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Part no longer available....rusted brake light socket

1987 Mazda 323 hatchback, manual transmission, used on mail route. Color is red.

Problem is the brake light on one side is dim. Turns out the socket is rusty so mechanic said he would order a part and replace it. Part is no longer available from Mazda and mechanic said the parts places he called don’t know what he’s asking for. I’ve been looking around online and did found that the part is no longer available. I found a couple places that have “universal” sockets. Any suggestions for what we can do? I only have one more year left to work and don’t want to trash another car on the route if I can make this one limp along with me into the retirement sunset.

Can the socket be “cleaned”? Should we try one of the “universal” ones? I’ve checked some of the recycler places but finding a car that model and that old is getting harder to do.

Thanks for any and all help!

Dunk the whole socket in Classic Coke. Rinse. See if the corrosion is gone. If not, I’d go with the universal. They never fit quite right but maybe it will be close enough.

You might search on Ebay, too, for the part. You’d be amazed at the old parts stock available on Ebay Motors. Good Luck!

Some/most/all (?) cars have taillight wiring harnesses that unplug from the main harness. Take a look at yours.

I have purchased entire taillight harnesses from my local take-it-off-yourself salvage yard for 5 or 10 bucks (includes all rear light sockets). Mine took a few minutes to install.

I’d want to determine why the socket corroded. The taillight capsule could be compromised (cracked, bad seal, etcetera) and you may need a salvage yard replacement there, too. Examine it closely.

When you install the bulbs, be sure to liberally apply di-electric grease to the bulb contacts and sockets. It will keep out moisture. I saw small tubes in Wal-Mart near the auto bulbs or get it at an auto parts store.

You might want to ask a boneyard to look in their cross-reference database for any other years that will fit, and then search for a matched set in the latest years listed.

I’ve checked my usual sources for you without success. But I don’t have a cross reference database.

As to the Coke, that’s a good suggestion, but I’d use the Coke made in Mexico (sold almost everywhere now). That contains the real old formula. That’s the Coke I grew up with. The “Classic Coke” isn’t classic at all.

+1 to the @Mustangman ! Found some on Ebay Motors with a few clicks. Links to the specific items were way too long to post, but the search function is super easy to use. Amazing how much help is here. I learn more and more each time I log on. Good luck with whatever method you use.

All you need to do to post a link, no matter how long, is to click on it’s address, hit “Ctrl C”, then click on the spot where you want to copy it and hit “Ctrl V”.

If you’re already knowledgeable of this, please don’t take offense. I mean none. I only wanted to pass on a tip. :smiley:

Never, @the same mountainbike You and all the usual suspects have my gratitude. Just didn’t know about using acres of space in my post if a can of coke would do the trick!! lol

Steel wool and bulb grease are often adequate in correcting such problems if the problem is isolated to the socket and wiring harness connectors aren’t involved.

Thanks, Marconi. You’ve upheld your honorable name well. :lol:

For the record, real Coke is sold only in green glass bottles. Stickers are added to meet the U.S. “nutritional information” requirements.

Wow! Thanks for all the responses. I found a lot of tail lights on e-bay but not the brake bulb socket. I guess I need to sharpen up my e-bay searching skills.

The mechanic put some liquid copper on it to see if that would help. Would still be great to get it totally fixed. We have one more inspection to get through next year then it’s out to pasture for both of us.

The seal on the tail light cover was leaking at one point. Our old old mechanic caulked it and I think it’s fine now.

The car and I are both showing signs of aging so the fix doesn’t have to be pretty. Too bad this isn’t something that electrical tape can solve.

I think you just look for the whole tail light not the socket. I think you’ll have more luck.

For the record, real Coke is sold only in green glass bottles. Stickers are added to meet the U.S. "nutritional information" requirements

@the same mountainbike Agree! A thousand times Agree!

Real Coke is made with cane sugar, not fructose syrup. Locally Mexican Coke is available at Sam’s Club and our local Lowes and Home Depot along with a few other sodas. The people who say they both taste the same say Coke and Pepsi taste the same, too!

Yup! I grew up on the real Coke, and when they replaced it with New Coke I stopped drinking it. Their sales plummeted, so they came out with Coke Classic, I guess thinking they’d fake people out, but the ploy failed. Grad school business students everywhere now study the case as one of the biggest marketing/management blunders ever. It’s legendary. Whoever made that final decision should have been fired.

I don’t know if the new Coke formulas would work like the old ones. But I did feel obligated to point out that they’re different, and that real Coke is now sold again in the U.S. It’s been a huge success. People actually sought it out and Coke had no choice but to make it more readily available.

Any generic socket that fits the housing will do the trick. Some wire splicing will be involved, and you may need to use a different bulb. Just match up the bulb wattage as closely as possible.

I might be tempted to use Naval jelly on the socket if I couldn’t cobble in a replacement. More aggressive at dissolving the rust. The rust will have eaten through the protective plating on the metal parts. Once the plating is gone, it will rust again pretty readily. So after I got the corrosion in check, I would coat everything LIBERALLY with dielectric grease before installing the bulb. That should keep moisture and oxygen away from the bare base metal left after cleaning and keep it from immediately rusting again.

On the light fixture issue

I expect you already know that there’s no need to replace the Mazda just b/c of a light fixture problem. Any good auto-electric shop can solve this for you straight away. It may take some assistance from a body shop to solve the gasket problem, depends on the exact nature of the situation. Even if it takes both of those shops, the combined fees will be a lot smaller than a new car payment, that’s for sure.

On the coca cola issue…

I sometimes go to a particular restaurant for lunch sometimes, just b/c they offer real (Mexican) coca cola. It costs a little more than the American version, but it is worth it. I told a friend about this, he said there was no way a person could tell the difference in the flavors between Mexican and America coca cola. So I took him there for a taste test. He ordered up a Mexican coca cola and after the first gulp said “George, sorry, you are right, there is definite taste improvement .” It’s a little hard to describe, but I’d use the word “cleaner, less processed” for the Mexican version.

I’m gonna have to try that Mexican come sometime. It’s in the store here in the culture aisle but it’s kind of expensive so I haven’t done it. I’m afraid once I try it I. Won’t go back to classic again and will have to increase my coke budget.

Be sure to make sure that there are 0 volts on the ground wire when the bulb is “lit” meaning that the ground has a good connection to the chassis. Check the plug near the tail light assembly for corrosion. There may also be a ground connection to the body somewhere near the tail light beneath the interior lining.Then do the same test on the socket shell. If there is voltage on the shell, resolder the ground connection to the tail light. With a car this age, you really have to keep after your ground points to keep the electrics working.

I once had a co-worker with chronic tail light problems, on an '81 Toyota as I recall. We found that the bolt holding the ground to the body had cross-threaded at the factory and had been left loose.

I’d go with the new universal . . . it soens’t sound like appearance is an issue for you on this old beater car you use to haul mail. Easy fix and will outlast the vehicle. Cheap, too. Good luck! Rocketman