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    Thread: DIY - Installing a new brake light switch (without breaking it!)

    1. 10-15-2004 07:52 PM #71

    2. 10-21-2004 08:40 PM #72
      Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wish I had seen this before. I have a 2001 Jetta I got in Summer 2001, and had this stupid thing replaced 3 times, last time wasn't under warranty and wasn't covered under the recall. Had to shell out $100 to the dealer for it.

    3. 01-19-2005 09:21 PM #73
      Hi, I just wanted to say Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou for this. The brake light switch on my Mother's 01 Beetle TDI went yesterday, and it broke so it didn't work at all so it wouldn't shift out of park (automatic). I was ready to try and track down some electrical problem in the system, but I'm glad I looked here first to see it was a common problem.

      And this guide in particular was extremely helpful in installing the new switch, I got it right the first time! And I know had I not seen this I would have had to do it several times before I got it right, so thankyou again.

      Ohh yeah, I might mention, the original switch was black, the new one has a purple housing... makes me wounder if that means it's an updated part.


      Modified by Smelly Bug at 11:49 PM 1-20-2005


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      03-07-2005 05:56 PM #74
      Some more info regarding 2-pin vs 4-pin switches:
      http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=1869129

    5. 05-04-2005 07:04 PM #75
      Heya folks -

      I have a 2003 Jetta automatic. In the mornings when I go to work, the car will not shift out of park. It seems as though I have to wait around 5 minutes and then it lets me shift - and the car is fine all day. It's done this the past 3 mornings and I'm getting pissy.

      Do you think this brake switch could be the problem? The light in the dash showing the brake being pressed goes off when I do press the brake, as does the light on the gear shifter...it just won't let me out of park. I will need to have someone check to see if my brake lights work at that time.

      What a weird situation.

      CD


    6. Member vdubMT's Avatar
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      06-11-2005 09:12 AM #76
      Great write up. Just had to replace mine again. This time I did it myself and was simple as can be. Now I can all day and not worry about this stupid switch.

    7. 06-11-2005 09:21 AM #77
      Quote, originally posted by CreativeDame »
      Heya folks -

      I have a 2003 Jetta automatic. In the mornings when I go to work, the car will not shift out of park. It seems as though I have to wait around 5 minutes and then it lets me shift - and the car is fine all day. It's done this the past 3 mornings and I'm getting pissy.

      Do you think this brake switch could be the problem? The light in the dash showing the brake being pressed goes off when I do press the brake, as does the light on the gear shifter...it just won't let me out of park. I will need to have someone check to see if my brake lights work at that time.

      What a weird situation.

      CD

      It's either the brake light switch or the sift lock solenoid in the shifter mechanism.

      Do you have brake lights when you step on the brakes. If not, then it's the brake light switch. If you do, then it's probably the solenoid.

      Gary


    8. 06-25-2005 08:32 AM #78
      is there a way to bypass the switch until one is obtained and installed

    9. Member vdubMT's Avatar
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      06-25-2005 08:49 AM #79
      I don't think so. I had to leave my car parked where it was when the switch failed on me. I wasn't about to pay for a tow to the dealer so i got a ride there and bought one and put it in with no problems.

    10. 06-26-2005 02:38 PM #80
      Until I am able to get the switch... or to the dealer, is there a way to bypass the switch so that the car can be put into gear?

      Thanks


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      06-30-2005 12:23 AM #81
      Glad I read the vortex because I heard about the brake light switch. The brake lights were on when I left my 337. Went to dealer and they put in purple brake light switch that ended in an E. It must be the new part to replace the D. Mine was a C. It looked ok, but it it sure was messed. I disconnnected it so my batery wouldn't die. Glad I knew what was up, or my lights would stay on and the battery die.

      Just remove the cover with a torx bit, The switch is right there, just unclip the wire to save your battery. Your lights won't work, obviously. If you have an automatic you're screwed I believe. It worked fine on my car, I just didn't use the cruise control and didn't drive more than a couple miles.

      I was pissed about it breaking recently, but as long as they fixed it with a better part I'm ok with it. It was funny that I knew what it was and was right!


