Rear third brake light - LED

Conan Donald McFarlane
125

Asked by Conan Donald Oct 30, 2008 at 10:40 AM about the 2003 Cadillac CTS Base

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

It quit working. I took it to three garages that all said it is a "Cadillac" thing or a short that can't be fixed. Why can't it be fixed. The dealer has ordered a whole new plastic piece that sits on the trunk that will cost over $700. Fortunately it has been on back order since April.  Why? Is there a less expensive solution?

65 Answers

Andrew Gilbert
360

It is an electrical thing. If it is in the wiring/connections then it could be fixed fairly easily. If it is in the module that controls the brake/turn/flasher/park stuff, then it could just be a "cadillac" thing and only fixed with replacement or you may have to deal with it. I would personally try to find the issue my self or get a more concise answer for your mechanic as to why it fails to work. I don't buy the "short that can't be fixed" statement either.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
Conan Donald McFarlane
125

Andrew: I appreciate your reply. When I walk into these garages I think they can smell "this guy knows nothing about cars" all over me. All I needed was a vote of confidence to realize it may really just be an expensive problem. Thanks! I don't mean "thanks" in a sarcastic way.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Daniel Reed
1,445

Many GM vehicles have issues with the LED 3rd brake light strip. Yes, it sucks, and yes, you have to buy the whole thing. It comes as an assembly only, with no serviceable parts inside. The SUV's like Suburbans, Tahoes, and Escalades have that issue, as well as the Blazers, Devilles, and Sevilles. Sorry man, twoo words for you: GM Electronics.

Gaetano Viesti
595

third brake light on the cts from 03 to 07 is and neon incadsecent light powered by a neon transformer... they recommend a full unit swapp.. i have fixed mine myself for under $50 if you need help contact me for further info or on the cadillac forums screenname is Gaetano04

47 out of 47 people think this is helpful.
icequeen770
10

I have an 06 W third tail light issue. Ive tried getting on facebook but cant not an internet queen lol. Gaetano04 if you could email me that would be great jkbad_girl91@yahoo.com thank you and sorry for my lack of internet skills.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Andrew Schenk
235

http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-cts-first-generation-forum-2003/ many guys on there have fixed theirs... do a search and if you cant find the threads discussing the fix, start a thread and ask

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
Gaetano Viesti
595

heres the link http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-cts-first-generation-forum-2003/158286-3rd-brake-light-fix-pix-redeux.html ... if you guys join the forums my name is gaetano04 and am a platium supporting member

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
Jenny Boedicker
150

Where did you go to get the parts to fix the problem with the 3rd brake light for only $50? Any info would be greatly appreciated

15 out of 15 people think this is helpful.
alaymon
90

I've looked for you...can't find you on Cadillac forums. I also have a bad neon 3rd brake light on my 2004 CTS. How may I fix it?

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
celish60
70

How did you fixe it?

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
Joey Posner
0

Donald: Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Rosanne

jdavidson015
465

unfortunately cadillacs are very expensive cars to repair and get mods for. the 3rd led bar on the trunk in not an ordinary 3rd light, it would involve alot of work to try to fix. a body shop would be a better bet than a garage, you should also be able to find it cheaper on any OE sales site online. but before you tray any of that, you should check the fuses which are located under the rear seat. hope this helps

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
Conan Donald McFarlane
125

Thanks for your insight. I am not a mechanic - would I be able to check this fuse for myself? Thanks again.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
jdavidson015
465

checking it yourself is possible, just lift up the rear seat and there is a fuse box. i don't know which fuse specifically it is, but if you bring it to a store such as autozone they would more than likely have a quick look for you. if its not the fuse i would recomend bringing it to a body shop, they are better at that sort of thing than most garages. before you buy anypart from the dealer look online for any oe parts sites, they are generally alot cheaper

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
eze323
50

Hey I have a 2005 cadillac cts and the third brake light wont work there's power goin to it and I think water may have ruined the light how u fix urz?

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
memos4247
20

Ok here is my solution. You will need to buy some flexible 14" red L.E.D. strips. Then you will need a dremel tool to make about two 1" holes on back of the high mount stop light. Insert the L.E.D.s in the holes with the wires sticking out. Once you are satisfied with the postioning of the strips. Stuff the holes with aluminum foil and proceed to seal the holes with a good silicone sealant. Cut a peel the car's electrical supply wire and connect your new L.E.D lights. DO NOT LET THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE WIRES TOUCH. So use caution or else you will blow a fuse a that will be another fun problem to solve. Well I hope my good deed to help you solves your problem.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Mary Nelson
50

Gaetano I have the problem with the v shaped brake light on my 2003 CTS and was told only a replacement will solve the problem...$700. This is ridiculous...please let me know how you fixed the problem for under $50...I will be eternally grateful....

