Sunday, May 6, 2018

FIAT Brake Light Replacement

FIAT 500 Abarth

One thing I like about modern cars is that somewhere deep in their electrical control units is a brain smart enough to not only tell me there might be a problem with the car, but often it will narrow it down to exactly what is wrong. For instance, yesterday I had a light on my Abarth dashboard that said there was an issue with something. And then another part of the dash told me it was one of the brake lights! About a year ago I had the driver side brake light bulb go out, so I'd already figured out how to replace one, so this one turned out to be the passenger side brake light. Compared to most car repairs, this one is easy, and if your rear brake lights go out you can save yourself a lot of money and fix it yourself. Since my car is now about 5 and a half years old, having to replace a little light bulb sounds reasonable, so let's take a look at how to do it.

My guess is that out of 100 car owners, there are maybe 80 that take the car into the shop for just about everything from oil changes and mysterious sounds to serious stuff. Then about 18 more people like to work on cars themselves, and plenty of them do it all, like engine rebuilds and new transmissions. That leaves only say 2 out of a hundred that might learn something from posts like this. THAT IS THE POINT! If someone like me with very little experience can fix ANYTHING on their own car and save money (a common theme at NMS!), then we'll be happy to help out the 2 percenters! We realize that this leaves 18-98 percent of the population that will laugh at how easy it is to change your oil or replace a light bulb, but that's OK...I'm just going to guess that most them can't read and would only look at the pictures anyway! No, seriously, I'm kidding, I love everyone and especially all those of you that know more than me, which I will again estimate at 100% of the population!

From replacing the first bulb I still had an extra one, since the ones I found were sold in packages of two, so I didn't even have to go to an auto parts store or order on line. The only tools you need are a socket with a 10mm and a screwdriver. A flat blade screwdriver would be better than Phillips, but either one will work.

Light Bulb, screwdriver

All the tools you need! This handy little set from Blue Hawk
comes with sockets and the screwdriver star bits you need. 

After raising the back hatch, loosen the two bolts that hold
the entire rear light assembly in place.

Loosening the second of two 10mm bolts. 

The two bolts are off, gently pull the assembly away from the
body. Notice the electrical connection. 

Use a screwdriver or your hand to pry open the electrical
connector and remove the wires. Next we'll remove the
four star pointed screws to get to the light bulbs

I'm not a mechanic, so whatever the real name for these are escapes me.
This is the bit that fits in my socket to unscrew the four screws. 

Here's one of the screws that need to come off. It's easy. 

Now that we've taken the cover off, you can see that there
are three bulbs in the assembly. They are all different sizes, one is
a different color, so odds are that I won't replace the wrong one!
 At this point, I'd like to quote all the repair manuals and just say "Assembly is just the opposite of dis-assembly!" In other words, After replacing the bulb (it just snaps in and out), put the cover back on and screw the four screws back in. Next, re-attach the electrical connection and it will snap into place.
One last thing to point out is that when you're ready to put
the entire assembly back on the car, the outside edge (towards the tire) of the assembly
doesn't have bolts to screw in, since it just has two prongs that snap into
two holes, which in the photo above is off to the right of the electrical wires. 

Snap in the prong on the outside, refasten the two bolts on the inside edge, and you're good to go!

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