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Old 02-03-2009, 02:56 PM   #1
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Weird Tail light issue.. HELP?

Hey All.

I'm new here but i've lurking and learning for a while. I have been meaning to register for a while so i can give something back but i now am forced to register because i cant figure out this problem.

It might be simple to some, so before i rip up any electrical work i thought i'd ask.

Here's the deal.

My 03 TJ (X) started flashing the left turn signal very quickly a few weeks ago. I could tell that the front turn signals were both working so i had someone stand behind me in the driveway one day. I was told that my left rear turn signal and brake light (not parking light) were out along with the middle light over the spare tire.

So, first thing. i checked the fuses. All seemed ok, but for a few bucks i changed all the yellow 20 amps. I know those are for tail lights and such. (i think slot 2 and 13 were the ones i was most interested in.) When that didnt work i bought some new bulbs (2057) and dropped those in the turn / brake lights. When i did that i checked the turn signal again. The filiment on the light was lighting up very dimly, and quickly like the turn siginal did before. So i quess power is getting there. The other brake light didnt light up but thats probably because i was alone and couldnt step on the brake and check at the same time.

I wanted to change the bulb in the high mount light too, but i need to find the right tool to open that up. I need a star shaped allen wrench or something for that... shitty they cant just just the same screws.

Anyway, does anyone think that if i change that high mount bulb that all the turn / brakes lights will start functioning again? I am really getting here as i have already been pulled over and haressed by a cop about it so i want to fix it quick. Or am i looking at an electrical issue that i might have to hire some help with?

i'm off to buy that star shaped thing to open that high mount case...

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Old 02-03-2009, 03:16 PM   #2
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Welcome, its good you found the right excuse to finally sign up.


Check your grounds and flasher relay.

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Old 02-03-2009, 04:12 PM   #3
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yeah definatley check the ground wires. also those "star shaped screws" are torx screws. save yourself a lot of aggrivation and just go buy a torx ratchet set/screw driver set. you'll need them if you do work on your jeep, they are everywhere on it. in a pinch you can use an allen key, they fit close enough but be careful not to strip the screw.
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:13 PM   #4
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looks like i am pulling the steering column open this weekend.... dang.
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:16 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Twozerofd View Post
yeah definatley check the ground wires. also those "star shaped screws" are torx screws. save yourself a lot of aggrivation and just go buy a torx ratchet set/screw driver set. you'll need them if you do work on your jeep, they are everywhere on it. in a pinch you can use an allen key, they fit close enough but be careful not to strip the screw.

right on. I'm going to pick this up this weekend too.

there are a lot of mods i'd like to do so i'd like to have em.

not sure how to check the ground. I did research replacing the relay... shouldn't be too bad.

thanks yall.

sorry for the noob(ishness)... i havent even made my profile yet.
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:41 PM   #6
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placed a call to my local mechanic... $60 just for a diagnostic.

such BS!
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Old 02-03-2009, 05:35 PM   #7
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get yourself a good test light. check the actual harness where the bulb is plugged into. check the taillight ground for corrosion, it should be a black wire under a screw that goes directly into the body of the jeep.
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Old 02-03-2009, 06:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBjmc View Post
placed a call to my local mechanic... $60 just for a diagnostic.

such BS!
Hell, he must be a friend. That's cheap given the going rates. He'd be chasing the same grounding problems or corrosion you will. Despite their rates, they aren't necessarily "one with the Jeep" either.
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:39 PM   #9
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You have to look for a common denominator between the stop light and center brake light.

1. Check Fuses. (You did that)
2. ALL lights for the rear go through one harness on the driver's side. Check the connector on the driver's kick panel and see if there is corrosion or if it is loose.
3. Other than that connector, the only common link between the center stop light and the regular brake lights is the brake switch. I would check to see if there is power before and after the brake switch.


The center stop light is a straight run from the brake switch. The other brake lights go from the brake switch to the multi function switch on the steering column.

My opinion is it is your brake switch. It is about $20. Ask me how I know. :-)

Have fun under the dash, it is a tight space but not impossible. It took me less than 5 minutes to change mine after I found the problem.

If it is the brake switch, buy it at the dealer. The one's at Auto Zone suck, pep boys isn't much better. Again ask me how I know.

Also the switches are one time use only!!!! DO NOT twist the connector before installing it or remove it after installation. Yep, ask me how I know!!!!!!!

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need further help, I have the service manual.
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:51 AM   #10
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Thanks Johngo.

Sounds like we have both been up the same river
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:25 AM   #11
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I know this is an old post, but I need to bump it back to the front.
I have a similar issue. I installed rock guards on my ’01 Wrangler.
Soon after that my turn signals started flashing rapidly, I did have a blown bulb and replaced it, but the problem continued.
I had my daughter in the jeep while I stood behind it and here is what happened.
Headlights off:
Rapid flashing turn signals when brake applied
When she stepped on the brakes the lights lit up but very dim
Back-up lights did not activate at all.
Headlights on:
Rapid flashing turn signals when brake applied.
When she stepped on the brakes the lights turned off!
Back up lights did not activate at all.

