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Greetings all. Brake lights on the sides are not coming on, but the center brake light under the window still comes on. I have checked both bulbs and run current to them and all of the filaments light up..I cleaned off the little brass nubs on the bulb housing. Checked the fuse and it was good. Any ideas? Internal hatchback door wiring coming loose? Left side was working earlier today. I'm not too knowledgable about working on these cars, but can take apart an old VW bug from stem to stern without too much trouble! Any insight regarding this issue appreciated.
 

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If the turn signal and brake light share a bulb, the turn signal switch can be the point of failure.
 

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If the turn signal and brake light share a bulb, the turn signal switch can be the point of failure.
That's interesting since the turn signals work perfectly. Grrrr.
The rear lighting module assembly on each side of the van has 3 bulbs mounted vertically. Top bulb is dual filament and provides tail lamp and stop lamp on each filament. The center bulb is dual filament and provides tail lamp and turn signal / hazard flasher function. Bottom bulb provides back up illumination with the transmission selector in reverse. So the turn signal and brake lamp function are NOT shared by the same bulb as is common on other vehicles.

Do the tail lamps illuminate when headlight switch activated? Do the backup lamps illuminate when the ignition is in RUN position and the transmission selector is in reverse? If yes to both situations that means the ground circuit is good. All bulb circuits in the rear lighting assembly share the same ground path. If NO to both situations then you need to trace the ground problem.

Remove the tail lamp assembly. There is a ;6 wire connector that plugs into the assembly. Disconnect. Use a volt-ohm meter set to read voltage. Have a helper depress the brake pedal to activate the brake lamp circuit. Probe the white / tan tracer wire at the connector. (White / tan tracer wire color is the scheme used on 2000 mini-vans. Hopefully it is the same for an earlier model.)There should be 12 volts. If yes then the problem lies in the circuit board built into the lamp assembly. If NO then you need to trace the white / tan tracer from the output of the brake pedal switch into the distribution block under the dash. But since the center, high mounted brake lamp illuminates I would think the brake lamp pedal switch is performing correctly.

I suspect the problem is in the circuit board in the rear lamp assembly. Here is a link to a discussion about this same issue earlier this year.

http://www.allpar.co...e#entry11236874
 

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Greetings all. Brake lights on the sides are not coming on, but the center brake light under the window still comes on. I have checked both bulbs and run current to them and all of the filaments light up..I cleaned off the little brass nubs on the bulb housing. Checked the fuse and it was good. Any ideas? Internal hatchback door wiring coming loose? Left side was working earlier today. I'm not too knowledgable about working on these cars, but can take apart an old VW bug from stem to stern without too much trouble! Any insight regarding this issue appreciated.
Did you figure this out JD??
 

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The Gen III tail light assemblies can sometimes get internal connection breaks. I have seen a couple of posts where people are getting no continuity from the assembly input connector to the bulb contacts. This is not what Alan experienced, but continuity tests should be run before condeming the entire housing assembly. I had an internal break on the tail lights, but only on the top bulb and I was able to perform an external bypass - story here
http://www.allpar.com/forums/topic/87004-mini-van-gen-iii-tail-light-repair/#entry769479

With the brake lights, it might not be so easy to run a wire around the assembly since there are not two bulbs to work with.
 
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