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Old 03-25-2014, 01:02 PM   #1
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Purpose of Relays

Hi all,

I'm in the process of planning to wire some courtesy/step lights to my TJ once the weather warms up a bit here (thats gonna be in another thread somewhere down the line). That being said, my TJ is my first vehicle and I don't fully understand automotive electrical systems. I've got a basic understanding, but thats about it. I read through this:

http://www.autoshop101.com/forms/hweb2.pdf

and I understand how relays work, but what I don't understand is why we use them. To me it seems redundant to use a switch, to operate a switch (relay). Instead of flipping a switch that closes a switch in another circuit, why not just make the first switch a part of the circuit that you're controlling in the first place? Can someone explain that or give some examples?

Thanks.

EDIT: That website looks like it's got a lot of electrical information on it for anyone looking for more info.

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Old 03-25-2014, 01:09 PM   #2
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A relay uses a low amperage signal wire to switch a high amperage circuit. So, the basic idea is for something that draws a lot of current, the switch mounted on your dashboard doesn't have to be sized to carry the load. You see them used for things like head lights and fog lights, your engine starter, etc. For example, if you look at the size of the wires running to your starter, you'll see a small diameter signal wire that comes from the ignition switch and a huge 2 gage cable that comes directly from the battery. The ignition switch is wired through a solenoid to switch some heavy duty contactors that connect the starter directly to the battery current. The ignition switch in your steering column only sees a small amp draw - maybe like 10 -15 amps, but the starter motor draws hundreds of amps when it's cranking.

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Old 03-25-2014, 01:09 PM   #3
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A relay allows a small switch to control something big. Like your ignition switch would have to be much bigger and heavier duty to provide power to the starter motor if it wasn't for the starter relay.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:22 PM   #4
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Relays were invented and used in telegraphs back in the Stone Age. They were there because in longer strings of wire there was more resistance meaning that they needed more power to transmit further, thing is that resistance=heat and the more power you put through a wire the greater chance of a wire burning up and a fire starting. In today's vehicles relays serve a slightly more complex purpose but the idea is the same. If you were to have all 800 or more cca being run to the ignition switch to the starter your steering column would be about 80lbs of heavy gauge wiring. Relays are there to keep the heavy amp circuits shorter and to keep your jeep from becoming a BBQ.
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Old 03-25-2014, 02:27 PM   #5
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Relays were invented and used in telegraphs back in the Stone Age.
I resemble that remark...!
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Old 03-25-2014, 06:19 PM   #6
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Ohhhh ok makes sense. So in theory we could make do without them, but they make things "sleeker" for lack of a better word. Thanks for the explanations.
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:04 PM   #7
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Ohhhh ok makes sense. So in theory we could make do without them, but they make things "sleeker" for lack of a better word. Thanks for the explanations.

That's right, you could install one of these on your dash to turn on your KC lights....
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Old 03-25-2014, 08:17 PM   #8
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That's right, you could install one of these on your dash to turn on your KC lights....
Lol it might look appropriate in a willys

I'm planning on using these

http://www.superbrightleds.com/morei...s-series/1542/

For rock lights. I would think that I don't need a relay for them, correct? My plan is to have a three-way switch - off position, on (rock lights but wired to the parking lights so I don't leave them on accidentally), and on wired to the courtesy/step lights (what the switch will be on 99% of the time). Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I'd have to run a wire from one pin on the switch to wherever the courtesy lights go, one to wherever the parking lights go on another pin, another one to each of the LED strips, and one from each strip to ground somewhere. Is this right or am I waaaaay off. Like I said, this is my initiation into vehicle electrical systems so any help is appreciated. Thanks again.

The switch would be one of these

http://www.superbrightleds.com/morei...itch/715/1921/
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:00 PM   #9
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Lol it might look appropriate in a willys

I'm planning on using these

Side Emitting LED Weatherproof Flexible Light Strip - SWFLS series | LED Light Strips & Light Bars | Super Bright LEDs

For rock lights. I would think that I don't need a relay for them, correct? My plan is to have a three-way switch - off position, on (rock lights but wired to the parking lights so I don't leave them on accidentally), and on wired to the courtesy/step lights (what the switch will be on 99% of the time). Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I'd have to run a wire from one pin on the switch to wherever the courtesy lights go, one to wherever the parking lights go on another pin, another one to each of the LED strips, and one from each strip to ground somewhere. Is this right or am I waaaaay off. Like I said, this is my initiation into vehicle electrical systems so any help is appreciated. Thanks again.

