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Trunk Carpet / Liner


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I know this is going to come across as a wussy question, but I figure it is better to ask first before trashing something unneccessarily. My brake lights are suddenly not working (the 3rd light has been out since i bought it but the mains were fine). I tried the easy way first and replaced the fuse even though the owner's manual is amazingly vague and doesn't stipulate that the WHOLE lower panel has to be removed and neglects to mention the three retaining screws at the base.

Anyway, next stop the bulbs themselves, except that the access is through the trunk lid and some carpeting / liner. My question... the retaining tabs that secure the trunklid carpet.... they don't seem to want to snap out nor do they seem to unscrew. And since it is pretty cold in these here parts of late, I fear they may be brittle enough to break if forced. So , do I go all macho and just pry the suckers up or is there some safe secret way to get them off without doing any damage? I just don't want to destroy the plugs if they weren't designed to be popped out.

Also, if the bulb replacement fails to solve the problem, any other ideas?? Shorts?? (under hood), Bulb contact corrosion? etc.? Thanks.

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Access to 3rd light bulbs is NOT through the trunk!!! You need to have the hardtop off, the softtop cover lifted up to be able to access the retaining screws for the lamp assembly under the rubber weatherstrip. If all 8 bulbs in 3rd light are out then the problem is usually the rivet holding the bulb retaining strip are loose and don't make good enough contact, just tighten them up, solder them together, or run a piece of wire from a bulb to the rivet to get the contact back. If I remember correctly, the carpet just pulls away from the main taillights by lifting at the bottom but it has been a long time so I may have that wrong.

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I know this is going to come across as a wussy question, but I figure it is better to ask first before trashing something unneccessarily. My brake lights are suddenly not working (the 3rd light has been out since i bought it but the mains were fine). I tried the easy way first and replaced the fuse even though the owner's manual is amazingly vague and doesn't stipulate that the WHOLE lower panel has to be removed and neglects to mention the three retaining screws at the base.

Anyway, next stop the bulbs themselves, except that the access is through the trunk lid and some carpeting / liner. My question... the retaining tabs that secure the trunklid carpet.... they don't seem to want to snap out nor do they seem to unscrew. And since it is pretty cold in these here parts of late, I fear they may be brittle enough to break if forced. So , do I go all macho and just pry the suckers up or is there some safe secret way to get them off without doing any damage? I just don't want to destroy the plugs if they weren't designed to be popped out.

Also, if the bulb replacement fails to solve the problem, any other ideas?? Shorts?? (under hood), Bulb contact corrosion? etc.? Thanks.

The third brake light is the third light, it affects your cruse control and has it's own special problem and cure. All brake light bulbs at the same time can happen and so can brake light switch and turn signal emergency flasher switch which affects the two main lights, before fighting the stiff carpet that's been in place for 20+ years, check flashers and turn signal to eliminate switch's, if those work look to your brake light switch.

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The third brake light is the third light, it affects your cruse control and has it's own special problem and cure. All brake light bulbs at the same time can happen and so can brake light switch and turn signal emergency flasher switch which affects the two main lights, before fighting the stiff carpet that's been in place for 20+ years, check flashers and turn signal to eliminate switch's, if those work look to your brake light switch.

Dunno. As I said the 3rd light was out from the "git go" but the primary lights worked fine (until some point after I had work done on the car... who knows, the mechanic may have shorted something). I checked the regular lights and turn signals immediately after a friend who was trailing me home from the shop told me my brake lights were kaput and the flashers/turn signals functioned fine. (don't know factually how long they've been out, so I can't just accuse the repair shop... but they were working in early September for sure). I suspected it might not be the fuse when I noted that the dome lights were on the same circuit and worked fine... didn't try the cruise control since I had never tried it beforehand and woudn't know when and if it blew. I did note that one of the rear lights (passenger) was dimmer than the other side and thought it might be a bad filament in one of the bulbs, but had never heard of one bad filament taking down an entire brake light circuit (WTF ?????) until I read an earlier post here.

So kind sir, without benefit of a shop manual, just where is the brake light switch located? (under the brake pedal???... at least that's where it was in my Dodge van). I swear this car is starting to give me a migraine and I've owned some PITA cars before but none that malfunctioned one thing after another in rapid succession. A little breathing room (and a paycheck refresh) would be welcome. Thanks all for the advice.

Edited by joeworf (see edit history)
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Dunno. As I said the 3rd light was out from the "git go" but the primary lights worked fine (until some point after I had work done on the car... who knows, the mechanic may have shorted something). I checked the regular lights and turn signals immediately after a friend who was trailing me home from the shop told me my brake lights were kaput and the flashers/turn signals functioned fine. (don't know factually how long they've been out, so I can't just accuse the repair shop... but they were working in early September for sure). I suspected it might not be the fuse when I noted that the dome lights were on the same circuit and worked fine... didn't try the cruise control since I had never tried it beforehand and woudn't know when and if it blew. I did note that one of the rear lights (passenger) was dimmer than the other side and thought it might be a bad filament in one of the bulbs, but had never heard of one bad filament taking down an entire brake light circuit (WTF ?????) until I read an earlier post here.

