Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Fixed: Toyota Highlander Brake Light
Toyota Highlanders are well made cars - I bought a 2004 for my wife who later upgraded to a Sienna minivan, so I took the Highlander for myself. It's at 100,000 miles and still going strong. However, apparently they have a known problem where the brake lights on one side will intermittently stop working. I've had people pull up next to me at stop lights and tell me I have a light out, then I get home to find the light is fine.
Then recently the light went out and stayed out. I replaced the bulbs but they remained out. Fuses were fine, my trusty Fluke 77 said voltage was getting to the assembly. Posters in Toyota forums said that dealers are asking $40 - $140 for diagnostic, plus possibly $300 to replace a "circuit board"...? Sounds like a scam to me.
I did some searching online and found reference to how the contacts on the bulb holder will get compressed and not make proper contact. (Kudos to Berto for the original post and Kujath for the photos.) Kujath suggested using a flat-blade screwdriver to bend the contacts a bit, but I think a needle-nose pliers works better since you can control the amount of bending. I did both bulb holders and the lights are working just fine.