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Discussion Starter #1
I have posted this issue before but I am still having issues.

  • With Headlights ON: Passenger side tail lamp is faint AND passenger side brake lights do not come on
  • With Headlight OFF: Passenger side brake lamps function normally
  • Driver's side rear lamps work fine

I have pulled out the intermediate connector (the white piece that holds the bulb), repositioned the contacts. That works for a while for the brake light (tail lamp still dimmer on passenger side) but gets bad after a drive - probably becasue I hit a bump and lose contact.

I think that I have a bad ground somewhere because of the dimmer passenger side tail lamps.

Question is, where do I start? Someone here has had this problem resolved and should be able to guide me. Even getting to the battery ground is a nightmare!
 

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The connector you cleaned is the problem. Clean the contacts with fine sandpaper. Also, bend the contact ring outward a little to make a tighter contact to the bulb's metal case. This is a common problem on some cars, even my once 03 NBC. Some folks replace the complete socket.
 

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I have owned my 2003 NBC since new and have never changed the any bulbs other than the headlights (way too many times, now I have a HID conversion, so no more headlight bulbs to change!)

Anyway, not sure if these sockets are like the BMW sockets where the plastic ring that holds the bulb tight against the contacts pop forward as the plastic ages??

If you pull the socket out and the bulb feels loose in the socket, then this is likely your problem. On the BMW`s I push the bulb retaining ring back into the socket until it snaps, then put a small amount of plastic adhesive on the plastic ring, allow it to cure and problem solve, some replace the sockets, but my glue jobs work and are cheaper!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Update

The connector you cleaned is the problem. Clean the contacts with fine sandpaper. Also, bend the contact ring outward a little to make a tighter contact to the bulb's metal case. This is a common problem on some cars, even my once 03 NBC. Some folks replace the complete socket.
Except for the sandpaper job, I have done everything you suggest. I will do the cleaning. I was actually just going to order a new connector. One thing I could try is to exchange that piece with the one from the driver's side which is working just fine. That will definitely ID the connector if its the problem. Thanks for the suggestion.

Update
Yes, the problem is the connector - as soon as I switched it from passenger side to driver's side, the driver's side started to misbehave. It looks like the is more on the male tabs that plug into the lamp harness (three tabs - brake, tail and neutral, I guess). I am able to simulate the problem now on either lamp as I play with those tabs. Anyone know which is brake (live & ground) and which is rear lamp? Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have owned my 2003 NBC since new and have never changed the any bulbs other than the headlights (way too many times, now I have a HID conversion, so no more headlight bulbs to change!)

Anyway, not sure if these sockets are like the BMW sockets where the plastic ring that holds the bulb tight against the contacts pop forward as the plastic ages??

If you pull the socket out and the bulb feels loose in the socket, then this is likely your problem. On the BMW`s I push the bulb retaining ring back into the socket until it snaps, then put a small amount of plastic adhesive on the plastic ring, allow it to cure and problem solve, some replace the sockets, but my glue jobs work and are cheaper!
LOL! I also have a 325i and I know exactly what you're talking about. My Bimmer has a "pod" which holds all four bulbs - there has been a recall on those too becasue of loose contacts. The NBC tails have two bulbs, each with its own sub-connector. One is dedicated to turn signal and the other is both brake and rear tail light. The bulbs are in the sub-connector and the sub-connector attached to the primary harness. It kind of an unusual arrangement.

Different Topic
I am waiting delivery of the 3M sealant for the rear window job. It's supposed to get here today from Amazon. And, of course, it has been pouring here for almost two weeks now. Before I sealed the window with tape a couple of days ago, I noticed a significant amount of H20 pouring into the car from the rear window. Can't figure out where it is going. Any clues? I need to evacuate the water if it does not drain out. Thanks.
 

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If you have a BMW, you know part of the issues, I was referring to the front sockets, but I am WELL aware of the rear tail light issues. Luckily my 3 series is a facelift convertible with OE LED tail lights and my other is a 2003 E39 M5 which rarely had tail light issues.

As for your other question regarding the rear window, unfortunately I am an expert on that now. The only part is I am only a partial expert as my window never fell completely out. I ended up gluing the rear window in 4 different sections. Glued the one part, then it the glass worked its way around where I did not glue it and came loose.

If you have water coming in and do not know where is it going, pull the lower trunk panel and the spare tire out, or you could pull one or both of the plugs in the bottom of the spare tire well until you get the window glued back in.

Good luck on the window repair, hopefully you have seen my comment on the rear window with may pictures, not really a DIY, but just how I resolved the window on my car.

I have the top replacement tools here, I am just putting off replacing the top as long as I can. My daughter is driving this car and I do not want to put a top on it and have here kill the car the next day, so I am hopeful I can wait another year or so??

Good luck with the lights and the window.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
...
I have the top replacement tools here, I am just putting off replacing the top as long as I can. My daughter is driving this car and I do not want to put a top on it and have here kill the car the next day, so I am hopeful I can wait another year or so??

Good luck with the lights and the window.
Funny, my daughter also is the one driving the NBC. Other than the top of the rear glass, the fabric has come off all the other three sides. I did read your other posts on this matter and hope to have this done this weekend, depending on the weather. Water is not coming in anymore because I nicely taped around the glass - looks so good that I am tempted to just leave it alone. Tomorrow I will pull out the drain plugs to see if fluid comes pouring out. Thanks again for helping.
 

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Keep in mind you may be better off gluing the window in sections??

Depends on how much the fabric fights you.

I just noticed this morning I have a 2" section around the top edge that had not come loose that will hopefully be my FINAL glue job. I probably should have pulled the fabric off to this point when I did the last repair, but I thought there may have been 1 additional area along the top that was about 12" that would need to be glued.

Anyway, not sure I would have wanted to glue more of the window in a single attempt as I think the way I did it allowed me to align the fabric easier.
 

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There is a recall from VW for certain model years. I have a '03 vert and had it in about 2 months ago for crash sensors in the front that were covered by a recall and they asked me if I was having trouble with the stop lights because there was a recall for them also.
 

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The recall for the 2003 Vert brake lights was for a brake light switch that did not always work.

It was a safety issue, but even a bigger issue was with the automatics the shifter interlock would not release and you could not get the shifter out of Park because the brake pedal being depressed was triggered by the brake light switch.

In this situation it was for no brake lights what so ever. Or intermittent brake lights.
 
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