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Old 08-21-2021, 11:36 PM #1
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Brake Lights Don't Work

I had 3 people stop me the other day to tell me I had no brake lights on my 2002 T4R 3.4 auto 4WD SR5. When I got home, I did the basics - checked fuses under hood and in panel on left corner of dash. Pulled the tail lights and checked the bulbs. No joy. Do the brake lights have a separate relay in the under-hood fuse box ??

Yesterday, I got under dash and pulled the plastic panel under steering column and went after wiring and brake light switch. Awful job - there's no room to work, but did get the brake light switch out and tested it carefully with an ohm meter. It works fine.

There's an aftermarket alarm system wired into that area which makes it much more awkward but seems like all connections are good.

Now I'm kind of at a loss. Don't know what or where else to check. Any thoughts out there ??

Quite a while back I commented that my 3 yellow dash warning lights for ABS, VSC, etc. were stuck on, tho' everything seems to function OK. No codes showing on the OBD. Once in a while they'll go out for a day or 2, then come right back on.

When it did that before, it was "both" O2 sensors and when I replaced them the gas mileage took a great jump up. I'm afraid the mileage is hurting now, too, tho' I haven't taken time to check it.

I'm planning a 4,000 mile trip next month and would really like to get all systems sorted and working properly. Thanks.
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Old 08-22-2021, 07:10 AM #2
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Are all of your brake lights (both tail lights plus your CHMSL) out or just the tail lights. If all of them are out, check the switch on the brake pedal for failure.
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Old 08-22-2021, 10:22 AM #3
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Yah, as I said above, I checked the bulbs and all are good. The tail lights and turn signals work fine. Only the brake lights out. Again, I pulled the brake light switch on the pedal and it checks out fine on the ohm meter.
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Old 08-22-2021, 10:51 AM #4
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Do you have power at any of the sockets when you depress the brake pedal? Do you have switched power coming out of the switch?
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Old 08-22-2021, 11:22 AM #5
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Do you have power at any of the sockets when you depress the brake pedal? Do you have switched power coming out of the switch?
This! Ohm sockets themself with someone depressing the brake pedal. If good (which I suspect they would be ) then pull the pedal switch and ohm test when it should have switched power ( i.e pressed brake pedal).

I suspect the pedal switch to be the culprit as it would be an odd coincidence to have all three sockets fail simultaneously.
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Old 08-30-2021, 08:31 AM #6
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It must've been a dirty connection at brake light switch. I tore into it again and all was the same as before. Connected it all back up and the brake lights work now. Didn't repair anything, didn't change anything. Phew.

Thanks for all the replies and thoughts, tho' I do think some of you need to read more carefully before jumping in.

I still have the VSC and ABS lights on all the time, tho' I've tested the 4WD repeatedly and it does go in and out of lock and the 4WD does work properly.

The 4 little lights on the instrument panel function normally as does the blinking yellow one.

No codes are showing on the OBD readout.

I put it up on blocks and crawled under there and it's very awkward reaching the connectors, but I did get them loose and re-plugged them on. Didn't make any difference.

My big concern is the trip coming up soon - I'd much rather get 22 mpg than 16 mpg
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Old 08-30-2021, 10:17 AM #7
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It must've been a dirty connection at brake light switch. I tore into it again and all was the same as before. Connected it all back up and the brake lights work now. Didn't repair anything, didn't change anything. Phew.

Thanks for all the replies and thoughts, tho' I do think some of you need to read more carefully before jumping in.

I still have the VSC and ABS lights on all the time, tho' I've tested the 4WD repeatedly and it does go in and out of lock and the 4WD does work properly.

The 4 little lights on the instrument panel function normally as does the blinking yellow one.

No codes are showing on the OBD readout.

I put it up on blocks and crawled under there and it's very awkward reaching the connectors, but I did get them loose and re-plugged them on. Didn't make any difference.

My big concern is the trip coming up soon - I'd much rather get 22 mpg than 16 mpg
Check the Brake fluid fill up to the correct level.
Take out Tha abs sensors and clean them check the wiring for cracks etc.
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Old 08-30-2021, 10:25 AM #8
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Brake fluid is easy.....where are the ABS sensors ?? Thanks for the reply.
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Old 08-30-2021, 11:13 AM #9
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Brake fluid is easy.....where are the ABS sensors ?? Thanks for the reply.
They are on the axles close to wheels held on by 10mm bolts.
Good pics of lines and sensors in the following thread.
3rd Gen ABS Front Wheel Speed Sensor Test and Replacment
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Old 08-30-2021, 12:18 PM #10
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Thanks again. I'll check it all out and let you know.
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Old 08-30-2021, 12:50 PM #11
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Check the Brake fluid fill up to the correct level.
Take out Tha abs sensors and clean them check the wiring for cracks etc.
Just be careful pulling the ABS sensors out. If you live in the rust belt, they can be corroded in there pretty good and attempting to pull them out can turn one into a paper weight. Besides, they have nothing to do with your brake lights being out.
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Old 08-30-2021, 01:04 PM #12
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Just be careful pulling the ABS sensors out. If you live in the rust belt, they can be corroded in there pretty good and attempting to pull them out can turn one into a paper weight. Besides, they have nothing to do with your brake lights being out.
His brake lights are working (post # 6) his abs dash light is on.
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Old 08-30-2021, 03:59 PM #13
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Darndest thing - the "wouldn't ya know it," dept.

I checked the master cylinder reservoir and the level of fluid Is down - almost to the seam around the tank. OK, didn't touch it, closed the hood and went into town for errands - including to buy some fluid. The lights were out....and they stayed out, thru several stops and engine stops.

I did buy a can of fluid and I will put it in in a bit, but this is very likely the problem. Thank you.
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Old 08-30-2021, 05:37 PM #14
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Darndest thing - the "wouldn't ya know it," dept.

I checked the master cylinder reservoir and the level of fluid Is down - almost to the seam around the tank. OK, didn't touch it, closed the hood and went into town for errands - including to buy some fluid. The lights were out....and they stayed out, thru several stops and engine stops.

I did buy a can of fluid and I will put it in in a bit, but this is very likely the problem. Thank you.
Great! Now you have to ask the next question: Why did the fluid level in the master cylinder get so low? It may be that your brakes are worn down significantly and all of the fluid is downstream in the system. Then again, you could have a leak somewhere. Time to do some more detective work.
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Old 08-30-2021, 08:35 PM #15
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It's deceptive. Looked like the fluid was way down, but when I went to add more I saw that the filler extends down into the tank. It only took a few ounces and it's been about a year since I added any. In the morning I'll look underneath to be sure, but I think I'm good. Many thanks.
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