car brake

Brake Light Replacement Essentials

It is easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that replacing a faulty brake light is simply a minor detail and that it doesn’t warrant immediate attention and priority, but this just isn’t the case! Remember that it’s incredibly important to your safety that you replace your burnt-out brake lights as soon as you know it is an issue. Not only is it a safety hazard, it’s also illegal to drive without properly functioning brake lights. With that being said, here are some easy steps to replace your brake light on your own.

First, you will want to be sure that you have a replacement bulb as well as a proper screwdriver. The next step is determining the access point to the lens cover. You are looking for a set of screws that hold the lens cover in place. Most newer cars have the access point on the inside of the car which means you will likely need to open the trunk of the car and access the screws from inside the trunk. One pro tip is that some cars will have the access point hidden beneath the carpet that lines the trunk. Simply peel this back to gain access to the lens cover. Many older cars have the screws on the outside of the car, meaning it can be accessed from the exterior.

Next, you will want to remove the screws from the lens cover. From personal experience, we can tell you that it is very easy to lose these screws—and a pain to replace—so take precaution when fully removing them from the lens cover. Once the screws are out, the lens assembly is ready to be removed. We recommend using the tip of the screwdriver to pop the lens cover out. Once the cover is off, it is time to identify the brake light. In some cars, it can be very confusing to determine which is the brake light and which is the tail light. Simply hold the lens assembly up and see which bulb lines up with the bottom socket where your brake light goes. Twist and pull to remove the brake light socket. This will expose the bulb that is ready to be replaced. When removing the bulb, be sure to grip it lightly to ensure that it doesn’t shatter in your hands. Most bulbs can be pulled straight out, while some rare cases require twisting the bulb as your remove it.

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Once the bulb is removed, check the socket to be sure that there are no visible burn marks. If there are burn marks in place, it may mean that there is a more serious problem than simply a burnt-out bulb. If there are no burn marks in place, insert the new bulb until it fits snugly in place. You will then twist the socket back in place and place the lens assembly back where it originally rested. At this point you will want to test the bulb before fastening the cover back. Have a friend help you monitor whether or not it’s working. If no one else is available, one life hack is to set your phone to record for a few seconds while focused on the brake light. Play the recording back to see if your applic ation of the brake yielded any results. Once the bulb is working, use your screwdriver to reinstall those pesky screws.

Congratulations on changing your own brake light!

Top Reasons for Squeaky Brakes

Brakes are such a crucial part of the car, having them squeak can be both annoying and worrying. This is especially true if the squeaking continues for a long time or gets worse and worse. With that being said, noisy brakes are common and can often easily be dealt with by any auto mechanics shop.

 

Most automobile brakes today are disc brakes. This is where a pad presses against a disc (also known as the rotor) in order to stop the car. Some cars utilize an older type of brakes known as drum brakes. Sometimes, even on modern cars, the rear wheels will use drum brakes due to cost consideration. This type of brake uses a curved part called a “shoe” to press against a hollow drum, which then stops the car.

Morning squeaks

Often brakes will squeak after sitting all night. This is typically because of moisture from rain, dew or condensation that accumulated on the surface of the rotors. A thin layer of rust builds up on the surface of rotors. As the rotors turn the pads scrape off this rust. These fine particles can get trapped in the leading edge of the pad and can cause a squeaks.

Thinning Brake Pads

All pads have a built in wear indication. As the pads are used, they become worn, eventually thinning to the point of where the wear indicator becomes audible. This is a very common source of squeaks but it is not a failure, it is simply an indication that it is time to have the brakes serviced and pads replaced. These wear indicators are just small metal tabs made of steel which hit the rotor when pads are too thin, generating the noise.

 

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High Metal Content

Certain low end pads can be manufactured with a high metal content. There may be large chunks of metal embedded into the pads. These pieces will drag on the rotor and cause a high pitched brake squeak. Ideally brake pads with a higher content of non metal materials should be used. This will minimize the squeaks.

Drum Brakes Need Lubrication

If squeaking is heard from the drum brakes, it is an indication that they need to be lubricated. Shoe to backing plate contact points have lost most of their lubrication and thus need to be serviced.

Scraping From Plate

If squeaking is heard during regular driving, it may be an indication of scrapping from a plate due to damage. The typical cause of this is due to a rock hitting the underside of the car.

Brakes are one of the most important functionality of a car. It's important to know when they need to be serviced, replaced, or repaired. Have your trusted car care professional check them out if you ever have any doubt.

Check out our other blogs for the latest car care tips and tricks.