Question about 2001 Oldsmobile Silhouette

3 Answers

2001 Olds Silhouette brake light nightmare: Brake lights short out more often than not, blowing the 15A fuse. I already replaced the "circuit blocks" (bulb holders) in the tail light assemblies, all the bulbs, disconnected the third brake light to get it off the circuit. All is well for a day or two then I blow the fuse again and loose my brake lights. Can the problem be in the brakelight switch or should I assume I have a wire chaffe problem somewhere that is shorting or grounding out? I have tow package on this van. Can there be a problem with that plug that shorts me out?

Posted by nicholasw515 on

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  • nicholasw515 Jul 20, 2011

    Thank you.



    Do not have a hitch, but am wired for one. Has oil coooler. I do not know if there is a trailer connection/plug somewhere under the rear. I assume there is. Van came with connector in plastic bag under floor; I assume for a trailer, I have done everything else in terms of bulbs, bulb holders, circuit blocks etc. Fuse blows when brake pedal depressed. When I fiddle with third brake light and wire, seemed to fix problem. I suspect perhaps chaffing at the tailgate hinge. Everytime I suspect I have found the problem though, it seems to not be the problem. All wiring and plugs at taillight assemblies are ok, no melting or anything.



    Plastic accordian-like wire Conduits/sleeves from body roof to tailgate are ok not ripped or torn. I am using the correct 15 amp fuse in the passenger side fuse box. Problem started aprox 18 mo.s ago and progressively grown worse.



    When fuse blows, I used to get dash message center "service traction control". I came to discover it was a (coincidental) way to let me know that my brake lights were out (fuse blown). Then it stopped for about 6 mo.s, after I changed the tail light "circuit boards" (bulb holders). They were rusted and I thought that was shorting things out. Problem went away for a month or two or was at least less frequent.



    After fiddling with third brake light, last week, (Forgot about that third one till then duh!) traction control message now appears again when brake light fuse blows. Signals, running lights and back-up lights all perform properly, it is just the brake lights. I plan to change out brake pedal switch next; I understand it has griound wire and could be causing but unlikely. Only thing left is to rewire after that, I assume. Or the junk yard.



    Fuel gauge sending unit not working for 2 years. Too expensive to fix. Fuel gauge reads full or empty. When idling (at stop light for example) it falls suddenly from full to empty and chime sounds. It's a different circuit but thought I should mention. I have come to beleive it is unrelated.



    As you can see, I hve een slowly trying to change out repair or disconnect one thing at a time in order to try to fix but, more importnatly, in order to identify what was wrong. I try not to perform more than one fix at a time, becsue if I remedy the problem, I won't know what was at fault and therefore not be confident in the fix. So, the fault sort of seems to move around, but I am sure I just have not found it yet or I have multiple problems and my fixes only temporarily work until another problem overcomes my latest fix. Very frustrating.



    Its a 2002 by the way.

  • nicholasw515 Jul 20, 2011

    Forgot to say that when the tail light assemblies are completely unplugged, depressing the brake pedal still blows the fuse. that is when I got to the DUH factor and dixonnected the third brake light which temporarily seemd to fix the problem for two days. So I am supicious of the wire to the LED third light OR the LED assembly itself. But then again, my logic path has been defeated so many times already.

  • nicholasw515 Jul 21, 2011

    Thank you. I do not have a hitch nor do I tow a trailer. The van came off the lot with tow package (wired for a trailer) but with no hitch. I added this info just to ask if the hitch wiring, though never been used, could be a source of the problem.

  • nicholasw515 Jul 22, 2011

    This seems like the the most knowledgable theory. I appreciate the info. Previous "solutions" where not as specific or targeted; some asked questions or made suggestions that I had already addressed in my description of the problem. I was hoping for someone to respond who perhaps had the exact same problem. This solution sounds like the next place to look, is in sync with my trouble shooting so far and mimimizes the brake switch as potential cause. Thank you. I'll let you now how it turns out.

  • nicholasw515 Jul 22, 2011

    This seems like the the most knowledgable theory. I appreciate the info. Previous "solutions" where not as specific or targeted; some asked questions or made suggestions that I had already addressed in my description of the problem. I was hoping for someone to respond who perhaps had the exact same problem. This solution sounds like the next place to look, is in sync with my trouble shooting so far and mimimizes the brake switch as potential cause. Thank you. I'll let you now how it turns out.

  • nicholasw515 Aug 05, 2011

    Still no luck. I am lucky to have found a good shop who have spent a week trying to remedy. They have checked for shorts from engine compartment to tail seemingly fixing the problem and then finding it has returned like an evil ghost. Based on service bulletins, they have made fixes where wiring lays on condensor in engine compartment, where wiring goes thru firewall, wiring at gate hinge, changed upper brake light switch (I had alredy changed lower), replaced yet another circuit board in rear light assembly (I already changed both) etc. They drive confident of fix and then shorts out when I go to pick it up. Looking at rewiring front to back or junking the vehicle. (cost to rewire VS value of vehcile). No more GMs for me.

