How-To: Repair Broken 3rd Brake Light Socket (1st Gen) | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How-To: Repair Broken 3rd Brake Light Socket (1st Gen)


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December 4, 2006
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Year, Model & Trim Level
'94 Sport
How-To: Repair Broken 3rd Brake Light Socket (1st Gen)

I cannot be responsible for any damage to you or your property that comes from following this guide. Use common sense and safety equipment (when necessary) to prevent injuring yourself or your truck. I cannot guarantee that this procedure is error-free. You have been warned.

Last week, I realized one of the two bulbs in in the 3rd brake light was out. Figuring that it had burned out, I bought a pack of 912 bulbs and went to replace the bulb that was out.

This was not to be the case, as when I took the light out holding the bulb to the side would make it light. The problem is the base that holds the bulbs is made of junk plastic, and has two tiny tabs on each socket that press the bulb base into the contact. Lacking spare parts and needing a brake light, I figured out how to repair this problem.

If you have this problem, here's how to fix it:

Step 0: Get the tools and supplies you need


Needle Nose Pliers
Cutting Pliers
#2 Phillips Screwdriver
Angled Pick
Utility Knife

Package of 912 Bulbs
Small Zip Ties
Small Vacuum Hose
Tune Up (Dielectric) Grease

Step 1: Take apart the light

Remove the two screws from the side of the light and pull it out from the body. Pull the tab back and pull out the wiring connector. Remove the big screw on the back and remove the lights from the lens. (no pic)

Step 2: Cut the hose to length

Cut four pieces of hose that are 3/8in long


Step 3: Insert hose into lamp sockets

Insert the four pieces of hose into the places where the plastic tabs are or are supposed to be. My light had two of the tabs still intact, so I just placed the hose next to them so they would be reinforced.


Step 4: Put on zip ties and install bulbs

Tighten the zip ties around the sockets. It is easier to start them near the top and then slide them down once they are tight. You might end up cutting it off any trying again if it doesn't work out ok. Try to get them as tight as you can (but don't go crazy, this is plastic). Then carefully press the bulbs in, it is a tight fit. I used new bulbs so I wouldn't be doing this again soon. Pay attention to the side the wire contact on the bulb is on, and ensure it is touching the post and not the hose. Some tune up grease on the base makes it much easier to slide in and keeps corrosion away.


Step 5: Trim the hose so lamp sockets fit into the housing

The hose makes the bulb sockets hang up on the edge of the light housing. Take a knife and cut off the sides of the hose a bit so it fits better. Pic is self-explanitory.


Step 6: Install sockets into the housing

This is the hard part. Insert the socket assembly back into the lamp housing. You may need to use the pick and trim the hose some more to persuade it into there. It WILL NOT go all the way in because of the zip ties, but this is ok. Just remember not to overtighten the screw that holds it in or you will snap the socket assembly in half. There is about a 1/8 gap on mine between the socket assembly and the screw post on the lamp housing.


Step 7: Test and reinstall

Plug the wiring in and give the lights a test. If everything is good, reassemble the light and you're done. If not, check that your bulbs are good, inserted the right way, and that the zip tie is tight enough to force the bulb into the contact.


Copyright Ted Jarosinski - No part of this tutorial may be copied outside of Explorerforum without my permission. All photos taken with Canon Digital Rebel XTi, Tamron 17-50 lens and 430ex flash. Editing done in Aperture.