How to Replace a Brake Light Switch on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer

Modern Vehicles motorcycles rely on many components to provide the style and performance demanded by motorcyclists. While the big V-twin motors have no problem bringing the bike up to speed, they rely on hydraulic brakes to bring the iron steed to a halt. A smaller, yet critical, component to the brake system is the brake light switch which illuminates the tail light when the brakes are engaged. When these switches fail, accidents happen. Fortunately, replacing these switches is well within the grasp of the DIY motorcyclist.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace a Brake Light Switch on a 2006 Hyundai Elantra

Locate and remove the Phillips screws on the trim panel below the steering column. Take the trim tool and pop the upper section of the panel out of the clips, while pulling on the bottom. Remove the trim panel.

Lay on your back look up under the dash. Locate the brake light switch on the brake pedal bracket. Follow the pedal arm up until you see the switch.

Remove the harness connector by pushing the center tab with the flat-head screwdriver, then pull the connector from the switch.

Remove the locking nut from the brake light switch, and unscrew the switch. Screw the new switch into the brake pedal bracket and start the lock nut. Turn the switch until the plunger reaches the pedal arm, then back it off about 3/4 turn. Using the feeler gauge, adjust the switch until the threaded end is 0.04 inches from the pad. Tighten the lock nut. Plug in the connector and test the switch by watching the brake lights. If they don't go off, back the switch out a bit more.

Install the lower trim panel by snapping the top into the clips, then install the Phillips screws on the bottom and tighten.

Items you will need

  • Metric wrench set

  • Small flat-head screwdriver

  • Phillips head screwdriver

  • Plastic trim tool

  • Feeler gauge

 How to Replace a Brake Light Switch on a 1997 Ford Escort Station Wagon

Removal

Raise the hood on the station wagon and locate the car battery. Disconnect the negative cable from its post with a socket wrench. Wrap the metal terminal end of the cable completely with electrical tape. Lay the cable down and away from any other metal, including the engine. The negative cable on the battery has a minus symbol next to its post on top of the battery case.

Open the driver-side door and position yourself so that you can see under the dashboard. Locate the brake-light switch at the top of the brake pedal’s shaft bar. Disconnect the wiring harness from the back of the brake-light switch.

Draw a line on the threads of the brake-light switch at the base of its lock nut with a fine-tip black permanent marker. Don’t draw the line behind the lock nut; instead draw it on the pedal’s shaft-bar side of the brake-light switch. Allow the marking line to dry for a few minutes.

Remove the locking nut from the brake-light switch with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. After the locking nuts is loosened, completely removing it by hand may prove easier. With the lock nut removed, slide the brake-light switch out of its mounting position and out of the Escort.

Installation

Compare both old and new brake-light switches to assure they’re the same part. Make sure the wiring-harness plugs match as well. Place both brake-light switches side by side against a flat, level surface. Draw a line on the new switch’s threads in the exact spot as the old brake-light switch. If you have to count the threads do so, but the lines must match exactly.

Place the new brake-light switch back into it mounting position under the dashboard. Return the locking nut to secure the switch. Tighten the lock nut until the line on the switch meets the base of the lock nut on the pedal’s shaft-bar side.

Check the brake-light switch for proper clearance from the brake pedal’s shaft bar. Slide a 3/4-inch putty knife blade between the brake pedal’s shaft bar and the brake-light switch’s contact. The putty knife should fit between the two freely without force.

Plug the brake-light switch’s wiring harness back up. Remove the tape from the negative battery cable and secure it back to its post on the battery. Check the brake-light switch to assure it is functioning correctly.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench set

  • Black electrical tape

  • Black fine-tip permanent marker

  • Needle-nosed pliers

  • Replacement brake-light switch

  • 3/4-inch putty knife

 How to Replace the Brake Light Switch on Acura Tl

Enter the driver's side of your Acura. Reach down to the bottom of the seat toward the pedals. Slide your hand along the pedal until you locate the section of the dash which it connects to.

Remove the two screws that fix the dash section in place with a Phillips-head screwdriver. The panel covers the electrical components for the pedal behind it.

