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1974 Dodge Coronet Lights work when in Reverse but not when I brake

I have a 1974 Dodge Coronet, One of my turn signals on the right side of the car ( in the rear) is out and needs replacing. That said when I put the car in reverse, my lights come on as normal, however when I push the break petal (note I did this test while in park) no signal lights. I’m not sure what it could be and any help at all would be great.

Brake not break

…well, if we’re going to be picky, it’s also “pedal”, not “petal”…

Flower Power?

We should probably try to get on the same page, as far as what you are calling the lights:
reverse lights, on rear, white
brake lights, on rear, red
turn signal lights (we’ll just talk about the rear for now), red
running lights, also called parking lights, tail lights, red, though not as bright, come on with the headlights
side marker lights, on the sides, I believe the rear ones don’t blink with the turn signals, red.
The brake/turn/running light bulb is probably a double contact bayonet (install by pushing in then turning), a # 1157 maybe
Side markers push in, a # 194 maybe.

Give us a little better idea which lights came on in reverse, which light(s) do or do not work with the headlights on, or when you press the brake pedal, etc.

sorry, I was in a hurry.

We are talking about the rear lights, here let me try to illustrate it better. in the light housing there are three bulbs. Two of them are my turn signal lights. Those work just fine. In the middle is my Break/Reverse Light. Problem is it doesn’t light up when I break. But when I put my car in reverse it lights up just fine.

Where does one purchase a Break/Reverse Light? :weary:

Brake/Reverse are always two separate lights.

Specially since the brake light is red (or has a red plastic cover) and the reverse is white.

We still do not have a clear description of your problem.

The brake lights and the turn signals share the same bulbs. The reverse lights should only light up when the gear selector is in reverse, the are not connected to the brake light switch.

Check the fuses and check for power in and out of the brake light switch with a test light. If the hazard light switch is on and the hazard flasher has failed the brake lights won’t operate, be sure the hazard switch is off.

'74 Dodge? Now we’re talking … lol … I have a similar vintage vehicle and know the experience of ownership, good and bad. Just saying. Good on you for keeping your classic on the road!

If I had this problem on my classic of similar vintage, the first thing I’d do is replace any bulb in the rear section that had a filament out. Sometimes weird things can happen when a bulb filament is out, and since it needs to be replaced anyway, why spend time looking for a problem that might be fixed that by doing what you need to do? If that didn’t fix the problem, I’d next check the trailer light connector, see if it was dragging on the ground or shorted out to something. Do you have a trailer connector? If so, looking there next. Any signs of rust or corrosion on the bulb sockets or the wire(s) that grounds the sockets to the chassis in that area is another fairly easy thing to check for, and clean up if required.

Beyond that what I’d do is secure the car’s wiring schematic and trace it out step by step starting at the brake light switch (presumably located near the brake pedal.) The good thing about a 1974, the wiring schematic is probably about 3 pages total. And the rear brake lights is probably at most 1/4 of one of the pages. So it should be fairly easy to solve from that. Brake light switch, turn signal flasher, emergency light flasher, connector, bulb, socket, wire, or ground problem is about all it can be. If it is a flasher problem, sometimes you can fix those by removing them, cleaning off the contacts w/some sand paper, maybe tap it with the plastic handle of a screwdriver to dislodge anything that’s stuck, and re-install. Worth a try anyway;.


I’m with you there @GeorgeSanJose. The bare metal in those old cars tail lights gets a white chalky corrosion that isn’t a good conductor. Same chalky issue with the ground connections.

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I recall buying a 1964 Coronet in 1970 for $100. and sold it for ~ $1,000 a few months later after taking care of some minor maintenace issues to reduce oil burning. Those were great daily driver family cars.

Is this car new to you? Are you a new driver/car owner?
No harm in that - we all started somewhere.
I think you might have a misconception as to what should happen. On your car, IIRC, there are three ‘light segment areas’ on both the left and right, with the reverse in the center; an oblong shaped white area in the middle of the center segment. The left and right segments on each side will either flash with the turn signals, or remain steady with the brake pedal if everything is operating correctly. It sounds like you don’t have ANY brake lights working (brakes will ALWAYS be red).
Replace the bad bulb to start with. Then you may need to invest in a voltmeter. I suspect you might have a bad brake pedal switch, but wrong bulbs, corrosion, bad grounds, bad flasher etc. etc. could all come into play. On that car the ground wires from the bulbs don’t go all the way to the front (again, IIRC), but go to a nearby screw with a serrated washer to make a ground connection. Those can definitely cause headaches with age.
Again, please tell us what happens with the turn signals, the brake pedal, the hazard lights - both front and rear - any bulbs that come on in each instance.

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Good morning - I don’t mean to break up anyone’s good time, but do you think we could put the brakes on the grammar critiques on the new folks? Thanks.


Is it possible that someone switched the sockets around, i.e. put the backup light socket in one of the taillight positions?

Most of the time, tail lights doing weird things means bad ground(s).