Brake light issue - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old April 5th, 2016, 12:59 PM
rwavers
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Robert Wavers
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Brake light issue

So yesterday my neighbor was following me home and told me both my brake lights were out. I'm not sure how long they have been out. The parking lights (other filament in same bulb) are working fine.When I reversed the bulb in the socket the brake light filament lit up (when the parking lights were turned on), so the bulb is good. All other lights are working, and I have no other electrical issues.

Searching the forum it seems the most common answer is a faulty ground. But the light socket has three wires: red, green, & black. My assumption is that if the bulb/socket has a single ground and the other filament is working, then the ground is good.

I shoehorned myself under the dash to look at the brake switch at the top of the pedal. The switch is physically intact as far as the plunger (white plastic) goes from what I can see looking up the pedal, and moves freely when I pressed it in with a screwdriver.

My thought is that if the parking lights are working that the brake light switch (part# PRC4297) or the wire supplying power from the switch when the pedal is depressed to the bulbs has an issue.

Questions:
1) Is my logic sound? Is it possible the ground would be good enough for the parking light but not the brake light?
2) Is there a good set of instructions for accessing and replacing that switch? I've gave a cursory look through the workshop manual, but didn't see how to get to it. Searching the forum I found reference to the "brake tower" but would like to know what I'm getting myself into.

Thanks for the help!
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  #2  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:06 PM
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Check the integrity of the wires behind your rear wheels
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  #3  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:09 PM
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You need a test light or multi meter and then trace where the power disappears. Anything else is just guessing. Start with the fuse. Make sure the bulbs are in the correct way as well.

I'm not sure how the reverse light would turn on the brake lights unless the wiring was incorrect.
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  #4  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:12 PM
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Is there power to the brake light switch? If so check for continuity like what Josh suggested.
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  #5  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:13 PM
rwavers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rijosho View Post
Check the integrity of the wires behind your rear wheels
Thanks. Unfortunately all the wires are wrapped in conduit and run into the frame. From what I can see there are no open breaks. I pulled off the driver sider rear corner cap (speaker plate?) and all the connections look solid and the wires are old and dirty, but nothing obviously broken.

------ Follow up post added April 5th, 2016 12:14 PM ------

Quote:
Originally Posted by javelinadave View Post
Is there power to the brake light switch? If so check for continuity like what Josh suggested.
Sadly my meter is in storage. I have a buddy at work bringing one in tomorrow for me to borrow. But I will still have to figure out how to get to the back of the switch.
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  #6  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:15 PM
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If you want to rule out the switch, disconnect the switch wires and jumper then together. The brake lights should then turn on with the ignition on.
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  #7  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwavers View Post
Thanks. Unfortunately all the wires are wrapped in conduit and run into the frame. From what I can see there are no open breaks. I pulled off the driver sider rear corner cap (speaker plate?) and all the connections look solid and the wires are old and dirty, but nothing obviously broken.
At the back, the wires terminate under the little covers at the back of the seat boxes, inside the truck.
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  #8  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red90 View Post
You need a test light or multi meter and then trace where the power disappears. Anything else is just guessing. Start with the fuse. Make sure the bulbs are in the correct way as well.

I'm not sure how the reverse light would turn on the brake lights unless the wiring was incorrect.
The fuse was the first thing I check. It is less than a year old as I replaced all the fuses when I bought it last year. The reverse light did not illuminate as part of the problem. I "reversed" the brake light bulb in the socket to make sure both filaments were working.
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  #9  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwavers View Post
The fuse was the first thing I check. It is less than a year old as I replaced all the fuses when I bought it last year. The reverse light did not illuminate as part of the problem. I "reversed" the brake light bulb in the socket to make sure both filaments were working.
Okay, that makes more sense!

Assuming this is not an ex military truck, the brake light circuit is super simple. Power from ignition switch to fuse. Fuse to brake light switch. Switch to brake lights. Lights to ground. Ground common with running light.
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  #10  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red90 View Post
Okay, that makes more sense!

Assuming this is not an ex military truck, the brake light circuit is super simple. Power from ignition switch to fuse. Fuse to brake light switch. Switch to brake lights. Lights to ground. Ground common with running light.
Thanks! Thats what it looked like in the manual... Now I just need to figure out how to get to the back side of the switch.
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  #11  
Old April 5th, 2016, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwavers View Post
Thanks! Thats what it looked like in the manual... Now I just need to figure out how to get to the back side of the switch.
It is in the engine bay on the pedal box, is it not?
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  #12  
Old April 5th, 2016, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red90 View Post
It is in the engine bay on the pedal box, is it not?
John,
Thanks... looking up from the floorboard I thought it was somewhere behind the lower dash. I didn't put 2 & 2 together when looking at the pedal box from above.

I'm guessing there is a nut on the inside of the pedal box that has to be taken off before the switch can be pulled out. When I get the meter from my buddy tomorrow I'll check the switch at the back side of it. If it is good I'll check the wire at the socket. It has to be somewhere.

Thanks again.
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  #13  
Old April 5th, 2016, 02:22 PM
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The switch will just spin out if I remember correctly. I did it last winter outside in the freezing cold at night. It's a bit tight, but otherwise easy to get out. Just be mindful of cross threading as you put it back in.
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  #14  
Old April 5th, 2016, 03:21 PM
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Yes, I think it is a captive nut with a locknut on the outside. The leads should be right there and easy to disconnect and test if it is the switch. Just disconnect the leads and join them together.

PRC4297
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  #15  
Old April 5th, 2016, 03:23 PM
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just had this issue on my RRC...removed the tail light assembly, clean/wiggle the wires, and back working.
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  #16  
Old April 5th, 2016, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red90 View Post
Yes, I think it is a captive nut with a locknut on the outside. The leads should be right there and easy to disconnect and test if it is the switch. Just disconnect the leads and join them together.

PRC4297
Thanks again. It is the switch. unplugged and jumped the leads, add power through the ignition and just like magic there is light. So the fuse, harness, socket, and bulb are good. I'll be able to pick up a switch on Thursday hopefully and have it back on the road by the weekend.
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  #17  
Old April 5th, 2016, 05:56 PM
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Might as well get a couple cz they fail pretty often, even new ones. All the good ones have gone the way of the Dodo bird and they now come out of Eastern European sweat shops.
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  #18  
Old April 5th, 2016, 06:04 PM
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Really? Have you been using OEM ones?

Make sure it is an actual Lucas one in a Lucas box, not mystery Chinese brand. They should not be expensive.
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  #19  
Old April 5th, 2016, 06:27 PM
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Lucas schmookas, they're all Czech or Lithuanian or some crap. Lucas is even worse now than it was back in the day.
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  #20  
Old April 5th, 2016, 06:44 PM
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I was kindly told by a Sheriff's deputy (over a loud speaker) today that I had no brake lights. This was confirmed a few miles later by a friendly face in an F250.

The glass fuse popped out. Srsly.

Not the same problems described in this thread, but I am following along with curiosity. Good luck.
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