Brake (stop) lights

Travelling up the coast last weekend back to the finca, Adrian noticed the electrics seemed to be playing up.

He couldn’t tell whether the dashboard lights were coming on and couldn’t see if the headlights were working in the tunnels.

As the tunnels are pretty well lit, it’s virtually impossible to tell whether your lights are working or not.

Plus, the ammeter seemed to be swinging around a bit. Maybe it was a fuse somewhere – always nice to hope for something simple.

Anyway, we got there ok, but before setting off on the return journey, we went methodically through the light check. It seemed the brake (stop) lights were the culprit and weren’t working.

Now – some two years ago, we had a problem with the brake lights. We had been checking everything before we took the vehicle for the Spanish ITV – and, the brake lights weren’t working.

At the time, we had no idea which was the fuse for the brake lights. In fact we didn’t know what any of the fuses were for. There is no manual with the vehicle and we have not been able to find anything remotely resembling one.

Santana fuse box

So trial and error was called for, and we methodically went through the fuses, trying to identify what each one was for. Out of 14 fuses, we managed to identify nine of them. But even with a full set of working fuses, the brake lights still weren’t coming on.

We posted on LRUK asking if anyone had any idea about the Santana fuse box – hoping it might be similar to a Defender one, because it certainly is nothing like a Series III one. We discovered it is nothing like a Defender one either.

But, help came our way, with a suggestion that we needed to check the brake light switch and see if there was any current going through it. There wasn’t.

Brake light switch – really convenient position…..

The next day Adrian cycled into town to see if he could get a switch. He did, at a cost of 9€. So far, so good.

Then all we had to do was to work out how to replace it. There was no way we could do it without a dismantle job, so off came the wing, out came the pedal box, the reservoir, servo, brake master cylinder blah blah…… All for a nine euro switch.

Everything out

Pedal box on kerb complete with new switch

Anyway, job done and back in and on. Auto-electrician was well impressed with our efforts and he told us it would have cost hundreds because he would have needed to pay a mechanic to do the dismantling job.

All back

So back to the present, and when the brake lights still weren’t working we had that nagging feeling that the switch might have gone again.

But, after the fuses, the next step was the bulbs. Checked those, no, not working either. Not looking good at this point.

Adrian jumped in the Landy and shot into town to see our favourite auto-electrician.

“Arranque,” said the auto-electrician. Adrian started it up. “Ponga los frenos.” Adrian put the brakes on.

“Muy bien,” said your man. “Funcionan.”

Adrian jumped out looking puzzled, so the auto-electrician duly demonstrated to him that they were working.

At which point the penny dropped. The second time we had tested them – after changing the fuse – Adrian had turned on the ignition, but not the engine. So the brake lights didn’t come on. Everything else did – but not the brake lights.

Anyway, he made up a really cool story about how his useless woman couldn’t even tell which lights were brake lights……… and drove happily home.

At least we know which fuse is for the brake lights now.

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Glow plugs/heater plugs (3)


We began to panic about the heater plugs. They had not arrived. I sent an email to the UK supplier. I walked back outside onto the terrace.

The postie had arrived and was yelling for us. Naturally the neighbours were yelling too. “Paquete, paquete,” hollered half the street. Obviously a paquete was something rare and exciting.

Yes! It was our box of heater plugs. We dashed inside with them. Adrian was too excited so he was banished outside to wait for me to open them carefully. Apart from anything else if they didn’t work, we wanted to send them back in the same packaging.

I carefully cut through the brown paper. Each layer of it. The double layers of sticky brown tape. Inside, underneath another two pieces of card as packaging, were six little boxes, surrounded by bubble wrap. Wow, were these plugs well wrapped.

Well packed

We took one out. Compared it with the broken one. Not only was it the same – it even included the ceramic. Four posts ago I wrote about looking for one in Spain and the robbin’ bastards were going to charge us 35€ for one second-hand plug, with NO bits. No washers, no ceramic insulator and no top stud. We didn’t ask for the washers but we did get the insulator and stud for a glorious price of just over £5 each incl postage. Or as a direct comparison, price for price, probably the equivalent of around 7€. NOT 35€.

New plug, complete with ceramic and knurled terminal nut, heater element carefully enclosed in a plastic tube

Perfect new heater element

We went outside to fit the new plug.

In

As we were too excited and it was nearly lunchtime, we decided to leave the big moment to start her for early in the morning the following day.

Once the sun was up and it was nice and warm out we went. Being methodical, I thought we would do a check. No, still no current according to the circuit tester. After messing around a bit more and cleaning up the terminals, we decided to go for it, especially as we suddenly noticed the light was coming on when we turned the key to choke position.

Oops, wait a minute. “What is that loose spring doing there?” I said, knocking it on the floor.

I knew it went somewhere

OK confession time. We did cheat. We did give her a little tiny whiff of EasyStart. We didn’t want a flat battery and she had stood for two weeks. So off she went, burble burble. Up the track and across the river to the supermarket.

Today, fingers, toes and everything else crossed, we started her on her own. Burble burble she went. No addictive additive. Just our super heater plugs. Sorted. Thanks to the people on Land Rover UK Forums who gave us lots of advice and talked us through it.

And the postscript is……..Adrian decided on a cycle ride today and when he was coming back through town, one of the lads at the auto-electrical garage stopped to ask him about the Land Rover.

Naturally he thought because Adrian was on the bike that it wasn’t sorted. Wrong. “Non. Funciona,” smiled Adrian. (No. It works.) And off he cycled leaving a dejected money-hungry Spanish auto-electrician in the middle of the road.

Finally a big thanks to P A Blanchard. Both Pete Blanchard and Nick were helpful. If you aren’t sure about what you want, just ask them. We sent pictures of the heater plugs via email, and rang on Friday evening when everyone else would have gone home, and spoke to Pete.

We’ve never been able to fault Blanchard’s and used them loads of times when we were in the UK whether over the ‘phone or visiting in person. We have always recommended them and will continue to do so, and to use them.

Reliable as ever. Thanks Blanchies.