wouldn't work, after much aggravation i found that the E-brake, no matter how little engaged, turns off my headlights... odd. Also, when the headlight switch is "off" they stay on (unless i pull the E-brake <_< )

1997 4dr Tracker 4x4, w/ 4spd Auto 181,600 miles
 

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That is a feature of the DRL system.

EDIT: Are you saying, with the headlight switch turned on and the parking brake engaged, you have no headlights?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
With the Headlights in the "ON" position i have headlights all the time, even w/ the E-brake pulled. But when the switch is in the "DRL" or "OFF" position, the headlights are still on (unless the E-Brake is pulled). Basically, i want to be able to actually turn on/off my headlights w/o using the E-brake.
 

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Yep,

Daytime Running Lights. (DRL)

This applies to GM models (Trackers) and all cars built for the Canadian market after a certain year (1996???) I am sure it applies to a few other markets as well.

If your headlight switch is off, you should have headlights ONLY (at a reduced wattage) but no side or tail lights. Unless you have the parking brake applied. This has caused accidents as people THINK all the lights are on because they can see the light from the headlights. (Can you tell I'm not fond of DRL? ... at least how it was implemented here. )

There are ways to disable the DRL features without causing more harm than good. AND there are better ways to implement DRL that do not cause safety issues.
 

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With the Headlights in the "ON" position i have headlights all the time, even w/ the E-brake pulled. But when the switch is in the "DRL" or "OFF" position, the headlights are still on (unless the E-Brake is pulled). Basically, i want to be able to actually turn on/off my headlights w/o using the E-brake.
So turn the knob to the ON position - where's the problem?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Engineers must be atheists, because not a single one believes in intelligent design... Prime example here, overly complicating simple things. (says the Civil Engineer)
 

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So turn the knob to the ON position - where's the problem?
Its not so much a "problem" as much as why the E-brake lever is even associated with the headlights? I want "on" "off" and "running lights". not this crazy "my headlights are always on unless i push this and turn that and squeeze the flux capacitor just the right way" crap. lol.

Regardless of the position of my E-brake the headlights should be independent of it. As far as i can tell, my E-Brake has NOTHING to do with headlights. I like simple things, they don't break.
 

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The E-brake has NOTHING to do with the headlights - they are completely independent of it.

That said - your vehicle has daytime running lights (DRLs), which come on whenever the engine is on, and the handbrake is down - the DRLs just happen to use the low beam headlights - BUT - there are two completely different sets of controls, and the handbrake is in no way associated with the headlight controls.

You're driving a vehicle that was built to comply with Canadian law - just not in Canada.
 

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The day time running lights use reduced voltage to the lights they will not be as bright as your regular low beam lights. The law in our province requires all vehicles without DRL to turn there headlamps on. In my opinion they do prevent accidents.
 

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Engineers must be atheists, because not a single one believes in intelligent design... Prime example here, overly complicating simple things. (says the Civil Engineer)
Effectively the system wasn't designed by engineers. Politicians and bean counters are to main occupations involved with this design. ;)

More DRL reading here: Daytime running lamp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I have always liked the concept of DRL but never liked the use of the headlights to implement them. I like the dedicated LED systems coming on new cars, but am not fond of lights that have obviously been "bolted on."

Here is someone's write up of installing a DRL-1 Daytime Running Light module that uses the front blinkers. A MUCH better way than the headlights and there isn't any extra parts just bolted on. Adding daytime running lights to a classic car
 

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In my opinion they do prevent accidents.
x2. It uses the same logic as the law that requires motorcycles to have their headlights on at all times - the idea being that you are easier to see to other motorists.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I guess having the headlights (or some sort of light) on all the time make sense for safety. My Ford Ranger doesn't have lights that come on when i turn the truck on, but i always turn my DRL's on anyways in the day (amber blinker lights).

The E-brake has NOTHING to do with the headlights - they are completely independent of it.
^^ then why do they turn off when i pull the E-brake? somewhere they're linked.
 

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It seems your confused - here's what I suggest you do to straighten things out in your mind.

If you park the car facing a wall or maybe try this at night, it'll be easier to see - switch the engine off, pull the handbrake up, turn the lights off (rotate the knob "top-to-back" as far as it will go) - visually verify that the lights are in fact off.

