Q: Brake light melted the housing

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I went to change the brake light in my 2008 Mazda3 when I noticed that the cover over the bulb looked strange. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the plastic was melted in spots. Shouldn’t that not happen? Should the lights get that hot? Is it ok to just change the bulb or will I catch on fire at some point? The car only has 84,000 miles on it.

Hello, tail lamps that are melting are more common in areas where traffic causes drivers to spend more time braking than driving (think of a Los Angeles freeway during rush hour). With bulbs getting more voltage now due to better electronics and conductor material, the bulbs are brighter and put off more heat causing damage to the tail lamp lens. Heat over time will cause damage to anything. I have seen melted tail lamps on other manufactures’ cars so this is not just a Mazda problem. Replacing the bulb won’t help unless it’s burnt out. If the plastic melts down on to the bulb it will cause the bulb to fail. The only solution is to replace the tail lamp lens and I would suggest all new bulbs for a fresh start. If you can find the vents on the new tail lamp be sure to keep them clear so the tail lamp can vent.

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