    12. 06-30-2005 08:39 AM #82
      Quote, originally posted by smokinjoejetta »
      is there a way to bypass the switch until one is obtained and installed

      If it's the BLS and not the solenoid, then you can put the shifter into the space between R and N or N and D with the ignition off, start the car and then immediately put it into gear ... or something like this. I'm going to try this over the weekend on my sister's automatic and post up the exact instructions.

      Gary


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      06-30-2005 11:29 AM #83
      Quote, originally posted by VgRt6 »
      I had some free time and all the necessary pics, so I put this little DIY together. Hope it's useful to someone.


      INSTALLING A NEW BRAKE LIGHT SWITCH (WITHOUT BREAKING IT!)

      The following outlines the procedure for installing a new brake light switch on a MKIV car. It is common for the switch to fail, resulting in either (1) no brake lights when the brake pedal is depressed OR (2) the brakes lights staying on constantly, regardless of brake pedal position AND (3) the cruise control not working. In cars with automatic transmissions, a failed brake light switch will also prevent the car from being shifted out of park since the brake pedal needs to be depressed for this to occur and the car/tranny does not know the brake pedal is being depressed.

      The procedure below applies to the most recent 4-pin brake light switches with the following part#s - 1J0 945 511 B, 1J0 945 511 C and 1J0 945 511 D (the most recent version - if you buy a new switch it will almost certainly be the 'D' version since it supercedes all previous versions). If you have an older style of brake light switch with part# 1J0 945 511 A, then the special installation procedure given below does not apply. See the procedure given at the very end of this DIY for installing this switch.

      A new brake light switch (1J0 945 511 D) should cost around $10-15 at your local dealer or slightly less on the Internet (http://www.vwparts.com).

      No special tools are needed to perform the below procedure (assuming that you have already accessed the switch by removing the required trim pieces as described in this DIY - Removing Interior Parts II).


      __________________________________________________ __________________

      INTRODUCTION

      The picture below shows an example of the most recent style brake light switch (either a 'B', 'C' or 'D' switch). If the brake light switch that you want to install does not look like this (i.e., it is an 'A' switch), the proceed directly to the section at the end of this DIY entitled "Installing The Switch ('A' Version)". If you purchase a new switch, then it will most likely be the most recent version, the 'D' switch, and the following installation procedure will apply to you.


      There have been numerous posts on the Vortex about failed brake light switches and a number of different installation procedures have been suggested. Unfortunately, all of them are either incomplete or just plain wrong, and will lead to the switch breaking when being installed. This is probably why many people have posted that it took 3-4 tries (and a new switch with each) to get the switch installed properly. Contrary to what some Vortexers have posted, you CAN move the plunger in and out before the switch is installed without the switch breaking. It actually needs to be able to move when you install it - the plunger on the switch is self-adjusting and will compress a good bit when installed. Also, the switch does not need to be installed with the ignition on and should NEVER be rotated into the locked position with the brake pedal depressed (this is the critical flaw in the previously posted procedures).

      After breaking a new switch myself while trying to install it, I decided to disassemble the switch to figure out exactly how the internal mechanism works and why it fails if the switch is installed incorrectly. What I discovered is that the rotating of the switch into place not only secures it to its bracket, it also rotates the internal mechanism into position and locks the plunger length. This is shown in the pictures below. The picture on the left shows the switch in its unlocked (unrotated) state. The two tabs that secure the switch in its bracket are indicated by the blue arrows. Note that there is a third tab (red arrow) underneath one of the tabs. When the switch is inserted into the hole in its bracket and rotated into position, the third tab is pinned against the side of the bracket hole, causing the switch internals to rotate inside of its housing (the internals actually stay put, it's the outer housing that rotates). The picture on the right shows the switch in the locked (rotated) state. Note that the third tab is not underneath one of the other two tabs anymore and is now visible.


