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Hello everybody. First time poster. I have an unusual brake light issue. My middle brake light works, but not the left and right. I replaced the bulbs and checked the wiring and fuses. Everything looks good. Here is where it gets weird. When I turn on the parking lights they work. When I turn on the left or right turn signal they work fine. The switch appears to be fine and as I said the middle light still comes on when I press the brakes. Any thoughts on what else it might be? Any help or insight is appreciated.
 

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Hello everybody. First time poster. I have an unusual brake light issue. My middle brake light works, but not the left and right. I replaced the bulbs and checked the wiring and fuses. Everything looks good. Here is where it gets weird. When I turn on the parking lights they work. When I turn on the left or right turn signal they work fine. The switch appears to be fine and as I said the middle light still comes on when I press the brakes. Any thoughts on what else it might be? Any help or insight is appreciated.
It happened to me one time; police stopped me for having no brake light [tho for me it was on one side] but parkers etc all worked, front and rear, and tail lights worked too, but if I pressed the brake lights, no go; the tail lights went out, and the brakes lights no glo.

Lot's of research and head scratching and I found the brake light bulb socket to be extremely rusted on the inside. I scrubbed the sockets out really good and presto, they began to work. My analysis is that the corrosion was NOT severe enough to prevent the tail lights from working, but could NOT generate enough "power" to get through to the brake light filament.

Soooooo,make CERTAIN you have good bulbs, that BOTH filaments are good, and do it by CONTINUITY, not just "visual". and THEN clean out the inner sockets if they can be cleaned, and replace them if it must be, but I'll bet cleaning/scrubbing them will do the trick.

LarryR
 

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I checked the sockets and replaced all 4 bulbs. Issue remains.
Two things; one, need another person of course, but see if you're getting 12V inside the socket [choose proper contact, of course] when the brakes are pressed.

If you ARE, then that's good news, but that'd be a signal that the little contacts on the bottom of the bulb are not touching the contacts at the bottom of the socket. I've had to "rough up" those contacts a little to "raise" the bumps a half a schosh to "extend" them to ensure contact. I've had to do the same thing with household bulbs too.

But if you're NOT getting 12 V there, then you've gotta consider a splice discontinuity or broken wire somewhere between the fuse and bulb socket, BUT beyond the splice that takes care of the center brake light; that center brake light is a good clue as to how far "forward" you'd have to look as they most often use the same line following the brake light switch.

I don't have EVTM's for post 1997 Escorts, tho, so I'm referring to 1997 wiring diagrams.

Good luck,

LarryR
 
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You need to get a good wiring diagram and trace the wires out. Might be coincidence but they seem to work when you use the switch to turn on lights or turn signals so I am wondering about the switch. I wonder if the brake light wiring runs through that switch somehow, wiring diagram should help. Any wiring been modified for radio, alarm etc?
 

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No wiring modified. I'll work on it on my next off day and see if I can't trace down the wires.
 

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No wiring modified. I'll work on it on my next off day and see if I can't trace down the wires.
Since your third brake light works OK it would be interesting to see where the power comes from for it. Should be the same maybe at least part way to the rear brake lights I would think so maybe not the switch but a bad ground or short, I hate electrical gremlins the most.
 

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I wish I had a post 1997 EVTM, so am only going on "clues" in 1997....... generally the L and R brake lights get power from the SAME SOURCE as the center brake light. And am wondering if your L and R "marker" lights work, SOOOOO, if your center brake light IS working [you said it is] AND your tail lights are working [you said they do] AND if your "marker" lights are working [you/we didn't test that yet?] THEN the problem is between the brake light bulb/socket AND the splice where the L and R brake light wires depart from the center brake light wire.

In other words, the brake light switch connects to a main wire that handles the CENTER and LEFT and RIGHT brake lights, and then separates towards the rear of the car.

Somebody with a ZX2 wiring diagram could point you TO that splice, AND I'm betting that the wires between your center light and tail lights are not very long; I'm suspecting the problem is THERE................

Again, because the tail lights, the marker lights and the [L and R] brake lights all use the same ground [on 1997], meaning the ground would be good.

I'd try focusing on that wire, AND you didn't comment on getting power TO the bulb sockets, nor the soft "points of contact" that I mentioned in a previous post; [I know, you said you're doing it later].

