brake light problems


Asked by asil Sep 17, 2010 at 12:51 AM about the 2001 Chevrolet Express

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 2001 chevy express van.  When you turn on the headlights the brake lights won't work.  Does anyone know what would cause this

9 Answers


Hi there Asil My name is Shandro from Bonaire in the Caribean . I had the same problem with my chevy express 3500 year 2001. After i did search and use my meter i find out that the problem was in the socket from the bulb and the ground or (-negative) was not working properly or better yet it wasn`t passing - negative to the bulb. After i did replace the socket for a good one the problem when away and the braking lights are working perfect now. Maybe you can have the same problem. what i found was that the socket had a burn sign at the side and when i by pass it with a wire from the side of the bulb to the chassi it work perfect so the problem was in the socket. So you can check your socket for this problem. Thanks and hope to be helpfull please reply and let me know if problem has been resolve.

8 out of 8 people think this is helpful.

Hi Shandro, Thank you for your information. I had a guy look at my bulb sockets and that was the problem. There was a short in the sockets. He fixed them and my lights work like they should. Thank you very much for your suggestion. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to let you know it worked. He repaired them over the Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you again, Asil

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

@ Chevy7121 Thanks a million! That is exactly what my problem was. Suggestion to anyone with the same issue with Chevy Express try this first. I cut off an 8 inch piece of wire stripped both ends leaving an inch of bare wire on each side. Wrap one end around the bottom bolt where the tail light housing bolts on and screw the nut on tight to ensure good connection. Pull the bulb out and put the other end of the wire between the bulb and socket and twist the bulb to lock it in place. The wire should be tightly secured between the brass at the bottom of bulb and socket. Have your buddy hit the brake and if you get the bright filament lit, you are good and of course test with head lights on as well. Solution is to purchase new Tail Light Harness.Thanks again.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

The problem is dissimilar metal corrosion where the socket ring connector stem (which is made of steel) connects to the ground wire. You can fix the bulb socket by removing a small amount of plastic from the socket housing 1/2" to 3/4" back from where the ground wire enters the socket. Then, using silver solder & silver solder flux, you can silver braze the wire to the socket ring. It takes some patience as the plastic is quite tough to cut away. Take your time so you want damage the wire and socket ring stem inside. It will be obvious once you've remove just enough of the plastic housing. Scrape away any corrosion as best you can. Drip on the flux, fire up your HOT soldering tool (I use a butane), make a good shiny joint. Your fixed for good.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I was able to take the ground wire out of my wire harness at the bulb socket, clean it up, and reinstall it and have the lights work properly. The ground wires for both sides had gotten dirty/corroded and failed.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I just had to replace both brake light bulb sockets for the same problem. For a safety issue like this, you would think Chevrolet would be required to do a recall. $35 per bulb at the local auto-parts store.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Fernando Martinez

I have a 2002 chevy express 3500 the middle (top) brake light goes on but my sides wont work, also when i turn on my front ligths the lower ligths come on but when i push my brakes the lower back ligths go off and still my brake ligts wont come on i check my positives and they have power something is wrong witTh my ground, can i bipassed atatching a cable from a screw to the socke? Is there a better solution?

8 out of 8 people think this is helpful.

I followed hobbyaire's instructions and both side brake lights work great now. Don't spend the $35 per side for new sockets. Just cut away the plastic on the ground side of the socket housing until you see the ground connector on the wire and the socket connector. Solder them together and you shouldn't have any more problems. I used a weller soldering gun with the plastic cutting tip to melt away the plastic and expose the wire and socket connector, then soldered the connection (with the soldering tip). I sealed it all up with glue from a hot glue gun.


I have a 2001 GMC Savana 2500 cargo van that had the same problem. With the headlights on, the brake lights don't function properly. I took the brakelight assembly out and looked at the bulbs. They were rusted in the sockets, which made any repair impossible, except to cut the wires to each socket and replace them. The parts store said the new sockets were $32.99 each, plus bulbs. But at AutoZone, they had a universal taillight socket for $15.99, and $5.99 per bulb. So it cost me $88 to fix the problem. After installing the new sockets, my brake lights function properly. No more headaches wondering when I was gonna get pulled over for not having all three brake lights operational. The ticket for that probably isn't cheap, compared to $88 for new brake light sockets. No more worries!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Your Answer

Add photo

Related Questions

Looking for a Used Express in your area?
CarGurus has 3,843 nationwide Express listings starting at $3,485.

Search Chevrolet Express Questions

Chevrolet Express Experts

#1 tenspeed
Reputation 120
#2 kether
Reputation 100
#3 Jared Hester
Jared Hester
Reputation 80
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used GMC Savana"
11 Great Deals out of 946 listings starting at $4,200

Used Cars For Sale

1999 Chevrolet Express For Sale
49 listings starting at $8,995
2000 Chevrolet Express For Sale
41 listings starting at $7,950
2001 Chevrolet Express For Sale
52 listings starting at $4,500
2002 Chevrolet Express For Sale
52 listings starting at $3,485