e36 brake light problem

I'm getting the famous "brake light failure" and "brake light circuit (see owner's manual)" message on the obc. In addition, the ASC
warning light on the dash comes on occasionally and just this week my heating / air conditioning fans have been on the blink.
Are these all related to the same thing?
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Probably not related to the same thing, although they are all classic e36 problems. I've experienced all of the above except the ASC warning light.
"Brake light failure" is either one one of two things - a failed bulb or a socket assembly that is on the blink (no pun intended). What happens is that the two little contacts on the sides of the bulb socket get oxidized and thus start losing contact. The first time I figured this out, I scraped them with a knife and the socket started working again. Then I ordered a couple of spare sockets. The 2nd time it happened (about 6 months later) I simply replaced the socket. This has happened on my '96 328i and my wife's '94 325i.
"Brake light circuit failure" refers probably to the brake light switch, located just behind the brake pedal. This switch fails after 100,000 miles, give or take 10K. When this happened to me on my '96, I ordered the "mechanical" switch replacement part from an online distributor for about $20. Putting it in was a little bit challenging, mostly from laying on my back with my head under the dash, etc. When it failed again after about a year, I ordered the "electronic" version of the switch for about $27. That was about 3 months ago, so I don't know about the long-term viability. I have a feeling that the electronic version will last a lot longer and I think it was what was originally in the car and lasted nearly 10 years.
The fan in your AC unit going on the blink is related to a capacitor (electronic component) that fails. I was able to find a web site that described how to disassemble your AC control unit, pull out the circuit board and replace this component. I followed the instructions and mine has worked perfectly since then (about a year ago).
Hope this helps!
Karl WInkler http://www.sandiastrings.com
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