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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I was into my Honda dealer for a oil change today and they noticed one of my headlights were out. They replaced the light and the light was still out. They then replaced my DRL relay and the issue went away.
On my way home about a half hour later I noticed the refection in the car ahead and the light was out again (low beam).

I've already got $180 into this headlamp repair for the DRL relay and install and have to go back next week for another appointment.

Does anyone have any idea what I could troubleshoot before going back in next week as I have to go to the U.S. on the weekend at night and don't want to risk it.

2003 Honda Element
 

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Truck. lol

Maybe you should take it to a reputable mechanic instead of the stealership. That's a lot of money you spent not to fix anything. I'm betting the relay they replaced was an educated guess anyway. DRLs only control the highbeam as far as i know.

heres an idea. asuming you have one bulb with high and low filaments.

With just the car running, do both DRLs work? (I'm betting no.)
If you turn the lights to low beam do you have both on?
If you turn the lights to high beam are both on?

If your lights work normally except DRLs then I would think relay. Otherwise maybe a bad wire/connection. Get under that hood.
 

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you have an Ex-p from 2003? is that even possible?
 

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I work at a "stealership" and for the most part, DRL/headlight issues are fairly straightforward to diagnose.

The item commonly replaced on Hondas is the CONTROL UNIT, not the RELAY as it is commonly called as Honda's have BOTH. The DRL relay is usually found in a relay cluster under the driver's dash which may include the low-beam cut relay that activates to open the low-beam circuit when the high-beams are used. The DRL control unit is what controls the operation of the daytime running lights as well as having some say in the operation of the high beams. It is usually (but not always) located under the driver's dash and easily noticeable by it's gray box and blue connector end. Some have them on the passenger side while others which shall remain nameless *COUGH* ACURA *COUGH* like to play hide and seek and tuck them way up under the passenger side dash behind the glovebox where you need long extensions, x-ray vision and contortionist abilities to access :rolleyes:.

DRL control units fail because of solders on the circuit board that crack and cause poor connections or intermittent open circuits. Most people simply re-solder the cracked connections (they are easily discernible by their brownish tan and hairline cracks) and to be quite honest, if a good solder is used with careful technique, the re-soldered board will last a long time. I re-soldered my uncle's DRL control unit five years ago when I started at the dealership and it still works today.

If your DRL control unit is in fact going for a ****, usually one headlight in highbeam or DRL mode will not work and the "DRL" light on the cluster will illuminate. However, I've seen good techs get dupped by a failed headlight bulb in a hurried situation and since the DRL system controls power to the high-beams, a bad high-beam filament can trigger the DRL light as well because of the open in the circuit, leading to a mis-diagnosis.

One step to isolate the bulb itself as the cause is easy (well, depending on your comfort level with working on a vehicle, it may not be easy, however I'm going to assume for the sake of this post that you don't tremble in fear when you pull the hood release :lol: ) where you simply take the suspected non-working bulb out and install it into the opposite side. If the bulb works in the opposite side, suspect the DRL control unit. If the bulb still doen't work in the other side, suspect the bulb itself.

The next step you can try which sounds a bit mickey mouse but has worked for me 95% of the time to isolate a DRL control unit that is failing intermittently is simply tapping the DRL box with the handle-end of a screwdriver. You can also flick it firmly with your finger (for some reason this method seems to work awesome on '98-'02 Accord DRL control units). Many times this vibration is enough to temporarily close the connection and re-illuminate the DRL circuit. Again, you are gently tapping the DRL control unit box, not beating it like it owes you money :D.

Again, this is a flat-rate time-saving way to check it but it shouldn't be relied on solely to diagnose the concern, it is simply a quick and easy way to check. From my short 5-year experience though, tapping the box has proven handy in eighty to ninety percent of the DRL issues I've worked on.
 

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Found this site on Google just now. Show's how to solder it:

DIY DRL CONTROL UNIT REPAIR

One step you can eliminate is to remove the DRL box from it's mounting bracket. Waste of time.

Simply pry open the cap on the DRL box and slide the circuit board out. When you are done your repair, slide it back in and re-install the cap.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the knowledge from everyone.
This 2003 Element was the AWD model with sunroof, no other packages were available I think.

Just to confirm what HAS been done and ruled out.

The DLR Relay grey box has been replaced new.
The suspect bulb was replaced new , both by the dealership.

Problem seemed to be fixed when I drove out, however, after a few bumps and railroad tracks, the problem reappeared, so I think we can safely rule out the DLR grey Relay box with blue plug, and the light bulb.

...any other guesses? I'm going to take one thing into consideration from a fellow poster and look closer under the hood at the wires.
 

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Thanks for all the knowledge from everyone.
This 2003 Element was the AWD model with sunroof, no other packages were available I think.

Just to confirm what HAS been done and ruled out.

The DLR Relay grey box has been replaced new.
The suspect bulb was replaced new , both by the dealership.

Problem seemed to be fixed when I drove out, however, after a few bumps and railroad tracks, the problem reappeared, so I think we can safely rule out the DLR grey Relay box with blue plug, and the light bulb.

