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Escort MK6 Electrical Mind Of It’s Own – Any ideas?


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Hi everyone,


I’ve got a 1996 (P) Escort MK6 1.8L GhiaX with just about every electrical option they shipped on these from stock.


The car is used every day, but when I went out the other morning following a night of reasonably heavy rain (typical UK and December weather right!) and the interior courtesy light was on. This definitely wasn’t on the night before and I don’t think it had been on too many hours as the car started no problems, battery was fine. Put on the headlights and there was a faint buzzer type sound coming from somewhere under the dash, a bit like the “you left the lights on” reminder buzzer but very quiet, but just noticeable. The door was closed at that point, I tried opening the door and the reminder buzzer sounded as normal and at normal volume, stopped as it should when closing the door.


Then I noticed the air con light in the internal fan speed control was dimly lit, not on, but not completely off either. Turned off the engine and ignition and then the rear footwell lights came on (both sides), but wouldn’t go off at all, ever.


I thought better not to use it, so got out and was deciding whether to disconnect the battery. Whilst standing there (keys in my hand) the headlights and main beam came on for 1-2 seconds and went off again, it did this twice. At which point I thought it was definitely worth disconnecting the battery as there were all sorts of things activating on their own and this could go on all day.


I left it a day and decided to have another look, it hasn’t rained today. Reconnected the battery, same problem with the headlights going on and off, and I could hear a relay flicking from the fuse box. The car started no problem, I had the engine running for about 2 mins (not enough for it to warm up at all), so I turned it off and went to get my tools. While walking away from the car, the engine radiator fan came on, literally no temperature in the engine at all and no way this should be on. So I disconnected the battery terminals again.


I’ve removed the under steering wheel trim and dropped down the fuse box. There’s no evidence of damp or condensation, gave the relays a wiggle just in case, can’t see any obvious signs of damaged cable, melting, scorching etc.


It seems to have grown a mind of it’s own electrically and I’m stumped. I wondered if anyone had heard of this before, had any suggestion, or pointers of where to even start looking for this?


Maybe I’ll need an auto electrician, but I thought I’d ask around in case there was something I could do first. Any earths or connectors that need cleaning (where)? Relays to replace?


Any help appreciated,

Thanks for reading,


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There were some leaves and dirt under the scuttle, was a bit damp in there but not really any water build up, but now it's been cleared.


I removed and cleaned up the main chassis earth that comes directly from the battery and also another earth bolted to the chassis next to it. That seems to have done the trick, no strange behaviour any more.


Thanks for the help.

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check the earths along the a pillar drivers side, pull off the footwell panels bottom front of drivers door. see if you can listen and find out where the buzzing is coming from. you've def got a short or bad earth somewhere. with electricity, if it's path of least resistance (the path it's supposed to follow) is broken, it will find other routes.


In my old car, the earth connection pin in the cluster wasn't sat straight in the block and when I put the brakes on the button light for the rear fogs came on, not the fogs, just the button light. I also gut a slight humming from the button as well as too much current was passing through it! paid an autoelectician over £200 to tell me he hadn't got a clue after spending 3hrs under my dash. I then found the dodgy connection in the cluster when changing the bulb!!


also try checking the fuse box in the engine bay?? worth a try. but as you say you can hear the buzzing coming from inside the dash, it's more than likely there. you may have had some water run through down the cabling into the dash through the firewall, try disconecting all the multiplugs from the fusebox and taking it out to check the back of the fuses and under the relays, also check inside the multiplug connectors, check in each pin connection for each wire for any discolouration.


then check the connections for each of the components you've witnessed coming on by it's self. it may be the lights and the current is trying to get back through the fan. It may be leaking through the aerial onto the interior light and trying to get back through another circuit it's close to in the fuse box (headlight relay?????)


not teaching you to suck eggs, but all circuits are very logical, they follow a certain path and route, look for where these routes come close to each other and whats attached to them, whilst it may not be that crossing, it may be something that comes off of that - brake lights close to fog, attached to fog light button and button light????? see what I mean. I'm afraid it's just a case of sitting there mentally following each route and inspecting everything you can - bu I bet it's something obvious when you find it! you have mentioned both the courtesy light and the footwell lights which are connected...... the heater controls are connected to the panel illumination which (I'm guessing) I don't know if your footwell lights only come on if the illumination is lit or when the courtesy light comes on every time, there must be a link somewhere, even if it at the earthing point or the multiplug, I know the light stalk wiring loom and the panel illumination loom are on the same mutliplug connected to the fusebox (front left as you pull it down, quite a long mulitplug).


hope you manage to find it, you don't want it sat there, dormant, getting worse for next winter.

Edited by Rockerrob666
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It could be the fuse box.


On some Escorts, the internal fuse box develops dry or hard solder joints which can

cause problems, in such circumstances I've had no choice but replace the fuse box.


Alternatively, if water has managed to find its way into the fuse box, this can also short out the tracks inside

and may cause the problems you are experiencing.


On one occasion, I removed a fuse box and I was able to actually pour the water out of it.


Otherwise, as others have said it could be a bad earth but I'm almost certain it'll be the fuse box.

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