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Cheap Third Brake Light for Over-Size Tires ($2, No Drilling)
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Cheap Third Brake Light for Over-Size Tires ($2, No Drilling)

Date Created: 04/22/2008
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***Although the steps I took throughout this modification were thought of on-the-fly, I originally did not think of the general idea myself.***

After putting my LT285/75R16 Trxus on my tail-gate, I resorted to lifting up the third brake light housing with about 5 washers on each bolt, still leaving it barely snugged up above the top of the tire. After seeing some of the other guys on the forum fix the problem differently, I decided to do the same by ridding the third brake light from the back end of the TJ, and replace the center cap on my spare with a 2" marker from Advance Auto Parts. The light was under $3.00, and no extra wiring, glue, tape, or adapter was used to connect it to my wheel. They sold LED lights (same size) but I decided to go cheap, even though the LED was only about $12.


Socket set

Lug Nut Wrench

Wire Stripper/Crimper

Phillips Screwdriver

Torx bits/screwdrivers

Needle Nose Pliers

May need a buddy for an extra hand

Light: Optronics Clearance Light (Red) Product Number MC-53RS (sorry for the glare)


<1 hour

Before starting:

Gotta get my buddy Sasha to look out and make sure I don't screw up.

The first thing I did was check the size of the center cap's gap with the size of the light. I can't explain how perfectly snug the light fit into the hole. I measured the hole 2", so I accordingly bought a 2" light, and it fit PERFECT! All you do is simply push the center cap out and push the light through and it'll fit snug right in.

After removing the spare and checking the fit, the wires were clearly visible. I used a socket set to remove the OE third brake lights housing--there are four nuts attached to the spare tire carrier. You can see here my cheap way of trying to raise the third brake light with some washers.

The cover over the third brake light needs to be removed to get access to the connection of the 2 wires connected to the bulb. Once you remove the cover, you will see the two wires and the rubber plug that holds them in place. I simply pried out the plug with a screwdriver and cut it in half to free the wires. I then cut the wires about 6" away from the OE light, so I'd have enough room to splice them back if I wanted to set the original assembly back up.

Accordingly, there are two holes on the new light that you insert the wires into.

You can do away with the entire third brake light housing (I kept mine in case I wanted to save it and go back to the original assembly.)

Now that all of the old housing was gone, it was time to begin setting up the new light. I inspected the connecting pieces that were on the new light and thought hard about how I would keep the wires connected. My final solution was to pry a gap open on the light's rings that were surrounding the wire connection (See pic), insert the wires, then use pliers to crimp the rings together, ultimately holding the wires in place with the connection. (It does not matter which wire goes to which connection).

Before inserting the light into the spare, check to make sure the light illuminates when the breaks are pressed. You could easily do this by having someone watch for you, but because I was alone, and Sasha couldn't help me out here, I used the 10 second delay on my camera and pressed the brake pedal when the picture was taken.

Once the wires both fit snug and the light illuminates, it's time to put everything back together. I (alone ) lifted the spare tire up onto the rear bumper at an angle, supporting it with my stomach (finally a good reason for that beer belly), looking over onto the inner side of the spare tire. Then I inserted the light into the center cap's hole, tapped it a couple times with the screwdriver, and put the spare back on.

Once again, use whatever method you want to check to make sure it's working before you tighten everything down. Here are the pictures I used with the delay option on my camera to make sure the light was illuminating after everything was put together.

Tighten everything down, sit back, enjoy the mod, and have a cold one.

And thanks for reading my write-up.


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