An adventure: changing a rear stop/turn light, 2002 Cavalier.

My sister called me to change a blown light that a local auto service chain couldn't do anything with. So I examine everything. According to manual, changing the light doesn't involve much more than
popping the bulb socket out of the rear light's housing, pulling the old bulb, popping a new one in, then re-inserting the socket into the light housing.
"This _should_ be easy," I thought to myself, minding the fact that a paid professional couldn't do the job.
And, over the next 20 minutes, I find out why: The bulb won't budge. Not with average office-Joe strength. Not with a strategically-placed screwdriver that, I hoped, could leverage the bulb without breaking the bulb's glass or the socket. It was dark and getting colder by the minute, so (with some struggle!) I unplugged the socket from the car's power supply, and worked on the socket in the house.
After fiddling with the socket a little more with a screwdriver, I became tempted to use a industrial-strength pair of pliers I have to remove the bulb. Right then I realized that I'd only put myself in the hospital, something that the paid professional probably realized.
Given that the bulb seemed determined to stay where it was, I semi-resolved to break the bulb away from the socket without, hopefully, damaging anything permanently. I begin to chip away and pry up at the plastic surrounding the base of the bulb glass. A few minutes later, the bulb pops out. I didn't damage the socket, but I realized why the professional had so much trouble.
There was _epoxy_ gluing the bulb to the socket. And there were enough chunks of it left in the slot to doubt that a new bulb would make a good enough connection to light up. And there's no way to test the connection (right now) because the new bulb fell further into the rear light housing upon replacing the socket, and I can't reach it.
This is the first time that I've changed a bulb on any car, so I can't say whether this "method" of securing bulbs is typical for the car industry, GM, or the Cavalier. I _can_ say that I would have designed a socket that can secure a bulb properly without chemical additives, and make it possible to change a bulb in less than 40-45 minutes.
The car is out-of-warranty. Is there a proper fix for the situation?
-d
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That sounds like some kludge that a previous owner or a hack mechanic performed. Go to an auto parts store and buy a new socket. Crimp connect it to the car wires and off you go.
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 24 Jan 2006, Mike Marlow wrote:

That't the thing: my sister bought the car new, and this incident marks the first time (we believe) that anyone has worked with the car's tail lights ever.
I'll help her find the part. I don't think we'll need to crimp anything. The bulb socket, with some effort, can be plugged or unplugged at will to and from a connector that looks like the D-shaped disk drive power connections commonly seen within computers. The connector wasn't affected by the epoxy.
-d
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

connect
Hmmmmm... now you've got me curious. I'm going to look at my daughter's 2000 Sunfire which is essentially the same car. I've never seen what it uses for tail light/sockets.
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I thought that the yellow stuff was to keep corrosion out of the socket, I had never seen it get so hard that it interfered with removal of a bulb. How old is this again?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 25 Jan 2006, it was written:

She bought the car in 2002. The epoxy is brown.
She is planning to have the item checked at her favorite dealership tomorrow when she has her car's oil changed.
-d
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Here and Kickin' wrote:

Are you absolutely positive that the brown you are seeing is not part of the old bulb itself? Perhaps you just busted out the glass and left this portion of the bulb because there is not room for any epoxy with a bulb in the socket tight to the threads, which would also block the electrical connection. And how would the previous mechanic have any idea why the bulb was stuck before he tried to break it out? You did admit that you have not done this work before. I bet you are looking at a normal socket and bulb that was tight and you are unsure what you are seeing.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I tend to agree. I never did go look at either of the Pontiacs sitting in my garage/yard, to see what those tail light connectors look like, but I can't imagine any epoxy in a bulb socket.
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
My ISP's news server has been down for the past few days. Her we go:
Al Bundy wrote:

Check for part L3057 on http://www.acdelco.com . No screwing. If I did crack the glass, I'd be complaining about lacerations to my hand and/or having a useless socket because of the break.

He woudn't know why beforehand. He'd only know (after trying) that applied, direct human effort was not enough to pull the bulb out.

It wasn't just tight, it was *stuck*. Most other sockets don't have brown gunk within the electrical contact area, either. Regardless, the bulb worked until recently.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.