1996 Chevrolet Silverado Brake Lights Not Working

Tiny
WEBWATCHER
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 CHEVROLET SILVERADO
  • 5.7L
  • V8
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 185,000 MILES
Brake lights on 1996 C1500 stopped working, to include the above cab light as well. Checked and I have no power to the lights (removed left brake light housing and checked continuity). I've checked all the fuses. The #1 location 20amp fuse for aux/haz keeps blowing. If I put in a new fuze and turn on the hazard lights it blows. First guess is a ground wire but its just my guess. It doesn't seem to sound like the brake switch or the turn signal switch. But I don't know so that's why I'm asking you experts. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
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Monday, May 18th, 2015 AT 3:14 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
It's not a ground wire problem. Those wires already go to ground so if one is bare and touching the body, that's what it's already going to. If it's broken, there is no short so the fuse wouldn't blow.

A simple trick to finding a short is to replace the blown fuse with a pair of spade terminals, then use small jumper wires to connect them to a 12 volt light bulb. A brake light bulb works well. When the circuit is live and the short is present, the bulb will be full brightness and hot so be sure it's not laying on the carpet or against a plastic door panel. Now you can unplug electrical connectors and move things around to see what makes the short go away. When it does, the bulb will get dim or go out.

You can place a stick between the seat and the brake pedal to keep the brake light switch turned on for the tests. Also, try activating the turn signals each way. If turning on the left signals, for example, makes the test bulb light up bright, but it's just dim for the right signal, you'll know to look on the left side for the short. The place to start looking for a grounded wire is at a trailer wiring harness.
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Monday, May 18th, 2015 AT 3:56 PM
Tiny
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Great info and thanks for the reply.

So from the problems I identified, you do not believe it would be the brake light switch or the turn signal switch? Friend of mine thinks it might be one of those two.

I just rechecked and: the taillights work, the turn signals work, the brake lights do not work, the high position brake light does not work.

If I install a fuse, the emergency blinkers and engine compartment light will work for just a moment before the fuse is blown.
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Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 AT 11:54 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
I don't have all trucks memorized so you'll have to tell me, ... Does yours use separate bulbs in back, one for the signal and another one for the brake light? Most manufacturers have gone to that. It greatly simplifies the turn signal switch but it makes it miserable for connecting the two independent circuits to one circuit on a trailer.

My guess is you have two separate bulbs because you said the turn signals work. If that is correct, the signal switch is not part of the system so we can forget that. Switches won't cause a blowing fuse anyway because there isn't anything in them going to ground, therefore, no matter what would become shorted, it would just make the wrong lights turn on or at the wrong time.

Do my light bulb trick so you don't have to keep wasting fuses. Once the brake pedal is held down and the test bulb is bright, move harnesses around, particularly in back, and remove the rear lamp assemblies to see if disturbing any of those things makes the bulb go dim. When it does, you'll also see the brake lights turn on dimly.

If you have a four-pin trailer connector from U-Haul with three red LEDs on it, those often shorted leading to blowing fuses.
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Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 AT 7:02 PM

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