How to Replace the Bulb in a Third Brake Light

by Thomas West
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The third brake light, sometimes called the center-mounted or high-mounted brake light, became standard on all automobiles sold in North America in 1986, although it was invented over a decade before. Government studies indicated that vehicles that did not have a center brake light had a higher possibility of being involved in a rear-end collision. For this reason it is important to replace the bulb in the high-mounted brake light when it burns out.

Step 1

Locate your car’s third brake light housing, which may be accessed from the rear package shelf below the rear window or from the upper-rear lining near the top of the rear window.

Step 2

Remove the holding screws from the brake-light housing with a Philips screwdriver in a counterclockwise direction, if equipped. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to pry the housing up to release the holding clips if there are no visible screws on your housing.

Step 3

Pull the third brake-light housing slightly away from its mounting surface. Rotate the light bulb socket in a counterclockwise direction and pull it straight from the housing. Pull the bulb from the socket and discard it.

Step 4

Push a new bulb into the socket until it is fully seated. Push the light bulb socket back into the housing and rotate it in a clockwise direction to lock it into place.

Step 5

Line up the tabs on the housing to the slots in the mounting surface. Push the housing into place until the clips snap into place. Run the holding screws back in and tighten with a Philips screwdriver in a clockwise direction, if your housing is so equipped.

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