I have a 2002 EV Westfalia Weekender with a VR6 engine. I'm having weird electrical problems that started suddenly.
I was driving along the highway in a road construction zone and hit a big bump. Shortly after that, the BRAKE warning light in the instrument cluster came on and the warning chime started (the one you get when you turn the van off yet leave the lights on.)
I checked that the emergency brake was off. I also added 1/3 pint of brake fluid. No dice. The brake warning light is still on and when I drive I get chiming.
Other electrical weirdness is happening. The headlights do not come on. They are not on as running lights, nor do they light up when they are switched on. Also, the front air circulation fan does not come on.
I did find that I can get everything to work if I pull on the high beam lever so that the blue high-beam indicator light comes on, like when you're flashing your headlights. When I do that, the brake goes off, the chiming stops, the headlights come on (low and high beams), the circulation fans works, etc.
Anybody have ideas on what might have happened and what to check? Maybe a ground connection broke? In the instrument cluster?
I speculate that that the ignition switch column or multifunction switch (turn signal) may have gotten jarred loose. This ignition switch triggers the running lights, but somehow it seems the brights on your multifunction switch bypasses the faulty connection. What happens when you turn on the headlights at the light switch. Does cruise control work. Do the brake lights work? Turn signal?
You should check the functioning of each accessory of your van to help guide your diagnosis.
The brake light switch at the brake pedal goes bad sometimes, but I don't suspect it would get jarred loose and I don't believe it triggers the warning beeps.
Sounds like symptoms of a failed ignition switch, a common malady in the EV. A new switch is less than $10. Sometimes, wiggling the key can resolve the symptoms. Do you have a heavy key ring that could put abnormal forces on the switch?
That said, I had a similar problem in a 1982 Vanagon after I passed over a shredded truck tire that tore off the engine ground strap. The head lights often would cut out at a most inappropriate time. Mechanics searched for electrical problems saying it was a faulty fuse block, et al. Finally, I noticed this braided copper strap hanging below the engine. After reattaching it, all electrical problems went away.