...any other guesses? I'm going to take one thing into consideration from a fellow poster and look closer under the hood at the wires.
Sorry, should have read a bit more of the thread. I kind of beat a dead horse with my previous post LOL :lol:.

Yes I would look to the wires next, especially the plug which plugs onto the back of the light, if you have tried known good parts and still have the same issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the replies. Just thought I would let everyone know if you run across this issue (headlight out, DRL Relay ok, bulb ok) It may be a bad light connector. Mine was all green on one of the contacts. I also got a pm from a dealer on the west coast that said he had run into this issue a couple of times. Apparently on some of the early elements headlight connectors were missing the grease that prevents corrosion and with the salt air (in my case road salt) may affect it.

Anyways, my dealership refunded me the money on the part (162.00) even though they dont take returns on electronic parts. It cost me a little more to have someone do it after hours somewhere else, but all is fine now.
 

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Hello there E fans

I seem to have this problem too ( canadian E model 2003 ) but nobody mentioned a symptom I have which is a '' buzzing '' DRL relay box when the lights are '' off '' , then the noise stops when I put them '' on '' .

While '' buzzing '' in '' off '' mode , 1 light is off ( DRL lights up in the dash )

While '' not buzzing '' in '' on '' mode , both low lights work

While '' not buzzing '' in '' on '' mode , high beams have 1 light out

I will look at the control unit tomorrow to see if that's the problem and keep this up dated
 

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noflyzone:

One blown high beam filament or a bad connection could cause your problem.

Try switch the headlamp bulbs between sides and cleaning the contacts of both headlamp connectors and the DRL relay using WD40, before trying the other things in this thread.

If that works, re-grease these connectors.
 

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The buzzing is either the low-beam cut relay or the DRL relay (both are positioned next to each other).

I would recommend what we've had to start doing at work: DRL control unit and low-beam cut relay replacement. Severeal CRVs and a couple Odysseys have come in with the DRL system non-functional, a hot-at-all-times fuse blown in the under-dash fuse box (supplies power to the DRL control unit to terminal #2 on the DRL control unit harness via the BLU/RED wire), cracked solders on the DRL control unit circuit board and a bad clamping diode in the low-beam cut relay.

Swap headlight bulbs and see if the problem follows the bulb. If not, you find that replacing the control unit and the low-beam cut relay is needed.

Also, keep in mind that unplugging and re-connecting the DRL control unit and/or bulbs may temporarily restore a bad connection, leading you to believe the problem is gone or that its something else. So follow your diagnosis and troubleshooting carefully. I've seen techs duped by a bad bulb, but I've also seen them duped by a bad control unit n LBC relay functioning intermittently.

I'd explain more but I'm on my CrackBerry and this keypad sucks lol.
 

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Headlight problems

My wife's 2005 CRV has had lamp problems that I could not figure out. I checked things with a volt meter. Come to find out, there was a loose ground causing my problem. With so much plastic on these vehicles, there has to be multiple grounds. One was loose. Was on the frame under the vehicle on the left side.
 

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Don't get me wrong folks, I'm not saying if a headlight goes out you need to dive into intense electrical troubleshooting and start replacing relays and control units. Definitely check the obvious things like loose connectors, faulty bulbs, fuses, etc. Also, don't dismiss other issues (obvious or not) such as collision damage, aftermarket accessory installation, rodent damage and other non-conventional situations which might cause wiring issues. LOL yes believe it or not, mice and such enjoy dining on Honda wiring harnesses, so much so that Honda now has rodent-proof tape with capsicum infused into it to deter future rodent damage. In the end if all things are good and equal and the basics check out, if you are still hearing the buzzing from the dash and the DRL light flickers intermittently, be prepared to shell out some ducats for a new DRL control unit and low-beam cut relay.

If the DRL system is non-functional and you find the 10-amp DRL fuse has failed, I'd recommend both components be replaced just to be sure you don't have a repeat failure. However, if the diode in the low-beam cut relay has totally gone for a poop, the fuse will blow constantly whenever it is replaced and the DRL system is activated, you will have to replace both.

The circuit board on the DRL control unit can be re-soldered if you are confident in your soldering skills (I've repaired several for friends and keep repaired ones on hand just in case) but I don't recommend trying this to the average DIY'er because if it's not done properly and carefully, there's always the risk of causing circuit and/or component damage at a minimum. And as much as I love all my EOC peeps, I don't want to be responsible if someone gets brave and ends up starting a fire under the dash on their Element :):roll:
 

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OK so I took apart the DRL control unit just like that link said and soldered the suspicious looking welds ( even though no cracks were visible ) and put it all back together .

The problem looks solved ... for now :)
We all know this might change during the next ride out but I hope not

Thx a bunch and will post if it rains on my party

Link : http://www.nyx.net/~smanley/hondadrlfix/index.html
 

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Drl

do the module solder and smell the relay if under dash fuses pop. Shorted diode will make the grey DRL relay stink, I ve read a post where it was replaced with a diode and save the price of the relay ( over 100 in Canada) Reay is behind and over the DRL module in a white plastic keeper with the Black LBC relay. DRL module is the grey rectangular box with the blue plug just to left of steerring column up behind lower dash.In my own case it was a combination of relay and module, symptoms can be erratic.
 
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