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
jdavidson015
465

before you have the dealer buy a new tail light, try to find an aftermarket site or oe parts site, it is generally cheaper and can be done bu a mechanic . i would also recomend asking a bodyshop, they do that kind of stuff all the time and get parts cheaper than you or i could

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
matt_borbolla
20

Im having the same kind of problem, the third light on my cadi just stop working n i need help to fix it, if you can contact me i will really apreciated it... matt.borbolla3@gmail.com thanks a lot!!!

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Slurff
50

hey, i have 07 cts and my 3rd brakelight has gone out. i looked up the part and it is around 700.00. can you tell me your 50.00 fix please.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
alaymon
90

Get someone to replace the neon tubes with a strip of LED lights. Got mine done for $200...you can do it yourself for much less. Be VERY CAREFUL not to crack the red "glass". Check out the step-by-step method on the internet. It's all there! Just do a search.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
butterfly40
10

I want to know how you fixed your light for under 50.00 and what was the problem

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
alaymon
90

The problem is the neon tubes...the transformer for the tubes is involved. Caddy doesn't use neon anymore...want to guess why?

Slurff
50

Thank you for your response. I actually sent it to someone to replace the parts for 250.00 and it's working good. :)

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
alaymon
90

Great...so is mine, with LED. What did you use...LED or neon, and who did it?

Slurff
50

They changed it over to LED. A guy who works through digital dash solutions, which I got off of Ebay did it. It only took about 1 week to send it and get it back.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

CTS Third Light Replacement If anyone is looking my company can change those over for only $150.00 to LED and the shipping cost. If anyone is interested please call 636-223-2109 or email rushnash3@yahoo.com

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
austin5288
0

Gaetano - Please send me the information on how to fix my 3rd brake light. I am lost and I got a ticket it for it a couple weeks ago! Thank you hulagrad04@yahoo.com

RushIII
605

Hi Conan, Take it apart and I will do it for you if you like. The brake light will actually come off with the entire license plate then you will need a GM screwdriver and take the lamp itself off of it. Then over night it to me and I will overnight it back to you. I do these all the time now after I went through the same situation. . Send it P.O. Box 523, Arnold, MO 63010. We charge $150.00 and cost of shipping.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Conan Donald McFarlane
125

I appreciate your offer. If you lived within 200km of me I would bring it to you. I am in Brampton, Ontario.

RushIII
605

They are just greedy. I had the same problem and if it isn't a wiring problem or a fuse then it is generally that lamp. They get water in them and blow or short out the ballast. We replace the the original neon tubes that are generally still good and take out the old ballast replacing them with LED lights. Your choice of red or white. White is brighter but doesn't match the brake lights but still shines, but a slight different and brighter shade of red. Definitely will pass inspection and last you a long time. Much less then 700 bucks

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Conan Donald McFarlane
125

If you only knew me! Awfully kind of you to try and do this over the phone... I chuckled when I got your response because I am "technically" and "tool" challenged! Never learned or had exposure to fixing my own car - sure wish I had of. Thank you, sir!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

I would check what it would cost to mail it and have it sent back UPS or FedEx and see where you sit in cost. I am sure I am much cheaper than 700bucks and I can have it turned around in just one day.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Raven1181
140

For some reason, Cadillac thought it was a cool idea to make the third brake light a 'neon' light. Yes, it appears to be an LED brake light, but unfortunately for you and me, it's not. Fortunately, if you have any patience, you can convert this to an LED light for less than $50. First remove all of the felt lining attached to the trunk lid. Be careful with the felt; it rips easily if you use too much force in one area. Next you will need to remove the bolts, I believe these are 10 metric; you will need a deep socket to reach some of these. Once removed, the only thing holding the housing to the trunk should be an electrical wire, which can be unplugged in the trunk. This will remove the third brake light and the reverse lights. There is one bolt holding the third brake light (remove). Now for the hard part. The third brake light has two pieces; the red plastic that you see from the outside of the car and the gray plastic on the inside. These two pieces are glued together, but not glued very well. Being very careful not to break the housing, you will need to separate these two. I used a flat head screwdriver (and a little hammer action in certain areas). Don't bother with a razor blade, trust me on this. I started at the corners and worked my way in. Once you get these two pieces separated, you will see the neon lights, banister, and some wiring. Locate the wires that come into the housing and to the banister. Cut the wires as close to the banister as possible (so you have as much wire as possible to work with). Pitch the crap; the neon lights, light clips, and banister. I found Advance Auto carried 12" or 14" red LED flexible light strips that had 3M tape on one side. Yes, use red. If you use clear LED lights, it will look pink when the brake is applied. I bought two of these and taped them to the inside top of the silver plastic, where the neon lights used to be. Just make sure everything is dry and that you have a good surface to apply the 3M tape. One LED strip will have the wire connection in the middle of the third brake light unit; don't fret, you have enough wire to work the wires around and solder these wires together. The wires are small and won't be visible from the outside. Connecting is easy. Black to black and white to white. Tuck the leftover wires where the neon banister used to be. Test the light before you glue the unit back together. I didn't and paid for it by having to start over. Fire up the caddy and see if it works.

