[click to enlarge]
There may come a time when someone on the road motions to you about your
brake lights not coming on. The brake pedal switch (Figure
1) in both the E30 and E36 BMWs gets a lot of use, and has a tendency to
fail once and a while. Replacement is really easy, and should take
only about 30 minutes maximum.
The first step is to
verify that your brake lamps are not working. If you're by yourself,
then wait until night time and back up against a brick wall. You
should see the reflection off of the wall when you step on the brakes - if
you don't, then your switch is probably shot. It's important to note
that at least on some years, the BMW warning system that tells you when a lamp is out will not tell
you if the switch is broken - you will have to figure it out for yourself.
The first step is
to gain access to the switch. Remove the panel directly above the
driver's side foot well. This panel is secured by a few screws (Figure
2), and a few snaps as well (Figure 3). In
addition, you may have an electrical speaker unit attached to the panel.
Disconnect the harness (Figure 4) and pull the panel
down (Figure 5).
The brake switch
is shown in
Figure 6. It's the rater large
switch assembly that moves in conjunction with the brake pedal. Remove
the harness from the brake switch (Figure 7) and yank
it out of it's bracket. I found that I had to break the plastic
housing of the switch in order to remove it (Figure 8).
That's perfectly okay, since you will be replacing it with a new one very
the job, simply install the new switch into place, and reconnect the wire
harness. Test the brake lights to make sure that they are working
properly, and then reinstall the knee panel.
Well, there you have it - it's
really not too difficult at all. If you would like to see
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At the end, you instruct the readers to rip the switch out of the
bracket. I just went through this today, and that is not the solution,
though the solution is not obvious. In
figure 1, you see the brake switch. You will notice that the switch
'button' is extended out further than it is once installed; it sort of
ratchets in after installation, maybe as a self-adjusting measure. The way
to remove the brake switch without breaking it is to first depress the brake
pedal. Then use pliers to pull the switch button out; it should measure
about 1/2" from the body of the switch. Finally, see the white collar in the
picture (on my car it was red), pull that out, too; that will allow the
plastic hooks that hold the switch in place to be depressed and to release
the switch from its bracket. I was in pain and yelling foul words today as I
figured this out. I hope the next person has an easier time!