This 2005 Nissan Maxima came in with the complaint that the tail lights do not work and the fuse blows. The tail light fuse is located in the underhood fuse box on the passenger side of the vehicle. The black plastic trim panel that runs from the firewall to the headlight assembly has to be removed. There are several push pin retainers that hold it in place.
With the trim panel removed grab the fuse box cover and pull it up and off of the fuse box. Note the position of the tail light fuse on the fuse box legend. Be careful around the fuse box and use a gentle hand. There is a processor built into the intelligent fuse box assembly.
Locate the fuse in the fuse box and test both sides of the fuse. This one had power on one leg but not on the other. I replaced the fuse and the park/tail lights started working again. Normal inspections of the bulbs and related wiring found nothing. I started bouncing the body around to see if the fuse would blow. Nothing. I started opening and closing the doors firmly and the fuse blew. Replaced the fuse again and the lights stayed on.
While sitting in the car contemplating what to check next, I noticed that the dome light switch in the overhead console was not sitting properly. A gentle wiggle and the fuse blew. I knew this because the dash illumination lights changed in intensity. A little more wiggling and the switch fell apart.
I made sure all of the pieces were out and replaced the fuse again. The lights worked and no matter how many times I moved the car around or opened and closed the doors the fuse remained good.
I found it strange that there would be a tail light circuit attached to the dome light switch and I could find no reference to this in the wiring diagrams.
Although I was sure the problem had been located, I now had a switch that needed to be replaced. There is one screw (phillips) that holds the assembly in place along with several clips.
It takes a good bit of force to dislodge the retaining clips. I used a wide plastic pry bar aimed at the white plastic clips to dislodge the fasteners.
Once the leading edge fasteners were free the two metal clips at the rear of the assembly were easy to remove.
The dome light switch unplugs from the back of the assembly. The switch and harness are then removed from the front of the light assembly. I called my Nissan dealership to find out that the switch is not sold separately. The cost of the assembly is $350 and only four in the country.
I did some testing and found that if I connected the white wire to the orange wire the dome light would work as if the switch was placed to the auto/door position.
A couple of snips. A splicing connector, some heat shrink tubing and the dome light works as most people expect anyway. Open the door and it comes on. Close the door and it turns off. Slight delay since it is a Nissan design. They prefer their dome lights to fade out gradually.
So if you have a hard to find short in the tail light circuit be sure to check this switch out. If you also do not want to spend $350 on a new light assembly but want the dome light to work, just connect the orange and white wires together as I did. I would strongly recommend checking the wire locations and electrical circuits yourself. Sometimes manufacturers will change the wire color codes for internal wiring and yours may or may not match this one.
The park lights now work without the fuse blowing and the dome light works as the customer requested.