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Old 06-27-2012, 12:15 PM   #1
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How-To: Remove Rear Deck & Third Brake Light

How to remove the rear deck in order to get the third brake light out of the way for window tinting purposes.

As we've figured out by now, the third brake light is not exactly the easiest thing to work around for window tinting purposes. Removing it is not as simple as one would like, due to the design where the pedestal assembly is molded/glued into the rear deck itself. The rear deck is nothing more that hard-molded felt material, which although lightweight, would make it really easy to bend/crease/ruin if removed improperly. Here is how to get it out without damage:

Here are the tools you'll need:

small flat-tip screwdriver (mainly for the pop-out black clips, but also for prying behind panels to gain a finger hold),

10mm socket (preferably deep well, or maybe on a screwdriver handle),

Interior panel clip remover



If you plan to remove the seat back as well, a 12mm socket is required for the bolts attaching it to the hinges. I didn't need it this time, but my first attempt at this required the removal of the seat back. I'll explain later.

Before you get started, you should unhook your battery. You will be working around the C-Pillar air bag unit, so, you know, safety first and whatnot.

1) Loosen the panel over the C-Pillar which houses the air bag.
This is the point of attack:





Take a small flat-tipped screw driver (or other prying tool) and gain a finger hold on the panel.



As you can see, there are five (5) clips along the bottom edge, and one (1) on the top at the rear. Also there are the two (2) blue straps that keep the panel attached in case of an airbag deployment.



These should not be removed, and unfortunately therefore the panel will be hanging there in the way once you have it loosened up. As you can also see there are two prongs that stick out of the front edge of the panel, which clip under the ceiling fabric panel.



Once you have the top and bottom edges unclipped (by just pulling out towards you by hand) take extra care to wiggle those prongs out as you slowly pull the panel towards the rear of the car. Once it's loose, pull out and down on the blue straps to let the panel hang as loose as possible. You should see this:



2) Remove the smaller, triangle-shaped panel at the bottom of the C-Pillar.

Use the 10mm socket/ratchet to remove the screw attaching the panel to the frame. This screw is VERY TIGHT from the factory, just so you know. I thought I broke something or stripped the head the first time I loosened it.



(Sorry I didn't get a pic of the socket on the screw...only got two hands.)
Next you'll need to remove the two clips holding the trunk liner to the interior panel.



Removing the trunk floor panel and carpet helps, so you don't have to fight with it when maneuvering the felt panel out of the way, like so:



THIS IS WHERE THINGS CAN GET A LITTLE TRICKY!!!

After you remove the clips, you want to pull the interior side panel loose at the top, where the seat belt comes out, because it actually clips in to the panel we are trying to remove. BE VERY GENTLE WITH THIS, and I recommend holding pressure in this area here:



in order to keep the panel from pulling its clips out of the car frame. The clip in this area in particular is not held to the panel itself very strongly, and trying to get it lined back up with the hole in the frame can prove to be a nightmare. I learned the hard way, and whilst trying to line it up with the hole the first time I did this, I ended up knocking the clip out of the panel, and the clip found its way down below the interior sheet metal and into the frame rail of the vehicle. I pulled the panel, seats, and seat back out and couldn't find it. I thought it was lost forever but miraculously after a day of driving, it managed to rattle its way into a place I could reach, and I stuck my arm down inside and was able to fish it out.

Next take your panel clip remover and pop out the clip here:



and then pull straight out at the bottom of the panel to pop out the other clip. With a little twisting and pulling, the panel can now be removed. Here is the back so you know where the clips are I'm talking about:


Now, repeat steps 1 and 2 for the opposite side before continuing.

3) Removing the deck

Now that both sides are loose, all you have left to do is remove the rear deck panel itself. First, remove the black clips from the front of the panel here:



Next, take note of the positions of the white clips on the deck panel itself:



As you can see there are four (4). You can just see them as you look up from inside the trunk area inside the frame:




Using the panel clip remover, slide it up and under the panel from the front and feel around until the tool gets ahold of the clip. Pop out the clips, but note that the first one is going to want to snap back into its hole due to the pressure of the panel being stretched into place. Once you have the second clip popped out, the other two clips are much easier to remove. Now just unhook the third brake light wire, push/pull forward on the deck panel, and remove.





Third brake light is out of the way, you now have full access to the rear window!

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Last edited by Moshpit37; 06-27-2012 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:00 PM   #2
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Nice, Thanks! Seems to be alot of work just to clean my rear window though... really wished they made it easier to remove/reinstall that 3rd brake light.
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:51 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm hoping we see a third-party aftermarket solution for this before too long.
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Old 06-27-2012, 02:01 PM   #4
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I just tugged it out from the sides.

