Remove taillight assembly
I have a 2000 premier model, which I believe is relatively the twin to your 2001, tail light housing and assembly.
First, open your rear hatch door. The taillight housing assemblies are attached with 2 chassis screws. The screw heads are Torx type and the size is somewhere between a T-5, T-10, T-15 OR T-20. Most standard sets of Torx drivers include these sizes, and if your not familiar with Torx tools, they are the relatively newer type of screw driver head that look like a star when you look at the top of the screw head or the tip end of the driver. Common in automotive parts attachment, currently, so any auto parts store will stock these tools. A set can be purchased for around 5-20 bucks.
Once you locate the 2 attachment screws on your taillight assembly, remove the bottom screw first. Be careful not to lose the screws.
When you remove the top screw, the light housing will pull out about an inch to clear the 2 back side pegs on the assembly, (that slide out of/into the two holes in the car body socket), which align the assembly into perfect position when it is installed in it\'s proper position/ place. Once these pegs are clear of their alignment holes the assembly will be free to turn and see/access the bulb sockets that are attached to the back side of the taillight assembly. I like to use a stool, (that is the same height as the lower part of the assembly when it is in place on the car), to rest the assembly on after I remove it. I prefer to do this because otherwise all the weight of the light assembly will be supported by the wires, (that extend out of the car body when the assembly is pulled away/off of the vehicle), when you need both hands to do something and have to release your hold on the assembly. And when you do release the assembly, those weight supporting wires will come to rest against the fairly sharp edged metal perforations in the car body, which could easily cause damage to the wires or electronics.
Once the awkwardly shaped assembly is out you will see there are 3 bulb sockets attached to the rear side of the assembly. These sockets are removed by depressing the plastic lock tabs on the sides of the bulb socket. These lock tabs are located against the point of connection to the taillight assembly. Once the lock tabs are depressed, carefully spin the bulb socket counter clockwise about a quarter turn and gently pull the socket away from the assembly.
The bulbs will come out by pressing down toward the bulb socket, (you will feel a spring depress and expand if you push in then release). With the bulb fully depressed into the socket, spin it counter clock wise slightly, then release the bulb depression and pull it out of it\'s socket. Careful to replace the sockets in the original order if you remove more than one at a time.
Reverse these instructions to replace the taillight assembly, but be extra careful not to over tighten the screws on re-assembly. The plastic assemblies become brittle with age. Usually once the screws are both evenly lightly snug against the assembly, another half turn is sufficient to hold them securely in place. The back hatch door prevents them from ever falling out, but just grab and wiggle the assembly the next few times you open and close the back hatch. If any movement occurs.....retighten, using the same technique as prescribed above. Do not over tighten. A new/used light assembly could set you back 50-100 dollars each.
If you have a bulb that seems to work sometimes and not other, use a pencil eraser to clean the point of connection in the bulb socket, (inner bottom of the socket with the bulb removed), (two brass tits), and the bottom of a reused bulb, (also two brass tits),before re-installing the bulb in it\'s socket.
Also, I believe there is a metallic connection that is made when the bulb socket is re-connected to the taillight assembly. Use the pencil eraser to rub off any tarnish on both connection surfaces before re-installing.
Aligning the ears on the bulb socket back into the matching openings on the light assembly, then a quarter turn clock wise, (or until you see or hear the lock tabs spring back into the locked position), to reattach the bulbs back into the assembly housing.
I do believe this is the reason, (tarnish on one or two or three of the above mentioned metallic connections), I have had my taillight assembly apart on two occasions, other than times I was replacing a dead bulb. And I think I saw mention of the same problem by a few other silhouette owners when reviewing repair forums, so it could be a common problem on olds Silhouette vans around our model year.
Recalling the process again in my mind leads me to suspect that maybe a third electrical connection/circuit is made between the assembly body and the car body when it\'s in it\'s place on the car. Just examine the surfaces where the two will touch each other when in place to possibly find somewhere where there is/might be a metal on metal common spot. If so....rub both surfaces with the eraser before re-assembly on to the car.
If you have a dead bulb, be careful to buy the exact bulb attachment configuration, (the two tits at the bottom are either an even distance from the bulb bottom or offset with the distance from the bottom differing), and one of the trio/duo of light bulbs in each of the taillight assembly may be tinted amber instead of clear like the other(s) in the assembly. But you won\'t be able to easily notice the colored bulb until it\'s removed from the assembly due to the assembly lens being contoured or colored itself too. I think.
Bulbs normally come in a pack of two and cost around 3-5 bucks a pair. It isn\'t necessarily important to replace both the right and left bulbs when you only have one out....Bulb life varies greatly from bulb to bulb and may be affected more by vibrations and bumps than age. Just store the extra bulb and the Torx driver in your glove box for when the next bulb that size burns out.
You have two fuse boxes and each have a fuse for the lights in the tail assembly. The one under the front hood will have a blinker relay in it too. The one in the side dash on the passenger side may have a couple of fuses that protect the back up lights and the tail/brake or running lights. The cover and the lid for the fuse boxes have fuse/relay location diagrams on their under sides and identification labeling for all the fuses, or the owners manual also has the same information in it, near the end pages of the manual.
If you disconnect the battery, you may have to reset your alarm system, (which isn\'t easy in some models), cause injury or really damage electronics. Best to avoid disconnecting the battery for any time longer than a few minutes if at all possible. And when working with the taillight assemblies, it is relatively safe from cross connections, especially if you use a stool or something to rest the assembly on while it\'s out of the car body and don\'t use anything metallic to clean the connection surfaces....as prescribed above. It\'s very simple to do and harmless to you and your vehicle if done right.
Oh, and the last thing....if your experiencing brake light problems, there is a switch down on the brake pedal arm that is visible with a flashlight you can check and make sure you have a helper to depress the brake pedal for you when/if you have to test the brake lights for any reason.
Good luck and be safe every time you work on your car.
Mar 18, 2014 |
2001 Oldsmobile Silhouette