      Because of the way that VW designed the switch, part of the internal mechanism will break off if the switch is rotated into position WITHOUT the plunger fully compressed against its spring tension. This is why many people, including dealers, destroy switches when installing them - the switches don't come with installation instructions and people don't understand how the internal mechanism works. Therefore, when installing a new switch, it is critical that the plunger be compressed against its spring tension or the switch will break and you'll need to buy a new one. It is also necessary to set the correct plunger length so that the brake lights will come on with minimal movement of the brake pedal. Fortunately, the plunger is self-adjusting. The plunger is ribbed on the inside of the switch and will 'ratchet' down to its proper length during installation. The rotation of the switch during installation will then lock this length in.

      Now that I've probably confused everyone, it's time for the installation procedure. This procedure is actually very simple, but must be followed exactly or the switch will break.


      INSTALLING THE SWITCH ('B', 'C' or 'D' versions)

      1. Before attempting to install a new brake light switch, first make sure that the switch is in its unlocked state (as described above) AND the plunger is fully extended (approx. 1"). A newly purchased switch should be in this condition and nothing further should need to be done to prepare it for installation - go directly to step 2. If the switch appears to be in its locked state OR the plunger appears to be compressed, then these need to be corrected before installing the switch. To unlock the switch, press the plunger in completely and then rotate the switch housing while holding the plunger in. (Similar to during switch installation, if the plunger is not held in against its spring tension while doing this the internal mechanism will be broken). If the plunger is not fully extended, make sure the switch is in its unlocked state and then pull the plunger out all the way, as shown below. You should hear a clicking noise from the ratchet mechanism inside as it's extended.


      2. The bracket that holds the brake light switch is indicated by the yellow arrow in the picture below. Note that the hole in the bracket is not symmetrical and as a result, the switch can only be inserted one way. The hole is diamond-shaped on top (red arrow) and square on the bottom (blue arrow).


      3. Push down the brake pedal as far as it will go. If it does not go down enough, start the car temporarily to loosen the brake pedal and then turn the car off.

      4. Insert the new switch into the bracket. For the tabs to line up, the square wiring harness portion of the switch needs to be on top and approximately 35-45° counter-clockwise from horizontal, as indicated by the yellow arrow in the picture below. (Note: The picture shows the brake pedal NOT depressed since I needed both hands to take the picture. It should be fully depressed at this point.)


      5. While holding the switch in place (DO NOT LET IT PUSH BACKWARDS - THIS IS CRITICAL), release the brake pedal and pull it back slowly as far as it will go (until it hits the stop), as indicated by the red arrow in the picture above. You should hear the plunger click as it compresses. This procedure sets the correct length for the switch plunger.

      6. While still holding the new switch fully against the bracket, rotate the wiring harness portion of the switch 35-45° clockwise until it clicks into place, as shown in the picture below.


      7. Connect the wiring harness to the switch, as shown in the picture below. The switch has been installed correctly and should now work fine.


      WARNING: If at any time during steps 5 and 6 the switch backs away from the bracket (even a little bit), DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ROTATE THE SWITCH INTO POSITION!!! It will break. Do not just push the switch back against the bracket and then rotate it. YOU MUST REMOVE THE SWITCH, PULL THE PLUNGER OUT ALL THE WAY AND START FROM THE TOP! This is due to the fact that the plunger compresses against its spring tension FIRST and then shortens in length by the ratcheting mechanism. Not doing the process in one stage may cause the plunger to not be fully compressed against its spring tension (i.e., the plunger will move inwards by permanently shortening instead) which could lead to the internal mechanism being broken when the switch is rotated into position.


      Note: Because of the poor (and IMO unnecessary) design of the internal mechanism of the switch, it may still be possible to break the internal mechanism of the switch even if you install it correctly. This could happen if the switch doesn't compress against spring tension first and instead shortens the plunger length first. If this occurs, the internal mechanism may break when the switch is rotated. If this happens, then you got a lemon switch. Unfortunately, there's probably not much that can be done except to buy another new switch since the dealer will most likely assume that you installed it incorrectly.


