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George H.
George H., Subaru Certified Technician
Category: Subaru
Satisfied Customers: 18692
Experience:  ASE Master Tech 15 + Years
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The brakeswitch in my 01 subaru impreza keeps burning out

Customer Question

the brakeswitch in my 01 subaru impreza keeps burning out what would cause that? this is like the fifth time i've replaced it in seven months
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Subaru
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

Hello I will help you with your question,

What do you mean "burning out"?

Is it melting?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no its not melting it just stops working and ive replaced it several times in the last few months
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

Ok, that would be different.

Your brake lights do not come on at all when this happens?

Is there any physical damage to the switch?

Do you have a voltmeter to check the circuit if I guide you?

Original style tail lights and bulbs?

Let me know so I can help

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
most of the time they do not work at all and you cant shift out of park but this time when it broke the lights are stuck on all the time and i can shift the car out of park
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

OK, if you remove the switch and connect it then push the plunger all the way in do the brake lights go out? If they do it is an adjustment not the switch. The plunger of the switch must be fully pressed into the body of the switch when the pedal is all the way up but not holding the pedal off its stop. It may have just vibrated out of the correct mounting position.

Let me know what happens with that

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
you might be right about that this time i thought of that when i got out of work today but this is still the fifth switch ive had to put in this thing in the last six months. even if i adjust it and it works what would make them keep going bad does it have anything to do with the neutral safety switch. i tried to start the car in drive and it would not start so that leads me to believe that the neutral safety switch is good
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

Are you getting these from Autozone?

The neutral safety switch has nothing to do with the brake switch it is a different circuit, it sounds like the NS switch is working as expected.

If you can adjust it up and use the nut to lock it in place that is all that is needed. If you are putting the same brand of switch in I would try one from NAPA or any other store than AZ.

Let me know how I can help

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
you are right about the adjustment i just adjusted it while i was waiting for your answer and the lights went out again like they are supposed to but what would cause the switch to burn out that many times in the last few months
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

As I posted above, Are you getting the same switch from the same place every time?

You may want to try a different brand if you are.

Let me know so I can help

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the last few times i bought a switch it was from a local parts store called car parts of epsom nh but when i got this one it was from az because it had a warrenty it was just last weekend so it hasn't happened yet it usually takes a few weeks before it burns out
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

Maybe you found the right one then. You can try it and see now that you have it adjusted proerly. The switch will carry all the current that the normal brake light bulbs and the third light if equipped will draw so as long as the car is stock it should not "burn out".

Let me know how I can help

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i understand what you are saying but no matter where they come from why would they burn out the other switches were adjusted correctly i didnt adjust this one correctly but the other one burned out what could cause that ive checked fuses and everything i could think of but i know in a couple of weeks this one will probably go bad to
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

You keep saying they burned out and I don't see any way that would happen if the switch was not melted. Did you check the switches with an ohmmeter?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
when i took one of the bad switches apart the two contacts inside the switch looked like they were allmost welded together what would cause the switch to get that much juice
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

OK, then they were melted

You need to check the brake light bulbs to be sure they are the correct ones, if they are check your fuse to see if it is one of the Chinese ones that never blow open. If they cane from Harbor Freight it needs to be replaced with real fuses.

If the wire from the brake switch to the bulb shorts it is the fuse's job to open, the switch can carry far more current that the fuse will allow so under no circumstance should the contacts melt unless it is very poor quality.

Please let me know what you are seeing so I can help

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what fuse would be connected to the brake switch i checked the manual and i couldn't find anything regarding the brake switch
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
i checked all the fuses to make sure none were blown
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

Fuse #16 in the fuse block is the brake lamp fuse.

The point is the switch melted without blowing the fuse. There have been import fuses that will not blow even if you run 120 amps through them but they are marked at 10, 15 , 20 amps. They came From China and look like what you can buy here but they are dangerous. You are not going to find a blown fuse.

Let me know how i can help

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
im just curious are you a technician or a mechanic
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
should i buy new fuses and what kind should i get because if you think that is the problem i will change them all but what kind should i get
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

I am both, I have repaired cars for more than 30 years, I have a degree in Automotive technology and one in electronic technology. I am Subaru certified and worked in Subaru dealers for more than 10 years. I am also an ASE Master Technician with an additional certification in advanced drivability diagnosis called an L1.

I don't know about the fuses, where did the ones you have in your fuse panel come from and is there a 20 amp fuse in the brake fuse location?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
the ones in the car came with the car but i dont know where they came from but they look like regular fuses we bought the car used. what should i ask for when i go to get fuses
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

I owuld certainly replace the 20 amp brake light fuse with a new one from a major autoparts store. It has been a few years since the HF ones came out but there still could be some floating around out there and the price is usually the clue they came from offshore.

If the fuse blows then you know you have a short that needs to be found BUT you will not burn any more switches.

Let me know how i can help

Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
allright when i get out of work tomorrow i will replace the fuse and hope that this switch lasts more than a few weeks. you have been very helpful and will get a good rating from me if i have any problems in the near future i will try to look you up. thanks alot i appreciate it have a good night my old lady and my kids appreciate any help i can get i have some knowledge about cars but im no mechanic by any means i know just enough to be dangerous. THANK YOU
Expert:  George H. replied 1 year ago.

Great, please let me know if you have further questions

Thank you