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Lightbulb How to: 3rd brake light install

Since almost getting rear-ended several times in the past couple of weeks by friggin SUVs, I decided they needed an early warning system that gave them a clue that the little car in front of them certainly exists, and is now stopping. Here's how I installed the 3rd brake light in my '82 911SC Targa:

First I bought a 3rd brake light kit from AutoZone. I know thereís a lot of crap in that store but this brake light was sweet. For $18, I bought a 22-led swivel mount brake light that was about 1Ē high and about 1-1/2 inches deep. Hides perfectly behind my targa pad (show you later).



Next I removed the back seat cover. Only 4 screws and she was out. I needed a convenient way to get the brake wire from the 3rd brake light into the engine compartment, where the original brake light wiring lives. In the back corner of the shelf, below the rear window, the defroster wiring goes through a rubber seal into the engine compartment. Perfect for my needs:



Then I pushed a hanger through from the engine compartment and taped the wires to the end and pulled it through. Itís a bit of a tough pull:



Next I mounted the brake light using double-sided tape, to the window. This may or may not be permanent, but Iím willing to give this tape a try and see how it performs. If it doesnít hold, Iíll probably get some of the epoxy used for rear-view mirrors and try to fasten it with that. Hereís a view from the rear-view mirror. Itís only slightly viewable to the tune of about ĹĒ:



Once mounted, I was able to push the wires into the crack between the window and the targa headliner (or whatever it may be called). Easy to do and went all the way around to the bottom corner. The wire then easily tucks behind that piece of upholstery all the way to the engine compartment access hole:





The connector below has a black/yellow wire (thatís a black wire with a thin, yellow stripe) in the bundle which I traced back behind the fuse box. I split the tape with a knife (very carefully as not to cut any wires) and found the black/yellow wire in the bundle. I used my T connector and tied into the wire by clamping it down on the brake and hot wire from the 3rd brake light. Before you do this, make sure you have the correct wire. You can use one of those voltage lights with the sharp points to find it if you need. I tested twice before actually clamping the connector down on the wire. From there you can use liquid electrical tape or plain electrical tape with tie wraps to protect it:





I was pretty happy with the final product: a big, bright LED brake light that anyone should be able to see. Check out the results:



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'82 911SC Targa!
Old 04-12-2003, 09:53 AM
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Matt-
Excellent write up and pictures - exactly what I did. Only difference is that I tapped into the brake light wire to the left of the rears fuses (closer to the 6-pin connector) rather than to the right as you did. Only other comment is you might mention where you grounded the lights. On my '85 Targa, there was an existing ground in the engine bay right behind the fuel filter, so I used that. I put a ring connector on the ground wire, undid the existing bolt and retightened. Nice blue cable ties, too! Ask Wayne to add this to the Tech Articles section.

Hopefully this will help those SUVs stay away!
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Last edited by steve911; 04-15-2003 at 09:30 PM..
Old 04-12-2003, 10:21 AM
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Great post - thanks. I just bought the same unit for $18.00 after seeing this. Since my 73 brakelight switch is on the pedal assy, I am considering running the hot wire there instead of through the engine bay. Where did you ground? I have a sunroof coupe, so I suspect there is a good ground at the sr motor if I can get under the headliner cleanly?

I like the low profile unit (better than OEM), and the bright LEDs. Cadillac discovered a nitpicky issue a few years ago when mixing an LED CHMSL with incandescent main brakelights. The LEDs come on noticably faster than filament bulbs - as the tungsten takes longer to heat up and glow.

But screw stoplight symmetry, every millisecond counts when trying to get the attention of the Escalade drivin, cellphone talkin, kid swattin, makeup applyin, danish and coffee swillin soccermom when I'm stopping in front of her!
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Old 04-15-2003, 06:24 PM
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Jared-
On my '85 Targa, there was an existing ground in the engine bay right behind the fuel filter, so I used that. I put a ring connector on the ground wire, undid the existing bolt and retightened. I too went thru the hole at the base of the rear window into the engine bay rather than running a wire inside the car - much less fuss (for me anyway). If you have a rear defogger, there should be a similar hole for easy passage into the engine bay.
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Old 04-15-2003, 07:03 PM
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Damn, I just ordered a $100 led array for my 3rd brake lite today. I am going to stick it to the rear of my spoiler.
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Old 04-15-2003, 07:41 PM
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Matt:

First-class writeup! Thanks very much. May I ask that you post the part number for the Pilot kit you purchased? I have a heck of a time here in Seattle finding a decent third-brake light.

Also, just to add a bit, if sound-deadening rattles and squeaks is your thing, note Matt's sixth pic down. See the sidebar "cap" on the right? There is a channel under that cap (it is held on by two screws). To reduce rattles from this piece against the glass and channel sides, put a piece of rolled foam in the channel at the very rearmost, just under the end of the cap. The deck will cinch this all down when you put it back in and the foam keeps the cap solid and still so that you will no longer experience rattles from this section.

Also I notice you do not have a pair of bridges at the rearmost section of your rubber mat (horizontal section). Was this for non-speaker deck cars only? My car was retrofitted from a standard rear deck to speaker, and I have a set of bridges, each with two female threading presumably for the luggage "U"s.

John
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Old 04-16-2003, 05:44 AM
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Been thinking of this unit for some time. You convinced me. Wired it the same way. With LEDS one must remember polarity. Doh !

