2000 Taurus Wagon
Brake Light Switch
24V 200 HP Duratec 3.0L V6

October 1, 2005

Brake light switch shorts out

Brake lights stay on when the car is shut off
causing a drained battery within the hour.

Last Saturday morning I drove the Taurus a couple miles to town, did my business and returned back home about noon. At 2:00 PM I loaded up the rig to make a dump run and then we were going out bear/coyote hunting. I jumped in the car, turned the key and nothing (and I mean nothing) happened. I couldn't understand it; what the hell is wrong now? I jumped the car to get it started, then headed for the garage via the dump. I pulled into the dump, backed up to the containers, got out and walked to the back of the car and saw the problem; all three brake lights were on with the car shut off. It was deja vu all over again. This happened to me 3 or 4 years ago. I drove to the beer store one night and noticed the brake lights on when I came out with my payload. I called John and met him at the garage to investigate the problem (and drink the payload).

(1st replacement switch)
We found the brake switch and removed it to take a closer look. We couldn't find anything to fix. It was shorted which closed the circuit to the lamps with the ignition off. I'd just have to get in touch with the Ford garage on Monday for parts. So, for now I figured I would just unplug the switch and deal with it later. Well, it wasn't quite that simple. With the switch unplugged the car would start but you couldn't take it out of gear. You have to have your foot on the brake to do that and this switch also control that. I called Ford the next day and this was a recall issue. Grease from the electrical/adjustable brake/gas pedals could liquify and drip down into the switch and short it out. I went there the next day and they fixed it for nothing. However, they wouldn't reimburse me for the "pain and suffering" we incurred, or pay for the "payload."   Oh well.
NOTE: We did figure out that if you turn the ingnition one or two positions forward (not all the way to full accessories) you can get the transmission in neutral and start the car.

(2nd replacement switch)

Here's the new replacement switch package from Ford. It has a different connector (that needed splicing), extra plastic washer/bushings and crimp connectors. Cost - $15 and change.

The directions mislead you into thinking this is a quick and simple installation. They show these wonderful diagrams like you were dealing with this on the workbench. "Splice this, insert that, tie this and you're done". Here are a couple of steps they omitted:

(1) Position yourself in the (six-point electrically adjustable) bucket seat and get comfortable (seat belt and shoulder strap optional at this point).

(2) Once comfortable, rotate your body 180 degrees so your feet straddle the headrest and your head/nascar hat is just barely touching the floor (seat belt and shoulder strap mandatory now).

(3) Push the seat adjustment button that raises and pushes the seatback forward. This will slide/push the back of your head tight against the firewall. If you wear bifocals rotate them 180 degress so you can focus your eyeballs at the mechanism 2 inches from them at 12 o'clock high.

(4) Now that you're in place and comfortable, remove the hat and make sure you have all the parts and tools you'll need to complete the job. If you don't, repeat the above steps as many times as it takes.

(5) When back in place and ready, follow the detailed Ford/MotorCraft Official installation directions (you left 30 feet away on the bench next to your beer).

(6) Repeat the above steps as necessary until the installation is completed or you're too damned frustrated to continue and just hangout right-side-up next to the refrigerator.

All joking aside; here's the deal:

(1) Pay close attention when you remove the switch and the mechanical parts that attach it. It goes back together exactly the opposite way you took it apart. Your failure to observe what you did, when you did it and what happened when you did it, will not help you with a plea to us when it won't go back together. (Of course, if you've landed here because you didn't pay attention when you took it apart, and reassembly information is what you looking for, you must feel pretty stupid by now. No problem, we're pretty much "stuck on stupid" ourselves. After all, that's what this website is all about. Free and comprehensive info is available for the repentant).

(2) The parts package doesn't look right, but it is.

(3) Pull the fuse for the stop lights/switch. There is power to it with the ignition off. It's easy to short the circuit to ground while trying to strip the insulation. Remember that you're working in a very tight spot and around a lot of grounded metal parts and Ford does not supply any spare 15 amp mini-fuses. (We stole one from John's S-10 Chevy).

(4) You don't need the plastic mounting bracket that comes with the new electrical connector. Pull the conductors through the bracket and cut them 6 inches in length and make your splice. Neaten up your mess with the supplied wire ties.

(5) Replace the fuse, put your hat back on, flip your bifocals 180 degrees, slide your head around and rest it on the brake pedal. You should see brake lights out of the back window. If you don't, you know the routine.

* NOTE:  If you think you can just lay on you side and one-hand this, your mistaken, it can't be done, I tried. You may not have to be inverted 180 degrees, but save yourself some time and frustration and "get comfortable".