: 97 Catera, trunk deck brake lights

03-05-08, 02:46 AM
I have half a strip working. Does anyone know the correct way to replace the lights? The brake light strip on the top back of the trunk.

03-05-08, 10:55 AM
I have the same problem. I think it would be cheaper just to get a new or used one. The problem I'm having is that i dont have the proper tool to remove the latch on the trunk (the one you pull down to close)

03-17-08, 06:41 PM
I have the same problem. You need a Torx screw driver to remove the pull-down handle on the trunk lid, and the same Torx to remove the protective plastic behind
the emergency trapped-in-the-trunk release handle. You will also need a deep well 5/16" socket (available at Sears) to get to the nuts holding the CHMBL (center high mounted brake light) on the trunk lid. Problem I have now is the light is a sealed unit (plastic welds), and I want to replace the individual failed LEDs. If you search on the web, you will find a place that fixes them for about $150. Does anybody know how to separate the red external lens from the gray plastic backing assembly? One other problem I have is one of the nuts fell into the reinforcing of the trunk lid and won't come out ...

Cadi Cat
03-18-08, 12:23 AM
give these guys a call, they might be able to do something for ya!


Po Pimp
03-21-08, 01:55 AM
I would recommend them. I had mine done in person.

04-04-08, 02:24 PM
Does anyone out there know how to get the red external lens off the gray plastic carrier??? Please!
I got the CHMBL assembly out and on the bench. The segment that is dark is intermittent (it works sometimes, it doesn't work sometimes, based on vibration).
I don't want to send it in and pay for an NTF (no trouble found). So, I want to fix the thing at the root problem myself. The metal screws hold the gray plastic to the car, the plastic welds visible from the back hold the PCBs (printed circuit boards with the LEDs on them) to the gray plastic (I've drilled out a few of these plastic welds to no avail in trying to disassemble this thing). It looks like GM glued the lens and carrier together, which seems so stupid for something that obviously has inexpensive internal parts needing repair.

04-04-08, 06:18 PM
Voila! The red lens is glued onto the gray carrier. To separate, use a thin knife, slowly work it between the black gasket and the lens, pushing down. When you finally get through the glue at one place, rock the knife back and forth while pulling laterally to slowly cut/break the rest of the glue joint. Then, drill out the black plastic welds from the back - they hold the reflectors and PCBs in place. There are three PCBs in parallel, each PCB has 16 LEDs and four 100 ohm resistors (each PCB is four parallel strings of four LEDs and a resistor). Root cause failure analysis - bad solder joints between all the PCBs. By the time I got the thing open, one board completely separated from the others - both wires were literally dangling in the middle of their solder joint connections. Every joint is bad. Attached is a microscope picture of one of the solder joints. What you are looking at is the tip of a wire soldered to a PCB, but the wire is separated from the solder on the PCB. Dear GM - this should NEVER happen. If you and/or your suppliers can't get a wire reliably soldered, you shouldn't be in the manufacturing business. This is from a '97 Catera with 35k miles on it (yes, it was owned by a little old lady who only drove it on the weekends to go to temple, and who went into a retirement home).

04-05-08, 12:30 AM
That is the worst possible way to get into a Catera LED brakelight.

It is what we call a gray back Catera lamp.

The red lens is high frequency welded to the gray rear plastic unit.

You'll never be able to reseal the red lens again.

On gray backs, we go in from the rear.

Here it comes..."I'll use silicone"....to reseal. Wont work.

There is also another version. We call these Lego lamps. I attached a pic..

It's your lamp. Don't need any online hash discussion. His lamp is dead.

Logan Diagnostic LLC