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Old 08-19-2005, 04:42 PM   #1
wrigh003
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Default Electrical gremlins... Any help from the peanut gallery?

I was stopped at a train this morning when the guy in the car behind me got out, knocked on my window, and informed me that I have no brake lights. Great.
What could it be? I have checked the bulbs. I have checked the fuses. Both are good. The brake light switch seems like an obvious culprit- are these relatively easy to change?

Also worthy of note (and possibly related) is the fact that the original battery of 8 years died yesterday, and I have a brand new one in its place. That's what led me to think it might be a fuse deal, as I wondered if one might have blown as I jump-started the car.

This is a 1998 Ford Ranger, by the way.
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:44 PM   #2
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brake on/off switch?
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:45 PM   #3
tcs007
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8 years old? Ford? Bad ground would be my first suspect.
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:46 PM   #4
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brake switch is probably less than $5. and will take about 15 min to change out.
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:47 PM   #5
wrigh003
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Hmm...

Bad ground. Could that have anythign to do with the new battery (like if the terminals weren't all that clean, etc...)?
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:47 PM   #6
inchoate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcs007
8 years old? Ford? Bad ground would be my first suspect.
bad ground +1
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:54 PM   #7
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Bad ground...then check brake switch
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrigh003
Hmm...

Bad ground. Could that have anythign to do with the new battery (like if the terminals weren't all that clean, etc...)?
It could be. Ground problems are relatively easy to fix, luckily. Just find the ground wire coming out of your brake lights, and fashion a temporary ground directly to the battery. If they work, it's a bad ground. Now where that bad ground might be is almost impossible to tell. So your best bet would be to make yourself a new ground right there at the tail light.

It's also not beyond the realm of possability that when you hooked up the new battery you burned out the lights. Not likely, but it could happen. I'd check those as well.

It could also be a fusible link. Is everything else working correctly on the truck?
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:56 PM   #9
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i dunno how it is in fords, but mine dont come on unless i am pressing one of the lever thingys near my feet.
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Old 08-19-2005, 04:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrigh003
Hmm...

Bad ground. Could that have anythign to do with the new battery (like if the terminals weren't all that clean, etc...)?
if you had a bad ground at the battery you would get nothing anywhere.
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inchoate
if you had a bad ground at the battery you would get nothing anywhere.
Not nessecarliy. If there was crap in the battery terminal that just raised the impedence a bit, it could cause the brakelights to work, but not be brighter than ambient light. Kind of like adding a resistor to a light cicuit. It cuts the light output quite significantly.
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcs007
It could be. Ground problems are relatively easy to fix, luckily. Just find the ground wire coming out of your brake lights, and fashion a temporary ground directly to the battery. If they work, it's a bad ground. Now where that bad ground might be is almost impossible to tell. So your best bet would be to make yourself a new ground right there at the tail light.

It's also not beyond the realm of possability that when you hooked up the new battery you burned out the lights. Not likely, but it could happen. I'd check those as well.

It could also be a fusible link. Is everything else working correctly on the truck?
I checked the bulbs and fuses before posting- both (at least all the fuses that I could find that could even remotely be related to the brake lights...) are intact. I went to the oil change place and they suggested the swith, or perhaps something related to the dash switch, as there was a little activity when that was monkeyed with.

I'm going to try to get it out to the house and then go from there, in the meantime I hope Friday afternoon morons are paying attention. Yes, I"'ll be the guy with no brake lights.

Crap. Of all the days.
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:03 PM   #13
inchoate
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcs007
Not nessecarliy. If there was crap in the battery terminal that just raised the impedence a bit, it could cause the brakelights to work, but not be brighter than ambient light. Kind of like adding a resistor to a light cicuit. It cuts the light output quite significantly.
not to argue, but if there was bad contact at the battery why would the brake lights be the only thing affected? sounds to me like something's loose somewhere.
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inchoate
not to argue, but if there was bad contact at the battery why would the brake lights be the only thing affected? sounds to me like something's loose somewhere.
I never said the brake lights were the only thing affected. The rest of the systems in the truck can probably deal with the crappy ground. Lights are just the first thing you would notice the problem with, because they wont be as bright as they should be.

Out of curiosity, are your taillights affected as well? Headlights? Interior light?

For the record, I'm not saying that the ground at his battery is the culprit. I'm just doing a little something called troubleshooting.
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:14 PM   #15
wrigh003
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headlights work
interior lights all work
radio works
taillights work, just don't get brighter when the brakes are depressed.

I'm depressed.
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:15 PM   #16
tcs007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrigh003
headlights work
interior lights all work
radio works
taillights work, just don't get brighter when the brakes are depressed.

I'm depressed.
Well then. More and more things are pointing at that switch being bad, aren't they
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:16 PM   #17
wrigh003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcs007
Well then. More and more things are pointing at that switch being bad, aren't they
Yeah. I just hope I don't get rear ended by some douche before I can get to the Ford dealer, buy another, and fix it.
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Old 08-19-2005, 05:21 PM   #18
tcs007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrigh003
Yeah. I just hope I don't get rear ended by some douche before I can get to the Ford dealer, buy another, and fix it.
Sorry, but from where I am sitting, if someone rearends you because you don't have brakelights, you're the douche. They just have poor depth perception
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Old 08-22-2005, 08:26 AM   #19
wrigh003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcs007
Sorry, but from where I am sitting, if someone rearends you because you don't have brakelights, you're the douche. They just have poor depth perception
Yeah...

Whoever the douche may have been (and admittedly, it was probably me), the problem has been rectified.

All it took was about an hour of turning my entire body upside down and swearing at the thing, then about 4.231 minutes of actual work to unplug, remove, replace, and re-plug the old faulty brake switch.

It wouldn't have been so bad if not for the 100% relative humidity and temperatures in the 90s. I felt like I was working underwater.

Thanks for helping me troubleshoot the thing, tcs007 and inchoate, and El Camino, you desreve a cookie for guessing correctly on the first reply. Feel free to buy yourself one and then I will mail you $1.
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