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  1. #1

    Default '99 Suburban 2WD/4WD Selector Lights

    Another question from a newbie here on the board. Sorry for all the dumb questions but I am trying to get up to speed.

    I recently bought a 1999 Suburban 2500 4x4 with the 454 engine. It has been well maintained overall, but has a few problems as one would expect for a vehicle of that age with 240,000+ miles on it.

    Anyway, one of the issues I noticed after buying it is that the indicator lights on the selector buttons for switching to 2W/4WD Auto/4WD Hi/4WD lo are not always illuminated. Sometimes the light for whatever I have selected is on the whole time I am driving it, and sometimes there are no lights illuminated. It does not matter which mode I have it in it seems. The lights will all turn off sometimes whether i am in 2WD, Auto, or Hi (I have not put it in Lo yet). Turning the truck off and restarting it does not seem to "fix" the issue when they decide they do not want to work. Yet, using the vehicle later or the next day, they might be on, or not. There does not seem to be a pattern, at least that I can determine.

    It appears to me that the transmission does indeed switch modes based on what I select, regardless of whether or not the light is shown or not. In other words, the truck appears to be in 4WD Hi when I put it in that mode based on how it drives, though I guess I can't say 100% for sure. I have only had the truck a week, and I have never had a 4WD vehicle before, but it definitely acts like the front tires are getting power when I put it in 4WD Hi based on the way it behaves in slow turns etc. (Side question, how does one determine definitively that the vehicle is in 4WD?)

    No transmission related service indicator lights come on in the dash or anything when the lights go out, which I assume means no fault code is being thrown to the computer. I guess what I am wondering is if this behavior is something I should be concerned about as far as future (or present) transmission problems, or if this is a glitch that might happen with these vehicles? I'm not actively trying to find things to worry about, but this erratic behavior leaves me wondering what is going on. Clearly it is not something simple like a fuse that supplies the lights since they work sometimes and not others. I was not sure if the lights going out indicate that the truck is reverting to 2WD only due to a problem?

    Thanks for any insight you can provide me. Please let me know if you need more info.

    Last edited by maheider; 12-02-2011 at 01:31 PM. Reason: Stupid Typos

  2. #2


    Do you have push button on the dash, or a floor shift? Reading your post again, I'm guessing push button.
    Mine has a floor shift, and the indicator lights are just the little blade style bulbs, and sometimes they wiggle loose. I'll walk you through it, if this is the case.

    Good luck,

    1999 Chevy K2500 Suburban 350
    K&N, reworked cai, Thrush cat-backs
    Vinyl, cranks, floor shift, and rear air!

  3. #3


    Kidhauler - thanks for the reply, and sorry I was not clear in my post. The selector buttons are on the dashboard. The symptoms would not fit a case of a loose bulb in my case, since when the lights decide not to work, the light will not illuminate when switching to any of the modes either. They simply are all out. When they are working and you switch, the correct light will be illuminated, but they seem to have a mind of their own and randomly turn off, at which time none of them will light up. I don't know what feeds those lights, so I suppose if there is something like a fiberoptic feed to them, and there is only one actual source of the light, perhaps it could be something loose. I doubt the light control is that sophisticated, but I can't see to find any info on the web to explain what controls the lights and how they work. Perhaps someone here has had to take this apart and might be able to shed some light?

  4. #4



    I had the same problem. I noticed the lights would sometimes work and sometimes not but would work all the time if i pushed on the dash (at the button location). I took the dash apart and reseated the wire harness to the 4x4 section of the display and its worked ever since. It was just a loose connection for me.


    .....ya clock faster and faster till the desire for speed overcomes the fear of bus.....

  5. #5


    Thanks for the input NagRuTan. I'll do some pushing in and around that location and see if maybe that is my problem too. That sounds like an easy fix. Well, maybe not "easy" but inexpensive and hopefully relatively painless.
    Last edited by maheider; 12-05-2011 at 02:43 PM.

  6. #6
    Caddiac's Avatar
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    Mine seemed to be doing the same thing but when I pulled the switches to get to the little lights. They were just dirty. I wiped them off and they worked fine. Worth a shot.

    The key thing about the 4 wheel drive is to run it in Auto 4 wheel drive unless off roading. Auto 4 when drive is best for pavement because it basically acts like 4 wheel drive when needed and won't damage the front differential when running on slushy pavement or when the road might not be a slick as it you might think.
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  7. #7


    It looks like there is simply a loose connection to the lights, since pressing anywhere around the switch area when they are off does indeed make them turn on. Thanks so much for the suggestion Nag.

    And also thanks for the advice regarding using the auto setting Caddiac. That is good advice. I use 2WD most of the time, but when I think it might get slippery I will switch to auto. We are just getting our first taste of snow this evening, so it won't be long.

    I have done a bit of muddy off roading where I used 4WD hi, but that is only when up at hunting camp, and sadly that is over for the time being.

    Thanks again everyone for the help.

    Last edited by maheider; 12-05-2011 at 08:04 PM.

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