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Brake Light 2004 Replacement Possible?

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by jmz2004prius, Jan 25, 2009.

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  1. jmz2004prius

    jmz2004prius New Member

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    Location:
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    Your Vehicle Year:
    2004 Prius
    I have read and read here and other boards, and I am totally confused!!!!
    I'm out of town and my wife just told me the driver's side brake light is out. I can not determine if I can replace it or it is a dealer replacement "item".
    I've seen people both say it can be done by the owner and others saying it has to be by the dealer.

    So can somebody please tell me if I can replace it or not. Also, I've read that the individual bulb cannot be replaced but that the entire assembly must be.

    Help please, and thanks in advance.

    Happy 2004 Prius Owner
    56,600 miles:confused:
  2. maseace

    maseace Prius enthusiast

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    Are you sure it's the brake light (actually a cluster of 6 LEDs) or the tail light at the bottom of the assembly? The tail light can easily be replaced with a 192 bulb. The LED brake light cluster is part of the whole assembly and is not user-replaceable.
  3. Rokeby

    Rokeby Member

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    jmz2004prius,

    +1 on maceace's comment.

    If it comes to it, replacing a tail light assembly is a simple take-out-the-old,
    put-in-the-new. Used assemblies go for $130-150US on the 'net.

    Here is a thread with photos on how to do it:

    http://priuschat.com/forums/care-ma...423-2007-tail-light-removal-instructions.html

    As to possibly repairing faulty LED brake light components, probably not for
    most folks. The LED brake lights, the topmost lights, are semi-permanently
    installed in the assembly. While there has been some discussion, only the
    most electrically competent members has even hinted that it might be
    possible to repair/replace LEDs. It would be possible only if you could find
    the correct replacement LED -- a very long shot -- and you were handy with
    a soldering iron, etc.

    While it appears to be possible to separate the clear lens from the body of
    the assembly, it involves melting the adhesive that holds the lens to the
    body with either a heat gun, or putting the entire assembly in an oven --
    pretty scary stuff. FWIW, heres a thread about that:

    http://priuschat.com/forums/prius-technical-discussion/52247-how-bake-headlight.html

    Hope this helps.
  4. jmz2004prius

    jmz2004prius New Member

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    Thanks maseace and rokeby.
    I haven't seen the light that's out yet, but my wife says that only the brake light (when pushing the brake pedal) is what's out. I'll verify that it is in fact the brake light and not the tail light.

    The link doesn't work for me, but I may just pay my dealer to do it. I travel a lot, will only be home Fri night and back out Mon first thing, so may be easier to just let them do it. Too bad it's not covered under the extended warranty, or at least I would assume that it's not.

    Thank you all VERY much.
  5. maseace

    maseace Prius enthusiast

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    The dealer will charge an arm and a leg to replace a tail light assembly. Alternatively you can buy a new tail light assy from parts.com for $125, and have someone install it.

    Attached Files:

  6. Paul R. Haller

    Paul R. Haller Member

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    My experience with LED lights is that they are almost indestructible and last far longer then an automotive light bulb under normal use. That said, I would check to see that you have 12 Volts + and ground going to the LED assembly while the brake pedal is pressed. If Yes, Look carefully at the connections at the lights. If no, check fuses and brake switch and related wiring. My guess is you lost ground or +12 volts somewhere. It's not impossible that a LED cluster failed but very rare they all fail at once on the same cluster.
    -Paul R. Haller-
  7. jstrunck

    jstrunck Junior Member

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    The brake light on my '04 went out and the dealer said I may be able to replace it myself, depending on whether it was the upper or lower light. My husband tried to do the job but couldn't get at the burn out light. I had to have the dealer do the job and was shocked to learn I had to replace the entire assembly. These are LED bulbs which I thought would last 10 years. Nope! That one burnt out bulb cost me over $300!!




  8. jstrunck

    jstrunck Junior Member

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    I understand from the dealer, that some Priuis models have LEDs and others have standard bulbs for brake lights. Unfortunately, my replacement bulb could not be replaced individually but required an entire light assembly replacement to the tune of $320. Be prepared!!
  9. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    I think all 2004+ have the upward-firing 1W Luxeon LEDs. What's
    the "burnout" symptom? It seems unlikely that *all* of the LEDs in
    the matrix would themselves fail at once; it might be a wiring
    problem either in or up toward the module.
    .
    _H*
  10. jstrunck

    jstrunck Junior Member

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    Initially, the light went out intermittently and eventually, totally burnt out. Maybe I was taken for a ride but the dealer said there was no way to replace just one LED bulb. I had them check the wiring, too. No problem there.
  11. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    It's true that the dealer mechanic will not repair the LED brake light assembly, as the repair philosophy is to replace the part. However a DIYer who is patient may be able to determine whether the problem was a bad solder connection within the assembly - just need to provide 12VDC (observing correct polarity) to the brake light, then use a voltmeter to see where the problem is.

    A bad solder connection seems quite likely since you say the problem was intermittent initially. If an LED decides to fail, this will be a permanent failure.
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