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Old 10-22-2013, 06:50 PM   #1
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2001 ZX3: Lights and/or engine won't turn off

My 2001 ZX3 got new brakes from our longtime trusted mechanic, and that night I turned on the headlights and the parking lights stayed on when we stopped at a restaurant. Battery ran down and, after a jump, we were unable to turn the car off.

Fiddling around, we got it to where only the dash lights stayed on. We've disconnected the battery (it felt really hot in the engine compartment) and come looking for help. This feels like the Twilight Zone.

Searching here, I see people with the lights problem who needed a headlight switch, but no clear answer on the "car stays on" issue. I have both and random chaos. (Don't want to blame the brake job.)

Where do we start?

Hoping a good night's sleep and your good advice will help. Thanks.


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Old 10-22-2013, 07:39 PM   #2
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99.99% chance it had nothing to do with the brake service unless your trusted mechanic is a fraud that sabotages other systems on your car when it's in for service to get you back later.

What exactly did you do or find when "fiddling around" ?

As for the staying on issue, check the diodes in the fuse box. Use an ohmeter across the terminals (of the removed diode), then swap which ohmmeter lead is on which terminal. It should only pass current in one direction.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:53 PM   #3
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Fiddling was minimal -- turning on and off various switches, turning key, backing up, took disconnected negative battery pole and engine stayed on but lights turned off. Turning key then went all the way off, leaving only dash lights on. With engine off, we disconnected the positive pole and dash lights went off.
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:02 PM   #4
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I should add that I condensed the story -- this happened, we went away for the weekend without this car. Back to work today, it was fine dayside, the whole issue happened again coming home from work after I'd turned the headlights on. And so I'm here.
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:32 PM   #5
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Have you ever changed the ignition cylinder on this? Usually the problem is that the key won't turn, but I'm wondering if you have either a different symptom for the same problem, or the repair job caused a slow onset issue with the switch.
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:39 PM   #6
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Maybe. I had forgotten, but I seem to recall it sticking a few years back. Would that affect the lights, or are you suggesting two different problems?
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:42 AM   #7
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I'm thinking the ignition switch might be staying in the Run position even if the key is turned to Off. Like if the wires had melted together, for example. Or at least are touching occasionally...any fuses blown?
If not, I would suspect the ignition switch is worn and not making reliable contact in all positions.
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:48 AM   #8
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is this a hatchback? this same thing happened to me once, I was driving and I reached a destination....turned the key off and removed....but the car didn't shut off. I disconnected the battery and got the car to stall out but lights stayed on.

As it turned out, the wires that go from the roof through the grommet into the hatch door had worn/cracked insulation and were rubbing....they had caused the wires at my ignition switch and headlight switch to melt together making my key useless in cutting power to ignition.

Long story short, I had to replace the headlight switch....and replace some melted wires....one or two all the way from the headlight switch to the tail lights.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:16 AM   #9
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Yes, hurtinfocus, it turned out to be similar: The wiring harness was full of melted wires.

(Although the AAA guy who came said, "You don't need a mechanic, you need an exorcism.")

We had it towed to our regular mechanic, who figured it out. I had an aftermarket remote starter on that whose little box also melted, no idea if it's cause or effect.

Thanks to all who tried to help!
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