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Turn signal and brake light not working. Updated with the results..

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  • Electrical: Turn signal and brake light not working. Updated with the results..

    On the left side of my 1959 Silver Hawk the brake light in the rear and the turn signal front and rear is not working. Where is the best place to start checking voltage?
    The other side works fine, I changed bulbs, but of course the bulbs were not the issue. Any advise would help.
    Last edited by RDWEAVER; 03-29-2020, 11:09 AM. Reason: updated

  • #2
    What about tail lights and parking lights? If they work normally, both sides, I think we can rule out a ground problem. We can also rule out the stoplight switch, since stop light works on the right. If the park and tail lights on the left don't work, fix the grounds before going any further.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    • #3
      The park lamp in front and the tail light in the rear both work so the ground must be in good shape.

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      • #4
        My guess would be a loose wire on the turn signal switch.
        But you can test your continuities to narrow that down before resorting to pulling it apart.
        "All attempts to 'rise above the issue' are simply an excuse to avoid it profitably." --Dick Gregory

        Brad Johnson, SDC since 1975, ASC since 1990
        Pine Grove Mills, Pa.
        '33 Rockne 10,
        '51 Commander Starlight,
        '53 Commander Starlight "Désirée",
        '56 Sky Hawk

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        • #5
          The power for brake lamps goes through the turn signal switch?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by RDWEAVER View Post
            The power for brake lamps goes through the turn signal switch?
            Yes, and when you use the turn signal, left or right, it blocks power to the side's brake light. With a turn signal on and brakes applied, looking from behind, the left/right turn signal will be blinking, but only the other side's brake light will be on. This all happens through operation of the turn signal switch. If you study the wiring diagram, looking closely at the switch's wiring, you can see how it works.

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            • #7
              It looks like I may be removing the steering wheel to check the wiring connections under there. Better there than under the dash I guess.

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              • #8
                These non working lights can fool you frequently the light assembly that is working is the one with the bad ground. The light that is not working is supplying the ground through its filament to the working light assembly. You can change bulbs till you know what freezes over and it will not fix it because the bulb is not the issue. I met a fellow that had this problem and he was back to the shop four times to have bulbs changed and I explained to him that it is the working light assembly that is the problem, he went back one more time and told them what he had learned and the problem was promptly fixed. I have had this happen on two of my cars. Don't be fooled by the working light.
                Draw an electrical circuit out and you will see how it works.

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                • #9
                  The tail light works just no brake light or blinker. I have ruled out the grounding circuit thanks.

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                  • #10
                    Before removing the steering wheel, check the rubber harness plug that connects the wires from the signal switch to the under-dash harness. It may not be fully seated. Would not hurt to unplug/replug it.
                    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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                    • #11
                      Seeing that you have confirmed the grounds this drawing won't matter but this is what happens with one open and one closed ground in the same circuit with two filament type lamps.

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                      • #12
                        If the parking lights work but not any of the directional or brake lights. The only place that the directional and break lights wiring are together is in the steering column
                        As Godor said; check the plug that is located where the wires enter the steering column. The next thing to do is remove the steering wheel and check the turn signal switch.
                        If you have access to a wiring diagram color code you should be able to unplug the plug and jumper out the directional signal wiring.
                        Ron

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                        • #13
                          All good stuff here you guys. Not today but some day soon I will use the information gained here and see if I can repair this. I will let you all know what I find here.
                          Thanks.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RDWEAVER View Post
                            The tail light works just no brake light or blinker. I have ruled out the grounding circuit thanks.
                            Agree with altair above. Just because the tail light works doesn't mean there's not a ground problem. The electrons can go through one bulb filament, through the bulb base, through the other filament (thereby giving plenty of light) and then down the other circuit. The resistance in the two long wires and the two filaments are enough to make it look like the tail lamp circuit is working fine. I have seen this exactly situation several times. Before you tear into anything, just run simple ground wires to the tail lamp housings, both working and not working. Simple test.
                            Skip Lackie

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                            • #15
                              I posted this thread back in November about my turn signal and brake lamp not working. I finally got around to determining the root cause of what is causing my problems. The part that has failed is the turn signal switch under the steering wheel. I wanted to post this here for anyone who may also have these symptoms.
                              Now for another question, where can I buy a turn signal switch for a 59 hawk? NOS will be my first preference does anybody have one stowed away they would be willing to sell?

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