Sounds like you've been doing some guessing! You need to find where the power stops. Use a test light at the sockets. If no power, go to the wire to the socket. When you find where power goes in but doesn't come out, you have your answer. Assuming there is one answer. There is also a possibility of a ground problem. Good luck. If it uses the same bulbs for brake lights and rear turn signal lights, it's possible that the turn signal switch is faulty. On these designs, the brake light circuit runs through the turn signal switch so that when you turn, the brake light for that side is disconnected, allowing the bulb on that side to blink (otherwise the bulb would stay on steady for the brake light function).
Check all the fuses. If not bulbs or switch that's all that it can be,
it maybe the brake switch
it could be your brake light switch,or the fuse could be blown ,or the bulbs could be blown.or it could also be the turn signal switch.
Your problem may be with any or all of these three items: The fuse, brake switch or bulbs in the brake lights.
Check the bulbs. If these are OK it could be the switch on the brake pedal arm.
Brake pedal switch, wiring, bulbs, bad trailer harness (if there), fuses...
Could be, a blown fuse, burned out bulbs, bad brake light switch, or an improperly installed brake light switch.
It could be the ground wire, the brake light switch, a damaged wire or connector or the turn signal switch.
They are two separate circuits, each has their own fuse. The brake lights not working could be caused by a few things such as a blown fuse, blown bulbs, bad brake light switch, misadjusted brake light switch and depending on what vehicle you have, a bad signal light switch.
It could be the brake light switch, usually mounted on the brake pedal.
Bulbs? Sockets? Steering column switch?
What year is the Ford Explorer ? There could be a separate fuse for the lower brake lights