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Brake Light Switch Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Brake Light Switch Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

1.5 hours

Tab:

$35

Talent:

**

Tools:

Phillips screwdriver, trim panel tool

Applicable Models:

BMW X5 (2000-06)

Parts Required:

Brake light switch

Hot Tip:

Use floor mat from vehicle to kneel on

Performance Gain:

Repair faulty brake light switch

Complementary Modification:

Replace brake light bulbs

The brake light switch is responsible for activating the brake lights when the brake pedal is pressed. Another brake light switch function is to switch cruise control OFF. It is a mechanical switch, mounted in an adjustment bracket.

The brake pedal switch can fail a few different ways. You may have a brake light warning lamp illuminate in your instrument cluster, indicating a problem with the brake light circuit. If none of the brake lights illuminate and the fuse is fine, the brake light switch is most likely the cause. I have also seen where the brake lights stay on all the time and the warning lamp is also on. If the lighting control module detects a fault with the brake light switch, it will turn the brake lights on all the time. This is for safety. A few things to remember when checking your brake light switch: check the fuse (find location using fuse index in fuse panel), check brake light switch adjustment, (see steps below for how to adjust), inspect brake light bulbs and use a high impedance digital volt ohm meter (DVOM) when testing the circuit.

The brake light switch is mounted in front of the brake pedal. In this tech article, I will go over how to replace and adjust the brake light switch on BMW X5 E53 vehicles.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

The brake light switch (red arrow) is mounted to a metal bracket above the brake pedal and is activated by brake pedal movement (green arrow).
Figure 1

The brake light switch (red arrow) is mounted to a metal bracket above the brake pedal and is activated by brake pedal movement (green arrow). To access it, begin by removing the left side lower dash panel. See our tech article on left side lower dash panel removing.

Next, remove the headlight switch.
Figure 2

Next, remove the headlight switch. I usually lever it out and allow it to hang. If you want to remove it completely, see our tech article on headlight switch replacing. Working at the left side of the headlight switch (red arrow), lever the switch out of the dashboard.

Let the switch hang, then remove the Phillips head screw on the left side, just below the air vent (red arrow).
Figure 3

Let the switch hang, then remove the Phillips head screw on the left side, just below the air vent (red arrow). This screw is for a bracket you will remove in the following step.

Moving to the lower left side of the dashboard, now it's time to remove the metal support bracket.
Figure 4

Moving to the lower left side of the dashboard, now it's time to remove the metal support bracket. Remove all of the Phillips head screws (red arrows). Then take out the last one, near the left side top (green arrow).

Pull the metal bracket (red arrow) down and away from the dashboard enough to access the wiring harness mount (green arrow) on the bottom.
Figure 5

Pull the metal bracket (red arrow) down and away from the dashboard enough to access the wiring harness mount (green arrow) on the bottom. Remove the wiring harness mount from the metal bracket by levering off using a trim panel tool. Then remove the metal bracket from the dashboard.

Working at the front of the brake pedal, disconnect the brake light switch electrical connector by pulling the connector straight up and out of the brake light switch (red arrow).
Figure 6

Working at the front of the brake pedal, disconnect the brake light switch electrical connector by pulling the connector straight up and out of the brake light switch (red arrow). The brake pedal arm is just to the right of the electrical switch in this photo, while the steering column shaft is just right of the brake pedal arm.

I like to use a brake pedal depressor (red arrow) to hold the brake pedal down.
Figure 7

I like to use a brake pedal depressor (red arrow) to hold the brake pedal down. This prevents the new brake light switch from being adjusted before it is time. You can use a block of wood to do this, or a stick. If you can't, that is fine, just remember to hold the brake pedal down when installing the new switch.

Remove the brake light switch by sliding the switch (red arrow) out of the mounting bracket toward the rear of the vehicle.
Figure 8

Remove the brake light switch by sliding the switch (red arrow) out of the mounting bracket toward the rear of the vehicle.

Once the electrical portion of the switch is removed, pull the mount / adjuster (red arrow) out of the mounting bracket.
Figure 9

Once the electrical portion of the switch is removed, pull the mount / adjuster (red arrow) out of the mounting bracket. The inset photo shows the mount / adjuster (red arrow) and electrical portion of the switch (green arrow) removed.

Install a new mount / adjuster into the bracket (red arrow).
Figure 10

Install a new mount / adjuster into the bracket (red arrow). Press the brake pedal down and hold it. Then slide the new brake light switch into the mounting bracket. Slide the brake light switch into the mount until it is bottomed out (green arrow).

Then, slowly release the brake pedal and let it come in contact with the brake light switch.
Figure 11

Then, slowly release the brake pedal and let it come in contact with the brake light switch. As it makes contact, the brake light switch will automatically adjust to the correct position. To adjust the brake light switch, press the brake pedal down (red arrow). Then push the brake light switch, as far it will go into the mounting bracket. Slowly release the brake pedal and let it come in contact (green arrow) with the brake light switch. As it makes contact, the brake light switch will automatically adjust to the correct position. Connect the electrical connector and check the brake light operation.



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Comments and Suggestions:
Veejay Comments: Thanks Nick at Pelican Parts. I appreciate your prompt response. We've sorted the problem I think thanks to advice on this forum.
January 17, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Veejay Comments: Fantastic article - great deal of effort on your part. Thanks very much. I haven't done this yet - just researching at the moment. My brake lights have stopped working since autoelec just fitted electric brakes. He suspects it's a faulty brake switch but he doesn't know ! He says it could also be faulty light control module. I'm in a small country town - nearest dealer 300km so looking for advice. No warning light on dash or codes indicated on fault code device.
January 13, 2017
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: He can manually test the switch my activating the brake light circuits. Grab a wiring diagram and mimic the signal of the switch. That will confirm if the switch is faulty. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
jeireb Comments: Hello,
I have a breakdown on a BMW x5 e53, ll is the 4e87 code, knowing that the 4 shift look is good knowing that I have checked the power supply circuit of the gearbox and has no problems.
Thank you for your help
July 24, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be the mechatronic sleeve, wiring or unit. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Brent Comments: I just changed the brake booster in my 2006 x5.the brake lights stay on all the time and the brake pedal is not coming into contact with the brake light switch. It's about a half of an inch from contact. Is this due to the adjustment rod length from the booster or do I need to replace the brake light switch or readjust.
March 26, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It may the switch or a part mix up. Double check the part numbers too. - Nick at Pelican Parts  

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Page last updated: Mon 2/27/2017 02:41:45 AM