Good luck,

LarryR
 

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Have same issue, did any resolution been found? Third brake light works, but not left and right. Tail lights work, but I feel that my tail lights are overly bright like they are using the brake light filament.
 

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This is a zx2? What year? the zx2 has different wiring from the sedan and the wagon is different too. Tail lights and signals work, but not brake lights? The signals work while the tail lights are on? Two distinct brightness levels? When you step on the brake and have a signal on, is the non-signal side lit up at all? I know it's a lot of questions but if I have the answers, I can diagnose the problem.
 

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Did you just replace the light bulbs? are you sure they are the right ones?
 
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This is a zx2? What year? the zx2 has different wiring from the sedan and the wagon is different too. Tail lights and signals work, but not brake lights? The signals work while the tail lights are on? Two distinct brightness levels? When you step on the brake and have a signal on, is the non-signal side lit up at all? I know it's a lot of questions but if I have the answers, I can diagnose the problem.
 

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Hi! Okay, sorry should have put more specifics. Had started a Thread but jumped on this one because it was so similar to my issues.

Have a 1997 Escort Wagon LX, 137,000 miles. My "3rd" brake light located in hatch/lift gate is functioning but the lower two are not. Tail lights work, and actually have new 3157 bulbs in them. I have had an issue with shorts in the lift hatch harness in the past, so not sure if that is the issue. Coincidentally, was told during an inspection that my tail lights were out. Previous owner used the Escort as a tow car behind an RV. In the rear of the car, there was several wires connected to a "tow splitter" that has several screws for the tow lights. Noticed when I moved/jostled the splitter the tail lights would come on, though even after tightening down the screws on the splitter, problem with tail lights would still occur. I decided to take all the wires off the splitter and just cap them, well attach some that looked the same, and luckily, fuses weren't blown and tail lights work. But now I have the lower brake light problem. I'm guessing the switch under the brake pedal is good since 3rd light works, and fuses are good. I tried attaching diff. combinations from the wires off the splitter, and other than blowing fuses no luck. I am not sure if certain wires from the splitter need to be connected and do not have a schematic. Good chance that the issue might be the harness that runs on top of the lift gate since it does get stretched when hatch is opened. Sorry for the blurry pics. The splitter is labeled "tow vehicle in/out, towed vehicle in/out". Feel the L/R brake lights are stuck in "bright/brake" mode since, even with new bulbs they seem "too" bright for my old car. Tried turning the bulbs around thinking that might need to go in a certain way, no luck. Tried cleaning the connections, no luck. My rear directionals work, separate bulb on the top with yellow cover and backing-up/parking lights work. Don't think illuminaton of lower brake light changes when I have the directional on...So not sure what wires are causing the issue.
 

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Hi! Okay, sorry should have put more specifics. Had started a Thread but jumped on this one because it was so similar to my issues.

Have a 1997 Escort Wagon LX, 137,000 miles. My "3rd" brake light located in hatch/lift gate is functioning but the lower two are not. Tail lights work, and actually have new 3157 bulbs in them. I have had an issue with shorts in the lift hatch harness in the past, so not sure if that is the issue. Coincidentally, was told during an inspection that my tail lights were out. Previous owner used the Escort as a tow car behind an RV. In the rear of the car, there was several wires connected to a "tow splitter" that has several screws for the tow lights. Noticed when I moved/jostled the splitter the tail lights would come on, though even after tightening down the screws on the splitter, problem with tail lights would still occur. I decided to take all the wires off the splitter and just cap them, well attach some that looked the same, and luckily, fuses weren't blown and tail lights work. But now I have the lower brake light problem. I'm guessing the switch under the brake pedal is good since 3rd light works, and fuses are good. I tried attaching diff. combinations from the wires off the splitter, and other than blowing fuses no luck. I am not sure if certain wires from the splitter need to be connected and do not have a schematic. Good chance that the issue might be the harness that runs on top of the lift gate since it does get stretched when hatch is opened. Sorry for the blurry pics. The splitter is labeled "tow vehicle in/out, towed vehicle in/out". Feel the L/R brake lights are stuck in "bright/brake" mode since, even with new bulbs they seem "too" bright for my old car. Tried turning the bulbs around thinking that might need to go in a certain way, no luck. Tried cleaning the connections, no luck. My rear directionals work, separate bulb on the top with yellow cover and backing-up/parking lights work. Don't think illuminaton of lower brake light changes when I have the directional on...So not sure what wires are causing the issue.
Your problem is very likely in that splitter wiring. The wire going to all three brake lights in a wagon is the same wire, it separates behind the back seat where the wires go to both sides. You'll need to remove the panel the wires are coming from in order to find and fix the proper wires. That trailer splitter interrupts the brake light signal so the RV can have control of those lights. The RV wires need to be cut and taped up. Your tail light wire is red with a black stripe, all of these connect together. ( My schematic says that the right side tail light has a green wire with a white stripe, so look for this and if it exists, connect it into the red/black wires). Your brake light wire is a solid green color. The amber signals shouldn't be affected or been cut, but if they were, they are solid blue on left and solid yellow on the right. black is ground throughout this area. These wires are small and the color stripe is often hard to see, especially if they've been wrapped in tape. So make certain you have the right wires connected before you soldier it all together.

