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Express Van Backup Lights
02-08-2008, 11:22 PM
Post: #1
Express Van Backup Lights
Hello, I've got a 2000 chevy express van and the backup lights quit working suddenly. Neither one of the lights come on when the vehicle is put in reverse.
If the bulbs are both good and the fuse is good, I'm thinking my next step would be to check the backup light switch. I look in my Haynes manual and find no mention of the backup lights at all and nothing about the switch except for the wiring diagrams in back of book. The diagram shows that somewhere between the fuse box and the backup lights is the switch. However, we are talking about 16 feet or so of distance there.
Was wondering if anyone could help me in narrowing down where exactly to find the switch. Is it close to the fuse box, or at the rear where the lights are? What, in general terms will the switch look like?
I really appreciate any thoughts Y'all might have!
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02-09-2008, 12:23 AM
Post: #2
RE: Express Van Backup Lights
You said "IF" the bulbs and fuse are good so I would start there and double check the fuses with a test light.

The back up lights, or "reverse lights" are controlled via the neutral safety switch, which is located low on the steering column. (roughly above your toes while on the brake)

If that part checks ok the set the parking brake and have someone watch the tail lights while you move the shifter (with the key on) and see if there's a brief flash of the lights.

If there's a flicker then you need to adjust the switch. (push hard to one side and you will hear it click over) Maybe a little one way or the other will do it. When done double check to see that the engine also starts in park and neutral and NOT while in gear.

If there's no flicker you probably need to replace the switch or follow the wiring a bit further. Start probing with a test light to see if there's power at the green wire while in reverse. (key on) If there's no power then see if there's power into the switch. Don't recall the color but I believe there's only one hot wire down there. (key on)

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02-09-2008, 08:16 AM
Post: #3
RE: Express Van Backup Lights
Thanks Rupe, just want to clarify- When you say set parking brake and shift gears with key on, ist that "key on-engine running", or just "key on"?
Also, when I look for flicker of the lights, should that include the reverse lights or just the tail lights?
Thanks, appreciate the help.
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02-09-2008, 11:14 AM
Post: #4
RE: Express Van Backup Lights
For safety sake we set the brake so the van doesn't roll away while doing testing. No need for the engine to run so key on and engine NOT running. (remember to turn it off between tests so as not to kill the battery)

As for the light flicker, it's the reverse lights we are working on here but you might as well check them all to be sure.

BTW, if this is a cargo van or has a trailer package, anything that disturbs the wiring inside the back or under the hitch area will mess up the tail lights. The harness runs along the left / inside roof line and down to the L/S tail lamp and then up over the rear doors to the R/S lamp. Look for damage along this area just to be sure it's not a cut or shorted wire.

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02-10-2008, 08:53 PM
Post: #5
RE: Express Van Backup Lights
Rupe, The fuse was good and both bulbs are good. I found on the steering column what I believe to be the nuetral safety switch. It's a black plastic oddly shaped thing that is mounted on a silver colored metal bar about 6-8 inches long. I can't see the incoming wire (space is very tight and I am large) but it does definately have both a green and a black wire coming out of a connector at the top of it. Does this sound right?
I tried pushing on it in all directions, both parallel and perpindicular to the metal bar it's mounted on. Never felt it move, and never heard the click that you mentioned. pushed fairly hard on it until I felt that any more might break it.
Started the van and the reverse lights worked. So then I shut it off and started it again in nuetral and they still worked. shut it off again to make sure van would not start in gear, which it didn't, and now the reverse lights no longer work.
Turned the key on and had my wife watch for flicker of lights while I shifted to reverse and there is none, so I figure I will replace the switch. Just wanted to get your thoughts on if my description of the switch sounded right, why I couldn't get it to move or "click", are there tabs that must be depressed, etc? I know this may all sound rather ignorant, it's just real hard to get a good view of this thing considering my size and the cramped space it's located in.
Thanks again Rupe, I really do appreciate all your help! (now I'm off to the ford section for a bit of advice with my daughters car, it's a never ending thing! insert sad face!)
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02-10-2008, 09:34 PM
Post: #6
RE: Express Van Backup Lights
OK, sounds like you are close and that's probably what disturbed the neutral switch and made it work for a moment.

You mention a "bar" of some sort so you may be fooling with the dimmer switch, which has a linkage rod going up the steering column or the ignition switch, which also has a linkage. Move the shifter or key or dimmer and feel around to find the right one.

Worst case is you buy the new one and compare. You will need to study it a bit so you can see how it clips into place and adjusts.

Consider removing the seat to make access easier for yourself. There's 4 fastners (13mm?) and the seat comes right off the base. You can do that it a couple of minutes without even getting under the van.

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02-10-2008, 10:01 PM
Post: #7
RE: Express Van Backup Lights
Here is a diagram of the circuit and a picture of the location of the back-up light switch. Which is part of the PRDNL switch.

Attached File(s)
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Cary Joe York
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02-10-2008, 11:14 PM
Post: #8
RE: Express Van Backup Lights
Well, I'll be dipped!

They moved that switch on the later model years.

Rupe (with egg on his face)
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02-11-2008, 07:28 AM
Post: #9
RE: Express Van Backup Lights
Ahh, the plot thickens...This sets me to wondering why the lights worked momentarily after I fooled around at the steering column. Perhaps it was just coincidence.
Now I should be able to locate the pink input and green output wires on the switch at transmission and test with a light. Hopefully my next reply will be to let you know that problem is fixed and lights work again!
Many thanks Rupe and Carey!
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