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Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light


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eyris
Novice

Aug 1, 2013, 11:27 AM

Post #1 of 14 (1614 views)
Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

Hi everyone, TIA for any help you can give me on this one.

I have a 2001 Toyota Echo, 1.5L engine, about 136,000 miles.

For the last week I have noticed a burning/melting plastic smell pretty much every time I drive the car. It would happen and then fade away, happen again, etc.

Today while in line at a drive-thru I noticed in my rear-view mirror that wisps of white smoke were actually coming from the rear center brake light in my back window. I put the car in park instead of keeping my foot on the brake and it did stop smoking, but I drove right home.

Also, in case this is related, a few days before I noticed the plastic smell/burning, my left turn signal decided to freak out. It blinks about double-time from what it should, and it extends not only to the indicator inside the car, but also both front and back lights (no bulbs are burnt out). Right blinker is normal.

Any ideas as to what is causing this and what I could replace? FWIW, I was planning on getting a new car next month, but I still need to get around until then! I'm 8 months pregnant so I'd rather not risk my car starting on fire or breathing in the nasty fumes.

I'm a novice when it comes to cars but I'm a big DIYer so I don't mind attempting relatively easy fixes myself. Any help is greatly appreciated!


(This post was edited by eyris on Aug 1, 2013, 11:32 AM)


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 1, 2013, 12:01 PM

Post #2 of 14 (1598 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

Jeez! That should have blown a fuse before that IMO but believe you. Not sure but if you are still up to anything in your condition pull the bulbs out and look at the sockets for now or get some help.

IDK - was the car exposed to unusually wet conditions the might have brought this on?

T



Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Aug 1, 2013, 12:04 PM

Post #3 of 14 (1592 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

Could somebody have put the wrong bulbs in?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



eyris
Novice

Aug 1, 2013, 12:10 PM

Post #4 of 14 (1590 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In


In Reply To
Jeez! That should have blown a fuse before that IMO but believe you. Not sure but if you are still up to anything in your condition pull the bulbs out and look at the sockets for now or get some help.

IDK - was the car exposed to unusually wet conditions the might have brought this on?

T


Thanks for your response, Tom!

What would I be looking for if I pull the bulbs out?

I was thinking this must be a weird problem because I Googled and came up empty handed - that's a first, right?

It has been rainy but nothing out of the ordinary and obviously the back brake light would be protected from rain unless I have a leak somewhere I don't know about.

Thanks for your help. =)


eyris
Novice

Aug 1, 2013, 12:12 PM

Post #5 of 14 (1586 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In


In Reply To
Could somebody have put the wrong bulbs in?


I am the original owner of the car (my first car, I've been driving her for 12 years now!) and I've only ever replaced one bulb. It was one of the rear brake lights (left or right, not the inside center one), but that was probably 8 years ago.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 1, 2013, 12:17 PM

Post #6 of 14 (1581 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

For looking at sockets one or more may be corroded. Most come new with grease that may have washed out. A bad socket can act as a short was just the thought. If so you replace and need to solder in a new socket for any in trouble. It's just surprising that more than just the center brake light is acting up all at once and can't think of a common denominator for that,

T



eyris
Novice

Aug 1, 2013, 12:30 PM

Post #7 of 14 (1573 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In


In Reply To
For looking at sockets one or more may be corroded. Most come new with grease that may have washed out. A bad socket can act as a short was just the thought. If so you replace and need to solder in a new socket for any in trouble. It's just surprising that more than just the center brake light is acting up all at once and can't think of a common denominator for that,

T


Old car, maybe everything just wants to go bad at once? I was joking that the car knows I'm replacing it so it's just giving up on life. =)

Thanks for your advice! I think I will probably take it into the place that usually does work on my car and see if they can fix it.

Any guesses on how much I'd be charged for something like this?


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 1, 2013, 12:34 PM

Post #8 of 14 (1567 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

It doesn't mark the end of the car just was surprised it seems to have hit two by your decription at the same time?

T



eyris
Novice

Aug 1, 2013, 3:30 PM

Post #9 of 14 (1540 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

Update:

I pulled the cover off of the back center brake light bulb and the bulb itself had started to melt it's way into the plastic cover. The whole thing (bulb and socket) were pretty hot.

The socket was just attached to the wires by a plastic clip so I brought the whole melty socket/bulb combo into AutoZone and the guy there seemed pretty convinced I just needed a new bulb and that there wasn't anything wrong with the socket itself.

