2003 Neon repeatedly blows fuse to panel lights and tail light. Suggestions for diagnosing problem?


Asked by Sep 21, 2012 at 11:44 AM about the 2003 Dodge Neon 4 Dr SE Sedan

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2003 Dodge Neon that repeatedly blows fuse number 15, which covers the circuit for both the
dash panel lights and the tail lights. I changed the multi-function switch and that didn't fix the problem.
Next, I purchased the MOPAR 20-pin plug repair kit and pigtailed that into the harness, but it still blows
the fuse. Does anyone have any suggestions for resolving this problem?

7 Answers

Matt Thibault

It sounds like you have a short to ground. If you've already replaced the multi-function switch, you'll have to check for a short somewhere. Check the sockets for the parking lights first, as they may be shorting and causing the fuse to blow. Failing that, you'll have to start tracing wires. Check for any wiring that is bare or pinched around the body or frame (some disassembly required). Best of luck!

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I ended up completely re-wiring everything on the same circuit as the instrument panel lights and tail lamps. The wire in the harness was black with a yellow stripe and it was the hot wire for the instrument panel, tail lamps, license plate light, front parking lights and the amber marker lights on the front fenders. At each of the eight connections, I cut the black with yellow wire, leaving enough to strip and connect to the new 18ga wire that I pulled throughout the car. For each connection, I used heat shrink connections. Additionally, even though all of the lights worked after re-wiring the hot side, I spliced into the ground wire for each connection (other than the instrument panel lights) and ran a good, solid ground to the car body for each of the seven connections. All of the ground connections may have been overkill, but I was tired of messing with those specific electrical problems and didn't want to leave anything to chance. The toughest part of the whole thing was pulling wire through the firewall. I finally used a stiff-bladed fish tape and poked a hole through a rubber plug in the firewall and pulled my wire through. I ran all of the wire under the hood, under the carpet and in the trunk through split plastic wire looms to protect against wear in the insulation of the wiring and to guard against future shorts. As I said, I was really tired of messing with Dodge Neon wiring. So far so good. I'm sure that a real mechanic would have done this much better than I did and my methods may provide a good laugh for a few folks. That's ok by me. In the end, all of the lights function again, and, since I "work cheap," the final repair bill was about $200 ($75 on ebay for the multifunction switch; $90 to the local Dodge parts department for the 20 pin plug; and about $35 for 18 ga wire, tape, plastic wire loom and shrink connector). Hopefully, all of this detail will help someone out by going through how an old Paramedic resuscitated some of the lights on a 2003 Neon. Richard

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
John Leone

if not, usually the tail light "pinches", in the trunk, (right side i believe), and grounds out, remove the trunk panels, and trace each individual wire, looking for a small crimp in the wire, against the body, again usually on the right side tail lamp...

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Thanks John. I traced that black wire with a yellow stripe throughout the entire car and never found a crimp or break in the insulation, which is why I finally abandoned all of it and ran the new wire. My best guess is that the break in the insulation was in the harness and behind the dash. It was easier to pull new wire than to take the whole dash out.

Justin Gilmore

dont blame you, the dash is a PITA to get out and getting all the loom and tape off makes it even worse.


hello!! i kinda have the same problem but will not occur for long periods of time. And i found lately if i turn the lightson only once i start the car ,it won t blow the fuse,,,any suggestions?

Bill Steere

i have a 12 v to frame short in my 97 neon, im really sure its on the illumination side, car ran fine, i drove it at night, was releasing the clutch and it shorted only thin that works is the oil light, i have half the dash out and cant find any melted wires anywhere have no idea how to find the bad wire, i have also checked the fuse box both of them and had the batt and alt and starter tested everything good, any ideas?

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