The switch would be one of these

SPDT Round Rocker Switch | Switches | Installation Supplies | Installation/Power Supplies/Misc | Super Bright LEDs
Typically led's take so little power that a relay is not needed unless you're talking about large arrays of them. Be forewarned, if you are talking about wiring into the courtesy lights under the dash, that those (along with the dome light) are all switched on their ground side.
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:10 PM   #10
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Typically led's take so little power that a relay is not needed unless you're talking about large arrays of them. Be forewarned, if you are talking about wiring into the courtesy lights under the dash, that those (along with the dome light) are all switched on their ground side.
So rather than connecting the hot leads to the switch, you connect the grounds? If that's the case, where do the hot leads go?
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:36 PM   #11
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So rather than connecting the hot leads to the switch, you connect the grounds? If that's the case, where do the hot leads go?
No, if you connect to the ground side, you would be wiring the lights in series, and if you connect them to the hot side your courtesy light switches would have no effect on them. They are wired like this: +Fuse...>Light...>Switch...>Ground.
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:47 PM   #12
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No, if you connect to the ground side, you would be wiring the lights in series, and if you connect them to the hot side your courtesy light switches would have no effect on them. They are wired like this: +Fuse...>Light...>Switch...>Ground.
So closing the switch closes the ground connection? Sorry for being so thick here. Maybe I should clarify.....when the lights are wired through the switch for the "courtesy light mode", I want the lights to be off all the time except for when the courtesy lights are on i.e. When I open my door. The switch is only for changing operating modes of the LEDs (courtesy mode, rock light/full on mode, and an off mode).
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Old 03-25-2014, 09:59 PM   #13
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You have a 2006 and while I believe they are still using the same wiring for the dome/courtesy circuit, I'm not 100% sure. This drawing is for my 1999, and applies to most.

The problem is not that you couldn't get them to be operated by the existing switch, the problem will arise when you want to use them on their own without also turning the interior lights on. It could be done if a diode was wired into the circuit to prevent back feed.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:15 PM   #14
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You have a 2006 and while I believe they are still using the same wiring for the dome/courtesy circuit, I'm not 100% sure. This drawing is for my 1999, and applies to most. The problem is not that you couldn't get them to be operated by the existing switch, the problem will arise when you want to use them on their own without also turning the interior lights on. It could be done if a diode was wired into the circuit to prevent back feed.
Oh k. I see what you're saying. Ignoring the always on feature, assume I'd just want the lights wired to the courtesy lights..... I would wire the ground from the LED into fuse 4, and the hot into fuse 20. That looks like it would work no?

EDIT:

I think if I did that, the courtesy lights would turn on, in which case id have to put a diode between where I tap in at fuse 20 and the courtesy lights. I think I'm getting this now.....unless I'm totally wrong here lol.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:42 PM   #15
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Oh k. I see what you're saying. Ignoring the always on feature, assume I'd just want the lights wired to the courtesy lights..... I would wire the ground from the LED into fuse 4, and the hot into fuse 20. That looks like it would work no?

EDIT:

I think if I did that, the courtesy lights would turn on, in which case id have to put a diode between where I tap in at fuse 20 and the courtesy lights. I think I'm getting this now.....unless I'm totally wrong here lol.
I think I can show you how to accomplish what you want to do using a relay, but I don't have time tonight...I'll get back to it in the morning.
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Old 03-25-2014, 10:57 PM   #16
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I think I can show you how to accomplish what you want to do using a relay, but I don't have time tonight...I'll get back to it in the morning.
Wow. Thanks for the help. No rush at all.
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Old 03-26-2014, 11:30 AM   #17
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Wow. Thanks for the help. No rush at all.
Okay, if you wire it like the diagram below, it will put the rock lights on their own new circuit (fuse as appropriate), it will turn on the rock lights whenever your courtesy lights are turned on, and it will allow you to turn the rock lights on by their own switch without having the courtesy lights on. You will have to make sure you get a 5 terminal relay with an 87a terminal.
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Old 03-26-2014, 01:03 PM   #18
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Okay, if you wire it like the diagram below, it will put the rock lights on their own new circuit (fuse as appropriate), it will turn on the rock lights whenever your courtesy lights are turned on, and it will allow you to turn the rock lights on by their own switch without having the courtesy lights on. You will have to make sure you get a 5 terminal relay with an 87a terminal.
Ah ok. Makes sense. When someone shows it to me it makes sense but I'm nowhere near good enough to figure this stuff out on my own. So opening a door energizes the control circuit and closes the switch in the relay to pin 87, whereas closing the always-on rock light switch runs power to pin 87a which is switched to pin 30 when the doors are shut. I think I follow...

