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Chevy Silverado
VW Cabriolet
Ford Ranger XLT

How do you fix a 1987 VW Cabriolet if the instrument panel back up and tail lights will not come on but the brake and turn signal lights do?

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2015-07-15 20:47:21
2015-07-15 20:47:21

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!

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If you have the same bulb for brake and signal, brake light power needs to be interrupted by the signal lights, The brake circuit has to go through the signal light switch so the problem could be there.

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Since most brake/turn use the same filament in the bulb(1157) then if the turn signal switch is bad or offset then it will effect the brake lights.

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Check and make sure you have the correct bulb. The turn signal/brake light is a dual element bulb and if you have a single element it does not work properly.

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Tail lights. Brake lights. Backup lights. Signal lights. License plate lights.

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I would check the running lights for one with a short. I had the same sort of thing with my trailer and I spent way to much time troubleshooting the brake and signal wires. Turns out a running light bulb connector was grounding out on the trailer and messing it all up.

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fault brake light switch, located at the top of the brake pedal.

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either dimmer switch or blown fuse If you are saying that the tail brake lights are working but the third brake light is not....It may be a defective turn signal switch in the steering column.

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You probably have a bad turn signal switch (inside the steering column) if this is a GM.

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Assuming the signal lights still work, no. But a bad brake light switch or a blown brake light fuse could.

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One of two things. Either the brake light switch behind the brake pedal. Or try wiggling or rotating your turn signal stalk in a circle motion. If the brake lights work when the turn signal stalk is wiggled then you need to replace the turn signal stalk.

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The brake lights and signal lights are tied together in the signal switch, also known as the "multifunction switch".

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Blown fuse? Bad stoplight switch? Open wire to brake lights Not ground at brake light sockets? Problem in steering column (turn signal circuitry)?

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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.

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Probably the flasher unit needs to be replaced. This is an electronic switch which usually mounts underneath the dashboard.

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Check the brake light fuse, the bulbs, the brake light switch and last, check the signal switch.

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Check fuses for brake lights. If your brake lights aren't workings the truck will not release the parking pin as it needs the signal from the brake switch on the pedal.

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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.

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It needs checked out but both the hazard and brake lights go through the turn signal switch.

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The turn signal wiring goes up the steering column. Turn signal bulbs are also used as brake lights and the brake light signal goes through the turn signal switch. If there is a loose connection or worn wire in the steering column, the tilt would cause problems.

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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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If the fuses and bulbs are okay I would blame the signal switch assembly. They call it a multi-function switch these days.


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