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red2003 02-17-2008 01:42 PM

Exterior brake lights stay on (right, center, and left)
With the transmission in Drive and no pressure on the brake pedal, the exterior brake lights are still on.

This is not a problem caused by the brake pedal switch (both of the plunger switches located at the pedal test ok). With the car ignition on and the transmission in park, no pressure on the brake pedal, the brake lights are NOT on. Pushing the pedal causes the brake lights to come on and causes the solenoid release pin to activate, allowing the transmission selector to be moved out of park. If the selector is left in park, releasing the brake pedal causes the brake lights to go out, that part of the brake circuit seems to be working ok. The problem with the brake lights staying happens when the transmission is moved out of park to any other position, including neutral and allowing the car to stand with no brakes on or to just coast, the brake lights still stay on when there is no pressure on the brake pedal.

I don't have a wiring diagram for the car, does anyone know where they can be obtained for free or low cost? It appears there may be a relay in the interlock circuit that connects the brake pedal switches, transmission selector switch, and ignition switch.

2002focusSEwagon 09-04-2009 12:17 AM

The same problem exactly, with my 2002 Focus SE wagon. Also, the third break light does not light at all. Here's the problem....The wires in the umbilical cord connecting the body to the hatch are "trashed". The insulation is brittle and cracked. Two of the wires are completely severed. Poor engineering at this critical junction. I'll try to put up some pictures. You will likely find the same problem with yours.

2002focusSEwagon 09-04-2009 09:57 AM

Here are the pictures of the broken wires

Direct pictures added here:

MalcolmRoachjr. 07-20-2010 07:48 PM

Awsome Information and details bro!
Today i had the same problem come up on my focus , i opened up this thread and the info was helpful and right on the money. I plan on re wiring the entire area this weekend and modifing the entire area so this will never happen again.

I appriciate your details and help , you saved me some money and that put a smile on my face

arlenn 07-20-2010 08:33 PM

how did you make the repair? Its hard to get fingers in there, and we have not got to fingers and tools yet.


Originally Posted by 2002focusSEwagon (Post 2911286)
Here are the pictures of the broken wires

psenechal 08-02-2010 03:18 PM

Same issue here
Thanks for the posting. I have the exact same issue going on and will be checking this wiring out tonight. I'll post pictures of what I find as well in case it helps anyone.

carlo_cmb 06-10-2011 06:47 PM

This has happened to me too and my symptoms were the brake lights staying on in drive, neutral, reverse (with engine running), and also no high bar brake light at any time. The brake lights were okay, initially, when in park.

So I opened up the umbilical harness as described, using the hidden tab, and immediately saw lots of wires with cracked casing. In my case the thin green wire with yellow stripe was completely broken apart, and I know from checking the bulbs on the high bar brake light that this wire goes there.

I connected the broken wire and all problems were resolved. e.g. side brake lights started working normally and also the high bar light also began to work again.

So it will be interesting to fix this mess - wish I could shrink wrap them, but it is a tight space and the rear windshield washer feed line is also in this same umbilical, making it tight and need to be careful not to puncture that hose.

Also, everyone should note that abnormal hot temperatures that can occur in the side brake light assemblies. As double filament brake light bulbs burn continuously while driving, the danger of melting the plastic taillight red lens is high. Mine were hot too touch !

Thanks all for this great post as it pointed me to the problem area quickly. To bad they did not engineer this better for real world use - it is clearly a weak spot, which can cause some interesting problems.


DonRamon 06-25-2011 01:33 PM


Originally Posted by 2002focusSEwagon (Post 2911286)
Here are the pictures of the broken wires

Thankyou, i had the same problem with my ZX3, looked at your pics and found same problem, one of the wires was cut the rest are stripped, its a mess in there, but i reconnected the broken wire and now it all works. Your post was very helpfull. [wrenchin]

DonRamon 06-25-2011 08:32 PM

Would like to add something else. After i reconnected the broken wire in the hatch, not only did the brake lights started working like they should but my Cruise control started working also. My cruise control went out a few month back randomly and thats probably when my brake lights started to stay on, so i guess those 2 systems are somehow connected together. So im happy killed 2 birds with one stone. :)

faustus 08-03-2011 06:19 PM

Well, this thread saved me money ....

I had this weird problem that my break lights were always on and I did a little google search and found this thread .... and what I read was identical to the symptoms that my car was showing ... bingo ... I didn't even verify the wires in the umbilical cord, I went straight to the hardware store to buy some connectors and the next evening discovered and repaired the mess ....

Car: 2003 Ford Focus SE Wagon

- 3rd break light would not work at all
- break lights would always be on with the transmission in Drive or Reverse
- with the transmission in Park, the break lights would work as expected
- cruise control not working
- rear wiper not working

When I inspected the wires in the umbilical cord connecting the body to the hatch I found a whole mess in there ... 5 wired were severed and on the remaining wires the insulation is brittle and cracked ... I could see bare copper wire in many places ...

Here a picture of what I found:

And here a picture of what it looked like after the reapair:

Now, I am not a mechanic and I have the feeling that I will have the same problem soon again, but at least I have a temporary fix for now ..... all the wiring would need to be replaced in there ....

But for now my break lights work as expected ... even my 3rd break light ...

Thanks everyone for sharing your knowledge and experience here ...

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