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Offline blupinto

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No Taillights
« on: December 23, 2016, 11:48:00 PM »
Hi All!


              At my home I have Dwayne's "New" Pinto. It has been to the paint shop and looks good enough to eat! When she went there, her taillights worked. When she came back her taillights worked. The morning I was to take her to work (with Dwayne's permission) her lights worked. I know because I go to work when it's still dark, and I did sort of a pre-op, focusing on side markers, taillights, headlights, and turn signal lights. About a mile from my house someone drove beside me on the small "expressway" and informed me that I had no taillights. I pulled over, and sure enough he was right. I turned around and went home, parking her and jumping into my Rodeo.  Since then I have looked up the fuse chart (nothing there for taillights, brake lights, etc.), replaced the brake light switch, checked to see if there were cracks, breaks, wear on wire insulation, changed bulbs... still I have no taillights. Is there something I'm missing here? I've consulted the 1974 Ford Shop Manual, but wasn't able to find anything.  I appreciate any insight or help with this. She needs to be driven, but til this is fixed, it's illegal to drive her.  Thank you.
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Offline dga57

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2016, 08:48:42 AM »
Hi Becky!


Well you've let the cat... er, pony... out of the bag!  I really had not told anyone about my "new" Pinto yet, but that's okay; I'm glad you did.  If there's an answer to be found, I believe it will be found here.  Although member participation is down, there is still a wealth of knowledge on this site. 


For anyone else who is reading this and is interested, the Pinto we're referring is one that's been a long time coming.  I began my search more than 25 years ago for an orange 1974 Pinto Runabout with black interior, just like the first car I ever owned when I was sixteen years old.  I never dreamed such a once-common car could be so elusive.  In fact, when I stumbled onto this site nearly ten years ago, it was for the express purpose of finding the car I wanted.  I found it quickly; Joe Escobar has it and he isn't about to let go of it!  lol  Other examples were few and far between and I really wanted a decent driver quality car, not a trailer queen or a basket case.  Because Pintos are far more plentiful on the west coast than in the east, Becky took up the search as well and alerted me to several cars she'd unearthed over the past five or six years, but none really quite suited until Spring of this year.  The orange 1974 Pinto Runabout she found did, indeed, have black interior and a newly rebuilt engine.  It's an automatic instead of a manual, but otherwise was the closest thing I've seen to what I was looking for in decades.  She made a trip on my behalf to see and drive the car and, through the modern magic of cell phone technology, we stayed in contact throughout the meeting with the seller, with her sending me photos of problem spots, as well as the good things. We dickered the price down a bit and pulled the trigger on the deal that day!  Although the engine was good, the car had been off the road for quite a while so there were other considerations and Becky has been my liason with mechanics, a body shop, upholstery shop, etc. to get this car into top notch condition.  We're not finished yet and we've hit a stumbling block or two along the way (ie: no taillights) but it's coming together nicely.  By the time I get to see it in person, I will have owned it for about eighteen months, but that's okay.  After 25 years, what's another year-and-a-half?  Maybe I can persuade Becky to post a few pictures of it... it truly is a beauty! 


Dwayne :)
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Offline dick1172762

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2016, 09:58:27 AM »
Short of being unplugged at the lights this is a treasure hunt for sure. The tail light wires are easy to trace from the dash rearward. They run under the door sill scuff plate that ties the carpet down under the drivers door. I'm sure you've checked the fuse's by now. One of those trouble lights that is pointed on one end and a lead with a clip on the other will allow you to check voltage along the way rearward. Hope this helps Becky.
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Offline blupinto

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2016, 03:35:22 PM »
I hope I wasn't out of line spilling the Pinto beans! I thought you shared that already. I guess I've really been gone too long from here! lol




Dick, I do have one of those, but I haven't used it in so long, I've forgotten how to use it! lol 




Does this set of wires have a fuseable link on it? (I think I'm saying that right) They aren't unplugged at the lights. They worked when I had the car warming up that morning.
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Offline dick1172762

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2016, 03:51:28 PM »
I don't think there's a fuseable link in the tail light wires. To use the test light just clip the clip on to bare metal and use the point to probe into the wires while the light switch is pulled out. Try the tester on the car battery first to make sure its working and the little lite comes on. Easy as pie R square.
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Offline Cookieboystoys

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2016, 06:26:38 PM »
had this same problem with one of mine after it got painted. they would work, then not work, then work again, etc. Had a lot of little issues like this after body and paint. It was all grounding issues where fresh paint and grounds went. After much goofing around I finally removed the tail lights. Sanded the area the light plugs go into on the tail light. Used a wire brush on the metal tabs around the bulb mount that hold the light into the tail light. Then because the ground comes from mounting the tail light to body from the bolts that hold it into place I cleaned up the threaded shaft with wire brush. Same for the nuts and some sand paper to the inside around the hole the shafts for the tail light go into so the nuts when tightened would have a clean metal to metal contact for ground. You could just try removing the rear plastic inner shield, reach in and try wiggling the light socket where it goes into the tail light and see if that brings them back, re-tighten nuts and basically wiggle stuff. I did a lot of that hoping it would fix and quit going out. Wasn't until I did the complete tear down and clean all contacts the problem went away for good.
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Offline robertbrann18

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2016, 07:24:59 PM »
I have the exact same problem as well. I have a 1974 Trunk Model and my tail lights don't work at all.


