I just fixed a problem that sounds similar to yours, however my tail lights were working - just the backup lights were not. I checked the bulbs, fuses and wiring, and all were fine. The solution was to replace the backup light switch on the transmission. The switch is on top of the transmission near the clutch cable. There are only 2 bolts attaching it, but they're a little hard to get at. Since the switch is $20 - $40 depending on where you get it, you might want to remove the switch and test it with a continuity tester first to make sure it's the cause of your problem. You can connect the test leads to the switch terminals and operate the 3 different switches on the unit to see if they're working. I think there's 5 terminals, so you might have to do some trial and error to find which terminals go with which switches. Mine was only working partially - I'd push the switch and see continuity at first, but then it would open up again as the switch travelled to what should be its fully-closed position. Just a note: there seem to be 2 different switches available - one with, and one without, an "upshift indicator" function. My dashboard has the upshift LED indicator on it, so I purchased the appropriate backup light switch. The backup lights now work, but the upshift indicator still does not. ? Haven't solved that one yet, so any help would be appreciated. !
I had what sounds like the exact thing happen to my 87'Cabriolet. All I had to do was change the "on-off light switch". It took me about 10 minutes and I'm a girl!! I have never had the same problem since. I hope it is as easy for you. Good Luck!
Check the brake light switch first. It is usually near the brake pedal under the dash. A bad turn signal switch can also cause this if the brake lights are also turn signal lights. If the brake lights are independent of the turn signals then disregard the switch problem. A good wiring diagram will help to diagnose the problem also. Check with dealership mechanics as they have access to diagrams.
I have the same problem- press on the brake, no brake lights. Press on the brake and pull back on turn signal/high beams lever, brake lights turn on! Jiggle the lever, brake lights turn on, but left turn signal does not work. I have replaced the switch that is down near the brake pedal and that is not the problem. I think you may need to replace the whole turn signal/high beams/cruise control switch....or at least that's what I'm going to try.
Your question was a little unclear, does the brakelight work when the headlights are off but not when they're on? If that's the case, it's a ground problem. Check the ground to the tail light/brake light assembly. If the brake lights don't work at all, check the turn signal switch. Brake lights are routed throug the turn signal so that you can use the same bulb for turn signal and brake light. BTW, if you have an air bag, don't attempt to replace or inspect the turn signal switch yourself. It can be very dangerous.
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