Couple more questions...

1) Can I start a new circuit with a relay in any of the locations in the fuse box or do I need to be careful where I put the relay?

2) How do I know what amperage fuse to go with? The LEDs only draw 89mA.

3) Is it possible for the alarm that goes off when the headlights are on and the door is open to go off if I leave the rock lights in the "always on" position?

4) How did you come up with that circuit? Is it just practice and doing it for so long or is there actually a process to run through mentally?

5) Where did you find the circuit diagram for the door switch circuit, and where did you go to draw the last circuit you sent me?

I know that's a lot, but again I'm a newb. Thanks a lot for the help.
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Old 03-26-2014, 02:07 PM   #19
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Ah ok. Makes sense. When someone shows it to me it makes sense but I'm nowhere near good enough to figure this stuff out on my own. So opening a door energizes the control circuit and closes the switch in the relay to pin 87, whereas closing the always-on rock light switch runs power to pin 87a which is switched to pin 30 when the doors are shut. I think I follow...

Couple more questions...

1) Can I start a new circuit with a relay in any of the locations in the fuse box or do I need to be careful where I put the relay?

2) How do I know what amperage fuse to go with? The LEDs only draw 89mA.

3) Is it possible for the alarm that goes off when the headlights are on and the door is open to go off if I leave the rock lights in the "always on" position?

4) How did you come up with that circuit? Is it just practice and doing it for so long or is there actually a process to run through mentally?

5) Where did you find the circuit diagram for the door switch circuit, and where did you go to draw the last circuit you sent me?

I know that's a lot, but again I'm a newb. Thanks a lot for the help.
The short answer is that terminal 87a is normally closed (connected to terminal 30 without the relay being energized) so your new switch will work in that configuration. When your courtesy lights come on it sends power to the relay and switches it to terminal 87 (so that terminal 87 is now connected to 30 instead of 87a) to bypass your manual switch.

(1) The relay doesn't care where it's physically located. I know on my fuse box there's a couple of pig tails hanging out for future stuff (one is hot with the ignition on, and the other is hot continuously). You could pick whichever you want an install a fuse in the corresponding slot.

(2) 89mA x how many lights + a little extra. I would probably use a 3 amp fuse minimum.

(3) No, there will be no electrical connection between the two circuits. The coil on the relay is energized by the courtesy light circuit, and mechanically pulls the switch (relay) closed for the rock light circuit.

(4) Sheer boredom... ...You just have to sketch it out and check all the current flow to make sure it will work and not cause issues. Been playing with electrical stuff for awhile.

(5) I drew a simplified form of the door switch circuit using the circuit diagrams in my FSM, so when I had to go out and play with mine, I didn't have to thumb through pages. The last one I sent you I drew up this morning on Corel Draw.

The picture below may help you understand what's going on in the relay.
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Old 03-26-2014, 04:29 PM   #20
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The short answer is that terminal 87a is normally closed (connected to terminal 30 without the relay being energized) so your new switch will work in that configuration. When your courtesy lights come on it sends power to the relay and switches it to terminal 87 (so that terminal 87 is now connected to 30 instead of 87a) to bypass your manual switch.

(1) The relay doesn't care where it's physically located. I know on my fuse box there's a couple of pig tails hanging out for future stuff (one is hot with the ignition on, and the other is hot continuously). You could pick whichever you want an install a fuse in the corresponding slot.

(2) 89mA x how many lights + a little extra. I would probably use a 3 amp fuse minimum.

(3) No, there will be no electrical connection between the two circuits. The coil on the relay is energized by the courtesy light circuit, and mechanically pulls the switch (relay) closed for the rock light circuit.