Remove the panel and locate the brake light switch held in place by two mounting screws. Disconnect the electrical wiring that leads to the switch. Remove the mounting screws and lift it out of place.

Connect the new brake light switch to the vehicle. Attach it in place with the mounting screws and insert the electrical connectors.

Reattach the dash panel that covers the electrical components. Turn on your engine and press down the brake pedal. Have someone check that the brake lights now work correctly.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Screwdriver set

 How to Replace the Brake Light Switch on a 2001 Ford Windstar

Open the driver’s door and move the driver’s seat as far back as it will go. Climb in so that you can see up under the dash near the brake pedal.

Shine the flashlight up behind the brake pedal arm to locate the brake switch.

Unbolt the switch from the mounting bracket using the 13mm box wrench. Pull the switch out and disconnect the wiring harness from the switch by hand.

Connect the wiring harness to the new switch and then bolt the switch to the mounting bracket. Test the contact between the switch and brake pedal arm by depressing the pedal to see where it contacts the switch.

Adjust as necessary with the box wrench to make sure the pedal arm makes good contact with the switch throughout its travel. Have your helper watch the brake lights as you test them by depressing the brake pedal to make sure they function properly before driving the Windstar.

Items you will need

  • Flashlight

  • 13mm box wrench

  • Helper

 How to Replace the Brake Light Switch on a Chevy Suburban

Instructions

Open the driver side door and position yourself so you can access the brake pedal. You can use a flashlight if you need more light.

Locate the brake pedal switch on the underside of the brake pedal and unplug the wiring harness.

Unbolt the brake light switch using a wrench, and replace it with the replacement unit. Be sure to tightly bolt the switch into place.

Plug the wiring harness into the new switch. Test your brake lights to make sure they work by pressing the brake pedal.

Items you will need

  • Flashlight

  • Wrench set

  • Replacement switch

 How to Replace a Brake Light Switch on a Harley-Davidson

Front Brake Switch Replacement

Check that the ignition is in the "Off" position. For additional safety, disconnect the negative terminal from the battery.

Place your cardboard strip between the front brake lever and the brake switch. This will prevent damage to the switch while removing the switch housing.

Remove the two screws that secure the handlebar clamp to the front brake master cylinder housing, with a Torx T-27 driver. Disassemble the right switch housing by removing two screws, with a Torx T-25 driver.

Remove the screw that secures the brake switch to the housing and cut the switch's wiring. Discard the old switch.

Strip the original switch wiring, exposing 1/4 inch of bare wire. If it is not already prepared, strip 1/4 inch of wire from the new switch's wiring. Cut two separate inch-long strips of shrink tubing and slide them over the new switch's wires.

Twist the ends of each wire from the original harness together with the wires from the new switch and solder to permanently secure the wires. Slide the shrink tubing over the soldered joint and apply heat to seal the tubing.

Hold the brake lever away, place the new switch into the housing and tighten the mounting screw. Place your cardboard strip between the switch and lever before releasing.

Reassemble the switch housing and tighten both T-25 screws to a range of 35 to 45 inch-pounds. Then secure the master cylinder to the handlebar clamp, tightening both T-27 screws to 60 to 80 inch-pounds.

Rear Brake Light Switch Replacement

Check that the ignition is in the "Off" position. For additional safety, disconnect the negative terminal from the battery. Disconnect the switch from the wiring harness by gently pulling off the spade connectors.

Unscrew the switch from the rear brake master cylinder. Clean the switch mounting threads on the master cylinder to prevent contamination of the brake fluid.

Apply a drop of Loc-tite No. 565 to the new switch's threads and install it onto the master cylinder, tightening it down to 84 to 120 inch-pounds. Connect the spade connectors to the new switch.

Turn the ignition switch to the "On" position and depress the rear brake pedal. If the brake pedal feels soft or the brake light does not illuminate, then you may need to bleed the brake lines to remove air bubbles.

Items you will need

  • Carboard strip, 4 millimeters thick

  • Torx drivers, T-25 & T-27

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Wire cutter and stripper

  • Heat shrink tubing

  • Heat gun or lighter

  • Soldering iron and flux

  • Pliers

  • Loc-Tite, No. 565

  • Torque wrench