Toyota Highlander brake light trouble

Recently replaced 2 burned out brake lights on the drivers side. Discovered brake lights still don’t work. Passenger side works fine. Exchanged bulbs but no luck. Brake lights still don’t work. All running lights work as well as backup lights and turn signals. Just can’t get the two drivers side lights to work. Any help would be appreciated.

Probably a wiring problem. Measure to see if 12 volts is getting to the bulbs. Measuring bulb hi to ground compared to bulb hi to bulb lo will tell you if you have a ground problem, which is most likely.

edit: for a fast check, jumper bulb low to ground to see if that fixes it.

So you swapped the bulbs side to side and the passenger side still worked ok, and the drivers side no brake light? Well, that pretty much eliminates a bulb problem. (If you haven’t done that bulb swap as described, try that first.)

And the high-middle brake light works ok?

Well, the bulb pretty much has to light up if it is getting 12 volts on one end and the other end is connected to the chassis, so pulling out the DVM and checking those items next is where I’d start.

You can do a little off-car desktop experiment if you want to see the minimum it takes to light up the bulb. Take one of those small 9 volt batteries like for powering a portable radio, connect a pair of wires from it to the bulb, and it should light up bright as day. If all you have is a 1.5 volt battery, like a AA or C or D cell, it will light up with that too, but will be quite dim.

Does the taillamp have a socket the holds the bulb that twists out or are there wires attached to the bulb socket? If it is a model with the socket with no wires try swapping sockets side to side first, if that does not work you will most likely need the taillight housing.

I assume the brake light is also the same light used for the turn signal and flasher and if so see if those work on the left side. If they do then I would suspect the turn signal switch may not be making connection, or the flasher switch perhaps. Try cycling the switch a few times to see if that changes things.

I had this problem with my wife’s 2001 Toyota Highlander. Neither break light on the right worked but the bulbs were fine. I solved this problem by replacing the “Plug, Socket” with part number 90075-60036. This is the socket of a monofilament bulb, but the SUV’s wiring harness - with 6 wires - plugs into it at the back. The taillight assembly then distributes other signals from those wires to the break lights above and below this backing light.

To diagnose this problem, try swapping plug socket 90075-60036 from the right tail light to the left one, or vice versa. If the break lights come alive on the right but stop appearing on the left, you have a bad 90075-60036 plug socket. This part is light gray where the bulb plugs into it, and dark gray on the other side where the wiring harness with its 6 wires plugs into it. It only cost me about $15.00 at the dealership.

Toyota’s pictures and wiring diagrams both online and at the dealership fail to clearly depict this part! At the dealership I was told that the whole wiring harness lit up when they tried clicking on the part, but I only needed to change this one socket. The dealership said that this part was used on the Highlander in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

hi, i bought a 2nd hand 2004 toyota highlander and seems everything is falling apart one by one. first the break lights got busted and now the bottom part of the tail light on the right side does not work. i did the exchange as advised to see if its a bulb issue but when i did the one from the left worked fine. however when i returned both in place, they now do not work at all. i tried switching them back again and the one that originally worked from the left wont work on the right side either. now i am confused whats happening. someone please me.

well, I’m not here to please you, but I do have a question:

Did you try new bulbs? It’s possible that you blew the good one swapping it.

Beyond that- check voltages, and look real good at the inside of the socket/connector. Does it look burnt or corroded? If so- replace the bulb socket.

i did try a new bulb before i even do the switching. so the order of what i did was:

  1. replaced righ side bulb with new one and it did not work so i looked online how to troubleshoot since the bulb is just bought off autozone (a pair from the break light that was busted)
  2. switched the bulbs with their respective sockets (not sure if that’s called a socket but its the one that holds the bulb) — and left side bulb worked on the right side panel and right side bulb did not
  3. switched them to their respective places and both wont light up
  4. switched them again and still neither would work

The way a mechanic would start the diagnosis (assuming these are conventional incandescent light bulbs)

  • measure the resistance of the bulb’s filaments. that would quickly prove if they were good or burned out.
  • measure the voltage at the sockets. that would quickly prove if electrical power was getting to the socket or not.

Buying new bulbs and swapping things around will eventually provide some clues, and even if you end up buying bulbs you don’t need, eventually you probably will use them. But if getting the problem fixed is your goal, the above method is much faster.