Did one thing different. Took the little swivel thingys off the unit and tucked it up where the glass meets the padded Targa Bar. Mounted it with industrial strenth double side sticky tape on the back and top out the unit. The unit has just enough give to form to the curve of the Targa back window.

Its invisable from the front seat and through the front mirror and you can't see it from the outside rear unless its on. It fits perfect on a Targa.

If one really wanted to get annal about it, it would also probably fit in a nice cut-out on the rear of the Targa Bar pad.

For $18 it's got to be the buy of the year.

Great pics.
Old 05-17-2003, 12:04 PM
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What Glue Works???

Matt:
Great article, I copied everything you did. But the glue pads that came with the Pilot Light Kit did not hold it to the glass. Cleaned and recleaned the glass with alcohol and lacquer thinner. I even Tried double-sided 3M commercial tape, no-luck, tried double sided carpet tape, no-luck, tried rear view mirror adhesive, no-luck. Finally got it to stick with superglue but I don't have a lot of faith in it.

What did you end up using?

If it falls off again all I can do is to fabricate a bracket that I can slide into the Targa bar cover to hold the light.

Thanks,
Ron D
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Old 06-10-2003, 01:15 PM
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My third brake light is hooked to the wire running below the oil filter.

FYI!
Old 06-10-2003, 08:25 PM
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A data point-I used very heavy duty velcro to attatch mine to the Targa seal in my car.
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Old 06-11-2003, 03:15 AM
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I used the 3M heavy duty double-sided tape; there's no way its coming off the glass. Their instructions for removing is NOT to try pulling it off; rather cut the tape in half, then scrape the remainder off. I would make sure the glass is bone dry - perhaps even use a hairdryer on it, then use the tape
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Old 06-11-2003, 09:23 AM
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Steve:
Where do you buy this product?? How wide and thick is it?

Thanks,
Ron
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Old 06-11-2003, 09:43 AM
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Outstanding article!!! This is exactly what I need to do too. I know what I'll be doing this weekend.

Thanks!!!!
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Old 06-11-2003, 09:52 AM
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Ron-
found it at my local Home Depot. I'm traveling, so can't go out to the garage and check exact size. If I remember correctly, it comes in a small roll (about 24 inches long?). Its 1/2" or 3/4" wide (I trimmed it with a scissors to fit the light). It not more than a 1/16" of an inch thick.

Its definitely packaged as a consumer product
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Old 06-11-2003, 09:53 AM
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Wow, some good responses here! I had forgotten I had written this and since I dont have email notification turned on, I didnt see some of the questions people had asked, sorry. I did use the double-sided tape from the kit and it's still holding strong. The only thing that I may not have documented was that there are "feet" on the swivels that are removeable via the little screws. I removed these extra feet so that the light would get closer to the glass and tuck underneath the targa pad nicely.

Thanks for the positive feedback everyone!
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Old 06-11-2003, 11:17 AM
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Matt:
I did the same thing, removed the feet and stuck it to the glass but the angle of the LED's was downward so it was not as bright from the rear of the car as I had hoped for. So, I reinstalled the feet and angled the display to parallel with the ground. Mine was on a Targa. Now the display is bright and is easy to see in full sunlight.

Many thanks,

Ron D
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Old 06-11-2003, 11:33 AM
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Having a bit of a problem...

I got the same light. I tapped into the "black w/ yellow trace" brake wire. I ground the black wire from the light unit. When I hit the brakes, it lights up nicely. Two problems:
#1. My "regular" brake lights don't seem to work as well. They are more dim, I think.
#2. When I turn on my headlights, the LED lights stay permanently "on."

Is there some LED wiring problem that needs a special solution? Has any one else encountered this problem with this unit?

Thanks.
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Old 08-31-2003, 04:35 PM
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Hi Dave,

Don't know about your wiring, but it sounds like you may have the wrong wire?

I noticed you have a 73.5. I'll tell you what I did on my 73 - I purchased the same LED unit and ran the positive wire to the brake light switch on the pedal cluster (early cars only). Works like a charm and no holes needed to the engine bay.

After the install, I wasn't happy with the brightness of the LED unit - and realized it was VERY directional (up/down). It has a "sweet spot" and if you vary the eye position up/down even a small amount, it dims considerably. I wanted to cover the height range from semis(!) to fellow Pcars.

I purchased the Porsche OEM incandescent unit that mounts to the top inside of the glass (from our host - about $50.00) and am much happier with both the look and brightness.

Everything is period correct on my car except the CHMSL - the LEDs just didn't fit IMHO - the OEM unit looks better and is still completely removable. Hopefully it'll save my arse someday!

Hope this helps some.

Oh yeah, the Porsche unit comes with white mounting tape - so you have to get clear or black to make it look right. I used 3M clear mounting tape that sticks like CRAZY!
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Last edited by JCR; 08-31-2003 at 08:49 PM..
Old 08-31-2003, 08:25 PM
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Old 08-31-2003, 09:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JCR
I purchased the Porsche OEM incandescent unit that mounts to the top inside of the glass (from our host - about $50.00) and am much happier with both the look and brightness.

Oh yeah, the Porsche unit comes with white mounting tape - so you have to get clear or black to make it look right. I used 3M clear mounting tape that sticks like CRAZY!
Where might one find this "3M clear mounting tape that sticks like CRAZY!"? I have been to Lowe's and Walley World and haven't been able to find any clear or black mounting tape. I was going to try velcro next, but want to try to find the clear or black stuff.

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Old 11-16-2003, 12:01 PM
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