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97 honda civic electrical glitch - ideas?

Hi everyone. the last electrical mystery I worked on took me over two weeks to solve. I’m turning to this board early on this one in hopes of shortening that time!

so my girlfriend’s 97 Civic 5 spd hatch has developed a unique electrical short. the ignition switch (by that I mean ignition cylinder switch) has somehow gotten crossed with the brake lights. it means that the car will remain running normally even after the key is turned off and removed AS LONG AS the brake pedal is depressed. And the vice of that versa is that whenever the car is on, the brake lights are illuminated even if the brakes are not depressed.

somone suggested I try a new brake light switch, which I did, and no change. Am I just looking at the likelihood that a wire from each circut has worn off insulation and are now making contact with each other? the kind of issue I’m gonna have to systematically hunt down? or has anyone had a similiar issue and/or a great idea that will help me zero in on the issue more quickly. (my electrical detective skills are rudimentary at best… but I can try). Thanks, all.

gary in the carolinas.

What model civic? LX, DX, etc? What engine? Standard or automatic? You said the brakes lights are on all the time? Only when the key is on? Only when it’s running? What about the third brake light? Is it on also? What happens when you turn on your hazards? Maybe your hazard flasher is welded closed. What about turn signals, does anything happen when you turn them on? I can pull up your wiring diagram, but need the above questions answered prior to going forward.

Hi Benny -

model: DX. engine: 1.6 liter (quite sure - basic one) Standard 5 spd. brake lights always on WHEN key is in and turned on - and when engine is running. (lights go off when ignition turned off and brake pedal released). third brake light is dead all the time, and has been dead for a long time before this issue developed (i’ve assumed that is unrelated, but I don’t know). haven’t tried hazards yet - will try soon. I"m imagining they are operating normally. Turn signals work as normal. (they are separate bulbs from brake lights, btw). Running lights also seem to be operating as normal, except, ofcourse, the constant brake lights out shine and override the rear ones.

Thank you for the response. hopefully I got the details covered here… Gary