      INSTALLING THE SWITCH ('A' version)

      Installing the original 'A' version of the brake light switch (shown in the picture below - note that the body (red arrow) and plunger (yellow arrow) are different) is much simpler than installing the later 'B', 'C' or 'D' switches since the 'A' switch does not have the crazy self-adjusting/locking internal mechanism that the 'B', 'C' and 'D' switches have. To install an 'A' switch, pull the plunger out completely, press down the brake pedal fully, insert the switch into the hole in the bracket, turn it 90° clockwise to secure it and then pull the brake pedal back fully (slowly) to set the correct plunger length. That's it.


      I wonder why VW switched to the more complicated design. All it's done is cause us owners (and dealers) a lot of headaches!


      Let me know if you have any questions.

      As always, do this procedure at your own risk. I am not responsible for any mistakes in the above procedure or those that you make while performing it.


      Modified by VgRt6 at 7:54 AM 6-29-2005

      You da Man . . . .


    14. 07-02-2005 10:12 PM #84
      Can you use the old "A" switch in place of a "C" or "D" switch? I have a car with the round newer style, but could only find a replacement "A" style.

      Thanks.


    15. 07-04-2005 06:16 PM #85
      AFAIK, they are interchangeable. If the connector will actually snap in, then it should work fine.

      Gary


    16. 07-10-2005 03:48 AM #86

      thanks VgRt6, great great DIY!

      Since it looks like a lot less work, I will use the square body "a" style instead. Oh, and FYI, when I did pick up a new style round body type switch at the dealership, the color was purple. Just thought you might want to know.

      Thanks again!!


    17. 07-10-2005 08:20 PM #87

    18. 07-10-2005 08:28 PM #88
      And it seems the new switches brake pretty easily too...

      Coworker had the recall done by a dealer many months ago, last weekend the new style switch failed and his wife was stuck at the grocery store. I cleaned the contacts on my old A style switch I still had here and installed it for him as a temporary fix so the car was driveable.


    19. 07-10-2005 10:28 PM #89
      My 'A' switch is still going strong after all the miles my car has. I wonder why they switched?

      Gary


    20. 07-11-2005 12:15 PM #90
      My "A" switched never failed.... I just did the recall myself to be up-to-date.... but there was def. a lot of scoring on the contacts inside the "A" switch, and one of the contacts had been worn down a significant amount.

    21. 07-11-2005 06:12 PM #91
      I have a 2000 GLS, I was switching the switch, I thought I did it right, but when I try to turn on the car it would not start, what went wrong? It makes a clicking sound when trying to turn on.


      Modified by itai at 3:54 PM 7-11-2005

    22. 07-11-2005 07:43 PM #92
      It sounds like something else is disconnected or the battery is dead. Messing up the brake light switch shouldn't affect how the car starts.

      Do you have a manual or an automatic?

      Gary


      Modified by VgRt6 at 7:47 PM 7-11-2005


    23. Member MacDalund's Avatar
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      07-13-2005 06:41 AM #93
      The recall was done on my car a year ago or so and now tonight my brake lights were stuck on. It also threw my EPC light until I got the brake lights off. Looks like this DIY will be coming in handy for me as well...
      Rich Green
      2000 Jetta VR6

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      07-13-2005 10:17 AM #94
      Had to replace my switch Monday night.
      Thanks for the write up VgRt6

    25. 07-17-2005 05:00 PM #95
      FYI, I ended up using the older "A" style switch to replace a newer style round barrel type, and it works like a charm. Super easy to install as vgrt6 stated in his EXCELLENT diy.

      So, if you can find the old style square body "A" style, seems logical to use it instead, in order to avoid the hassle and possibly breaking the new style on.

      As others have said, don't know why they went to a more complicated system. Obviously, there has to be some benefit, but what it is.....


    26. 07-19-2005 12:52 AM #96

      I've taken apart the Dash and found the Switch. Took it out, put it in the locked position and then put my Ohm meter to it. Switch seems to work fine.

      When installed the Foot Symbol is there when the car is started and when I press the break the foot symbol goes away.

      My issue is that my lights do not come one. I had one burned out and replaced both side brake lights. Can't seem to find a way to get to the hatch light.

