Join Date: Feb 2017
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Ok, I went exploring inside my tail-lights this morning and here's what I found!
First, it turned out I had two lamps malfunctioning: the left turn signal and the right reverse-light. So I got to pull apart both tail assemblies.
The left turn signal started working again as soon as I pressed on the bulb. I inspected the contacts in the socket and they appeared completely clean and free of rust/corrosion. I checked the ground - zero ohms. I guessed that the center contact was too far recessed into the socket to make a solid connection, so I bent it upwards to improve connectivity (but it's just a matter of time before the spring steel loses its spring and I wind up having to go through this process again..).
Likewise, the right reverse lamp responded to a gentle push, but in this case the center contact did show some corrosion, so I cleaned it all up, applied some dielectric grease, and reseated the lamp. Fingers crossed that it won't fail again..
Of course, as long as I had everything open, I checked the other light sockets.. the only anomaly I found was in the right tail/brake-light. This socket has two center contacts plus the ground contact on the side (it's of course a dual-filament bulb, displaying a bright light for the brakes and a dimmer light when the headlights are on). After inspecting the socket (ground showed zero ohms, no corrosion found, contacts were appropriately springy..) I re-inserted the bulb and ran through the test sequence and found that it wasn't working properly (the brighter brake filament never came on). Experimentation showed that if I untwisted the bulb a couple of degrees back from its locked position, everything worked. I thought maybe the contacts in the socket had gotten misaligned so I tried realigning them, without success. So I reinstalled the taillight assembly with the brake-light bulb partially twisted in its socket; it's working fine for the moment, but I expect it to jar loose again the next time wheel meets pothole.. Obviously I need to replace the socket entirely, but that does not look like a simple task..
It's a good thing I've gotten pretty skilled at removing/reinstalling the tail light assemblies, because it appears that today's project won't be the last time I'll have to do it!!