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No brake lights

When I had my oil changed at Wal-Mart and got back my checklist of items looked at, I noticed my brake lights weren’t working according to their report.

Looking at my owner’s manual, a strange coincidence was evident. For several months I’ve had to manually release the shift lever OUT of PARK by lifting the cover plate, and pushing the little plastic lever until it releases it. This happened after a snowstorm, when AAA had to rescue me, and I’d gotten stuck in a drift. (This took several hours). The next afternoon I was again stranded and THIS time at the grocery store when it wouldn’t come out of PARK. Luckily the mechanic KNEW what to do to get it out of PARK and showed me how to do it. I’ve been driving this way for 2 months now.

OK, so…here’s what the owner’s manual indicates.

If the brake lights are out, there’s also a liklihood the shift lever won’t electrically release out of PARK. Geeez!

So I had a mechanic replace the fuse (#24) and presto, NOW I had brake lights…AND…the shift lever worked magically again! How about that?? …more –

The next day the fuse blew again and now I’m back to driving with the cover plate off and using the right index finger to release out of PARK. So here’s my question:

“What can I do to keep the fuse from blowing” It’s a 15A two pronged fuse under the dashboard, and the mechanic who replaced it said if this happened, to go to a diagnostic center he referred me to. They are very, VERy expensive As they charge $99 just to hook up their machine. Who KNOWS what they might charge after that. At least I had the system work for one day, and feel it’s got to be something simple I could fix with your help. PLEASE, P-L-E-A-S-E tell me you (my car GODS) are able to.

Very respectfully,

Dave Loder

Reno, NV

The trouble you are having with this is due to an intermittent short on the circuit and there is no machine hookup that is going to tell someone where to find that kind of trouble. The circuit needs to be checked by someone in order to find the trouble. If there is a trailer hitch wiring harness on the car that is a good place to start the hunt for this trouble. Also check for a pinched wire at the brake pedal.

The current draw is exceeding the amperage rating of the fuse so there is a short circuit somewhere. The brake light switch controls the circuit that will not let the car shift out of park.
The simple thing to check would be the wires to the brake lights in the trunk. You may get lucky and find a bare wire that comes in contact with the body of the car causing the short circuit.
Was a tail light lens cracked in the process of freeing up your car after it was stuck? If so, water could have gotten into the socket and this could be causing the problem. Start by checking the wires in the trunk and the sockets for the lights.

Another possibility could be the brake light switch. This is a $15 item at an auto parts store and I think it just clips into place and has a plug in connector so it doesn’t require tools to replace. My son had to replace this switch on a Ford Windstar. He is not mechanical, but after being quoted $100 for the repair, bought the switch and changed it out in 10 minutes in the auot parts store parking lot.