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Brake lights -- 1964

Discussion in '1955 - 1966 Classic Ford Thunderbird' started by Gary Tayman, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. I just got my car back from the shop, for the umpteenth time, for anti-freeze leaks. Is it fixed? Who knows, I've only driven it a few miles, and now there's a new problem.

    Remember, this car is a 1964. I was recently driving home when someone pulled beside me to say my brake lights aren't working. Figuring it was the brake switch -- again -- I replaced it. Not only did this NOT fix the problem, but the brake fluid looked like molasses. THIS, after complaining numerous times about the feel of the brake pedal, and shops telling me the brakes are great.

    SO, I took the car to a (different) shop. Sure enough, I needed an entire new brake system. Also there were problems with the wiring to the taillights. In addition, I got the parts to that brake relay update kit and this was installed as well. Some $4,000.00 later I got the car back. I will also add that I have an electronic sequencer for the turn signals -- they replaced this as well with a new one.

    So last night, after just getting the car back from anti-freeze issues, I walked outside to get my mail. I noticed a red light in the driveway -- what the wha --? The brake lights were on! Then they went out, then they came back on, then off, etc., at the rate of about three times a minute. I jumped in the car to try and start it, and sure enough -- battery's dead. So I pulled the battery lead, and cursed my way back into the house.

    This morning I called the shop that replaced the brakes and wiring. I reminded the feloow that he just rewired the car. the response? "Well, that was FIVE MONTHS ago, probably even more. Yep -- SIX while months ago!" I suppose it may just as well been 35 years. Goodbye to that shop.

    So I got AAA to tow it to yet another shop. They will look at it Monday.

    But thinking about it, what on earth could be causing this? Yes, in case they reconnect the battery on Monday and suddenly it has healed itself. I've had this car long enough to expect such things. What could make those lights go on and off like that?

    I seriously doubt that it has anything to do with a flasher. Turn signals require the ignition to be on, and this car does snot have the option with the 4-way flashers. It is much slower than that anyway.

    Did the brake light switch fail? Uh, I suppose it can, but remember it now has a relay. With the relay update, does the ignition need to be on for the brake lights? I never heard a relay click, but can't say anything for sure.

    Could the electronic sequencer do this? Possibly but not sure. Again, this is for the turn signals, which require the ignition. The brake light signal runs through it, but I can't see it generating power on its own if the ignition is off.

    Here's my guess, as a technician but not a car expert. My guess is that, maybe, at least part of the brake circuit is such that 12 volts is applied all the time, and the switch provides ground. Wiring is new, but if a wire is pinched or frayed, maybe it is touching ground intermittently. The ground lights it up, and the heat in the wire expands it in such a way that it no longer touches and the lights go off. The wire cools, then touches ground again.

    Am I onto something, or entirely off-base? Open for comments.
     
    Rich Mierzwa likes this.
  2. Sounds feasible.
     
  3. welcome to the world of Thunderbird, not sure what part of the country you're in, but you need to find a guy
    who knows the Birds!!!! Good Luck my feathered Friend!
     
    Rich Mierzwa likes this.
  4. I have the same problem except all lights flash on and off. Keep me posted if you get a fix.
     
  5. I'm in Sarasota, Florida.
     
  6. fordrodsteven

    fordrodsteven Well-Known Member Gold Donor

    Gary, yes on stock (original) there is 12V power at all times to headlights and brake lights. I cannot remember how the wiring is but I seem to remember my directionals did not work unless the ignition was in "on" or "accessories" position. I would have to look at wiring diagrams to jog the old memory banks. If you don't have diagrams already you can find some over at the squarebirds website in their technical library. But then you would also have to know what modifications have been made to your wiring to figure it all out.
     
    Rich Mierzwa likes this.
  7. Turn signals require the key to be on. Brake lights are from the battery. What I'm not sure of, there's a modification that came out as a recall in 1964, where a relay was added to the brake light circuit. The reason, that switch (used since 1958) had a tendency to fail because of the extra current draw of those big taillights. I believe in 1965 they went to a switch on the brake pedal. My car never had that relay. I'm not alone, lots of cars never got it and kits are still available. I got the kit, and a shop put it on. With the relay I'm not sure if the brake lights now require the key or not.
     
  8. Ready for the verdict? Here we go.

    This car just the got brake light mod, which installs a relay in the circuit. The relay is mounted on an insulating rubber block.

    Somehow this new rubber block became conductive, grounding the relay and turning on the lights. The fix -- install insulating plastic shims on the mounting bolts.

    That's a STRANGE one!
     
    Rich Mierzwa and fordrodsteven like this.
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