So kind sir, without benefit of a shop manual, just where is the brake light switch located? (under the brake pedal???... at least that's where it was in my Dodge van). I swear this car is starting to give me a migraine and I've owned some PITA cars before but none that malfunctioned one thing after another in rapid succession. A little breathing room (and a paycheck refresh) would be welcome. Thanks all for the advice.

Don't sweat the small stuff, there are plenty of sage sayings that old cars into perspective like "muscle, if you don't use it you lose it" and "cleanliness is next to godliness" electrical contacts stop being shiny before they stop carrying electricity, motors need to be started, transmissions need to be shifted, and brakes that aren't used brake when you use them. My dad used to say that cars melt when they sit and it didn't matter how new the car was, every used car on his lot got exercised at least once every week.

Under the dash and above that fun to remove cover, you find the plunger switch that touches the bar that is your brake pedal, these things are impossible to accidentally unplug, but they can get broken or knocked out of their bracket.

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  • 1 month later...

Here we go again. After replacing all the bulbs and related fuse and determining that the brake switch is good, I still have no brake lights. The repair shop upon investigating it has found water seeping in near a warning harness in the trunk and possible rodent infestation as well. Before I get any deeper financially with this heap I'm wondering if I should just cut my losses and bail or plunk around $500 into determining the cause? More immediately, should I just let it dry out and see what happens or let them locate the actual cause. I hate this open ended "investiagtive" crap, especially considering the hourly labor rates just to find the cause without actually fixing it. And if it's the wiring harness I'll likely junk it. Life (and car repairs) really shouldn't be this complex. Any similar experiences or suggestions would be most welcome.

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If your rear turn and flashers are working your problem is most likely under the dash or in the colum.

Pull rear bulbs out of housing, let them hang loose inside the trunk and watch your turn lights flash, if one side flashes bright and the other side flashes dim at the same time odds are good 99 out of 100 that you have a bad gnd and making a new ground connect will solve your problem. 1 in 100 the bright with dim flash comes from a bad turn switch.

My best guess for no brake lights with good switch, signals and flashers working is turn switch. With work done same day as problem discovered it could be bad plug connect or wire if work done was in colum or under dash area.

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If your rear turn and flashers are working your problem is most likely under the dash or in the colum.

Pull rear bulbs out of housing, let them hang loose inside the trunk and watch your turn lights flash, if one side flashes bright and the other side flashes dim at the same time odds are good 99 out of 100 that you have a bad gnd and making a new ground connect will solve your problem. 1 in 100 the bright with dim flash comes from a bad turn switch.

My best guess for no brake lights with good switch, signals and flashers working is turn switch. With work done same day as problem discovered it could be bad plug connect or wire if work done was in colum or under dash area.

Thanks Digger! Further conversation with the mechanic yields... he says he replaced the fuse several times and it blew immediately. There is water seepage in the side of the trunk under the panels and carpet. Except for a minor rodent nest in the engine bay no other signs of gnawing by varmints. He's trying to trace the short but to be honest I'm not up for a search and destroy recon of the wiring at $120 plus an hour and with no guarantees of a solution (within reason). I'll talk again with the service writer in the morning, but I may be done with this. I have other vehicles the money could be better spent on and seem to be less chronic with breakdowns and hassles.

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Thanks Digger! Further conversation with the mechanic yields... he says he replaced the fuse several times and it blew immediately. There is water seepage in the side of the trunk under the panels and carpet. Except for a minor rodent nest in the engine bay no other signs of gnawing by varmints. He's trying to trace the short but to be honest I'm not up for a search and destroy recon of the wiring at $120 plus an hour and with no guarantees of a solution (within reason). I'll talk again with the service writer in the morning, but I may be done with this. I have other vehicles the money could be better spent on and seem to be less chronic with breakdowns and hassles.

Thought you had working turn signals. Water isn't an instant fuse blower, dead shorts are and they are very easy to find if you have the tools or know what you're looking for. Any tester is better than none but a TDR or a bridge will tell you how many feet and inches your wire runs before it shorts, that and a tape measure will put you where you need to be and on a short run like a car nothing beats a good set of eye's. Pull the carpet, pull the seats, pull whatever you need to to get a good look at the cable and you will find the dead short. Last dead short I found was in the colum under the turn switch and it came that way from the factory. Wire pinched took years to wear through and become a problem, the fix was a piece of tape and putting the wire where it should have been to start with.

Darn shame you're a thousand miles away. Do you live anywhere near a technical college that teaches electronics? Do you know a good electrician? Hate to see you junk the car for a bad wire. If you do go that route keep me in mind, wire harnesses repair a lot cheaper than they replace.

