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Lincoln Forum: 1988 Towncar check engine light wont turn on
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  1. #1
    SHADE575 is offline Junior Member My Lincoln(s): 1988 Towncar
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    Oct 2017
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    Tucson Arizona
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    2

    1988 Towncar check engine light wont turn on

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    Hi, i had previously posted this question on another site and put it to the side as i was focusing on my transmission being rebuilt and repairing various other things on my 1988. Anyway, in the location where i live (Tucson AZ) im pretty sure a working check engine light is required to pass the emissions bs we have here (my brother spent lots of time getting his 1986 el camino to pass it, almost didnt because of the light rule).

    That being said, mine doesnt light up. The bulb is in, power to the bulb, bulb itself is not burned out. When cranking the engine to start, a light on that same circuit comes on (brake or seatbelt i think) but check engine never does, which will most likely fail the inspection.
    Another note is that i have seen other 1988 towncars that have a different warning light cluster with 9 lights, mine only has six. Is this the wrong cluster for my year of car and maybe thats why it doesnt light up?
    Anyway, this is the last thing that is keeping me from bringing this old lincoln back into daily driver life. Any help is much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Town's Avatar
    Town is offline Senior Member My Lincoln(s): 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve 2.7 AWD; 2007 Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited (sold)
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Ottawa Ontario Canada
    Age
    73
    Posts
    2,958
    Welcome to the Forum.

    I don't have an electrical schematic for your 1988 model. The 1989 model shows the check engine light powered by fuse 4 (10A) and grounded by the EEC module. In your case the check engine light cannot be on the same circuit as brake warning or seatbelt warning. All 3 lights may be powered from the same fuse but the grounds will be different so that the control module can switch them on (by grounding the circuit) as the conditions arise.

    Since you have proved the power to the check engine light then you could provide a new ground to the bulb holder. If the bulb lights then find the break or bad connection to the module (or the module has failed). If there is no light at the check engine bulb with a good ground in place then the bulb or holder is suspect.

    I don't know whether your instrument cluster has been changed or how to determine what it should look like. I think there are a few users here with 1988 models that may be able to help you with that.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    SHADE575 is offline Junior Member My Lincoln(s): 1988 Towncar
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Tucson Arizona
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    Thank you sir. I confirmed that the bulb and bulb holder work as i tested them out in a working light (put it in the parking brake slot) and it worked. I also would like to note that it has power to the positive side of the check engine light on the back of the cluster, but the negative side of it is open with no power. Is this a faulty engine control module or ground?

    Ive heard that up until 1989 they didnt hook the check engine lights up from the factory unless it was a california car, im not 100% sure thats true though.


    I think i have also determined that since i have the digital dash option that could possibly be the reason why i have the 6 light cluster instead of the 9 light cluster, so thats solved.

  4. #4
    Town's Avatar
    Town is offline Senior Member My Lincoln(s): 2017 Lincoln Continental Reserve 2.7 AWD; 2007 Lincoln Town Car Signature Limited (sold)
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Ottawa Ontario Canada
    Age
    73
    Posts
    2,958
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHADE575 View Post
    Thank you sir. I confirmed that the bulb and bulb holder work as i tested them out in a working light (put it in the parking brake slot) and it worked. I also would like to note that it has power to the positive side of the check engine light on the back of the cluster, but the negative side of it is open with no power. Is this a faulty engine control module or ground?

    Ive heard that up until 1989 they didnt hook the check engine lights up from the factory unless it was a california car, im not 100% sure thats true though.


    I think i have also determined that since i have the digital dash option that could possibly be the reason why i have the 6 light cluster instead of the 9 light cluster, so thats solved.
    The red highlighted text is where the module grounds the circuit to turn the light on. So the neg side of the holder attaches to the module somehow so that the module can ground the circuit and turn the light on. So you need to provide a ground to the light holder and see if it lights which it should with power and ground and a good bulb (could be a bad holder tho).

    Providing the light goes on with a ground you would be looking for a broken wire or bad connection or a faulty module. This may be where the wire is detached because car is not for California. I have no info on that aspect.

    Good luck.

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