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Brake lights only work when the headlights are on what would cause that?

(1990 Ford E-150)
in Tacoma, WA on May 06, 2010
I'M trying to figure how to diagnose the reason why the brake lights on a ford econoline only work when the headlights are on. Could it be a short to power? I'm not sure where to start could someone give me any good advice? Its a 1984 by the way thanks.
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