Backup / Reverse Lights Stay On While in Forward Gear
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  1. #1
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    Backup / Reverse Lights Stay On While in Forward Gear

    99 1.8t automatic variant with tiptronic

    I was pulled over tonight by the local police who gave me a "Fixit Ticket" as he called it...giving me 6 days to repair a problem. Apparently my reverse lights were on while I was driving. After a bit of testing in a parking lot I found out that when I slowly move the selector from P through R and N, then to D, the reverse lights stay on. If I do the same procedure but quickly the reverse lights do not have a chance to go on (maybe a flicker) and all is well.

    There are no other issues with other lights.

    Any ideas as to what the problem might be?? A failing switch? A dirty contact??

    Not sure if it has anything to do with this, but it was -30 C at the time.

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  3. #2
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    I think your in the right area. It's most likely either a bad switch or dirty contacts/connection.

  4. #3
    In reverse, but chained to a tree.
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    try this first.

    replace the bulbs.
    yes, i know. sounds odd.
    trust me on this, bud.

    sometimes at the end of their life bulbs can stay on even after the car commands them off, for god knows what reason.

  5. #4
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    I got a guy I occasionally on my commute with a B5 Passat that has the same problem. I actually stopped next to him at a light and told him.

    6 months later, his reverse lights are still on.

    I hate people. Fucking fix your car, ass.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by sipes216 View Post
    try this first.

    replace the bulbs.
    yes, i know. sounds odd.
    trust me on this, bud.

    sometimes at the end of their life bulbs can stay on even after the car commands them off, for god knows what reason.
    I suppose I can try that.

    Any other opinions?

  7. #6
    In reverse, but chained to a tree.
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    not at the moment.

    working at autozone, i see a lot of odd tail light related things like this.

  8. #7
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    Not sure if it has anything to do with this, but it was -30 C at the time.
    That's the problem. The small amount of lubricant that is usually in switches gets a little stiff and will affect the operation under extreme low temps. Once it warms up it will probably work fine.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougmcp View Post
    That's the problem. The small amount of lubricant that is usually in switches gets a little stiff and will affect the operation under extreme low temps. Once it warms up it will probably work fine.
    Let's hope so. We'll see tomorrow when we get back to a -13 C high. Both bulbs have been temporarily removed until then. They both test fine. If no change by TUES I'll be examining the shift mechanism to see what's what.

  10. #9
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    Just one change now. The Backup lights no longer come on when in D, but they are still on when in N.

  11. #10
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    I don't know the location of the switch but I'd guess the screws have come loose and the switch needs to be adjusted and tightened.
    I could be way off base here as I don't know how the reverse lights are actuated.

  12. #11
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    The problem is likely the mutlifunction transmission range switch. A contact of the switch closes when is R and puts positive to the back up lights. Unfortunately the switch is rather expensive and is located on the driver's side of the transmission.

    I assuming that the display of the gear shift indication is good as you shift through the gears, so then it would seem that the back up light contact/mechanism internal to the transmission switch is sticking closed.

  13. #12
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    I have this same problem, I currently have my reverse bulbs out while I try to find a fix.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alecs MacDonald View Post
    I have this same problem, I currently have my reverse bulbs out while I try to find a fix.
    Yeah. I figured out that driving around for a bit maybe warmed up the transmission and the switch allowed the lights to go off while in drive. That allowed me to get the ticket resolved. They still stay on in N though. Removed the bulbs after that. I've just been waiting for warmer weather to get at the switch. I have a garage but it isn't heated.

  15. #14
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    Did you ever get your problem solved?

    Now I have backup lights on all the time.
    Does anybody know where the switch is located? Is it under the shift plate on a tip?

  16. #15
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    I sent you a pm Doug. Will try to get to it this weekend and will do followup.

  17. #16
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    I guess I'll be pulling my bulbs as well until I can find the solution. I removed the fuse for the backup lights and I got a CEL and the brake lockout and the TIP no longer worked. I reinstalled the fuse and all is OK except the backup lights are still on all the time.

  18. #17
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    Tcm?

    This happened a few years ago in my A6. The dealer replaced the transmission control module which fixed the problem, to the tune of many $$$. Perhaps this is something to look into.

  19. #18
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    Thanks Deutch Driver, I didn't want to hear that. I'm hoping that SaskB5Variant finds his problem first and posts up and I will follow suit.

  20. #19
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    Well I finally got to having a look at things. I got as far as almost getting the actual switch off, but was close to stripping the 2 torx screws holding it to the transmission so I stopped and put things back together. When I find replacement screws I will get back at it.

  21. #20
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    My father used to own an old FIAT 500 with a manual reverse-light switch. He would turn it on when people tailgated him on the highway. He says it worked pretty well, too.

    He and my mom (now his ex-wife) used to race each other back when he was in Italy with the Army; he'd drive his FIAT 500 and she'd drive her FIAT Brava. There was more than once where one of them would be stopped at an intersection and the other would blow through on the cross-street, waving as they passed. Kinda wish I'd been around for that; I might not have such a thoroughly negative opinion of them as a couple.

  22. #21
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    My problem seems to have disappeared. I removed the fuse for the back up lights and then lost my TIP and threw a CEL for the transmission. After putting the fuse back in and resetting the CEL, I still had back up lights on. I drove it for a week and the lights are now magically off. WTF?
    With any luck, all will be OK.
    I hope you find the screws SaskB5Variant. Keep us posted if you get this done and how much work it is. I may still have to do mine.

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