I don't know if that's right, but I replaced the bulb and added "bulb grease" to the connections and after driving around a bit haven't seen or smelled anymore smoke. I also opened it back up after driving a bit to see if it had gotten really hot like it was before and it was cool to the touch.

I'm going to try switching out the bulbs on my left turn signal and see if that fixes the other problem, since I did read somewhere that sometimes they go fast just before burning out, even if they aren't burnt out yet completely.

Hopefully this was easier than I thought it would be! Thanks for the help!


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 1, 2013, 3:49 PM

Post #10 of 14 (1536 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

Good luck to you kid. I've just plain never seen bulbs themselves get so hot and question that they do get hot at their end but can't argue if it worked.

Little late but with bulbs try to use a paper towel on them to prevent any chance of dirt or grease getting on the glass itself.

I do find they do tend to have a life #if hours of use but usually just blow. When practical and known that it's a first round for bulbs I do them all as when one blows others of the same are usually right behind.

What is disappointing to me is lately the quality of common automotive bulbs has dropped off.

Oh, the fast blinking is quite likely that it's drawing too much current so flasher goes faster.

Best of luck with your new expected arrival. I'm shocked you are taking on your car this late.

Be well. We'll keep the light on for you,

Tom



Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Aug 1, 2013, 3:53 PM

Post #11 of 14 (1532 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

That's why I asked about the wrong bulb. If somebody put a higher intensity bulb, it will give off a lot more heat and the lens may be too close.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



eyris
Novice

Aug 2, 2013, 7:13 AM

Post #12 of 14 (1508 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In


In Reply To
Good luck to you kid. I've just plain never seen bulbs themselves get so hot and question that they do get hot at their end but can't argue if it worked.

Little late but with bulbs try to use a paper towel on them to prevent any chance of dirt or grease getting on the glass itself.

I do find they do tend to have a life #if hours of use but usually just blow. When practical and known that it's a first round for bulbs I do them all as when one blows others of the same are usually right behind.

What is disappointing to me is lately the quality of common automotive bulbs has dropped off.

Oh, the fast blinking is quite likely that it's drawing too much current so flasher goes faster.

Best of luck with your new expected arrival. I'm shocked you are taking on your car this late.

Be well. We'll keep the light on for you,

Tom


My new theory is that the hole the socket clipped into might have broken and dropped the bulb down to where it was touching the plastic housing instead of being elevated above it, causing the bulb to melt through the plastic.

Since it was all melted I just used some electrical tape to hold it into place.

I did already know the trick about not touching the bulb with my bare fingers, so I used a napkin. =)

Thanks for the help and well-wishes! Like I said in my OP, I am true DIYer - I hate to pay someone for something I can figure out myself. It's more fun this way anyway, right? ;)

Then again, don't ask my husband about the garage door that I have "fixed" three times and only works once in a while. haha


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Aug 2, 2013, 8:05 AM

Post #13 of 14 (1502 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In


Quote
Since it was all melted I just used some electrical tape to hold it into place.


Sure, why not add more fuel for the fire.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 2, 2013, 8:54 AM

Post #14 of 14 (1501 views)
Re: Smoke Coming From Rear Center Brake Light Sign In

That would explain the smoke without blowing a fuse but the reason that happened is a mystery? Tape probably won't last. Perhaps a zip wire tie would - you can see the issue we can't. Of course a whole unit/assembly would be best if it's not just somehow missing a clip? Did something bump it somehow? Only point now if you've succeeded at holding it needs a stronger fix that doesn't interfere with the unit.

What's with the directional problem now? Was that just bulb or what? That fast blinking directional means something so if not corrected now it will be an issue. I don't know how much more strength you have for more this late with child waiting and amazed now!

Hope you were all set and can forget this bull for a while but again think about durability of electrical tape for something like that. They do have very high temp tolerant and stretchy electrical tape (Scotch 700 or was #33) is pretty capable but not sure this is the place to hold something? Do know that electrical tape is not all the same at all!

They make liquid electrical tape that is pretty amazing stuff - read the containers if you find it. All Home Depot type places will have it and handy for a lot of things. Don't breathe those vapors either and be quick if you get that stuff as it will wreck the whole can which is small brush in cap type thing. Dries pretty fast, stays moderately flexible.

Whatever, hope you are totally done soon with this and pay attention to other little priorities!

Tom







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