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Burnt tail light socket...? Why?

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  • Burnt tail light socket...? Why?

    Hi Fellas,
    I trust everyone had a GREAT Christmas and are now looking forward to a celebratory New Year!

    Before striking out into the cold to do some visiting this past weekend, I checked over the wife's Fusion, only to discover a rear tail light/stop light bulb was burned out. So, a quick hop n' jump and I was at our neighborhood NAPA store to pickup a new bulb.
    After removing the rear panel and then pulling the rear/left corner panel back, the rear of the light sockets were exposed. The rear of the socket looked clean as the day it was installed at the FoMoCo. I turned the tail/stop light socket to release it from the housing and it came out. I noticed the bulb was darkened some which was normal. However, to my surprise was that the plastic socket was also blackened considerably...... It was not melted, but it was surely burnt!
    I removed the burnt bulb. I smeared a healthy amount of dielectric grease on both sides of the new bulb connections and then plugged it into the blackened socket. I started the car and flipped the left blinker on.....and the light blinked as it should. As I buttoned up the panels again, I wondered,,,,,,,,


    Maybe it somehow had become loose, causing an excessive gap between the bulb connections and the socket connections, and because the power had to jump the gap of the sloppy socket, it produced heat and caused the tan plastic socket to burn to a flat black...... Will the grease help this possible condition? I usually place a smear of Dielectric Grease on the bulb connecting end to keep any corrosion to a minimum, but will it reduce the sparking in a loose socket? What else could have caused the burnt socket?

    Thanks in Advance for any and all ideas/suggestions/opinions, Guys!! :beer-toasting:

    Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. - Henry Ford

  • #2
    Your assessment sounds spot on to me, though it does bring up some other thoughts. If you still can put your hands on the old bulb you may want to check it with a continuity tester and find that it wasn't actually failed, but just not working because of a poor connection. I'm assuming the bulb is one of the "push-in" types, as opposed to old style push and twist? It is quite possible that when the bulb was installed at the factory (or possibly replaced by someone else), it was done so at an angle that may have damaged the cheesy contacts in the socket and you may have to look forward to repeated, similar failures until the socket gets replaced or repaired! The grease may or may not be any help to you, at this point.
    Just My $.02,
    To quote my big brother: "Gettin' Old Ain't For Sissies"
    '68 coupe/5.0/T5
    '69 F250
    '56 Chebbie 3200 P/U
    '03 Miata (wife's ride)


    • #3
      Thanks for getting back to me with your thoughts.
      Yes, the bulb is the push in/pull out style, and I think I can likely dig the old out of the trash can in order to try the continuity test. The glass is blackened and "mirrored" but your suggestion is still worth a try.
      If I can still locate the bulb and if the bulb does test good, then I suspect I should consider locating a replacement socket. I will need to inspect the wires to look for a disconnect not too far away from the socket.........and whether or not I can locate a new socket at my NAPA store or if I have to get one from my FoMoCo dealership.....or maybe from a scrapyard......

      Thanks again, Gene!

      Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. - Henry Ford


      • #4
        Ryan, I would suspect most auto stores would have a “pigtail” connector for your a Fusion. One thing I learned a while ago is that there is conductive and non- conductive dielectric grease.A poor connection or even a small amount of corrosion could account for the burned socket.Either of those conditions would cause higher resistance. Resistance produces heat , heat will burn the contacts and or socket. Don’t ask which grease to use , I don’t know for sure . Anything that would help seal the connection should help.


        • #5
          Thanks for your thoughts as well, Mark.

          Yeah, I've also read where there are different dielectric greases as well. But I think for what I do, I will continue using what I have - here is a source:

          Ever since I experienced my first corroded 'push n' twist' taillight bulb that I ended up having to crush and grab with a pair of pliers to get out, I started using the Permatex Dielectric Grease (PDG), and have for many years,

          Although the Fusion socket didn't appear to have been exposed to visible corrosion, and I wouldn't think it was exposed to high voltage, I hope my application of the PDG will stop any re-occurrence.

          In a pinch, I've even used a smear of #2 wheel bearing grease on the top of the battery terminals...just to keep them sealed from oxidation/corrosion.


          Quality means doing it right when no one is looking. - Henry Ford


          • #6
            Ryan , You weren’t driving around with your turn signal on again were you? Hope the grease works for you. I had a truck in my fleet that had circuit breakers , no fuses. It would just shut off after about 45 minutes of run time, other days it would have no problems at all.usually by the time I saw it it had sat for some time. It would start right up no problem. Finally I traced it down to a small amount of corrosion on the blade connector that fed the ignition breaker. It would heat up enough to activate the breaker then cool and reset. About drove me nuts!