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okay, a simple task but a bit of an enigma. here it is explained, pictures from my (very dirty) 2001 ZX3, but the process was the same with my wife's 2001 SE as well.

1. open the trunk or hatch, get it up to eye/hand level. it's a lot easier.

2. remove your license plate (otherwise it gets wedged in once you free it from it's socket)

3. pry gently at the right (passenger) side of the light lens. i used an old keychain, but anything wide and flat should do well. (pictures 1 & 2 & 3)

4. the light will shift to the left as you pry, then it will move downward with the pry lever and pop out of it's hole. (picture 4)

5. the light is out, (picture 5) now remove the bulb from it's copper contacts and (gently) snap in the new bulb. i gave the bulb a bit of a twist in the holder, just to remove any oxidation on the contacts.

6. gently snap it back into it's hole, inserting the left side first.

7. test it out - turn on your parking lights (the license plate lights should come on even if you don't have the engine running or keys in the ignition)

8. replace your license plate and close your trunk before you drive away [:)]

that's it. note: the lights are not symmetrical; the spring is still on the left side for the passenger-side light (picture 6). this was a bit of a surprise.
 

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Thanks

First of all, thanks for this great info on the license plate bulb or light access.

Also I don't know if this is already a sticky, or part of an FAQ, but might be worth consideration if not.

Second of all, a co-worker of mine, a somewhat older guy, has a nice Focus Hatchback in perfect condition (Black and he had some Gray/silver flames painted on the side)
He recently discovered one of the License plate lights burned out, and he suspecs there might be water in there. Trying to access the bulb, he was afraid he would break something and might be going about it the wrong way
He decided to take his car to the dealer to figure out how to access the bulb.
The DEALER could "NOT" figure out how to access this bulb !!!!!!!!!!

The dealer pulled up all the info they had on service cd's, books, nothing.
Even the owners manual in the car didn't show anything about this bulb (but shows every other bulb on the car).

He mentioned that they still couldn't figure it out after having the hatch practically dis-assembled.

I did a quick search on google and came up with this site, I then searched your message board, and found this thread.

He even called Ford and got the run around, but this thread saved the day for him,

So thanks for the great info, and thanks for sharing it here,


-Don
 

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That is a good writeup. I have replaced mine quite a few times so I know how to do it but it's hell trying to explain to someone on here (which I have done before) how to pry it out properly. Very nice writeup! [thumb]
 

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Thanks for letting us know! I'm a tech at a Lincoln-Mercury dealer and I figured no problem right? Wrong. Checked owners manual, no help. Our Ford manuals, cds, websites, still no help. I could not believe that this was such secret info that it couldn't be shared to the public!! Thank-you for uncovering the solution-The truth IS out there, HAHA.
 

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Thanks for the great how-to. I'm sure lots of people are going to find this very useful.
 

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I purposely came to this site today to find out how to replace these [email protected]!%ing bulbs. Now I am happy and so are the state troopers! Nice post, great pics!
 

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i wish u would have posted this a while ago .. i had a bulb burn out and the guy at carquest told me i would have to remove my trunk plastic and access it from the backside..... well i did that and when i got the last screw out of the plastic it fell and put a gash in my bumper....i was Irate... but very nice write up get this as a how to for sure. so you can save other enthusiasts bumbers...
 

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wow a ford tech could not figure out how to replace the bulb? i figured out how to do it on my own in a few minutes...wow goes to show you how great the techs are.

But good writeup for those who don't like to take risks and trying to fix things they may not know how to fix
 

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I've had mine out a few times to replace bulbs...this time, I got rid of the bulbs all together, and replaced them with LED's...
Basically, I soldered 3 white LED's in series, then soldered them to the copper contacts in the lens cover (check the wiring for polarity...each plug is different size, and only goes together one way, so make sure your LED's polarity is correct)
It needs a lot of heat to properly solder to the copper contact...if not, the wire will just come loose...
I also was able to aim the LED's a bit, to fan out the light across the plate (LED's have a narrow viewing angle) i.e. left LED aimed to the left, center one aimed straight down, the right LED aimed to the right...
The LED's I used are 2000mcd, and look awesome!! Kinda like a true HID type whiteness...
I'll try to get pic's of it...
(BTW, with 3 LED's in series, it should be able to take the 12-14V okay)
 

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great post about the LED's WuNgUn. I've seen them on the more expensive cars and i couldn't figure out how they made HID little bulbs but stupid me they are LED's. They failed my car during inspection for the little bulbs over the plate. I figured out how to get the bulbs out the old fashioned way.......screwdriver and a little anger!!! Turns out it popped out fine but i noticed a greenish residue all over the inside?!?! Could it be from the copper?
 
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