How to Troubleshoot a Brake Switch on a Honda Accord

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The brake switch on a Honda Accord sends an electrical signal to the brake lights. This switch is set to be always "hot." This means that power is constantly flowing to the brake lights, even when the ignition is off and there is no key in the ignition. Troubleshooting the brake switch on the Accord is very simple, but you must have an assistant to help you.

Things You'll Need

  • New brake light bulb, if necessary
  • Fuse puller
  • New brake light fuse, if necessary
  • Flashlight
  • Pliers
  • Check the brake light bulbs to make sure they are not blown. The filament inside the bulb should be intact. Remove the bulbs by opening the trunk and pulling off the inside cover. Unplug the electrical plug from the ballast, and turn the brake light bulb counterclockwise. Pull the light out of the housing assembly to check the filament. If a new bulb is necessary, install it in reverse order of removal of the old one.

  • Check the fuse for the brake lights. Open the fuse box panel underneath the steering wheel. Pull the cover down to remove it. Use the fuse diagram on the underside of the cover to locate the fuse for the brake light. Pull this fuse for the brake lights with a fuse puller. If the fuse is blown, you must replace it with a new fuse of the same amperage.

  • Listen for a clicking sound when you step on the brake pedal. If you have an automatic transmission, the brake pedal will click when you first depress it. Most people associate this with being able to shift out of "park." The brake switch is what is clicking. When the brake switch fails, you also won't be able to move the shifter out of "park" without using the shift lock release on the shifter boot. To confirm that the brake switch is not clicking, you might need to climb into the driver side foot well, locate the switch (it's a small black box behind the brake pedal), and press the brake pedal. If it does not click, the switch has failed.

  • Press on the brake pedal when you have installed the new bulb or new fuse. Have your assistant go around to the back of the vehicle to check and see if the brake lights are illuminated. If they are not, your brake light switch has failed. You can confirm this on both the automatic and manual versions of the Accord by shining a flashlight on the actuator arm on the back of the brake pedal that runs up to the brake switch. When you press on the brake pedal, the switch closes and the brake lights light up. If you depress the actuator arm and the brake lights aren't lighting up (and everything else is otherwise OK with the brake system), then this is a clear indication that the brake switch had failed. If the actuator arm appears to be "stuck," and your brake lights are constantly on, you can try to pull it out with a pair of pliers, but it will be a tight fit on most model years of the Accord. In most cases, the switch should be replaced if there is something wrong with it. Replacing the switch itself on the Accord should be done by a professional mechanic.

References

  • Honda Accord Repair Manual 2003-2007; Robert Maddox, John H. Haynes; 2008
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