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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys & gals,

My 3rd brake light has a set of bulbs out, looks like there are 5-6 sets and the leftmost is out, see pic below. The light is sealed, I considered opening it up and replacing the bad set of bulbs but it might be easier to just get a new light assembly. Not a big deal but I've come so far with this car it bugs me to have some of the lights out.

Anyone have experience with repairing these? If so please share your experience and P/Ns.

If anyone has a spare that is verified w/all bulbs working I might be interested in buying.

Thanks!

 

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I’m pretty sure Bulldog has one.

Scott
 

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^ I think I'd probably at least try to open it up and replace the leds -- or disconnect the 4 on the right so it looks balanced. Or get one from a wrecking yard. Someone was asking about these a week or so ago, as I recall I briefly looked for new and they were either discontinued or really expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
^ I think I'd probably at least try to open it up and replace the leds -- or disconnect the 4 on the right so it looks balanced. Or get one from a wrecking yard. Someone was asking about these a week or so ago, as I recall I briefly looked for new and they were either discontinued or really expensive.
Thank you. Yes I'm going to take mine apart and experiment after I receive my replacement. Sourcing the exact bulbs isn't something that I think will be easy as I have little experience with electronics so I'll be starting from scratch, but we'll see what I find. Might even get a 3rd brake flasher (flashes 5 times to warn others behind you) and fit it in there.

These are ~$300 new OEM. I saw one on eBay for $44 used.
 

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...Sourcing the exact bulbs isn't something that I think will be easy as I have little experience with electronics so I'll be starting from scratch, but we'll see what I find.
I don't have much experience myself, but I think the bulbs are pretty standard LEDs, maybe the older larger size. I'm not sure if they're red or what, I think they are. If they are what I think they are, then you should be able to pick up a pack at 'any old' electronics store - which in this day and age means something online, probably even amazon. Or maybe you can scavenge some bulbs from an old piece of electronics equipment laying around the house...

hmm, maybe you're right: I can't remember how exactly you test an LED to figure out its 'specs', what 'specs' really matter, what the variety is, etc. Besides color and physical size, there's forward voltage at particular current. I have a pack here, of red larger bulbs (5mm) that I was thinking are probably close to what's in the brake light, and they're rated at [email protected], with a viewing angle of 60... I recall, back when I was messing a bit with LEDs, that the exact specs didn't matter as much as I thought they would, that they don't have to be exact, but rather in the ballpark. Don't quote me on that though. Also, as I recall, the color corresponds to the general forward voltage, where red is a low Vf, green higher, and white higher (or something like that). You can measure Vf with a DMM's diode setting, I think* - set the meter to diode, stick the leads on the bulb leads in the right polarity (long leg is usually +)...

Here's a link to a similar bulb offering at amazon: E-Projects B-0001-A01 Diffused Red LEDs, Red Lens, Red Light, 5 mm (Pack of 25): Super Luminescent Leds: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

Anyway, whatever, take all this as perhaps a starting point in your potential search for something that works.


* OK, maybe this isn't right, I tried it and got nothing.

Here's a link to one webpage that I had saved with some info about LEDs: Light Emitting Diode Specifications: LED Characteristics » Electronics Notes

I couldn't find anything that actually tells you how to test/determine the characteristics of an existing bulb in order to find the right replacement. Maybe someone else around here knows how to do that and will chime-in... On the other hand, my guess is that you could probably pick the same color and a matching size and it'd work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't have much experience myself...

Anyway, whatever, take all this as perhaps a starting point in your potential search for something that works.
Thanks, I appreciate that, that's the thing, there's no Radio Shack anymore so I can't bring a bulb in and match it like in the old days, what I don't want to do is take a chance on stuff online and then when it gets here realize I've wasted my money. Even if I get all the specs right it might be a hair too big or small, then it wouldn't look even, and I'm back where I started.

I have limited understanding of electronics, I've soldered plenty and have wired/installed fans and lights and switches but when it comes to the complexities of components and diagnosing I'm a novice. That said I'll likely tinker as you suggested and see what happens. I once rigged a relay/switch/pump and the plumbing into my Corolla to create a water sprayer, this was years ago, so the sky is the limit.

 

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...I can't bring a bulb in and match it like in the old days, what I don't want to do is take a chance on stuff online and then when it gets here realize I've wasted my money. Even if I get all the specs right it might be a hair too big or small, then it wouldn't look even, and I'm back where I started.
hmm, fyi, the size standard is the diameter of the bulb part of the bulb. Above I mentioned 5mm for instance - you can measure the diameter of the existing bulbs to find the right physical size. They're pretty cheap so it might be worth taking a chance, not much to lose in terms of actual $. Pretty sure there's only a few physical sizes to choose from.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
hmm, fyi, the size standard is the diameter of the bulb part of the bulb. Above I mentioned 5mm for instance - you can measure the diameter of the existing bulbs to find the right physical size. They're pretty cheap so it might be worth taking a chance, not much to lose in terms of actual $. Pretty sure there's only a few physical sizes to choose from.
OK thanks, that is helpful, I'll definitely see where I can go with this.
 

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^ I think I'd probably at least try to open it up and replace the leds -- or disconnect the 4 on the right so it looks balanced.
Disconnecting individual diodes may lead to greater electrical load on the rest of the functioning ones and ultimately their failure.
 

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Thanks, I appreciate that, that's the thing, there's no Radio Shack anymore so I can't bring a bulb in and match it like in the old days, what I don't want to do is take a chance on stuff online and then when it gets here realize I've wasted my money. Even if I get all the specs right it might be a hair too big or small, then it wouldn't look even, and I'm back where I started.

I have limited understanding of electronics, I've soldered plenty and have wired/installed fans and lights and switches but when it comes to the complexities of components and diagnosing I'm a novice. That said I'll likely tinker as you suggested and see what happens. I once rigged a relay/switch/pump and the plumbing into my Corolla to create a water sprayer, this was years ago, so the sky is the limit.

If you are tearing apart the housing anyway, you have a few options:

- Replace each broken LED (requires the replacement to be fairly spot-on spec wise)

- Remove the entire motherboard (the one with LEDs and other components) and measure the output voltage on the connector pins when you apply brakes to ensure it's around 12v DC.
Next, purchase a quality (preferably red) LED strip (something like the ones from Diode Dynamics - LED strip or The Retrofit Source - LED strip) with emphasis on 'quality' and install in place of the OEM unit.
Sure, you can snag one on eBay or Amazon for like 10 bucks but I assume you're not exactly in the market to tear apart the light housing every few months to replace dead components.
 

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I'd guess they are groups of four in series, so probably just one dead (or a bad connection). Connecting in series helps with uniform brightness and simplifies driving. If you look at a LCD TV with LED back lights you might have 50 or more LEDs in series which needs a fairly high drive voltage, but 4 in series will be sensible off the 14V supply and means a single failure doesn't take the lot out (with LCD TVs a single failure results in a black screen, but with a torch you can still see the picture is there - I've fixed a couple of these).
 
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