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I keep blowing Brake Light Switches....

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by FIFTY2, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. FIFTY2
    Joined: Apr 9, 2008
    Posts: 340


    Its plummed in with the proportioning valve...this is my 4th switch , they keep failing (lights quit). One of the valves actually blew the seal, and I lost front brakes...

    I think Im gonna go to a mechanical switch, was just wondering if anyone else has had this problem..

  2. dodored
    Joined: Feb 5, 2007
    Posts: 639

    from Concord NC

    The stuff that they put out now is no where near the quality of when it was first manufactured. We had this discussion the other night about points for distributors. Used to be that they would last forever, and would only need an occasional adjustment, but now they will strand you unexpectedly anytime. Ford used the pressure switch as a standard issue on early Mustangs for years with no issues. I run one on my '34 pickup with no drama. Buy the switch from another source, but I like the mechnical switches too.
  3. I have had similar results with them, have replaced a few for friends with the same issues. For some reason they just don't last long.

    I prefer the mechanical switches and will be going that route on my current build. The less fittings/cuts in your lines the better.
  4. captain scarlet
    Joined: Jun 11, 2008
    Posts: 2,415

    captain scarlet
    from Detroit

    I brought a Ron Francis pressure switch - lasted about 100 miles and failed.

    I installed a mechanical switch and never had a problem since.

  5. unkledaddy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2006
    Posts: 2,865


    I have a pressure switch that I realized did not activate the brake lights until there was significant braking applied. So I got a '51 Chevy mechanical switch and when I modified it for my need I made it to operate when I barely touch the pedal. It keeps little girls with cellphones on their toes!

    Plus, I still have the pressure switch as backup.

  6. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    from Texas

    It is a pitiful shame that a simple and necessary component like a hydraulic brake light switch is now offered for sale and is so undependable and prone to failure. They've been offered for at least 70 years. The only answer can be the pathetic manufacturing standards of the Chinese factories where they are being made and the failure of our "name brand" distributors to get the problems corrected.
  7. LaSalle Gearbox
    Joined: Feb 3, 2005
    Posts: 115

    LaSalle Gearbox
    from ohio

    It seems the seals aren't able to stand up to today's hydraulic fluid. On some of my cars I have silicone fluid and no problems after ten or more years.
  8. Get one from your local Harley Davidson dealer, find an older guy in the parts department, the young kids dont even know what a old Shovelhead juice rear brake is, or wont even want to look it up half the time. TR
  9. 4t7flat
    Joined: Apr 15, 2009
    Posts: 266


    Hydraulic switches do not like DOT 5 brake fluid. I have 3 cars using them,and I keep a spare switch in each one. Every night I check the brake lights when I pull into the garage. I get about two years out of a switch.
  10. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,102


    And the one in my '37 Chevy has been installed since 1992 with Silicone and is still going strong - go figure :confused:
  11. 54fierro
    Joined: Jul 6, 2006
    Posts: 493

    from san diego

    When i worked at a parts store in the 90s it seemed they would always come back defective for one reason or another. I would go mechanical, looks like the quality of these has been down for a while. Cesar
  12. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,728


    I got the Ron Francis low pressure switch. I heard about failures, so I bought two. After 6 years, I gave my spare away. The car was a '32 3 window. My '52 Chevy has a mechanical switch, but some times it hangs up and the lights stay on.
  13. VoodooTwin
    Joined: Jul 13, 2011
    Posts: 3,455

    from Noo Yawk

    Are those pressure switches rated for the proper wattage of your brake light system? Check to make sure. I use the mechanical switches like the one pictured in one of the posts above. They simply work....forever....and, they are traditional. :)
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  14. Da Tinman
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,226

    Da Tinman

    Get a Harley brake light switch, made for the newer fliuds, not that spendy and will live long time.
  15. yblock292
    Joined: Oct 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,937


    what bulbs are you using?LEDs will burn them up quick
  16. RDAH
    Joined: Mar 23, 2007
    Posts: 465

    from NL, WI

    I always put a mechancal switch on the brake pedal. When I barely touch that pedal I want those brake lights to come on. Too many bumper cling ons in the world.
  17. RodStRace
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 2,486


    Had the pressure switches start failing after a short time since the late 80s.
    The manufacturers all raced to the bottom on those.
  18. 26 roadster
    Joined: Apr 21, 2008
    Posts: 2,015

    26 roadster

    Never had a pressure switch fail and I buy to cheap stuff??? Never had LED lights either though. I have run as many as eight 1157 brake light bulbs with no problems. Never ran any dot5 fluid just dot3/4, makes me think it's fluid not electrical. No experiance with LED lights.
  19. primed34
    Joined: Feb 3, 2007
    Posts: 1,133


    I've had good luck with VW pressure switches. '69 GG I believe.
  20. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,885

    from Quincy, IL

    I would be interested to know how LED lights would "burn them up" .

    Seems counter to reason. LED lamps draw much less amps than regular filament bulbs...........I am willing to listen to an explanation

  21. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,792


    Go mechanical. You'll never look back.
  22. 1950ChevySuburban
    Joined: Dec 20, 2006
    Posts: 6,188

    Member Emeritus
    from Tucson AZ

    An advantage to the GM style mechanical switch pictured earlier is that the contact points wipe clean each use, as opposed to a "touch-N-arc" pushbutton switch.

    LED lights will absolutely NOT kill switches, you have other problems.
  23. Could be the bias setting of that proportioning valve is causing the hi pressure ruining those switches for you.
    most often it will cause the master cylinder to fail because of a bypass of the main piston seals.
    I personally never use one on any car.....
  24. look at all the ford pickups that caught fire due to a faulty pressure switches for the cruise control.......go mechanical
  25. Verminator
    Joined: Mar 27, 2007
    Posts: 814


    I've had 3 pressure switches go bad in 20,000 miles on the 55 panel. Hated opening and bleeding the brake system. Made a bracket and now use the lever switch.
    Something to think about if you TOW with your old car:

    No Brake lights = No Trailer Brakes !!!

    Not a fun way to find out the brake lights aren't working .. .
  26. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 28,508


    LED lights woudn't put enough of a load on them to burn them out.

    it isn't the load that gets them it's the brake fluid and maybe because on rods we stick them under the car on the frame rail, general road crud and moisture may get to the ones that get driven a lot more than normal.

    I've had the Ford style switches on my 48 for 20 years and usually had to replace one every couple of years. It's getting the correct mechanical switch during this build.

    If I were to run the Ford switch again I think I'd go to Ford and see if they still have the original ones in the parts department.
  27. Bert Kollar
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,005

    Bert Kollar

    I built a dune buggy in 1972, used a VW pressure switch and it still works perfectly. Love that German engineering
  28. Engine man
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,476

    Engine man
    from Wisconsin

    All of these switches these days are trash. Liebherr material handlers [German] use pressure switches for servo pressure, brake pressure, oil pressure, turbo boost pressure etc. They fail all the time. I don't think any have lasted 2 years.
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,178


    For the last several years, the pressure switches can't handle the amps. Then they get hot and start allowing fluid where it shouldn't be and it burns them out. The CCCA has a bulletin about how to wire a relay into the system and reduce the amps to the pressure switch. Still seems like a band-aid fix to me, but if it reduces the load, well ok. Mechanical is probably the best bet. Even a plastic push button type like from a 60s GM would be better. A junkyard crawl should net you the switch and the bolt-on bracket for the push button style. Just an idea...
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 8,178


    I keep blowing Brake Light Switches....

    Why? Do you need the money or just find them attactive?

    I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself...:cool:

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