Tag Archives: Brake light

How to repair a broken brake light lens with a 3M film you can buy at a car store or Amazon?

Okay, it was late the other night and I was tired. I backed up my 2021 Ram 2500 and heard the truck hit something. “Crap” I thought as I remembered my Western plow was disconnected and sitting on the ground in the area where I was backing up. Well, I hoped I had just nudged the plow frame with my rear bumper but when I got out, it turned out that one of the lights on the plow frame had busted out a golf ball sized part of the passenger side red brake light lens – it was a good thing I was going slow at least but what to do?

If you notice the scuff mark on the back edge of the light, that’s what hit the passenger side tail light and busted the lens. I’m definitely glad I wasn’t going fast.

Well, first I have to tell you I felt pretty stupid. I literally forgot the plow was back there but then my next thought was “how do I fix this?” It was about 11:15 at night, 9 degrees out and snowing. If there’s one thing I have learned about myself, it’s that my patience is gone when I am tired and that was the not the time to try and fix something. I didn’t want the light assembly to get a ton of snow in it so I just lightly stuck some duct tape on it and work on it the next day.

Looking For A Quick and Easy Fix

First thing I did was to get online and order a new right side tail light assembly (68361714AD for my Tradesman) and that will take some time to come arrive – I literally ordered it yesterday morning and am waiting as I write this. At any rate, I needed to apply a temporary fix to the busted lens. In college, I’d used a red self-adhesive tape to “patch” a busted brake light. I figured I would do something similar because I wanted the lens closed and also you can get a ticket for having either a white light showing from a brake light or an inoperable light. The other thing was given the weather and supply chain problems these days, I wasn’t sure how long I would be waiting for the replacement light assembly so off to Autozone I went.

Autozone carries two type of repair kits both from 3M – one was a roll of red colored translucent tape ($4.99) and the other was a semi-rigid red translucent film ($8.99). I opted for the latter because I could cover the hole without seams and figured it would blend in a lot better. Now I have not used the 3M tape but the one I used in college 30+ years ago faded in the sun and didn’t stick to red hot so I just wasn’t that gung ho on it but I will tell you that my general experience with 3M is that they turn out top notch stuff so I am sure it would have been better but I went with the film and not the tape.

3M High-Strength Red Lens Repair Film 03441

The package has a 3.75×7.75″ piece of thick red film. It’s stiff but it will bend and 3M says it measures about 6-6.5 mils (1 mil =1,000th of an inch) thick. For example, if a credit card is around .03 inches thick, it measures 30 mils to give you an idea.

This is the front of the package in case you are hunting for it.
I read and followed the instructions.

As you can see in the photos, it was snowing and 16 degrees out when I did the repair. I cleaned the lens real quick with 409 – a general purpose cleaner. I then wiped it dry and brought over the film and a pair of scissors.

The break in the lens had a slight curve so I worked the material around in my hands to get the basic curve I needed and trimmed the material so it could sit flat on the surface. I then removed the rear backing materials and kept pressure on it while working out air bubbles. I figured it might need the heat of my hands to both stay bent and to bond so I did this for 1-2 minutes. For some reason, after I applied the patch was when it dawned on me that I did not take a photo of the hole – why? I have no idea.

Here you can see the hole covered with the film. I have a pretty good seal except for at the bottom where all the cracks are. There’s a raised ridge there that the film cant conform to so I called it good enough and stopped there. I figure this only needs to last maybe 2-4 weeks but wanted it good enough that it can go longer if need be.
It was definitely snowing and cold. This is a piece of film left over after the patching so you can see it.
The lens cracked but did not come apart of the top right side. If you look close you can see a rectangular piece of film I stuck there just to make sure the track doesn’t get worse.
You step back a few feet and you can’t even see the film. I checked the bond the following day and it feels like the film has really bonded to the lens. I’m genuinely impressed.

The Results

I’m surprisingly happy. I didn’t know for sure if it would work but it’s holding up just fine and from a distance you wouldn’t even know it is there.

If things change, I’ll be sure to post an update but so far, so good.

2/19/22: Still holding up just fine. Nothing has changed at all – adhesion and color are just fine. I’m still waiting on the Mopar parts dealer to send me the tail light assembly. Thanks to the film I’m not in a rush and it looks just fine from a few feet away – you wouldn’t even know it is there.

2/19/2022 – still holding up just fine a week later. No sign of the plastic film letting go from the base tail light lens. It’s solid. We’ve had weather ranging from snow and 12 degrees to rain and 15 degrees. It seems to be a solid repair.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

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