(4) Sheer boredom... ...You just have to sketch it out and check all the current flow to make sure it will work and not cause issues. Been playing with electrical stuff for awhile.

(5) I drew a simplified form of the door switch circuit using the circuit diagrams in my FSM, so when I had to go out and play with mine, I didn't have to thumb through pages. The last one I sent you I drew up this morning on Corel Draw.

The picture below may help you understand what's going on in the relay.
With my third question, is there a way of doing that wiring job simply so that the alarm does go off? If I want the rock light switch to be able to completely disconnect the lights so that even opening the doors doesn't turn them on, would I just have to wire one of the pins on the "New Rock Light Switch" (assuming a three-way switch) to between pin 30 on the relay and the rock lights themselves?

Also, I found this thread:

If you need wiring diagrams, look in here!

If you scroll down you'll find a google docs link to all of the wiring diagrams for all wrangler models from '87 to '09. The interior lights diagram for an '06 TJ shows the door ajar switches running to the instrument cluster, and then out to the dome lights and courtesy lights etc. Looking at this diagram, if I didn't already know that the door switches controlled the courtesy lights, how would I know that they control them after coming out of the instrument cluster? Also, what does the dashed line mean running from the cluster to the courtesy lights? Thanks again for your help man. Really appreciated. I'll buy you a beer or two if you're ever up this way.
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Old 03-26-2014, 05:17 PM   #21
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An easier way would be to use a single pole double throw (with an off position in the center) switch where I've drawn in the new rock light switch. Bring the hot to the switch center, and one switch leg to 87, and the other to 87a on the relay. With the switch set to off, the rock lights wouldn't work at all, with it one direction, they would work with the doors, the other direction they would be on irregardless. If you normally leave them switched to come on with your courtesy's, the courtesy's will make the alarm come on.

If you want them switched with your parking lights, you could splice into that line for power, then just put a small inline fuse in your rock light circuit close to where you made the splice.The problem with doing that would be that they would only work when you had the parking lights already on even if the switch was set to operate with the doors. You could overcome that by using a double pole double throw switch and wiring two different supplies, one from parking lights for constantly on, and another from a continuous hot for use with doors.

I couldn't access the ones at Google, but I did take a look at an "03" and the instrument cluster line (dashed line) is just a door ajar sense. They should still work the same way.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:23 PM   #22
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The problem with doing that would be that they would only work when you had the parking lights already on even if the switch was set to operate with the doors. You could overcome that by using a double pole double throw switch and wiring two different supplies, one from parking lights for constantly on, and another from a continuous hot for use with doors.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:23 PM   #23
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An easier way would be to use a single pole double throw (with an off position in the center) switch where I've drawn in the new rock light switch. Bring the hot to the switch center, and one switch leg to 87, and the other to 87a on the relay. With the switch set to off, the rock lights wouldn't work at all, with it one direction, they would work with the doors, the other direction they would be on irregardless. If you normally leave them switched to come on with your courtesy's, the courtesy's will make the alarm come on. If you want them switched with your parking lights, you could splice into that line for power, then just put a small inline fuse in your rock light circuit close to where you made the splice. I couldn't access the ones at Google, but I did take a look at an "03" and the instrument cluster line (dashed line) is just a door ajar sense. They should still work the same way.
Yeah thats what I figured I'd do with the switch. When I say three way switch, I meant single pole double throw.....unknowingly lol.

Sorry for being such a pita, but what's a door ajar sense? There's dashed lines all over the diagram, and it looks like they seem to always be for wires that are between splices and not actually between any two objects. Could that be it?

I'm gonna stare at the circuit diagram for the interior lights to try to understand things more.
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:52 PM   #24
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Yeah thats what I figured I'd do with the switch. When I say three way switch, I meant single DOUBLE pole double throw.....unknowingly lol.

Sorry for being such a pita, but what's a door ajar sense? There's dashed lines all over the diagram, and it looks like they seem to always be for wires that are between splices and not actually between any two objects. Could that be it?