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3 Answers

mike mountain

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  • Master
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I'd look first at the wiring for the tow harness, since it is not really designed as a permanent system-you might just try disconnecting it to see if the problem goes away, as for the brake switch, they are usually grounds so I cannot see that being the problem at all-you have a intermittent short that is in a harness, and the most logical candidate is the tow harness.

Posted on Jul 21, 2011

  • 1 more comment 
  • mike mountain Jul 21, 2011

    your further explainations, which for some reason I could not see, help-I'd concentrate on where the harness folds at the tailgate hinge or elsewhere-you know it has nothing to do with the light assembly itself since you can disconnect the lights and it still does it-it has to start at the brake switch going back to the lights-and it makes sense, knowing how Detroit manufacturers do things, in a point that is stressed-like in the general area of that hinge, for example-no matter what, you are looking for a + wire that is either grounding to metal or is getting ground from a broken wire that is grounded next to it, also open.

  • mike mountain Jul 22, 2011

    good luck, chasing down a phantom electrical issue is both annoying and challenging, and a good digital ohm meter and a lot of patience are your best tools.

  • mike mountain Aug 05, 2011

    read your last comment-electrical problems can be infuriating, and GM is not alone in this kind of stuff-I am working on a friends' wife's van, and a problem with wiring for power windows-it is a 2006, so it is not that old, but that does not matter...

    Since you are 'just' deaing with brake ights' if it were me and I spent all that time (and money) I'd cut my losses by just making a circuit for the brake lights-and since it is not switched (they work all the time, even if the key is off) it would not be that difficult to execute. If you like the car, this is the way to go, and it really would not be that complicated. Get back to me if you need any help, but the shop you are dealing with should have just said this in the first place-they could easily do it if they are good.

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ZJ Limited

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  • Oldsmobile Master
  • 17,970 Answers

Do you have a trailer hitch with lights? Generally the wires short there. Is the fuse the correct amperage? Look on the lid to the fuse cover and the fuse whould have a # and you want the same.

If thats not it check the bulbs, sometimes water gets into the light. Is it just tail lights? If you can get under car and unplug the connector for the tail lights, you might have to do some wire following but it should have a plug, unplug it and try again if it does not blow the problem is in that part of the harness. If it still blows you have other more complex problems.

If this come on again, its possible that you have a direct short. Start checking from where you unpluged forward. Has to have a bare spot, some where.I have seen a light switch go bad and cause problems! Short inside of switch; check Brake Switch on brake pedal also.

Hope this diagram cbe helpful (clikc for zoom)...

2001 Olds Silhouette brake light - zjlimited_1608.jpg

Fig. EBCM, PCM and Stoplamp Switch(c) (2001)





zjlimited_1609.jpg


Fig. EBCM, Power and Ground(c) (2001)


Hope helps; keep us updated.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011

  • ZJ Limited
    ZJ Limited Jul 22, 2011

    General Motors has decided that a defect, which relates to motor vehicle safety, exists in certain 2002-2004 Chevrolet TrailBlazer and TrailBlazer EXT, GMC Envoy and Envoy XL, Oldsmobile Bravada, and 2004 Buick Rainier vehicles. In some of these vehicles, vibration and heat may cause the tail lamp/stop lamp bulb to loosen in its socket. If this occurs, the bulb may flicker and eventually become inoperative. The center high mounted stop lamp and turn signal functions are not affected and will operate as designed. The loss of one or both of the tail lamp/stop lamps could reduce the vehicle's visibility to following drivers and fail to warn others that the vehicle is braking and/or is stopped, which could lead to a vehicle crash.

    Correction: Dealers are to inspect the tail lamp/stop lamp assemblies, and if necessary, replace them.

    Ask about this in your GM dealer.

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Jeremy Moore

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  • Oldsmobile Master
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Check the Hitch Wiring, including the T-connector and/or tail light converter, for any spliced wires that may be shorting out, water inside the connectors/terminals, etc. Also make sure that any wires that may be spliced are securely spliced(if you can pull 2 spliced wires apart, this needs to be fixed). You might also try disconnecting the tow packages T-connector wiring or tail light converter wiring. It may have been wired incorrectly, which could also cause this problem. Since you say that all is well for a day or two, it sounds like there is a short in the wiring, so check any areas of the Hitch wiring for shorted wires, and check for water in the connectors/terminals.

If you have a trailer hooked up and are using the hitch wiring, you may have just overloaded the circuit. You will need to add a Tail Light Converter, like the following:
http://www.autoanything.com/towing/65A4159A0A0.aspx

It is also possible that the brake light switch is shorting out. If this is the case, it will need to be replaced.

I’m happy to help further over the phone at https://www.6ya.com/expert/jeremy_69f3cc28d95bf514

Posted on Jul 20, 2011

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