Brake lights cause dash lights to stop working - Team Camaro Tech
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 08, 02:42 PM Thread Starter
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Brake lights cause dash lights to stop working

The car is a 67 RS/SS camaro. It probably doesn't matter but it has a 350 and th400 auto transmission.

I was having problems with my tail light/turn signals/ brake lights which I figured out was being caused by a variety of problems including bad grounds, bad bulb sockets, and a bad turn signal switch. I made sure the rear lights were grounded well and fixed the bulb sockets. I also replaced the turn signal switch and got all the rear lights working correctly.

When I drive with the headlights on, everything will work fine for a while and then after about 5 minutes the dash lights, tail lights and brake lights will quit working. If I then turn off the headlights for a few minutes every thing will come back on and work fine for a while again.

The symptoms seem to happen when I use the brakes but not immediately after they are touched. It seems like I have to sit with them on for a while (like sitting at a red light). Also it seems like if I make sure that the turn signal is on when the brakes are used, everything works fine. If I don't touch the brakes the lights seem to work fine although it is an intermittent problem so this could just be coincidence.

I'm pretty confident it is not a ground problem because i have run a ground wire straight from the cluster to the (-) post on the battery while the dash lights were not working and it didn't affect the problem. Also, I used a multi meter to test the gauge cluster both while the lights were working and after they quit and I found that I am losing power to the cluster which is causing the lights to quit. I thought the headlight switch may be the culprit so I changed it but it didn't help.

So I know I am losing power to the gauge cluster but I don't know why or how to fix it. I know that when you have the turn signals on and hit the brakes it takes the brake light circuit out of the picture so that leads me to believe that maybe there is something wrong with the brake light circuit. Maybe a short or something? However, if this were the case, why is it not blowing the fuse and why will it start working if I let it set with out the headlights on for a few minutes? Is there a relay or circuit breaker in there somewhere that heats up, quits working, and then starts working after it cools down? Also all the lights seem to work fine when the headlights/tail lights are not on.

Anyway, sorry for the long post but I wanted to get all the details out there. I have searched and stared at wiring diagrams until I went cross eyed but am not sure how to troubleshoot this thing. Also I am not very good at electrical stuff. If anybody has some suggestions, I would appreciate it.

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 08, 07:27 PM
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Re: Brake lights cause dash lights to stop working

Take the fuse for the stop, tail and turn and replace it with a new one. I think I heard of someone that the fuse would lose connection when hot. I think you problem is not with the dash lights but with the tail lights, No tail lights, no dash lights. If the new fuse doesn't fix it then test the tail lights for power.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 08, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Brake lights cause dash lights to stop working

Wow, I feel like an idiot.

I checked the fuse and found the little black box in the attached picture. I think it may be a circuit breaker of some sort. This would explain why the lights would quit and then after being turned off they would start working again. My guess is it was blowing because it is rated for 15A when there should be a 20A fuse there. Maybe it was able to handle the load when some of my rear lights weren't working but when I got all four of them working at once it wasn't up to the task. I seemed like the dash light problem appeared after I fixed the issues with my tail lights/brake lights/turn signals.

Anyway, I pulled it out, put a 20A fuse in, and went for a drive. Everything worked great! The fuse did get hot but didn't blow. I don't know how hot they are supposed to get but it was hot enough that i didn't want to touch it for long. No sparks or smoke though; I guess as long as it doesn't catch on fire I will be ok.

I didn't look at the fuse originally because the problem would fix itself after turning the lights off and I figured that if the fuse blew it wouldn't begin working again. Oh well, I learned my lesson. Always check and replace (they are cheap insurance) the fuses.

Thanks for your help.

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