This 2005 Mazda Tribute came in with the complaint that the tail lights would not work.This same general information would apply to the Ford Escape and the Mercury Mariner of the same era. A quick check revealed that fuse #3 in the interior fuse box was blown.
One of the more common places for a short to occur is at this connector inside the tailgate assembly. It is on the passenger side. There are four phillips headed screws that have to be removed from the lower edge of the inside cover then the panel unsnaps and comes off.
There are four phillips headed screws that have to be removed from the lower edge of the inside cover then the panel unsnaps and comes off.
It is also common for the wires to break and short out in the pass through harness for the tailgate.
Pulling the headliner down reveals another in line harness connector. Disconnecting this harness eliminates a short from that harness connector and throughout the entire tailgate. Guess what? This vehicle still had a short present.
I had to disassemble a good bit of the interior to find the actual short. It turned out to be above the passenger rear wheel well. Rust had gotten to it creating a sharp edge.
There is a speaker assembly that mounts above the harness so that kept the harness pressed down against the sharp metal edge that eventually cut through the harness.
My advice to anyone looking for a short on fuse number 3 is to start with a quick inspection of the passenger rear wheel well and see if there is rust damage. If so pull the metal towards the tire a little and see if the short goes away. If it does you can avoid the many hours it took to find the short on this vehicle.