Hello everybody. First time poster. I have an unusual brake light issue. My middle brake light works, but not the left and right. I replaced the bulbs and checked the wiring and fuses. Everything looks good. Here is where it gets weird. When I turn on the parking lights they work. When I turn on the left or right turn signal they work fine. The switch appears to be fine and as I said the middle light still comes on when I press the brakes. Any thoughts on what else it might be? Any help or insight is appreciated.
You have a completely separate issue with yours. The wagon was a simple one, the zx2, not as simple. If you can give me some of the info from above I can narrow your issue down.
 

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Thank you for the info. I am out of town at the moment but will have to dig into the wiring soon. Wish I would have taken a picture of the splitter before I unhooked it, but oh well, it seemed to be going bad anyways. Attaching some pics, sorry they are blurry.
 

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Check with a multimeter for ground on your socket body. Since your running lights work it is probably not the issue but best to check anyway. If you do have ground issues the ground for the harness is on the passenger side near the rear taillight. The center brake light and the L &R brake lights are both triggered by the brake pedal switch, but the circuit runs straight to the center light, while the R&L brake lights have to go through the electronic flasher circuit to trigger the brakes. Since your center light works your brake switch works. Check pin 4 on the Yellow flasher. If you are getting power here when you push the brake pedal then the flasher is bad because the flasher controls both the brakes and the turn signals, and the turn signals work so the circuit downstream to the bulbs is OK. The yellow flasher controls the back lights both brakes and turn signals, the blue flasher controls the front turn signals.
 

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Check with a multimeter for ground on your socket body. Since your running lights work it is probably not the issue but best to check anyway. If you do have ground issues the ground for the harness is on the passenger side near the rear taillight. The center brake light and the L &R brake lights are both triggered by the brake pedal switch, but the circuit runs straight to the center light, while the R&L brake lights have to go through the electronic flasher circuit to trigger the brakes. Since your center light works your brake switch works. Check pin 4 on the Yellow flasher. If you are getting power here when you push the brake pedal then the flasher is bad because the flasher controls both the brakes and the turn signals, and the turn signals work so the circuit downstream to the bulbs is OK. The yellow flasher controls the back lights both brakes and turn signals, the blue flasher controls the front turn signals.
I think you're dead on with the flasher for the op's issue. But he hasn't replied since he began the post in July. My opinion to him was going to be replace the flasher unit, but still no answer. On Nozaki's car the yellow pin four is not connected, he has a wagon and all the brake lights are connected straight to the brake light switch
 

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Finally had someone who has an electrical background take a look at the wiring. Guess previous owner did kinda jerry-rig the wires to hook up the tow-lights. My friend ended up taking out the splices and soldering some connections. So now all the lights are working properly. If only a bit of soldering could fix the rust in the sub-frame from all the NH Winters! Thank You all for the help and advice!
 

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you have a bad splice somewhere. always check for a/m tow accessories first. these are usualy the problem. since the 3rd is working, you know u have good power and ground. you need to isolate and verify both to find out what is ur problem. simple 5 min with a multimeter and u could have found the problem

since u already got it figured out, just keep these thoughts in mind for next time.
 
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