Question about 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass

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No brake lights

Brake lights not working. third light works when i press the pedal. all other bulbs work. some say turn signal switch (if so, why?) some say break switch. where do i begin.

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It is not the brake switch as the third light works. If the lights work when the hazard lights are on then it is the turn signal switch. If not then I would check the bulbs and then the relay and fuses.

Posted on Jun 21, 2009

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1 Answer

1998 monte carlo brake lights dont come on


This is fairly easy to diagnose. Down by the brake pedal there is a switch. You may have to remove some trim panels to access it. There should be one wire with power all the time. There should be another wire that has power only when the brake pedal is depressed. If there is no power on any of the other wires with the brake pedal depressed than the switch is bad.

If there is power than the more common problem is the turn signal switch. I know it doesn't sound like it could be the problem but let me explain how it works. the turn signal and the brake use the same bulb. In order for the correct power source, brake lights or turn signals, to get to the correct bulb the turn signal switch is used. If you are not turning the power from the brake switch is routed through the turn signal switch and then sent to the two brake brake bulbs. If you are turning to the right power from the brake switch is cancelled to the right bulb and replaced by power from the turn signal flasher.

One quick way is to see if the third brake light is working. If it is you know the brake switch is working since power to the third brake light bypasses the turn signal switch.

Good Luck and let me know how it goes!

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If you hold your foot on the brake pedal and wiggle the turn signal and or play with the hazard switch the brake lights will almost always intermittently start to work. this will confirm a bad turn signal switch which is pretty common on GM vehicle with this style setup.

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I assume the fuse has power if the hazards work.
The third brake light skips the turn signal switch, the regular brake light circuit goes thru the turn signal switch.
Do you have power going into the turn signal switch on the red lite green wire from the brake switch ?

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I think the brake light and turn signal are on the same bulb on these, correct?

If so do the turn signals work?

If they do than I would bet that the turn signal switch itself is the problem. The power for the brake lights is routed through the switch (except for the third brake light that is supplied power directly form the brake switch). The turn signal switch will interrupt power from the brake switch and supply power from the turn signal flasher depending on if the right or left turn signal is engaged.

Sometimes wiggleing the lever or pushing the four way flasher button with the brake pedal depressed will intermittantly cuase the brake lights to work. If this is the case than it is the turn signal switch that is causing the problem.

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Not even the third eye? then the fuse is blown or all the bulbs are out or the brake light switch on the break pedal is bad wire off or broken( it breaks right off the plug then crosses then blows the fuse as the loose broken wire hits the brake pedel arm. Test the break pedal switch first if the third eye doesesnt work either. no power with a test light the fuse is blown or the wire broke ( the wire goes straight to the switch from the fuse and doesnt go anywhere elese. the other wire if hot should light the lights. Most of these wont come out of park without this working as the wire also turns on the park release but some Fords the park release sticks released and Ford made em that way as they didnt like the brake to get out of park law. If the brake lights dont work maybe you ought not be able to get out of park anyway till its fixed. the switch is hot on both wires with the switch pused down and the lights dont still work go after the third eye first if the bulbs are bad change em before you do the rest of the work. on cars with yellow turn signals the brake lights all work on the same wire but red only use three wires, but you didnt say the turn signales didnt work if they work and they are red you r on the way to the turn signal switch as the brake switch powers the turn switch with power then it splites it fot the two lights and adifferent switch circuit for the front hooks them all together for hazard. yellow turns in the back or even separt bulbs can mean blown bulbs ther too its old enought for all the bulbs to fail and the runs still work.

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i had the same problem had to replace the turn signal switch....GM for some reason wired the brake lights through the turn signal switch. to check if this is the case with yours. put some pressure on the turn signal lever as if you were going to turn on your brights and press your brake pedal and see if the lights work at that point that is how i found mine. hope this helps. if indeed they work with pressure on the turn signal lever. the new switch cost me $60 at autozone and that is with the steering wheel radio controls, make sure you get the proper switch should be part# sw771 if you have the radio controls on steering wheel and you will need a steering wheel puller and lock plate compressing tool.

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