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Old 11-28-2006, 09:47 PM   #1
erick295
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Default Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

When I have my headlights on and I use the brakes, the lights dim to half their normal brightness and the engine loses 100 RPM, sometimes sounding like it wants to stall. It recovers after half a second. This happens to a small degree whenever I do anything that requires a lot of power (like turning on the AC or the headlights), but it's noticeably worse when I use the brakes. I only have to push the pedal enough for the lights to come on for this to happen, and if I hold the pedal right at that contact point, the lights will stay dim and the engine will continue to struggle until I release the pedal or push it in farther.

My battery is brand new and the alternator is about a year old. I've cleaned the battery terminals.

I think this is probably my brake light switch, but I figured I'd throw this out here and see if anyone else has any other ideas. To me it seems like there's just a short in it that's causing it to draw a lot of current, but I want to make sure I'm not overlooking anything obvious.

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Old 11-28-2006, 10:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

I had this occur on my 98 SL2 once. It turned out to be a corroded ground connection to the engine.
Sanded it clean with sandpaper, applied some dialectic grease and tightened it back on and haven't had a problem since.

Maybe you'll be lucky and it'll be something simple.

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Old 11-28-2006, 10:36 PM   #3
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

I don't know for sure, but my bet is on the voltage regulator, or perhaps some other component, inside the altenator. The brake lights, (at least 4 high wattage bulbs), puts a pretty good load on the altenator when you have alot of other electrical accessories operating. I have noticed a very slight dimming of my headlights when I step on my brake. I just recently rebuilt my altenator so I am very interested in this problem. Keep us posted.

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Old 11-28-2006, 10:40 PM   #4
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

If all connections are good then I think that the alt is giving its death warning.

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Old 11-28-2006, 10:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

+1 to alternator dying.

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Old 11-29-2006, 09:26 AM   #6
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Really? That would make me pretty mad, because this one is almost new

When my other alt went, it did something similar, but the lights stayed dim -- with this they're only dimming for a second. The biggest reason I suspect the switch is that (like I said) if I hold the pedal right at its contact point, even though the brake lights stay on, everything stays dim like there's a load on the system. As soon as I push the pedal in further, it goes away.

I think I'll try replacing the switch just to see if anything changes. If not, I guess I'll go somewhere and get the alt tested. Battery voltage is normal, about 14-15V.

Thanks for the input

Last edited by erick295; 11-29-2006 at 09:32 AM..

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Old 11-29-2006, 09:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by redkees@msn.com
I had this occur on my 98 SL2 once. It turned out to be a corroded ground connection to the engine.
Sanded it clean with sandpaper, applied some dialectic grease and tightened it back on and haven't had a problem since.

Maybe you'll be lucky and it'll be something simple.
Where exactly is the connection you found corroded?

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Old 11-29-2006, 09:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

check your stoplight switch, mine shorted out and did the same thing except when the lights were off and i hit the brakes the dash lights would come on

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Old 11-29-2006, 10:25 AM   #9
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

do you have anti lock brakes? maybe they are engaging when they should not be?

Ive noticed when the ABS kicks in on my '94 it takes a lot of power from the electrical system.

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Old 11-29-2006, 01:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Nope, no ABS. It doesn't have any options at all, actually

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Old 11-29-2006, 01:32 PM   #11
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

you said the engine struggles when you step on the brakes? that is weird. Im wondering if there is a vacuum leak in the brake system?

do your brake lights come on when this happens? If there were a short in the wiring or the switch I would expect your brake lights are not working at all

also, pushing the brake pedal further and all is well? something weird is going on with your car!

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Old 11-29-2006, 01:51 PM   #12
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Yeah, it is kind of weird... the lights do work.

What's the easiest way to replace the switch? I just looked under there and it looks impossible to get to without taking off the dash

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Old 11-29-2006, 03:11 PM   #13
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Quick test - pull the brake light fuse. If the problem goes away, the problem is electrical; either with the brake lights (switch, socket, etc) or the charging system as stated. If the problem persists, start looking up KCW's alley into the possibility of a vacuum leak.

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Old 11-29-2006, 03:36 PM   #14
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Good thought. I'll try that tonight

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Old 11-29-2006, 04:02 PM   #15
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

I'll put my money on an alternator giving its death rattle.

Get your battery load tested as well.

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Old 11-30-2006, 09:08 AM   #16
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

I pulled the fuse and the problem went away, so it's obviously something electrical...

Any ideas on removing the brake light switch..? I can't see any way to get to it without removing the dash.

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Old 11-30-2006, 10:57 AM   #17
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by erick295
I pulled the fuse and the problem went away, so it's obviously something electrical...

Any ideas on removing the brake light switch..? I can't see any way to get to it without removing the dash.
I cant rationalize it being the switch. If the brake lights come on, the switch cant be shorted, unless they come on very dim.

Get a voltmeter from radio shack or walmart for $10 and see whats going on with the battery voltage. What is it with the engine off, with it running, with it running with all the headlights and the heater blower and the rear window defogger turned on?

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Old 11-30-2006, 11:00 AM   #18
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by erick295
Any ideas on removing the brake light switch..? I can't see any way to get to it without removing the dash.
Be a contortionist - I am 260, 6'3", and could get up there to change it. It was REALLY hard though.

However, the problem is not the switch. Its your alternator, as many people have stated. Run to you FLAPS, they can tell you in less than 5 minutes, without you having to be a contortionist. Many, many people have had this issue, and just because the alt is less than a year old doesn't mean it cant be bad again.

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Old 11-30-2006, 12:58 PM   #19
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Well, I was going to get the alt tested when I went to get the new switch... that way if was okay, I could just pick up the switch... I was just hoping to get some info in advance in case I need it. I guess I forgot to mention that. That's what I needed to know, though, so thanks

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Old 11-30-2006, 10:35 PM   #20
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Default Re: Lights dim, engine struggles when brake pedal is pressed. Bad switch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by erick295
I pulled the fuse and the problem went away, so it's obviously something electrical...

Any ideas on removing the brake light switch..? I can't see any way to get to it without removing the dash.

Pulling the brake light fuse removes that electrical load. So if that is gone but it is that load that is causing the system to not have enough current then you have done little to find your problem. If you have a voltmeter hook it up to the battery and see what the voltage reading is engine running no brake pedal and then with brake pedal. The voltage should not change considerably. It shold stay at about 14 volts. Not a surefire check but it is a start.

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