Through all this the high brake light did work.

I’m thinking the relay, however, I will check the wiring harness that runs along the driver’s side kick-panel, and those have been hanging loose.
I will also look for the ground; I don’t recall seeing a black wire under any screws.

Any other ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks

Mike

'01 Jeep Wrangler Sport
4.0
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:35 AM   #12
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How long after installing your armor did this happen?

If it happened immediately after, I'd say you pinched wires during installation.
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:48 AM   #13
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Your lights are grounded by the screws on the tail lights to the body...
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Old 05-10-2011, 12:07 PM   #14
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And don't forget to check the sockets themselves. Corroded sockets will provide a poor ground, and can cause one filament to back feed on another.

If you find the sockets corroded, get yourself a Scotch pad from the auto parts store.
Twist it into the socket and spin it around. Will remove the corrosion. After you do this and before you install the bulb, close your eyes and blow into the socket. You'll know why you closed your eyes when you do.

Apply some dielectric grease to the socket and bulb shaft (auto parts or Radio Shack )
And your are good to go.


DO NOT USE A BRILLO PAD OR WIRE BRUSH TO DO THIS. Tends to blow out your fuses. If you can't get a Scotch pad, use sand paper and follow the same instructions.
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Old 05-10-2011, 12:07 PM   #15
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Didn't see it mentioned in OP or the thread-I have a fairly clean, babied '04 sport, that started with "brake light issues" early this spring. I replaced the switch under the brake, which it didn't need as it didn't fix the problem. But I also have a trailer wiring harness that had one of those "Lights" that comes on in the reciever-when I unplugged it all my problems for the brakes went away. I tossed the light in the trash and now have a back there filling the hitch. I do still have the harness and assume it is "okay" as i tested it with a test light for brakes and turn signals.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:39 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonsBlue90
How long after installing your armor did this happen?

If it happened immediately after, I'd say you pinched wires during installation.
Not sure if it was immediately after or not, but I'm beginning to think I did pinch a wire.
I guess I'll keep trouble shooting.
Thanks!
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:48 AM   #17
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Well, I disassembled both tail lights and inspected the wiring, all looks good, no loose or frayed wires, all bulbs intact.
With the parking lights on, the front lights are nice and bright, but the rear lights are dim.
Turn signals are rapid like a bulb is out, but all bulbs have been replaced.
There was some heavy corrosion on the one of the bolts attaching the right rear light assembly to the body of the jeep.
I'm going to replace the bolts on both lights, however, I don't think that will do any good.
Someone suggested scraping the paint down to bare metal around ones of the bolts, but living close to the Atlantic, I'm a little reluctant to do that.
I think I've hit the wall, not sure where to go from here........any suggestions, short of taking it to the stealer?

Thank you
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:58 PM   #18
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Sorry, don't know how to edit posts.
New test, with all new bulbs, when flashers are on, passenger side light is bright, driver side dim.
Parking lights on, turn signal activated, either side, dim flashing, however backup bulbs glowing dimly.
Thanks for reading.
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:36 PM   #19
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Go one bolt size up for one of the screws on each light. Don't do them all at once incase it happens again. Had the same problem and that fixed everything.
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:42 PM   #20
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Loo, you are a genius! I replaced a bolt in each light and made sure I had good metal to metal contact and everything good to go!
Thank you!
I did find that the drivers side light was installed with rubber spacers, I imagine that that was the cause of my problems.

Thanks again!
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Old 04-09-2013, 12:18 PM   #21
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Hey all,
I'm new to this whole thing, but I had this same problem. Installed some rock guards on my taillights and then started having this "dim" taillight problem... took me forever to figure out, but my problem was the rubber spacers as well. Got rid of em and now she's back to normal!
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Old 11-30-2013, 05:39 PM   #22
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Just to archive more info on this on some of my findings that may help others in the future. Sorry for repeated info.

1. You may have to pull off the light assemble and review the ground wire. I found it corroded and tried that.

2. This happened again and strange thing was there was a fuse in the glove box that was blown. As I recall it was a fuse that I never thought would have anything to do with the circuit. So check ALL fuse there....

3. Check all lamp bulbs even the reverse single prong lights on BOTH sides as they all feed off of one circuit.

4. I under estimated the light assembly housing bolts one was loose so I gently put it back on but never tightened it down. Big mistake. The lighting assemble has to secured to the body of the jeep as seems to draw a ground from there as well. Who knew???
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:09 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OKLAHOMA_TJ View Post
Your lights are grounded by the screws on the tail lights to the body...
this simple post was my ahha moment..
I have been racking my brain and driving my self crazy trying to figure out what is wrong with my lights..i took off my tail light guards to repaint them and was also changing a tail light bulb.. when i put the bulb in to check i just left the lights hanging and when they didnt work i was like WTF !! I traced wires checked fuses... when i read this simple 14 word sentence i felt like the biggest idiot .. I just wanted to thank you for posting the obvious.. because that is usually what is over looked

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