How To Make a Custom 3rd Break Light Cover

Discussion in 'How-to Guides' started by FrigginNoodles, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. FrigginNoodles

    FrigginNoodles Epic Member 5+ Years 500 Posts

    How to make a custom looking 3rd brake light cover with leftover tint (preferably 5% or darker, but any should work)

    Warning: There is a chance you will scratch your 3rd brake light while performing this modification. Remember to take your time and be cautious However if you do scratch it, they will be very small and most likely not noticeable to anyone. Please be careful.

    Tools and Materials:

    Phillips head screw driver
    Small Square of window tint
    Dish soap and water in spray bottle
    Plastic card (license, credit card, gift card, etc will work)
    Razor Blade
    Masking Tape

    Scotch Tape
    Piece of paper
    Hair dryer (optional)

    View attachment 25067

    Step 1: Remove the third brake light from the vehicle. This can be done by removing the two phillips head screws and gently prying the cover out from the body of the truck. I used a paint can opener for this. The light will come out fairly easily. Please be careful when removing this not to scratch your vehicle! Once you have it out a bit disconnect the wire harness that comes out of the cab.

    Step 2: Thoroughly clean the outside of the third brake light.

    Step 3: Cut the tinting into a rectangle. The tinting should be slightly larger than the area on the light between the two white lights. I forgot to take a picture of this, so I photo shopped an image to help.

    View attachment 25070
    Step 4: Separate tinting from plastic sheet and soak everything. Using two pieces of scotch tape peel the plastic off of the adhesive side of the tinting. As you are peeling the tint be sure to spray it with plenty of soapy water. Also spray your third brake light where you will be applying the tint. I would suggest putting a towel under the light for this step to soak up the extra soap and water.

    Step 5: Apply, smooth, and trim tinting. Stick the tinting over the center of the light. Spray the outside of the tinting with your soap and water solution. Using a plastic card, smooth the tinting starting from the top of the light and working down and out towards the outer edges. Be patient and do your best to get any noticeable air bubbles and creases out from under the tint. If you are having trouble with air bubbles try using a hair dryer. Use caution not to melt tint when using a hairdryer, it would take a good amount. Once you have the tint smoothed out to where you are satisfied, carefully trim the edges down even with the top and bottom edges of the light or to the desired size.

    Step 6: Choose your design. Here is the fun part. You can be very creative in this step. Find an image or design that you would like to use. The simpler this design is the easier it will be to create. I chose a Chevy bow tie with Z71 in the middle. I found both of these pictures with a google image search and combined them with a photoshop program. Once you have found your image you then print it out. Once printed you will need to hold the paper over your tinted brake light to check for size. Adjust your chosen image size and reprint if necessary. It took me a couple of tries to get my image to the correct size. Once you have the size right, cut out the outside edges. This is my image, feel free to use it just make sure to fix the top left inside when you are cutting. Also I ignored the "off road" lettering while cutting this.

    Step 7: Tape the image over the tinted light. Using masking tape, align your design on the in the center of the tinting and a small amount towards the bottom and tape the border of the design. Ensure that the design is straight and in the correct location.
    View attachment 25069
    Step 8: Cut out your design. Determine which areas you are cutting out. I didn't have to mark them, but you may want to if you are worried about cutting out the wrong parts. Using the razor blade, start with the part of the design in the center. You don't want to cut the part with the tape on it until last so your image stays in place the whole time. I had two methods while cutting. Method 1:Lightly cut through the paper and not all of the way through the tinting to mark it out. then remove paper and cut through tinting. This is slower but prevents scratching your light. Method 2: Cut through both paper and tint using more pressure. This is hard to do without scoring into your light. You need to find the right balance of pressure with the blade. If you do score into your light the scratches will be minor and not really noticeable.

    Step 9: Peel the tint. This step can be tricky. Now that you have made all of you cuts carefully remove the taped on stencil, taking care not to disturb or shift the tinting. Carefully peel of the areas of tint that you have cut out. I used various items to try to do this because the tint was holding on pretty tight. I used my fingernail, my plastic card, the back of the razor blade (scratched it a little, I don't recommend using that), and last but not least a plastic pen cap. The pen cap worked pretty good at peeling the tint off. There are probably plenty of other things you can use. I just grabbed what was on hand. Be careful not to slip and scratch or rip the tint. Also make sure to peel off the right parts.

    Step 10: Clean and install. Spray the light with your soap and water Carefully wipe it off with a dry towel. Plug the wires in and screw the light back in. Congratulations, you're done.

    View attachment 25068

    I know that they sell covers for these and that is would be much easier to purchase one of these, but this was a rainy day thing that cost me $0 and I am happy with it. Also it may be possible to get a rough size of the piece of tint and precut your design, but am not sure how easy it would be to apply. Just sharing my rainy day project. Thanks for reading.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011

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