I'm gonna stare at the circuit diagram for the interior lights to try to understand things more.
I haven't seen your dashed lines, but the ones in my FSM denote that connections are in the same connectors. See if there is a Cxxx on one end of the line, and if there is there should be a smaller letter/number combination on each end designating the pin #'s. They also use dashed lines in relays to tie the mechanical parts together. The sense wires simply supply a signal to the dash warning light/buzzer to tell it that a door is ajar etc.
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Old 03-27-2014, 12:34 PM   #25
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I haven't seen your dashed lines, but the ones in my FSM denote that connections are in the same connectors. See if there is a Cxxx on one end of the line, and if there is there should be a smaller letter/number combination on each end designating the pin #'s. They also use dashed lines in relays to tie the mechanical parts together. The sense wires simply supply a signal to the dash warning light/buzzer to tell it that a door is ajar etc.
Ohh I see what you mean with the connectors. So Power Lamps Dimmer, Courtesy Lamps Feed, Panel Lamps Feed, Door Ajar Sns, and Key Ign Sns are all on connector C2. On that note, whats the difference between a feed and a hot? For example, the courtesy lamps feed is in the instrument cluster, but don't they get their power (they're "fed") from the hot coming out of fuse 26?

The dashed line I'm talking about is bottom left between the A/C Heater Control and the Radio and everything in between them. I didn't realize I could attach a pdf, so here it is.
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Old 03-27-2014, 12:56 PM   #26
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Ohh I see what you mean with the connectors. So Power Lamps Dimmer, Courtesy Lamps Feed, Panel Lamps Feed, Door Ajar Sns, and Key Ign Sns are all on connector C2. On that note, whats the difference between a feed and a hot? For example, the courtesy lamps feed is in the instrument cluster, but don't they get their power (they're "fed") from the hot coming out of fuse 26?

The dashed line I'm talking about is bottom left between the A/C Heater Control and the Radio and everything in between them. I didn't realize I could attach a pdf, so here it is.
It looks like most of those things on yours might be controlled via computer on the negative side. Are there timers involved with your interior lights? Makes me glad I have an older one...!. Your door switches are still on the ground side though, so I don't think that would change anything, but not 100% positive. In order to light a courtesy lamp you still have to have power on one leg yellow/brown, and ground on the other yellow/orange, so you should be able to parallel that without issue to run your relay.
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Old 03-27-2014, 02:19 PM   #27
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It looks like most of those things on yours might be controlled via computer on the negative side. Are there timers involved with your interior lights? Makes me glad I have an older one...!. Your door switches are still on the ground side though, so I don't think that would change anything, but not 100% positive. In order to light a courtesy lamp you still have to have power on one leg yellow/brown, and ground on the other yellow/orange, so you should be able to parallel that without issue to run your relay.
So your original diagram still works then? If i shut my door my interior lights turn off in ~5 seconds so yes to your timer question. If there's no physical timer in that diagram I guess it means that it's a computer controlled timer?

Does that dashed line just denote which wires are connected in that splice (S206)? If that's the case, why is the line from the Axle Lock Switch to the Transmission Range Indicator a solid line? I'm thinking it might be because those are optional features but I could be wrong. Either way, mines a manual trans. and I don't have the offroad package.
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Old 03-27-2014, 02:40 PM   #28
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So your original diagram still works then?
In my mind, it should, but then I've been wrong before. It seems to me that the relay would mimic whatever the courtesy lights are doing. If there's a delay in the courtesy lights, there should also be a delay unlatching the relay.

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Does that dashed line just denote which wires are connected in that splice (S206)? If that's the case, why is the line from the Axle Lock Switch to the Transmission Range Indicator a solid line? I'm thinking it might be because those are optional features but I could be wrong. Either way, mines a manual trans. and I don't have the offroad package.
I have no clue.
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Old 03-27-2014, 03:40 PM   #29
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In my mind, it should, but then I've been wrong before. It seems to me that the relay would mimic whatever the courtesy lights are doing. If there's a delay in the courtesy lights, there should also be a delay unlatching the relay.



I have no clue.
Makes sense to me! Thanks again for all the help. Once the weather warms up here and I actually get to working on this I'll post the link here. Cheers.
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Old 03-27-2014, 08:06 PM   #30
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Makes sense to me! Thanks again for all the help. Once the weather warms up here and I actually get to working on this I'll post the link here. Cheers.
You might have to experiment a little...just hook a test light or meter across pins 30 and 87 of a relay, then use some jumper leads to connect 85 and 86 on each side of a courtesy light, and open the door.

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