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Mazda Ed
Mazda Ed, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Mazda
Satisfied Customers: 2223
Experience:  ASE Certified Mazda Master Technician
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98 Mazda Protege DX: rear brake lights only work..OFF...tail-lights

Customer Question

My step-daughter's 98 Mazda Protege DX almost passed the state inspection - except that the rear brake lights only work with headlights OFF. All 3 brake lights work fine with headlights turned off, but when HL's are turned on and brake pedal is pressed, the tail-lights go off and only the center (3rd) brake light comes on. Also when the brake pedal is pressed (HL's off) the radio channel illumination light dims. A few days before, my step-daughter rear-ended another vehicle, but little damage was done - headlights, front Turn Sig's were intact, no air bag deployed, only a dent in the hood, a small rectangular hole was punched through the bottom of the license plate, and part of the plastic gravel shield under the radiator was broken.
Also with vehicle parked & engine off - when you turn headlights on I hear a VERY LOUD CLICK that appears to come from center console near transmission shift lever.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mazda
Expert:  Mazda Ed replied 6 years ago.

maddogtech :


maddogtech :

Do you have a meter or test light for doing some diagnostics?

maddogtech :

What happens if the hazard lights are turned on?


Yes I have both a VOM & a test light. Just checked hazard lights & all 4 work fine. Brake lights work with hazard lights on & headlights off. But again - with Headlights on, the 2 brake lights do not work while hazards are flashing.

Mazda Ed and 3 other Mazda Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Mazda Ed replied 6 years ago.
When the hazards are on do you hear that click noise from the center console?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I'm afraid I accidentally "accepted" before you gave me an answer. I answered your question about the hazard lights & have not heard back from you. What do you recommend I check next?
Expert:  Mazda Ed replied 6 years ago.

I asked you another question about if you heard the click noise from the center console when the hazards were on and you didn't respond back to that??


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Yes- makes no difference if Hazards are on or off. However I noticed no load click occurs if ignition switch is off. Obly when key is turned on enough to make radio etc come on do I hear the loud click.
Expert:  Mazda Ed replied 6 years ago.
Ok, the next thing I would like you to do is remove the bulbs from the tail lights. In this step we are trying to isolate a shorted bulb or socket that may be backfeeding power into another circuit. See if the click noise still happens when you turn on the parking lights with those bulbs removed.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
OK - with both taillight bulbs removed.- no loud click/-Doesn't matter if Hazards are on or off. Also doesn't matter if ignition is on or off - loud click is gone.
Expert:  Mazda Ed replied 6 years ago.
Ok, try each bulb in the driver side and then try each bulb in the passenger side. Mark the bulbs so you can tell which is which. If you can duplicate the problem on both sides with the same bulb then there is something wrong with the bulb. If you can duplicate the problem on the same side of the vehicle with 2 different bulbs then there is something wrong with the socket or wiring and we can continue diagnosing. Let me know the results and we can continue.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Here is what I found:

Left Bulb in Left Socket
Head Lights Off - Brake Light On
Head Lights On - No Brake Light
HZ off - no loud click
HZ on - no loud click

Right Bulb in Left Socket
Head Lights Off - - Brale Light On
HL on - Brake light works
HZ Off - no click
HZ On - no click

Right Bulb in Right Socket
Head Lights Off - - Brake Light works
Head Lights On - Brake Light works
HZ off - no click
HZ on - no click

Left Bulb in Right Socket

Head Lights Off -Brake Light works (very bright)
Head Lights On -Brake Light works
HZ on - no click
HZ off - no click
Expert:  Mazda Ed replied 6 years ago.
From what you are saying it sounds like the filament is shorted inside the left bulb. Do you have a replacement bulb that you can install? If not, I think that is all you need to get this car fixed.
Mazda Ed and 3 other Mazda Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I did have a pack of "new" bulbs that was opened. When I replaced the left bulb, then only the left brake light started working & I thought this is just why I hate troubleshooting automotive electrical problems!
Then I remembered why the pack was opened - I suspect one bulb was old but still working when I pulled it months ago while replacing both bulbs when only one was bad & kept it as an emergency spare.
I started switching bulbs various ways & was about to give up when I tried one more combination & it worked!. Original Left bulb definitely had to be replaced.and new bulb #2 had to be used in place of "new bulb #1" on the right. New Bulb #1 must have been the old bulb I replaced months ago.
The loud click now only occurs with ignition on only when you press the brake pedal with lights off or on. But no longer clicks just when you switch lights on. I guess I just never noticed the loud click when car is running & brakes are applied.
I will sleep a lot better now, knowing the steering wheel, air bag, and combination switch will not have to be removed/replaced. Thank you so much for your outstanding diagnostic ability!
Expert:  Mazda Ed replied 6 years ago.

I'm glad we got it fixed and it was so inexpensive!


That loud click noise you hear is the shift interlock that prevents you from shifting the car out of park without having your foot on the brake. It is supposed to click and is pretty audible. Isn't it amazing the things we don't notice until a problem happens!


Customer: replied 6 years ago.

You did such a great job I think I'll ask for you in 2 weeks when I try to fix a P1195 code on this car. Next week I have to finish my taxes. I'll add a bonus after I click on "acccept answer".

Thanks again,

Expert:  Mazda Ed replied 6 years ago.

Please feel free to request me at any time. Be sure to put Mazda Ed in the title so I can see it as well as request me from the main page if you'd like.


By the way.... It looks like you accepted twice... did you mean to do that or do you need a refund processed for the second accept?

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