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Offline blupinto

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2016, 12:38:35 AM »
Thank you, Brian, for that information.  I will start cleaning those things you mentioned in the next few days. I appreciate the insight.
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Offline dga57

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2016, 06:45:30 AM »
had this same problem with one of mine after it got painted. they would work, then not work, then work again, etc. Had a lot of little issues like this after body and paint. It was all grounding issues where fresh paint and grounds went. After much goofing around I finally removed the tail lights. Sanded the area the light plugs go into on the tail light. Used a wire brush on the metal tabs around the bulb mount that hold the light into the tail light. Then because the ground comes from mounting the tail light to body from the bolts that hold it into place I cleaned up the threaded shaft with wire brush. Same for the nuts and some sand paper to the inside around the hole the shafts for the tail light go into so the nuts when tightened would have a clean metal to metal contact for ground. You could just try removing the rear plastic inner shield, reach in and try wiggling the light socket where it goes into the tail light and see if that brings them back, re-tighten nuts and basically wiggle stuff. I did a lot of that hoping it would fix and quit going out. Wasn't until I did the complete tear down and clean all contacts the problem went away for good.

That makes perfect sense to me because that's where the most extensive bodywork was done on the car!  New metal was fabricated back there because when they started sanding, unseen rust caused it to simply fall apart!  Thanks Brian!

Dwayne :)
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Offline dga57

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2016, 06:51:02 AM »
I hope I wasn't out of line spilling the Pinto beans! I thought you shared that already. I guess I've really been gone too long from here! lol


Not a problem; I'm rather like you in that I somehow or another felt I was going to jinx everything by talking about it too soon.  After 25 years of searching, the last thing I wanted to do was jinx it!  I was just going to wait until it's in my possession and then wow them with pictures, so if you'd like to post any pictures of it here, you have my blessing.  Merry Christmas!

Dwayne :)
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Offline Reeves1

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #10 on: December 25, 2016, 07:36:26 AM »
Sounds like Brian has it covered.

I doubt it's wires..... likely grounding at the lights / sockets.

Offline Cookieboystoys

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2016, 02:54:24 PM »
That makes perfect sense to me because that's where the most extensive bodywork was done on the car!  New metal was fabricated back there because when they started sanding, unseen rust caused it to simply fall apart!  Thanks Brian!

Dwayne :)

You're welcome Dwayne, happy to share my experience after body and paint issues cause me similar problems, hope that is all it is.
It's all about the Pintos! Baby!

Offline dga57

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2016, 06:44:50 PM »
You're welcome Dwayne, happy to share my experience after body and paint issues cause me similar problems, hope that is all it is.

Me too!  Thanks Brian!  By the way, it's good to see you on the site again!

Dwayne :)
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Offline dick1172762

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2016, 04:40:06 PM »
Becky! Whats the latest on the tail lights? Hope you get it worked out. Do the brake lights and turn signals work ok? Let us know.
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Offline blupinto

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2017, 05:44:19 AM »
It's been raining these last few days- the one day it wasn't rainy or cold I went north to replace a friend's lower radiator hoses on her '99 Cavalier. I haven't even looked at the lights since I posted.
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Offline C. M. Wolf

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2017, 11:37:29 AM »
Yup, "Ford's Better Idea".. save bucks on "Ground Wires" by using the vehicle's 'Uni-body" as the Ground. ...& then shoot the consumer/owner in the foot by "insulating" all the electronic components on the body, making the fastening screws critical grounds for any/all lights/electronics to work... weeeeee. (except that rust/corrosion & thick paint or paint in certain areas, aren't your 'friend')

BTW, please "don't stand in a pool of water & lick the Radio Antenna while the vehicle is running".. hahaha.. (I'm just joking w/ this,, but at any rate, you'll only look silly licking the radio antenna at any time).

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Offline phils toys

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2017, 09:36:07 AM »
Is it possible for the light switch to be bad?
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Offline blupinto

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2017, 07:33:58 PM »
Okay. I sanded the rear ground area and the contact til it was nice and shiny. Turn signals work... except in the rear- no matter which side the indicator is on- the taillights blink like they're on hazard mode. The front blinkers work properly. When the hazard light is pulled, all lights flash in hazard mode. The taillights still don't come on when the headlight switch is pulled, but the headlights themselves work lol Crazy!
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Offline Cookieboystoys

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2017, 07:33:43 AM »
all side marker lights working properly?
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Offline blupinto

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2017, 06:11:52 PM »
Yes. Headlights work, marker lights work... just funky taillights.

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Offline Cookieboystoys

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2017, 07:02:17 PM »
bummer, I'm out of ideas cept to check wiring...
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Offline 74 PintoWagon

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2017, 06:41:34 AM »
Still sound like a ground issue to me, not necessarily in the back though, check the ground from the battery to the body, and all grounds for that matter..
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Offline dga57

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2017, 08:02:38 AM »
Still sound like a ground issue to me, not necessarily in the back though, check the ground from the battery to the body, and all grounds for that matter..

