car repair

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!

5 Tips to Pass your Vehicle Inspection

Currently in the U.S., there are nearly 20 states that require an annual vehicle inspection. Failing an auto inspection means more of your time and energy goes to waste. Here’s what the next steps look like if your car fails: make another appointment to correct the issue and this is followed by an additional appointment to pass your vehicle inspection. Not only is this tedious and time consuming, it may also cause you to miss your state’s inspection deadline. Hero has compiled 5 simple tips you can do as a vehicle owner to ensure a passing grade for your inspection. The following tips not only are easy fixes that can be done by anyone, but they will also help you avoid the headache of scheduling multiple inspection appointments for issues that could have been easily prevented:

1. Cosmetic check

Walk around your car to ensure there are no obvious areas of need that would prevent a passing grade. Verify that windows aren’t cracked and also make sure that your license plate is securely attached. An often overlooked area inside the car are the seatbelts. Make sure that the holsters are properly working and that each seatbelt is able to be securely fastened.

2. Exterior lights

Grab a family member or friend to help you out to make sure all of the car’s exterior lights are working. This includes your brake lights, headlights, taillights, and high beams. Also, remember to check the lights that illuminate your license plate because they are also required for passing inspection.

3. Internal dash lights

Your car cannot pass inspection with a service engine light on. While fixing this issue might not be something you personally can do, it’s important to know that your car will need to complete a “drive cycle” before the internal computer resets and will register a passing grade on your inspection. This drive cycle can be anywhere from 50-75 miles, so knowing this in advance can be a major time-saving help.

 4. Tires

Most states require tires to have at least 1/16 inch of tread to pass inspection. An easy way to check this is with the penny tire tread trick. According to Bridgestone Tires, a person can place a U.S. penny upside down in the groove of the tire tread and if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires. This trick takes no more than a minute and can really help you plan your inspection in advance.

5. Brakes

You don’t need to be a car expert to determine when your brakes need replacing. According to J.D. Power & Associates, one of the best ways to know when your brakes need to be replaced is by listening carefully to them while applying heavy brake pressure. While driving, turn off the radio and listen to see if you hear a high pitched screeching sound during the application of pressing your brakes. This sound is called a metal shim. Even the faint noise of a metal shim is an indicator that your brakes need to be replaced. Having your brakes replaced can take some serious time, so knowing to check for them in advance can assist you in scheduling a brake replacement appointment to guarantee you meet your inspection on time.

For all of the latest car tips and hacks, make sure to check out the rest of Hero's blog