13 out of 13 people think this is helpful.
Ashmont
0

Raven1181, thanks for posting such a great solution and directions on December 4th. I have one remaining question...the the same hot/cold wires that powered the neon lights power the LED's without changing anything else?

Raven1181
140

Ashmont, Yes, black to black / red to red. It's a simple switch. That being said, make sure you have someone test the brake light before you put the whole trunk section back together. If you're by yourself, turn the ignition to the 'on' position and put something heavy to hold the brake pedal down. Just turning the ignition to the 'alternate' position isn't enough to activate the brake lights.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
scott737373
30

I just had a recent problem w/ my 2005 Cadillac CTS 3rd Brake light going out. I sent the light to Rush Nash and within just 3 days had it returned to me fixed (w/LED) and I was able to pass inspection. I did not have the time to repair it on my own. It only cost me $150 plus shipping, compared to the $850 that the dealer was asking for!

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

Thanks Scott, If you have anyone else in need of a repair for the third brake light on a CTS, just give them my email address rushnash3@yahoo.com. I look forweard to helping anyone in need. We get them turned around within one day most of the time, unless it comes in on a weekend.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
Best Answer
RushIII
605

If you need this third brake light fixed just send it to me at "Rush Nash" P.O. Box 523, Arnold, MO 63010 with $150.00 money order or personal check plus pay for postage for the return. Postage is either around $15.00 for Priority and $25.00 with the insurance. You can add the postage to the money order or check or put it in the package. We have a one day turn around.on this LED replacement. It is sleek and I have done it to my car and to my wifes and now to 5 other lights and have not had one issue. If you want to save money then justtake it off and send it to me. You will need a Chevrolet screw driver. You can get those at any auto parts store. my email address is rushnash3@yahoo.com and phone: 863-253-1810

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
Sharm
90

Just wanted to thank Rush for a great job on my third brake light. He saved me $600.00 bucks. So happy right now. I found this forum and if it hadn't been for Rush I would have had to pay around $750.00 to replace my light. Thank you for a job well done and I will send any referrals I can. Thankgs again Rush.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
Sharm
90

Thanks Sharm, We appreciate the good feedback. Just let everyone know who fixed your third brake light. rushnash3@yahoo.com or have then call 863-253-1810

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
Nickelman
30

Rush is the Man!!!!!! He turned it around in less than two days. Quality job and a reat guy to work with. He was there whenever I needed him offering anyhelp I needed. He saved me $400.00 bucks over dealers cost. Thank you for a job well done and I will send any referrals I can. Ed N.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

Due to one bad apple, I can only accept money orders with prepayment for the CTS Third Brake Light Conversion. I am still doing them and really enjoy helping everyone out. If you need the CTS Third Brake Light fixed, just email me at rushnash3@yahoo.com or call 863-253-1810 Thank you

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
dreuxb
20

Just got done with the coversion from neon to led, all went well. I would HIGHLY reccomend the red LED's. The only thing is now it has spots instead of solid light across the lens, but for $600 savings I can live with it. Besides I can't see it when I'm driving. I tried to pry the lens off and got scared, so I did run a utility blade around it, and then it came out pretty easy. The flex LED from Advance could be cut to size and connected from either end. I took one cut it in half so both connections landed in the middle of the lens. I sealed the lens to the lamp housing air-tight because the led's produce very little if any heat. I need to seal the whole unit to the car to stop the water from getting behind the clear lens that surrounds the tag. I think I can run a bead of RTV around it, then let it cure completely before reassembly so it is removeable to replace the reverse lights when needed. This was on a 2004 CTS. Took me about 3 hours total. If you are not careful or not sure I think $150 for Rush Nash to do it is very reasonable considering the time I had in it doing it myself. Sorry RN but I had to try for myself, I have been an industrial mechanic for 24 years. I was real close to sending it to you. Seperating the lens from the housing is kinda scary until you 1st see it move. Thanks for all the help from Ravin1181 it helped alot with the lens seperation. I think it is worth running a utility blade around the factory glue, but it may have just made me feel better. Good luck to those who try. If I can help anybody e-mail me @dreuxbowen@yahoo.com.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
dreuxb
20

