Strange problem? Cluster lights dead but hazard lights ON instead? -02 Taurus

I have a strange problem with my wife's 2002 Taurus with "analog" cluster. When the parking/head lights are activated, the instrument
cluster lights do not come on. Instead, the 2 hazard/signal dash lights come on (and do not blink.) The radio lights work and are still dimmed by the dimmer control. The hazard lights are also still controlled by the dimmer. The hazard system works, the headlight switch light works, the dome light works, and all the "warning" type lights are working. All else is working including the turn signals. This seemed like a fuse to me but all possible fuses check ok. At least all that are described with terms that sound relevant to me. (Any tips on which fuse these are truly controlled by?) I remember one of my old cars would turn some warning lamps on when a different fuse blew out or something. Kind of like a "heads up" that something's wrong. Is that why the hazard lights are coming on instead of the cluster lights? None of the instrument cluster area is lighting (other than the hazards.) Tach, shift indicator, gas, temp, and speedometer are all dark and were all working previously. I don't think they would all use the same lamp? Any hints or help would be greatly appreciated! Thanx John
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Sounds like the cluster lights are grounding thru the hazard lights.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

That likely still means you have a bulb ground path issue like the old days. This would be in the signal bulbs. Some signal bulbs also have running light filaments in them. When one of these blows 'just' right, it interferes with the ground path causing other things to light up as it 'steals' a ground through them.
I would be looking very closely at the running lights expecting to see one slightly brighter or dimmer than the others. I would be checking this one first.
Sometimes you can also see a signal light dimmer when this happens.
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Thanx for the great feedback. I posted an update yesterday but I don't see it here. Two days ago, the problem went away. However, yesterday the problem came back. So I checked every exterior bulb visually, w/o removing them, and they all look completely normal. All signaling, hazard blinking, brake lights, and parking filaments are all working perfectly. I can clearly see each filament in the front bulbs and they look separated and each functions on it's own and normally. ( I understand that there is still a chance that a filament is "moving around." ) The rear bulbs are not as easy to see.
Would it make more sense to pull the cluster or all the bulbs as the next step?
Thanx! John
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Cluster lights dead but hazard lights on. Two days ago, the problem went away. Yesterday it came back. I checked every exterior bulb visually, w/o removing them, and they all look completely normal. Would it make sense to pull the cluster or all the bulbs as the next step? ____________________________________________________________
My first approach when I encounter this exasperating problem is to look for a loose ground wire somewhere, expecially behind the dash. Next, I disconnect and reconnect (several times) every connector that might have anything to so with the cluster, and apply some insulating grease to the connector pins before the final reconnection (This usually fixes the problem but I do the ground search first because it's quicker). Then I look for shorted or ungrounded external bulb sockets or filaments, a bad light switch, a bad flasher, a bad multifunction switch, or anything else I can imagine as the problem before I take out the cluster.
I hate to take out the cluster because is time-consuming and because the problem is often not in the cluster - it is in something I overlooked during my previous examinations.
Good luck.
Rodan.
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