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salvaging the third brake light from the Subaru Impreza 2.5RS spoiler

A few months ago, I was brainless in a tiny parking lot. There was a huge camper parked in the same tiny parking lot as my car. It was so big that it filled my entire rear view mirrow. Needless to say, I backed up into its reinforced heavy-duty metal bumper. My trunk was trashed, while there was no damage to the camper. While talking to the owner of the camper, he mentioned to me that a SUV backed up into it as well. The entire rear end of the SUV was damage, but no scratch to the camper. Lesson learned . . . reinforce your sheet metals with heavy-duty steel.

Anyway, I was upset, but what's done is done. I quickly sourced an used trunk lid and placed it on my car. Unfortunately, the spoiler was damaged as well and the third brake light is part of the spoiler . . . was this an attempt for the manufacturer to make a "functional" spoiler? Who knows . . . but at least the Subaru rally team over seas, used the exact same spoiler during the first several years of racing with the Impreza in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

Attached Image:

Broken Wing.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:28:06 -0800

My goal is to replace the trunk and replace the spoiler with a real rally wing? Why? Because it might actually help with the sweeping turn 9 on the Willow Spring racetrack . . . I'd show you some of my cool racing pictures. But I'm sure you wouldn't want to be caught dead watching my home slide-shows. Anyway, it would take some time before I can source the right spoiler and make the modification to my car.

In the US, all newer cars are required to be equipped with the third brake light. Without it generally results in a fix-it ticket. Well, if I'm gonna have to fix it anyway, might as well fixing it before I actually got the ticket. Since I'm not going to have everything together on day two, I'm gonna need a intrim solution to avoid dealing with the cops.

Although the wing was damaged, with no chance for salvation, the third brake light was still in good shape. A small plastic piece broke off the light, but it can be easily glued later.

Attached Image:

salvageable third brake light.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:34:57 -0800

The third brake light is covered by a silver plastic on the bottom of the spoiler. The cover is secured with three screws. Unscrew the three philips screws and you can remove the cover and the brake light easily.

Attached Image:

Brake Light and Cover.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:36:57 -0800

The brake light electrical cable is routed through the wing into the trunk. Slowly work the rubber bushing surrounding the cable loose. Pull the cable through the wing.

Attached Image:

Electrical Cable.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:38:37 -0800

The bolts on the wing are salvageable as well. They are simply stuck to the wing with a little bit of double-sided tape.

Attached Image:

Nuts.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:39:35 -0800

With the third brake light off the spoiler, I glued the broken plastic with a bit of super glue and a bit of white glue. I figured if it is still fragile, I can still use some 5-minute epoxy . . . but so far, it hasn't fallen off yet.

I wanted the third brake light to look good in the car, even though it is salvaged from the spoiler. So I decided that the cover is an excellent trim piece for this purpose. I found some bolts that has the same diameter and thread pitch as the nuts and used them to fasten the cover to the brake light.

Attached Image:

Nuts and Bolts.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:42:14 -0800

Having thought through my game plan, and the third brake light is in good shape, I scouted the car for the premium location in the car. The rear deck seems to be the best location. Looking in the trunk, I found there are already holes in the chassis for me to drill through the deck easily. I'll have to drill two holes, one to secure the third brake light and the other for the wiring.

Attached Image:

Rear Deck Access.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:45:40 -0800

After drilling the holes, I mounted the third brake light on the rear deck with some fastening bolts and wing screws. Then I routed the electrical cable through the rear deck into the trunk.

Attached Image:

Brake Light Mounted.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:48:03 -0800

I had to patch additional stereo wiring cables to the end of the electrical cable, because the one on the brake light isn't long enough. Wiring had to reach the connector on the trunk. Some spicing and cramping was easy with a cramping tool from the local home improvement store.

Attached Image:

Electrical Connector on the Trunk.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:49:22 -0800

After patching in all the cable, the brake lighted up as expected. Installing the third brake light was quite easy. It was a cheap and effective solution to get my car back on the road, before I get the back end fixed.

Attached Image:

Rear Brake Light Installed.jpg

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:51:27 -0800

I have finally got the rally wing on the trunk and painted as of a few days ago. The trunk and wing now matches the rest of the car. And the new rally wing has its own brake light as well.

It's time to pull off my intrim solution, but maybe it will come in handy again someday.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 21 Mar 2005 16:53:13 -0800

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