      What else can I look at to figure out why they do not come on??

      ---
      Passat Wagon 2003
      V6 - 4 Motion

    27. 07-19-2005 11:20 AM #97
      As a first step, I would check to see if power is actually going to the lights when you step on the pedal.

      Gary


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      07-23-2005 11:00 AM #98
      Quote, originally posted by digitalhippie »
      And it seems the new switches brake pretty easily too...

      Coworker had the recall done by a dealer many months ago, last weekend the new style switch failed and his wife was stuck at the grocery store.

      Yup, me too. I had the recall done and it was replaced with a "D" switch. The new one died about 2 weeks ago. I jsut got finished install a new one I picked up from the dealer today. I had the dead switch in hand and went to the servie writer and expalined that it had been recalled and the work was done about a month ago and it has died again. He told me to turn around and go put it back in the car then he would get it replaced as a warranty replacement, but he couldn't just give me a new one. But they didn't have an opening today and I couldn't let the wide drive with no brake lights for another week...so he said to buy the switch and contact VW Customer Servie and that they would LIKELY reimburse me. Well, popped in the the new switch and it works great. Thanks for the write-up! Oh, one thing of note...

      My old "D" switch was all black...the new one has a purple body. Guess it's "D.1"? The obviuously make additional changes but just didn't change the part number. Hopefully this one will last longer... Thanks again to the OP for writing this up!


    29. Member MacDalund's Avatar
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      07-23-2005 06:45 PM #99
      Quote, originally posted by duandcc »

      My old "D" switch was all black...the new one has a purple body. Guess it's "D.1"? The obviuously make additional changes but just didn't change the part number. Hopefully this one will last longer...

      Yeah, my first "D" switch that was replaced under warranty was black and my new "D" that I put in last week is now purple.

      Rich Green
      2000 Jetta VR6

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      07-31-2005 12:38 PM #100
      Bump to the top to answer questions.......

    31. 09-07-2005 12:13 AM #101
      Wow... VgRt6 to the rescue again...

      I had my EPC light come on and i freak... though after a search or two here i find it might be the brake light... so i do a test and it is brake light.. mine was totally off and wont go on for half hte day then it started going on on its own... i had to pull the fuse to stop draining the battery...

      anyway so i knew there was a recall but apparently according to the dealership the campaign is closed and they told me i had gotten the new switch back in june...

      VWOA said they did not know about any previous campaigns but it was not one of the new ones.

      I say this must be a bad design if this new switch is kaput on me... as my previous switch was fine for 4 years...

      So i buy the new switch its PURPLE as someone said up above... i think lots of these vw's are going to go back for repair and pity people who dont have access to this site or are not willing to thier own repair will run them 180+.

      I was a bit of a dork in all the rush i pulled out the clutch switch and surprisingly the car started without it beingplugged in... i went back to the dealership like an idiot wondering why my brake switch that was replaced was two prong hehe... anyway i installed it pretty fast i used my finger to push it in and rotate.. and it worked as i decided to do it outside the parking lot of the dealership so i dont have to drive back if i break it... and luckily it was good n fine and its all working.

      GREAT write up once again... this is the what 2nd or 3rd write up by you that has saved me lots of pain money and all that... great job....


    32. 09-24-2005 10:34 PM #102
      WOW! thanks to this thread! saved me $$$


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      09-26-2005 06:00 PM #103
      I just did this procedure exactly as described and when I reconnected the switch the brake lights stay on constantly. Did I get a lemon switch ?
      Expose your cracks and love will fill them.

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      09-27-2005 08:51 AM #104
      Quote, originally posted by MAC »
      I just did this procedure exactly as described and when I reconnected the switch the brake lights stay on constantly. Did I get a lemon switch ?

      Anyone ?

      Expose your cracks and love will fill them.

    35. Member toooofastforu's Avatar
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      09-27-2005 08:54 AM #105
      its a possiblilty.......if they arent to much money grab another one.....if that doesnt fix it you might have some sort or wiring problem

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