Art,

Any and all insight you can offer will be much appreciated; this is my car she's working on!

Dwayne :)
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Offline Wittsend

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2017, 10:07:51 AM »
If all the other lights, fans, etc. work..., and the car starts..., then it  isn't the battery ground.

  Do the brake lights work?  If so then that would indicate the there is ground to the common tail light housing and that would not be the problem.

   Also, the front parking lights come on at the same time as the tail lights. It has NOT been mentioned that they don't work - so I'll assume they do.  They power through the same switch. The unknown is do they use the same contact point within the switch?  If it is a common contact point then the switch is not the problem. It has also been stated that the switch has been replaced so it is likely not the problem. IF the tail light wire was shorting out it would render the front paring lights non-operational since they are wired together. Thus it can be assumed the wire is not shorting.

It has the appearance that the tail light wire is either broken or disconnected somewhere. That should be checked for but requires removing panels, seats etc. to trace down. But first RE-CHECK that there are brake lights and front parking lights.  Lastly, it could be that the turn signal (it is basically an interrupt in the individual tail lights) is the source of the problem.  Those circuits can get as confounding as figuring which single bulb is causing a whole string of cheap Christmas lights not to illuminate.  I'll try and look at the diagram later today and see if there is anything that I can add (no promises).


Offline dga57

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2017, 12:24:10 AM »
Lastly, it could be that the turn signal (it is basically an interrupt in the individual tail lights) is the source of the problem.  Those circuits can get as confounding as figuring which single bulb is causing a whole string of cheap Christmas lights not to illuminate. 

Becky,

Am I remembering correctly that there was an issue with the turn signals the day you first looked at the car, but that you got them working?  Wittsend might be on to something here!

Dwayne :)
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Offline Wittsend

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2017, 01:35:17 PM »
OK, I took a look at the wire diagram in the Clymer manual. From what I can interpret the turn signal circuit and  the emergency flashers are NOT involved in the tail/parking lights.  The tail/parking (and side marker) lights show a BROWN wire as being the positive side of the circuit. The tail lights ground through the housing to the body and the parking lights ground through a black wire.  It is all the same circuit on the brown wire.
  It would be helpful to know if the front parking lights are working. That would be proof that switch is working and power is getting through.   The problem is described as if both tail lights are not working. It would seem odd that both lights would lose ground simultaneously . If the rear side markers are also not working then that would lead me to believe that the Brown wire is broken or disconnected somewhere.

 A quick remedy (assuming a broken wire) would be to just run a wire from the switch (Brown wire) to the rear and splice it into Brown wire in the vicinity of the tail lights. BUT, to do it neatly you pretty much have to follow the path of the original wire. And in doing so you might find the break or disconnect anyway.

Offline blupinto

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #26 on: January 13, 2017, 11:04:33 PM »
I guess I wasn't clear on my original post. Yes, the front turn signal lights work (I'm assuming that's what are meant as parking lights.) They come on when the headlights come on, and they blink properly when I use the turn signal indicator wand.  The front signals work. The rear ones are funky. I pulled paneling out at the rear to see if there was a broken wire, but haven't found one. The car starts right up and runs great!

Dwayne, the turn signals weren't working well because of that bad turn signal/hazard light switch. I replaced that. Now I'm wondering if that's the issue, or the body shop might have something to do with it. Again, this was sudden onset! The lights all worked properly when I got it back from Maaco.
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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #27 on: January 13, 2017, 11:08:34 PM »
Also, the taillights (red areas) have one bulb. The hazard lights/turn signals work (weirdly but they come on)... could this be a bad headlight switch?
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Offline dga57

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2017, 08:52:34 AM »
Also, the taillights (red areas) have one bulb. The hazard lights/turn signals work (weirdly but they come on)... could this be a bad headlight switch?


Sounds like a possibility to me!

Dwayne ???
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Offline Wittsend

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Re: No Taillights
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2017, 01:14:36 PM »
Yes, parking lights (what the manual calls them) are the front lights (not headlights) that also function as turn signals.

As I stated above the brake, turn signal/flasher lights are wired separate from the tail lights. So, they can work and you still not get tail lights.

I don't think the switch is bad. The manual shows the front parking/rear tail lights on a common wire (brown). So, if they are coming on up front, then the should be coming on at the rear too.

The rear side marker lights and the license plate light should also be on that circuit too. Do they light up? If so it does indicate power is getting to the rear of the car off the headlight switch. If not ... .

There is a lot of wire between the switch in the dashboard and the lights at the rear. So, just looking at the rear access panel area is not everywhere the wire is run.  Typically the wire will come off the switch, runs down the left kick panel and either under the carpet, or under the metal sill plate.  From there it either runs under the rear seat, or in the rear seat area side panel to the back of the car.

You can test to see if grounds are the problem by taking a wire from the metal tail light housing (the part the bulb goes into) and jumping it to an unpainted part of the car like the hatch latch where the paint gets scraped off.  Just make sure the metal is clean of oxidation. And, no you won't get shocked by holding the ends of the wire. It is low voltage DC.