Tail lights problem

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Tail lights problem

Post by rogal_tx on Thu Sep 03, 2015 8:27 am

I have a problem with my tail lights on 73 el Camino.
First issue: when lights are turned on and I press the break pedal the driver side tail light goes off except the break light is on. I cleaned the sockets but still got same issue.
Second problem: when I put it in reverse I get no revers lights but they blink when slowely pulling down the handle to reverse. Would it be an issue within steering column?
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Re: Tail lights problem

Post by chevellelaguna on Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:36 pm

If I remember correctly the back up lights are integrated within the neutral safety switch, which is near the harmonica plug on the column. If you're out of adjustment within the switch, the reverse lights won't come on.
Tail lights... Check the ground for the harness... Shouldn't go out when you press on the pedal.. Sounds like a short in the system... Or a bad switch on the pedal, those are cheap.
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Re: Tail lights problem

Post by rogal_tx on Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:05 pm

Stupid question.Is the harmonic plug where turn signal switch is?
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Re: Tail lights problem

Post by Mcarlo77 on Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:19 pm

Neutral safety switch is down low on the column near the harmonica switch. Turn signal switch is inside the column (turn signal lever attaches to it).
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Re: Tail lights problem

Post by thatfnthing on Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:03 am

chevellelaguna wrote:If I remember correctly the back up lights are integrated within the neutral safety switch, which is near the harmonica plug on the column. If you're out of adjustment within the switch, the reverse lights won't come on.

X2 on that.

As for the brake light/tail light, I haven't looked at the diagrams yet, but offhand I can't think of a scenario where the tail light might go off when you hit the brakes.  The tail lamp is a very simple circuit -- it gets juice from the headlight switch when it's set to 'park' or 'on'.  It's not involved with the brake switch at all -- which sounds like it's working, since your brake light comes on when you hit the pedal.

So the only thing I can think of right now is a bad ground on the driver side tail lamp.  Depending on how it's wired, it may have enough contact to allow some juice to flow through it when the headlight switch is on, but when the brake lamp comes on, it finds a better path to ground and goes that way.  Electricity is like water -- it will always take the path of least resistance, so if you suddenly give it a clear drain hole, it will take that over the partially clogged one.  

An indicator I would look for is if when just the tail lamps are on, the drivers side one is dimmer than the passenger side.  That would indicate a bad ground.  Also, remove the outer lens and hit the brakes while someone is eyeballing that lamp directly -- does it go out completely, or does it just get really really dim?
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Re: Tail lights problem

Post by clanceman427 on Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:22 pm

Having gone thru these types of electrical gremlins with taillights and such on my current 73 Chevelle and my previous 64 Buick Special, I suggest installing new taillight sockets. You can get them cheap on Ebay and they are correct for our G3 cars. I just got done replacing both taillight sockets, and the front drivers side turn signal socket (someone had already replaced the passenger side front socket and it is still in good shape). Now all brake lights, running lamps, and turn signals work correctly in all combinations. Peace of mind that they are reliable for driving. I hate worrying about the lights and if they are hit or miss. I tried scubbing, sanding, filing, washing, etc. the original sockets and using dielectric grease, but just when I thought they were fixed, I'd try them the next day and I'd have to fiddle with the bulb in the socket. No more with the new sockets. I soldered the joints and heat shrunk them for protection. The key for me with successful soldering (I was terrible at it) was to get a pencil propane torch with the attachments, and to strip my wires 3/4 of an inch consistently, and twist the wires together correctly and tin the soldering tip before soldering. Works much better, I could never get an electric soldering gun to work for me.
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Re: Tail lights problem

Post by rogal_tx on Sun Sep 06, 2015 9:11 am

I've cleaned the sockets like clanceman427 mentioned above but issue didn't go away. I just pulled the sockets out yesterday and the are corroded as they can be. dielectric grease didn't help. I will try with new sockets.
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Re: Tail lights problem

Post by pila on Sun Sep 06, 2015 10:59 pm

Kinda sounds like some lights are getting their ground from/through another light. Not an uncommon problem when a ground is bad. The connector which is referred to as the "harmonica" connector, is a long connector, that when unplugged looks like a harmonica, with a single row of openings. Usually located where the turn signal wiring comes out along side of the steering column, on the right side....

The comment about new sockets is good advice. I chased a problem for a while, which turned out to be a corroded ground in a socket, where the wire was attached, internally, on the socket ground.








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