Due attention should be given to the repair of a brake light. The brake lights, along with other exterior lamps on a vehicle, are crucial safety devices that have to be kept in good working condition at all times. This is because they allow the vehicle to be seen at nighttime or when visibility is generally poor. They also give the driver a means to make his actions and intentions known to fellow motorists on the road.Operating a vehicle with faulty or defective brake lights is considered an offense in most states. To avoid getting pulled over by the police, getting a ticket or paying a broken brake light fine, damaged lights on a vehicle should be taken care of at the soonest possible time.
Check the owner’s manual to get the exact specifications, such as the wattage rating, of the brake light bulb that needs replacement. Get a replacement bulb that matches these specifications.
Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the brake light lens may be unscrewed from the outside or from the inside (trunk or cargo area). Refer to the owner’s manual for the exact location of bolts, clips or screws.
If the brake light access is from the exterior, unscrew the brake light lens to access the bulb. Do not allow the lens to fall to the ground during removal, as it may crack upon impact. Once fully removed, place it and the screws in a safe area.A taillight assembly or module that can be pulled out from the inside may be clipped and/or screwed on. Some vehicle models have protective plastic plugs to cover each screw or the whole assembly itself. These clips have to be carefully pried off first with the use of a flat screwdriver. On a Nissan Altima for example, the trunk carpet covers the taillight assembly and clips have to be removed to access and repair the car’s brake light.Note that the taillight assembly may also include the park lamp, turn indicator and reverse lamp. The wiring for all bulbs will be grouped into a single harness which is connected to the whole assembly with a multi-lead connector. Squeeze on the connector locks to disconnect it. Again, check the owner’s manual for the location and proper removal of clips, connectors, screws or bolts.
Once the taillight lens or taillight assembly has been taken out, remove the defective bulb from its socket or receptacle. The bulb can be removed by gently pushing in and twisting in a counterclockwise direction. The use of rubber gloves is recommended for protection, should the bulb itself break during removal. A rubber glove also helps provide a good, non-slip hold on the bulb as it is being removed or inserted into the socket.Check the bulb socket and clean with a spray-on electrical contact cleaner if needed.Insert the replacement bulb into the socket by aligning the pins properly and then gently pushing in and twisting in a clockwise direction until it locks into place.
Check that the new bulb is functioning properly by having a companion step on the brake pedal. Check also that other lamps are working properly. Afterward, reinstall the lens or taillight assembly.