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You're not allowed to change a brake light in a new car?


This is how cars are now?

I drive a car that's 11 years old with well over 100,000 miles on it. A few weeks back, I got pulled over for having one of my brake lights out. Fortunately, I was let off with a warning.

I changed out both brake bulbs, then said screw it, I might as well change both rear turn signal bulbs too, so I did. Then the CHMSL (center high-mounted stop lamp) a.k.a. "third brake light" bulb blew out, so I changed that as well. The place where I live requires cars that originally came equipped with a CHMSL to be working (the car will fail inspection otherwise.) I'm fortunate to have a car where all the lights in the back are just regular bulbs and no LEDs, and easy to replace.

Then I got curious and wondered how difficult it is to change burned-out lights on a new car, so I looked up the owner's manual for the 2022 Toyota Corolla. I chose the Corolla because I typically know those cars to be very easy to maintain. Page 488 is where this information is listed.

Lights you can change out with new ones yourself, according to the manual:

  1. Back-up lights
  2. Rear turn signal lights
  3. Rear side marker lights (if a bulb)

That's it.

Lights that must be replaced by a Toyota dealer, according to the manual:

On my 11-year-old car, I can replace every single one of these myself. All I need to do is go to a local auto parts store, get the bulbs, go home, install, test to make sure they work, done.

On the 2022 Corolla, if I got pulled over for a burned-out brake light, I'd literally have to call a Toyota dealership, schedule an appointment, drive illegally with a burned out brake light until the date of appointment, and then pay at least one hour of labor to get that bulb replaced in addition to part cost.

On my car, the cost to replace both rear brake light bulbs is 9 bucks.

On the '22 Corolla, it's more. A lot more. And this is assuming that brake light part will even be available when I needed one.

Maybe I'll stick with my old car a little while longer.

Published 2021 Jul 22

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