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Volvo Penta: Instrument panel is dead (but it has power)

Marine Electrical

Section - I'm just going to jump right in as I'm a bit stymied here. I have ...
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  1. #1
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    Default Volvo Penta: Instrument panel is dead (but it has power)

    I'm just going to jump right in as I'm a bit stymied here. I have a Volvo Penta TAMD31P (150hp Diesel). A few minutes after starting the engine I smelled "hot wiring", shut down the engine and opened the instrument panel. "Something" got warm, but I can't tell you exactly what. In hindsight I believe it may have been the alarm unit which is an integral part of the wiring harness that seems to feed to all the gauges, but I can't confirm. I was a bit busy, very concerned and (slightly) in panic mode at the time. Now... all four gauges(tach, temp, oil pressure, voltage) are not working. The instrument panel (gauges, instrument lights, alarms, alarm test, etc. are all dead). There is a junction box on the engine where the 16 pin wiring harness from the instrument panel plugs in. There is a circuit breaker in this junction box that is now popping which tells me I most likely have a grounding issue. The key/ignition - which is mounted on the instrument panel and who's wiring comes from/through the same wiring harness does work. I can start the engine. The circuit breaker on the junction box may or may not blow. If it does, then I have to reset it to shut down the engine. If not, then I can turn the engine off with the key. We've never had any issues like this before so this is a new one for me.

    My obvious thought is that I have either a direct ground that I shouldn't have, or no ground at all. But for me at least it is much more difficult to confirm. I've got the wiring diagram in hand. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.



  2. #2
    TimG's Avatar
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    I think you are on the right trail with an unwanted direct ground, or ground fault. I would begin with checking the alarm unit if there is a way to open it up, or bypass it. Kind of hard to provide much help without actually seeing what you are dealing with.
    ~ on the hook ~

  3. #3
    Lt Commander
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    What is the order that the current flows in? From what you have said it goes first to the ignition switch, then to the alarm system and then to the gauges. As the ignition works the bad ground will be after it so start with the gauges. Can you unplug them at the alarm? If so unplug them and start the engine. Does the circuit breaker still blow? If so then the problem is the alarm. If not it is one of the gauges. If it is a gauge then, with the power off, plug one of them in and restart. Keep doing this until the breaker blows and you will know which gauge circuit is at fault.

  4. #4
    Cap'n Ray's Avatar
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    You can also disconnect the positive side of the battery, and go through the panel with a multimeter set to resistance- you’ll see a low resistance or direct short to ground on the bad circuit... go one positive circuit at a time- you might be able to find THE problem, if not at least get close. Remember lights and some sensors may also show continuity to ground, it’ll just be higher resistance.

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