Brake Lights not working.. Help please - Impala Tech
Electrical & Wiring Troubleshooting electrical problems

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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: eureka
Posts: 3
Brake Lights not working.. Help please


I just recently bought a 77 Impala. Has 49k miles on it and it's original engine. Every thing in it is basically what was in it when it's rolled off the lot. There has been some minor repairs done to it.. but nothing with the electrical system..

When i first got it, the turn signal was busted,the arm has snapped off and was hanging out the steering column by a wire. Everything else worked including the brake lights. Only thing i couldn't control was the hi-beams, turn lights and my cruise control. I took my car to my uncle who is a mechanic, to try to fix the turn signal. I was hoping it was just a broken switch.. sadly it took looks like it will be a junk yard part. I don't know what you call it.. but the pot metal part that holds the arm to the switch busted off.. so i will have to try to find that part @ a pick and pull.

At any rate.. since i needed to have control over my turn lights.. i got my uncle to jimmy rig a switch i can turn on to turn on my signal lights. We didn't have a repair manual so we had no electrical diagram to work off of so we didn't know wait wires controlled what... we did manage to find the correct wires and got the switch working perfect. However.. since then my brake lights hasn't worked.

It really confused me because we where not working any where near the wires for the brakes. I mean.. we cut into the wires.. @ the bottom of the steering column..i can't see how my brake lights would be connected before that point.. and they only control the turn signals .. as far as we could tell..

Would have really helped if we had a electrical diagram

Anyone have any insight or guidance in this situation? I was also wondering if anyone knows any good resource for a year and model specific repair manual.. all i can find are ones with a huge range of years
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 05:04 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Miamisburg, Oh.
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what's with the sporadic green lettering?

there's a connection for the brake lights that is by the steering column, against that part of the floor/firewall, and the plastic head (about 3" wide, just peeks out from behind the carpet and steering column plastic shield thing. Perhaps it came loose there.

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-02-2009, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: eureka
Posts: 3
Not sure why it highlighted some of my words green:P

I actually checked out what you are talking about... everything from the brake to the brake switch seems fine and all connected.Also checked the fuses.. they all seem fine.. I also checked out the bulbs and all of them look fine as well.. The brake lights where working previous to us putting the switch in.. so Iím thing is amiss here...

Even though we only disabled the wires going from the turn signal switch to the base of the steering column.. is there something in-between that we are missing and could have disabled the breaks??

any more info/suggestions would be great..
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-02-2009, 02:04 PM
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Location: GA.
Posts: 402
You have a harness connection in the trunk also in the driver side rear quarter panel. Mine the main wire to feed the hot was burnt in two my break lights was not working cause of that. You need to use a test light on that area to see if your getting power that far back.

Make: Chevrolet
Model: Impala
Year: 1971
Doors: 4
Motor: 400 V8
Tranny: TH350
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-02-2009, 02:29 PM
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Did you check the fuse? If not that, must have unplugged something or cut a wire. Before doing any more guessing get a manual and a test light. See if you have power at the pedal switch. Go from there. Cruise control taps into the brake light switch too so if that became disconnected it could be a source of the problem.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-03-2009, 08:39 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Mobile, AL
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Jarrett, the brake lights work through the turn signal switch due to the fact that you hae dual element bulbs in the rear lamps. The turn signal switch is where the outbound wire from the brake lamp switch splits to be able to power both sides and work in conjunction with the turn signals and tail lamps. If you cut the wires to the signal lamps at the bottom of the column, you effectively eliminated the path for current to get to the bulbs for brake lamp operation. A Haynes manual would be a great help to you at this point. If you get a new turn signal switch installed, everything should work fine. Those switches are available from AC Delco through places like or other auto parts sources.
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