Now rotate the knob two clicks "top-to-front" to switch the headlights on - visually verify whether the headlights are on or not - whilst you're about it, visually verify that the side, tail & license plate lights are on.

The questions might seem unnecessary, but I'm going to ask them to make sure you get the point.

1) Are the headlights on?
2) Is the E-brake up?

At the end of this phase of the experiment, we should have established that the headlights do not go off when you pull the E-brake up, you have to turn them off with the switch.

Let me now when you've reached this point, and I will walk you through the next phase of the experiment.
 

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With the Headlights in the "ON" position i have headlights all the time, even w/ the E-brake pulled. But when the switch is in the "DRL" or "OFF" position, the headlights are still on (unless the E-Brake is pulled). Basically, i want to be able to actually turn on/off my headlights w/o using the E-brake.
I think he already established that the lights are on with the switch in the on position.

If he pulls the ebrake up one notch the DRL will go out unless he has switch on. Not sure why you would want them off but it is how we roll if off trail and conserving battery.
 

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I guess having the headlights (or some sort of light) on all the time make sense for safety. My Ford Ranger doesn't have lights that come on when i turn the truck on, but i always turn my DRL's on anyways in the day (amber blinker lights).

^^ then why do they turn off when i pull the E-brake? somewhere they're linked.
I suspect you really do not understand what daytime running lights are. Quite a few markets (countries) require them (Canada is one) and GM put them on all their cars, regardless of market, in the mid 1990's. (Geo TRACKER is a GM product for this...)

I do not know what market your Ranger was built for, but odds are it was for the US market. So it would NOT have come from the factory with DRL.... and the only amber lights that you can "turn on" are your PARKING lights.

PARKING lights do not classify as DRL. (Not bright enough.) There are modules available that use the MUCH brighter actual BLINKER filaments (front only) then turn off DRL when you need to use your turn signals.

So back to your Tracker...

There are two different circuits that use your headlight filaments. One is the headlights. (Capt. Obvious here.) This circuit also turns on the parking (or marker lights) dash lights tail lights and the like.

The other illuminates the headlight filaments at a REDUCED brightness any time the car can be driven... as in engine running and the parking brake off. This circuit DOES NOT turn on the parking (or marker lights) dash lights tail lights and the like. Does this sound familiar? :rolleyes:

IF you do not like the way DRL works and you are not in a market (country) that requires it, they can be disabled. You could also install stand alone DRL's or a module that uses the front blinkers as DRL ... if you like that better and want the safety of DRL.

I personally do not like "headlight based" DRL systems, but think there is value in other DRL systems.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I do not know what market your Ranger was built for, but odds are it was for the US market. So it would NOT have come from the factory with DRL.... and the only amber lights that you can "turn on" are your PARKING lights.

PARKING lights do not classify as DRL. (Not bright enough.) There are modules available that use the MUCH brighter actual BLINKER filaments (front only) then turn off DRL when you need to use your turn signals.

I personally do not like "headlight based" DRL systems, but think there is value in other DRL systems.
Now it makes sense, I always thought that "Parking lights" was the same as "DRL". That's where my confusion came in. And the part about them only being on when the car is drive-able explains why they turn off when the E-brake is pulled. Still cant say I'm a huge fan, but it makes sense now. Thanks guys! :thumbsup:
 

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The easiest way to "disable" headlight based DRL is to pull the parking brake up one notch.
 

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If your headlight switch is off, you should have headlights ONLY (at a reduced wattage) but no side or tail lights. Unless you have the parking brake applied. This has caused accidents as people THINK all the lights are on because they can see the light from the headlights. (Can you tell I'm not fond of DRL? ... at least how it was implemented here.)
I'm with you m000035, I think they do more harm then good. I remember I worked for GM at the time these hit the road with the DRL's and what made things even worse were the salesmen were touting them as if they were automatic lights that came on at dusk, even informing customers that was the case. To this day I see vehicles with DRL's at night with no headlights on.
 

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I don't know about the GM product, but I do believe that most of the Suzuki Grand Vitaras that shipped with DRL also shipped with an "auto light" option - so the lights did turn on at dusk, if the engine was running - all the lights, not just the headlights.
 
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