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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Again with my daughter's 2002 wagon.

Burned out taillight so headed to the parts store, bought the right bulbs and took the car apart. I discovered that the red plastic taillight assembly had deformed from the heat of the bulb and that the socket was jammed in place.

Using an assortment of tools, I got the socket out only to discover that the heat had discolored it and made it brittle. My first thought was that the previous owner had put the wrong bulb in but it was the right bulb.

So is this normal on these cars?
 

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Happens to these & others, been a while since the last mention I've noticed but there are various older threads on fixes (cob together, not just replacement).
 

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So is this normal on these cars?
Yep.

If sales person knows your buying a bulb for a focus wagon, they should also ask you if you have a Dremel tool and some epoxy at home.

One of mine had the Full Melt Down (FMD), while the other hasn't, but the socket is jammed. I will need a crowbar to change that bulb.
 

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X2, the bulb gets too hot and melts everything close to it. If you carefully dremel with a cutting disc you can recover the parts to use again other than the socket itself. I've also had to rebend the socket contacts closer to positively contact the bulb when the bulb quit working, heat again lets them relax to not touch and then no bulb power.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes.

But there is no plug and play solution that I know of... LED conversion would require some physical and electrical modification.
I was thinking of something like this

http://www.amazon.com/3157-white-bulbs-ultra-bright/dp/B0083VPGHA

If it was my car, I'd leave as it is, held together with electrical tape and chewing gum. However, it is my daughter's car and I don't want her to have to deal with some kludge is she needs to change a bulb while far from home.
 

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I think you need to add resistors to the circuit for LED's to mimic regular bulbs.

Even LED center brake light throws off the Cruise control (won't work) without that.
 

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I checked that link; that one seems especially bad. But yes, something similar would work, but would require modification of the system as Sailor mentioned. I have no experience doing a conversion to LED, so I have no advice to offer... but would probably not do it on my daughters car, but might try it someday on my car.

One (expensive?) option is to replace the housing ($50) and socket ($15).

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002R0L474/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_2?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Amazon.com: Ford 2U5Z-13411-DA - SOCKET ASY: Automotive

I do not believe the housing melts until after the lamp is first replaced or the socket begins to fail to firmly grip the bulb. I think the meltdown problem is a result of a poor/loose socket to bulb connection. AMC49's recommendation to tighten the socket contacts is great, but these contacts are not very responsive to adjustment. I squeezed and held them together with locked hemostats, and the results were not that great, but helped some. After some dielectric grease, I put a tiny bit of high-temp RTV on the exterior mating point of socket-to-bulb as an (poor) attempt to keep that bulb from moving.
 

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'I do not believe the housing melts until after the lamp is first replaced or the socket begins to fail to firmly grip the bulb. I think the meltdown problem is a result of a poor/loose socket to bulb connection.'

Bravo...........I concur. The small wire leads ask for localized overheating, just like so much other modern Ford electrical. The cars are riddled with it.

'these contacts are not very responsive to adjustment.'

All I can say is you must not simply pry contacts closer, but support the contact further back to make it more solid and then bend the outboard part at same time, then it stays permanently bent. Both my Focus lost a brakelight to have me do that and nothing more when the bulbs were still good, years later they are still fixed.
 

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Brother, you have no idea.

The cars are riddled with sub-par electrical crap like that. Any wiring that runs around heat at all can easily fault the insulation, thinking they use an easier to biodegrade plastic like in so many other things. Some of their plastics are literally indestructible and other pieces degrade to crumble into dust in a few years, at least here in Texas. Not much rhyme or reason to it either.

The socket thing came from changes to make workers not have to twist bulbs to get them in, too many were being faulted when they broke at the base. Also no need to index bulb in correctly any more. Instead of two pins now four wires to allow bulb to go in either way. Making for quicker install on assembly line. The wire though being so small in diameter has a tendency to get hot.
 

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You ain't kiddin'!

They work fine when new, but aren't as repairable as the old style bulbs & sockets. Cheaper to make, and fairly foolproof, but they wear out in ways you can't fix.

With the extra hard life they get in Trucks, they'll even wear out those contact wires. Movement from vibration will wear right through them before they burn out. And the sockets are difficult to clean contacts or tighten them as mentioned earlier.
 

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you must not simply pry contacts closer, but support the contact further back to make it more solid and then bend the outboard part at same time, then it stays permanently bent.
Noted. I do not remember my adjustment/bending process in exact detail. I will remember what you said next time I get into that socket.

Interesting that they managed to come up with a socket/bulb design that fails when the bulb is replaced.
Well... it was not an intentional poor design -or- designed to fail simply after replacing the bulb. Probably more than one factor involved. I think the age of the socket, the process of replacing the bulb, bulb type, exact bulb fitment, owners mangling it some, how long lights and brakes are used, plus slippery dielectric grease... can result in warping -and- bulb movement later on. Movement results in contact mis-alignment which might result in additional electrical current and/or heat being generated.

The socket is ceramic-like and does not warp. The plastic housing (holding the socket) warps some or a lot, after X amount of use, heat and age.

Also, after some recent surfing, I am much more comfortable with doing what you said, converting the run/brake/turn bulb to LED. This will remove the high heat from the socket (and fix the problem of melting) however similar heat will be created by the load resistor. Load resistor is only used to prevent turn signal hyper-blink and is also required to keep cruise control functional.

The back-up lights could stay as incandescent bulbs since they get used so little. If back-up lights were changed to LED, they would not require a load resistor.
 

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If you do go LED don't cheap out on bulbs, especially since they're the brake lights. Either they're not bright enough or the high/low ratio isn't enough to see the change in brightness with the cheapos. Usually you have to pay at least $50 to get a reliable and bright set, unless someone else knows of a good/cheap set.
 

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Cheaper LEDs often drop light output after a while too and it can be pretty bad when they do.
 

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Tried to get a melted tail lamp fixed at the dealer I bought the car from. They were rude, and suggested I spent too much time with my foot on the brake. I will not buy another Ford.
 

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^^ My Son's 6-th grade teacher was a monster this past year. Was going to send him to jr high next year, but we're both sick n tired of this crap. Think I will move us to South America. That will teach her.
 

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It never stops does it?.............................LOL.

'I will not buy another Ford.'

While it's a whopping great idea you may well find the other marques treat you exactly the same way....................

While we expect the dealerships to fix all our faults they often cannot even take care of the cars, much less the drivers. We're on our own here and why wouldn't you want to be, being that it can save you literally $500-$800 at a time now with almost any thing you can come up with now. $800 seems to be a new trick number to charge even if all they did was crack the hood open.
 
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