Total cost $41.50 $35 for flex led and $6.50 for RTV

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

I like that dreuxb is so helpful, but I must warn when opening these lights that it can become very costly if you crack or even break and destrot the lens. I have done very many of these lights and even being very good at it now, I to have broken a few of them and they are not cheap to replace. We guarantee if we break them then we at no cost to you give you a replacement light in as good or better ondition than your old one. Most people do not have the technological savvy to do this repair, but we are here to help. We do all sorts of lights from motorcycle lights to all types of cars including the CTS Third Brake light. If you would like us to repair this light for you just call us at 863-253-1810 or email us at rushnash3@yahoo.com. Our repair is guaranteed for one year and if even one bulb goes out within that time we will replace all of the lights for FREE. Just contact us today and ASK for RUSH!!!! Have a great day Cadillac drivers and be safe out there. Rush Nash

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
keepprivate87
10

There is a guy on eBay who sells you the info to fix the 3rd brake on 02-06 Escalade for 35 bucks. I got mine working last night without opening it or changing any parts.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

We are talking about a CTS and not an escalade ma'am, but I fix those now to! Happy Thanksgiving everyone. If you need this fixed, please call me at 863-253-1810 or email me at rushnash3@yahoo.com or both. Have a great rest of your day!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
keepprivate87
10

I used them before, they cracked my light.

RushIII
605

Just by reading you posts, I know you are the competition. Anyway, if you had me do your like you said in your last post and two before that you said you did it yourself, which is it? If you have a receipt or invoice you can send your light and I will check the light and replace it free of charge!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
keepprivate87
10

No, I'm pretty sure you cracked it.

RushIII
605

If we cracxked your light, why is it that you never contacted us regarding the issue or told anyone about it. We just cracked your light and this is the first I hear about it?!?! What is your name? Invoice #? Anything, if we can prove the light came through us, we will fix the light or replace it for free.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

I believe you cracked it. You posted in an earlier post that you did the repair yourself! Then you later say that I cracked your light. Which is it for real? If you can come up with anything to prove we fixed your light, then like I said, "we will fix or replace it for free" We insure all our lights, so if there was a crack, we handle it very quickly.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

keepprivate87 answered 4 months ago There is a guy on eBay who sells you the info to fix the 3rd brake on 02-06 Escalade for 35 bucks. I got mine working last night without opening it or changing any parts. 1 out of 1 people think this is helpful. You think this is helpful. ..

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
keepprivate87
10

I never said you cracked it. LOL. Calm down buddy, it's obviously a joke.

keepprivate87
10

OK, so I did on my second response. So what, calm down. I only did it to get a reaction from you. HAHAHA. Now calm down. Are you always like this?

Marko_2013
10

This Rush guy fixed my light and it looks great and it was only $55.95. It came with a lifetime warranty and man he saved me a ton of cash. I would definitely recommend this guy. Call 863-253-1810 and Ask for Rush, I found him on Ebay.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
You think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

Go to our website at www.ctsthirdbrakelight.org and you will able to see what we can do for your cts third brake light. We look forward to assisting you. Best Regards, Rush

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

www.ctsthirdbrakelight.org

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
RushIII
605

www.ctsthirdbrakelight.org This site will make your life much easier and save you time and much cash for the repair of your third brake light. Rush Repair

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Chris Hendricks
0

12 inch strip if led lights cost 25 bucks and do it yourself make sure to get red did this on mine 03 cts worked great.

RushIII
605

www.ctsthirdbrakelight.org Will fix it up with no risk to you or your light.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Buckeye33
0

www.ctsthirdbrakelight.com and they are on ebay. I would recommend them.

woodchuckj
0

Is there a certain type of led light for the 2006 model. Tried looking on Ebay for a light stripe and the description said it wasn't compatible with teh 2006 cts.

RushIII
605

Send it to Rush Repair at 5028 Snowberry St., Imperial, MO 63052 (863) 253-1810 Rush Repair Repair cost ONLY $69.95 Ask For Rush....we repair these daily

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