Varois83 2009-07-25 02:38:17
I own a Ford Escort 1997, a little over 2 months ago the car wouldn’t
go into gear, so I went to auto zone and asked if they had a clue what
could be doing that.
The guy said it sounds like the brake light switch, sold me a new part
for $10 and explained with a printout how to replace it.
Well I am car challenged but I always give a shot at fixing things
that appear simple first prior to hire pros, and I did get my new
brake light switch in there and the car went into gear.
I drove the car with no problems for 2 months and then the part broke
and the car wouldn’t go into gear again.
I bought another switch put it in there again and this time I try to
adjust it the best I could as I figure I placed the one that broke too
close to the brake pedal and it wore out quickly.
Well it worked for 2 weeks and now it just failed again and the car
won’t go into gear again.
What am I doing wrong guys? Is there a trick or anything that I don’t
The part just screws in the hole provided for it, it is so easy, but
why does it break every time?
One more thing the 2 parts I got at autozone look slightly different
than my original part, could that be it, could it be the part that is
wrong even if autozone says that is the one for an Escort 1997?
If all else fails it will go in the shop next week.
Thanks for your time
Kruse 2009-07-25 02:38:21
Try buying one from Ford.
Jeff 2009-07-25 02:38:28
The trick is getting one that is of good qualtiy.
Obviously, the one you are buying at that store aren’t. Go elsewhere,
like the dealer.
Kevin 2009-07-25 02:38:30
I would guess the peddle stop is broken and letting the peddle come back
too far and brake the switch. KB
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Bruce l. bergm 2009-07-25 02:38:32
Don’t give up yet. It was the switch failing but something else is
killing it, they don’t fail that fast without another reason.
It might be the right switch but you are adjusting it wrong. Or the
car has worn and you need to readjust, not just put it back in the
If the switch is the screw-in plunger style and adjusted too far down
on it’s threads, when you release the pedal the switch is also trying
to be the mechanical pedal stop, and they won’t take a beating like
that for long. That type needs to have the plunger pushed in all the
way just as the pedal is up hard against the up-stop bumper so it
doesn’t ‘overextend’ the brake light switch when you slide your foot
off the brake pedal and let the return spring pop it back up fast.
When at rest, you want to screw the switch in till the brake lights
just go off, then only two or three turns more so the stop lights
don’t blink. You want to tap your foot and get brake lights, but let
your foot off very gently and they still always go off. If you adjust
the switch in too far, that’s when the mechanical failures start.
There might be a rubber bushing (to pad the stop pedal arm when you
release the pedal) that is either missing, petrified, or worn. Look
for an empty hole – those bumpers are all rubber that look like a
mushroom, the ‘head’ is the pad and the ‘stem’ holds it in the hole.
Or it could be that the pedal pivot (where the top of the pedal arm
hinges) is getting worn and has shifted, and is putting side loads on
the switch it wasn’t designed for. If you get lots of creaking or
groaning noises as you work the pedal, the bushings in the pedal box
may be going or gone.
—<< Bruce >>–
Varois83 2009-07-25 02:38:34
Well thanks everybody for the tips so far and especially Bruce for the
long detailed post. I called 3 Ford dealerships and they are all out
of that switch but can get it quickly.
The current switch stops working and then works again and so on. I
didn’t have time to look at it today, I had other important things to
do but tomorrow I will be back at it.
I really think there might be something wrong with the pedal as the
second switch I replaced I really tried to adjust it perfectly with my
wife standing in the back of the car telling me when the brake lights
were on or not, and now it’s failing too.
And just like everyone here I need my car and a co-worker that drives
right by my house has been kind enough to pick me up on “bad brake
light switch day”.
Please keep posting if someone knows something not mentioned yet.
Thanks again to all
Masterblaster 2009-07-25 02:38:40
I assume you have the metal threaded switch and locknut, with a plastic plunger?
(This is the non-cruise-control style)
For 91-96, Autozone says (among other things)…
5. Install the switch on the pedal (and finger-tighten the switch locknut).
10. Turn the brake light switch until it contacts the pedal, then turn it an additional half turn.
(I think that means the plastic plunger, not the metal body)
11. Tighten the switch locknut to 10-13 ft. lbs. (14-17 Nm).
97-99 doesn’t mention any “adjustment”, but I assume it’s the same.
If you have another “bad switch day”, you should still be able to start the car by
unplugging the switch, and shorting the two wires together with a paper clip or
similar, then turning the key. Remove the clip, plug the switch back in, and drive
to work with extra care, because your brake lights might not be working.
Masterblaster 2009-07-25 02:38:42
Sorry, to clarify, the body does the turning, the plunger does the contacting. 🙂
Varois83 2009-07-25 02:38:44
I appreciate the help and the links. I will try to follow their
instructions but with a Ford purchased switch.
I have one question regarding your instructions, they say to
disconnect the negative battery cable, is it for my own safety or
could it mess the installation in some way because I never
disconnected it in prior switch changes?
Thanks again for the help.
Bob bailin 2009-07-25 02:38:46
It’s for your own safety and for the car’s safety whenever you’re working
on the electrical system, so you don’t accidently short out a circuit and
damage another component like, say, the computer. In reality, it’s very
unlikely this will happen when replacing the brake switch, and most
people don’t because you’ll lose the learned engine settings and more
importantly, your radio preset stations.
Varois83 2009-07-25 02:38:50
Well the part is working right now. I checked the wiring I don’t see
anything wrong, I tried to move the part half a turn in and half a
turn out and it stops working so I have it in there just right, it is
not an adjustment problem.
I will get a Ford part on Tuesday and replace this one as I suspect
those generic parts don’t work as well as the original. If it fails
then I will take the car to the shop as it would be either wiring or
pedal and be beyond my scope.
Varois83 2009-07-25 02:38:51
The mushroom bumper thingy is there I saw it, it seems in perfect
I am getting a Ford switch on Tuesday, hopefully that will be it.
I appreciate the help Bruce.