Tail lights not working

Discussion in '1955-1959' started by blackbeard, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. blackbeard

    blackbeard Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    It has been a while since I have been on here. I have a 1959 Chevrolet fleetside apache 3 speed 235 engine. The taillights suddenly quit working. I have checked the bulbs and wiring and they are good. I can put twelve volts to the tailight wires and they come on. When I turn the lights on with the switch on the dash the headlights come on but not the taillights. With the switch off at the dash the blinkers on the head and tailights work but when I turn on the head and tailights by the switch on the dash the blinkers quit working. The headlights will stay on but no tailights. Any ideas on what to check would be helpful. Is it possible that the switch is bad? Thanks for any help.:confused::confused:
  2. vwnate1

    vwnate1 Member

    Jan 1, 2000
    Light Tech

    99 times out of 100 , there's a bad ground so remove the bulbs and socket from the truck and wire brush every thing , all nuts and washers etc.

    I use a dedicated battery brush to clean the sockets of accumulated corrosion .

    Using any old battery brush you find in the shop guarantees future problems .
  3. 55mike

    55mike Member

    Apr 5, 2014
    almost sounds like you have a cross between the taillight circuit and the blinker circuit. trouble could be in the bulbs or bulb holder I would guess.
    I would pull the taillight bulbs and try your test again(if you have a different bulb change out 1 then the other)
    Do you have a test light? when you have the bulbs out and the parking lights on try the test light on the contacts where the bulb fits and see if the test light works.
    if nothing works start at the headlight switch http://www.classicchevy.com/assets/illustrations/classicchevy/25-01.jpg
    I got mad at the wiring in my 55 and replaced it with an aftermarket kit. Forget the blue pinch connectors and solder and heat shrink everything.
    best of luck...mike
  4. trucktony

    trucktony Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    The Netherlands
    problem I ones had was that the rear bulbs are under continues voltage + and then to make them lightup there is ground edit to the bulbs.
    At least that's how I figured it out at the turnsignal cup on the steering column
    so you must have your tester light on with everything off (except ignition switch) with your tester grounded to the frame at the rear bulb fittings
    I hope you'll understand what mean!

    But as Nate says: A good cleaning may do the trick
  5. Lakeroadster

    Lakeroadster Member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Central Colorado
    Try This....

    I'd start by running a temporary ground.

    Get a long piece of wire and connect it to the battery negative terminal, then touch the other end of the wire to the taillight housing. If that corrects the problem run a dedicated ground wire from the taillight housing to the frame.

    I did this a couple decades ago on my Grandfathers crusty ole '72 C20.

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