Brake lights cause burning smell...?

Asked by Jun 16, 2014 at 07:59 AM about the 1997 Toyota Camry

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I bought my 97 Camry not too long ago, and recently realized I didn't have brake lights. At
the auto store I gave them my make/model/year and they gave me Sylvania 357LL bulbs.
Went to put them in and I realized there were no bulbs in my brake lights whatsoever, just
empty sockets. Put the new bulbs in and they worked... drove away.  

But then every time I stopped for more than 5 seconds at a red light, I would start
smelling burning plastic. The smell was coming from the trunk/brake lights area. The gray
sockets (where the lights are put) are slightly burned looking, a rusty brown around the
edges. (I believe they looked like this prior to the new bulbs.) I took the new bulbs out.
Still getting that smell slightly when I start up my car but it's less and less each time.

Any ideas if it's the socket or the wiring?
Should I try a lower wattage bulb even though this is the exact bulb I need?

2 Answers


Odd that you bought the car with no bulbs in the back- if the smell is going away, maybe there was just dirt or other debris in the sockets from being open for so long-


Or maybe there was a REASON that the last owner left the bulbs out-

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