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How to Change the Third Brake Light on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The high mounted brake light, often called a center brake light, is an essential part of the system. This light is designed to attract the attention of drivers who might be focusing in the distance, with their eyes scanning higher than usual. The light consists of several small bulbs instead of just one, so a single burned out bulb will not render the light completely ineffective. However, you should change burned out bulbs as soon as possible to avoid having more than one out Vehicles a time.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Third Brake Light on a Golf MK4


Fold down the car's rear seat to access the trunk, to which the light is attached. It might also help to open the trunk lid.

Squeeze the locking tabs on the side of the electrical connector and pull it from the light assembly.

Press the three metal retaining clips on the side of the light housing, and pull the housing off the trunk lid.

Press the two tabs on the bulb holder to release it from the housing.

Pull out any burned out bulbs, and replace them with new ones.

Snap the bulb holder back into the housing. You should hear a click when the tab locks into place.

Snap the housing back onto the bracket on the trunk lid. You may have to press in the tabs to get it to seat properly and lock into place.

Replace the electrical connector. You can simply slide it into place and the tabs will lock automatically.


Open the hatch and use a small, flat-blade screwdriver to gently pry off the trim along the top edge of the hatch. Cover the screwdriver with a soft cloth to avoid accidental scratches.

Press the bulb holder retaining tabs and pull it out of the housing.

Pull out any burned out bulbs and replace them with new ones.

Snap the bulb holder back into the housing.

Replace the trim piece by positioning it in the proper locating and gently tapping it with the heel of your palm to lock it into place.

Items you will need

  • Replacement bulb(s) (#2825)

  • Small flat-blade screwdriver

  • Soft cloth

 How to Change the Third Brake Light on a 2006 Sonata

Turn the Sonata's engine off. Open the car's hood. Loosen the nut around the negative battery cable. Pull the cable upward to separate it from the battery.

Open the trunk. Look in the rear part of the trunk beneath the third brake light. You will see a wiring harness. Unplug the wiring harness.

Remove the two Phillips screws above the wiring harness. These screws secure the third brake light package tray, which is mounted in the rear seating area.

Access the rear seating area. Find the third brake light package tray in the partition between the rear seat and the rear glass. Lift it upward to remove it. With the screws out, it comes up easily.

Pull the bulb straight out of its socket. Insert the new bulb into the socket. Replace the third brake light package tray. Move back to the trunk.

Insert the package tray screws and tighten them. Reconnect the wiring harness. Close the trunk.

Place the negative battery cable back onto the battery post. Tighten the nut around the cable to reconnect the battery. Close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Pliers

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • 16W replacement bulb

 How to Change the Third Brake Light in a 2006 Jeep Cherokee

Set a step ladder at the rear of the Grand Cherokee, near the center of the rear hatch.

Climb the ladder until you can reach the two screws securing the third brake light assembly. Remove these screws with a Phillips screwdriver and pull the assembly from the Grand Cherokee.

Grab the socket on the rear of the third brake light assembly and twist it counterclockwise to unlock it. Pull the socket from the third brake light assembly.

Pull the failed bulb from the socket, with a slight wiggling motion. Grab a new 921 light bulb, using a clean, lint-free cloth, and press it into the socket. Don't touch the bulb with your bare hands, as the oils from your hands may cause the bulb to burn out prematurely.

Insert the socket and new bulb into the rear of the third brake light assembly and twist it clockwise to lock it in place.

Set the third brake light assembly back on the Cherokee and tighten the two screws, using a Phillips screwdriver.

Remove the ladder from behind the Cherokee.

Items you will need

  • Step ladder

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Style 921 light bulb

  • Clean, lint-free cloth

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.

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