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I was in the process of writing another long-winded recap when I got a phone call from the shop. Problen solved! Finally! Seems that the wiring near the trunk hinge had chafed the wires and there was also the usual problem with the 3rd brake light board having wiring issues. He said the wire to the 3rd light board kept breaking after soldering it so he just soldered it directly and voila!... then all the lights worked. I'm not sure how the the conventional brakes were working before if the circuit was broken by the 3rd brake?? This car confuses the living daylights out of me.

And for the record, should it help anyone else, the water leak (which had no impact on the brake lights) was at the fuel filler door. Inside the door the metal had separated and was allowing water to run into the side recess of the trunk. I can hardly wait for the next crisis.

Thanks again Digger for pointing me in the right direction! JOE

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Guess this means that you won't be asking me to come and haul your car away.

FYI: Two most popular ways to wire brake lights are turn and stop lamp intrigal, turn and stop lamp seperate. When turn and stop are intrigal the main stop signal is always fed through the turn signal switch, when seperate it goes direct. Cars with intrigal and the third brake light are wired both ways so the third light can be out without affecting the main. It does affect our cruse controll and if everything under the hood works good with your third brake light now working you should also have working cruse. Bonus.

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Yeah, it was granted a stay of excecution (for now). It's not that I don't appreciate the TC, but combined with a host of other problem "children", it gets old having to be under constant seige with an unending plague of issues. To date I've got: A Mercury Capri with a chronic ECM issue that mimics a blown head gasket. An Isuzu VehiCROSS with bad CV boots and in need of new front brakes and a shortage of replacement parts. A Crossfire with a bad alarm module. The TC with unresolved (and yet to resurface) front end clunking. A Caravan with a waning alternator. A Plymouth Scamp with a balky stickshift. A Suzuki Swift with a chronic TCM problem. And I've still got a "modersickle" and a Rampage to contend with. May have to pare the herd. Insurance and annual registration fees are no fun either

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Yeah, it was granted a stay of excecution (for now). It's not that I don't appreciate the TC, but combined with a host of other problem "children", it gets old having to be under constant seige with an unending plague of issues. To date I've got: A Mercury Capri with a chronic ECM issue that mimics a blown head gasket. An Isuzu VehiCROSS with bad CV boots and in need of new front brakes and a shortage of replacement parts. A Crossfire with a bad alarm module. The TC with unresolved (and yet to resurface) front end clunking. A Caravan with a waning alternator. A Plymouth Scamp with a balky stickshift. A Suzuki Swift with a chronic TCM problem. And I've still got a "modersickle" and a Rampage to contend with. May have to pare the herd. Insurance and annual registration fees are no fun either

It reads as though you have a yard full of junk, Maybe a good cure for your problems would be to scrap it all since they all give you so much grief and buy yourself a new or very late model minivan for yourself and the children.

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... scrap it all since they all give you so much grief and buy yourself a new or very late model minivan for yourself and the children.

Okay, so maybe it's not THAT bad that I'd go that route!! :-) Actually, I'm giving the Caravan (cargo) to a friend that needs it for her business and I'm passing along the Capri to a buddy who wants to tinker with it and give it to his son. The Scamp will likely be sold since it has several mods but is seldom driven. Not quite ready for the minivan club yet.

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Nothing wrong with having a minivan, they haul a lot of stuff and get decent mileage. At 12 to 16 mpg my Dodge 4X4 isn't the most cost effective vehicle for most of the driving I do and I've given serious thought to getting a minivan that's new enough to carry full sheets of plywood flat with the hatch closed and old enough to not worry about what that does to the upholstery.

As for your unresolved (and yet to resurface) front end clunking, check your motor mounts. Clunks come from all sorts of things, strut bearings, stabalizer bushings and the often overlooked motor mounts.

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Well, the last mechanic who tried to fix it noted that one motor mount was a bit loose but not broken and didn't appear to be the source of the clunk. The task was made more difficult by the fact that he couldn't get it to replicate the sound. The previous mechanic had the benefit of hearing and feeling the clunk but failed to successfully diagnose it (hence the second opinion).

Naw, I'm good with my Cargo Caravan except that I hardly use it except for the occasional hauling of stuff for friends or my own infrequent usage. It sits a lot and as I think someone here said, unused cars sort of "melt" and things go wrong, much akin to entropy. Like I said, I have an old college girl friend who has an agri-business and goes to market frequently and has an older van that is on its last legs. Of course I know that the MINUTE I get rid of it some major project will pop up and I'll regret the decision to divest myself of it. C'est la vie. :-)

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Under car is a speciality service and it comes with it's own magazine where mechanics share their stories. Basically a motor mount doesn't have to be broken to be bad and our 24 year old rubber isn't as gushy as it used to be.

Is this your unresolved phantom klunk?

You get a klunk up front when turning after decelerating [rolling stop] and then accelerating while turning, usually sharp as you transition pavement hights, usually parking lot to trafic lane, and as it depends on speed change, turn radious and graade change it happens when it happens.

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