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E36 General discussion and technical help for (E36) 1992-1999 3 series cars. 318, 323, 325, 328.

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Old 01-05-2007, 06:19 PM   #1
eavery19

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Brake Light Failure

1998 328is right brake light failure. After changing the failed right brake light, the new bulb(s) tried two new ones, the new bulbs would not work either. Carefully cleaned all contacts and retried, but still no brake lights. The car has been parked for about 15 days. All other rear lights are working properly, including the left brake light.

Any ideas???
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Old 01-05-2007, 09:00 PM   #2
komodo
 
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Does your OBC (computer below your air conditioning) say tail light failure, or tail light circuit failure?

It might be a wiring issue.

Try taking the old (bad) bulb out of the right tail light and seeing if it turns on in the left side. If it does, it's something beyond the bulb, like wiring.
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Old 01-06-2007, 12:50 AM   #3
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try switching sockets from the other side that is working i get this shit all day everyday
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Old 01-06-2007, 08:11 AM   #4
Dudesky

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Old 01-07-2007, 09:23 AM   #5
Kiterunner

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Like what defkon99 said, try switching the sockets and see if the OBC shows any message. Heard from mechs of the local bimmer dealer that after a period of 7-8 years, the inner PCB tends to bloat / gloat or bend due to the heat generated by the brake light bulbs.

Also you may notice a slight burn-out or short-circuited crater in the contact points.
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Old 01-07-2007, 03:50 PM   #6
eavery19

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Switched bulbs and switched sockets, light remained out. Is the PCB the gasket?
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Old 01-07-2007, 06:16 PM   #7
Kiterunner

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Quote:
Originally Posted by eavery19
Switched bulbs and switched sockets, light remained out. Is the PCB the gasket?
PCB stands for the Printed Circuit Board, similar to waht we get in handphones. A simpler version to connect the circuitry. Worst case,. look for a replacement. I guess some UB memberd might have a set lying around after their upgrade. GOOD LUCK.
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Old 01-08-2007, 10:44 PM   #8
BhndTheWheel

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I was getting this too on my car. I checked all the socket connections and made sure they were clean before replacing them. When I did that it turned off the warning message in the dash. I was also told to replace the "Brake Light Circuit" underneath the dash. I didn't have to go that route yet but it's an inexpensive part to buy; just cumbersome to snap it out and replace.

Last edited by BhndTheWheel; 01-18-2007 at 09:12 PM..
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Old 01-17-2007, 04:55 PM   #9
Reddots89

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i got a brake light circuit off ebay for like 25 bucks, it was harder to replace it than anything. you have to break the old one out practically
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Old 01-17-2007, 05:54 PM   #10
94bmw325i
 
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I got my brake light circuit for $20 shipped or so
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Old 07-01-2011, 12:50 PM   #11
adamcammack

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I had this same exact problem.

For me, it was a wiring issue. Open up your trunk and on the left side, you have your wiring harness that runs through. After repeatedly opening and closing the trunk, it can wear down and fray or even completely snap wires. So split open the protective rubber hosing and inspect your wires at the point where they are bent repeatedly. You just might find a frayed or split wire.

Hope this helps. I have a really good feeling that this is your problem.
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:56 PM   #12
Manolito

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The wiring in the trunk lid will cause the lock and license plate light to not work, but it won't affect brake lights which are on the car body.

e36 tail lights are also prone to burn through the traces when the sockets get corroded. My daughter pulled off her tail light and soldered shut the holes in the trace where the socket contact touches. Holding so far a year later, but eventually she will get new tail lights since hers are original and are pretty discolored.
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Old 09-06-2011, 08:32 PM   #13
runnr548

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It is an all too common problem. We replaced the tail lights in my son's 98 328is. They were used, but in great condition. After replacing a few bulbs all was well. Later that day, we got the "tail light circuit failure" message, and it will not go away. The lights are working great none the less.
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Old 09-08-2011, 12:17 AM   #14
Manolito

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The Brake Light Circuit warning is normally the brake light switch on the pedal.

Crush out the old one with a big pair of pliers.

Don't buy a switch made in China.

Should cost about $35 on line.
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Old 09-09-2011, 08:30 AM   #15
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Just keep in mind that there is a 2-pin and a 4-pin switch, and I don't know what distinguishes whether one's car has one or the other. Might be model year, might be stability control or whatever, but using your VIN you should be able to get the one you need.
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