BUT! It looks like this method exposes the bolts for the rear seatbelt reels. I was thinking I'd have to remove the rear seats to get those panels free. Good to know!
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:16 PM   #5
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When you say you just tugged it out from the sides, do you mean you tugged the rear deck out from the sides without removing all the plastic side trim?
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:47 PM   #6
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this is something I would do, once I put up the rear spoiler and do the lower foglight as my third brake light
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:54 PM   #7
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Why not just unbolt the third brake light? I don't think the deck cover has to come out for tint...
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco-REX View Post
I just tugged it out from the sides.

BUT! It looks like this method exposes the bolts for the rear seatbelt reels. I was thinking I'd have to remove the rear seats to get those panels free. Good to know!
That's what I did. You shouldn't need to take apart the sides if you are just trying to get the deck out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave-ROR View Post
Why not just unbolt the third brake light? I don't think the deck cover has to come out for tint...
Can't unbolt. It's plastic riveted in. It's literally melted onto the deck. However, you can remove the top portion of the brake light though.
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engee View Post
That's what I did. You shouldn't need to take apart the sides if you are just trying to get the deck out.



Can't unbolt. It's plastic riveted in. It's literally melted onto the deck. However, you can remove the top portion of the brake light though.
Interesting, as far as I know the shop that did my tint didn't do all that work and it's covered perfectly fine..
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:29 AM   #10
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I tried to get my rear deck out when my car was getting tinted, and I lost TWO plastic "popits" in the interior of the car somewhere. I was furious! Luckily, I was a block from a Toyota dealer and they had some near-exact matches at the parts desk.

I ended up just removing the top section of the third brake light and that was enough room to allow the tinters to do their job.

Great writeup, I am adding it to the DIY Directory right now...
http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7365
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:13 AM   #11
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awesome this is probably going to be one of my first mods. I might make a 3rd break light out of an LED strip.
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Old 06-29-2012, 12:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan@aePerformance View Post
awesome this is probably going to be one of my first mods. I might make a 3rd break light out of an LED strip.
I'm interested in seeing this. Will you do a DIY?
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Old 06-29-2012, 02:19 AM   #13
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Ugh, going to be struggling to get that done for an hour or two one day .. :/
I won't be too happy about it but oh well ..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco-REX View Post
I just tugged it out from the sides.

BUT! It looks like this method exposes the bolts for the rear seatbelt reels. I was thinking I'd have to remove the rear seats to get those panels free. Good to know!
Quote:
Originally Posted by engee View Post
That's what I did. You shouldn't need to take apart the sides if you are just trying to get the deck out.
Can you add descriptions to what you did?
Are there 3 stubs in the rear view?
I'm trying to get a clean look but I know there will be holes if I do this method :X
Curious what it looks like now heh
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Old 06-29-2012, 01:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrenDriven View Post
I ended up just removing the top section of the third brake light and that was enough room to allow the tinters to do their job.
So the top of the brake light just pops off, as in clips on? Tinting is in the future for me, and I was wondering how to deal with this without tearing apart the whole deck.

And not to hijack this thread, but how are "tinters" dealing with the automatic windows when opening the door if one is to not roll down your windows for several days?
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Old 06-29-2012, 02:28 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Slartibartfast View Post
I'm interested in seeing this. Will you do a DIY?
out of laziness probably not, but if it comes out sweet I'll post pics.
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:50 AM   #16
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Is this how tint shops get the third brake light out of the way to tint the rear window?
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:50 AM   #17
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Wow... that took less than 10 minutes. I can see that puting everything back may take a bit longer though.

Just FYI: To remove the air bag cover panels push down on the center tab (top and bottom alternatively) of the blue "hangers". This will get them out of your way. Not sure about anyone else but they were in my way and just a general pain in the @ss.

Thanks again for the DIY!
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:56 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrickyFrenchman View Post
And not to hijack this thread, but how are "tinters" dealing with the automatic windows when opening the door if one is to not roll down your windows for several days?
Apparently the guy doing mine says he has to use a heat gun or something to help cure the tint so opening and closing the door doesn't affect the tinting and cause bubbles. I can let you know how mine goes tomorrow
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Last edited by sirus; 07-13-2012 at 09:56 AM. Reason: Added info
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:21 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draco-REX View Post
I just tugged it out from the sides.

BUT! It looks like this method exposes the bolts for the rear seatbelt reels. I was thinking I'd have to remove the rear seats to get those panels free. Good to know!
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrenDriven View Post
I ended up just removing the top section of the third brake light and that was enough room to allow the tinters to do their job.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrickyFrenchman View Post
So the top of the brake light just pops off, as in clips on? Tinting is in the future for me, and I was wondering how to deal with this without tearing apart the whole deck.
Getting mine tinted tomorrow, would love some more detail on how to get the 3rd brake light out of the way easily without removing the entire decklid and all the associated interior panels. Specifically, how to remove just the top section as DarrenDriven did, that should give my tinter enough room to do his job.
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Old 08-02-2012, 10:34 AM   #20
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Nevermind... Found the method in another thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kwaziekeller View Post
It's pretty easy to pop the top portion of the 3rd brake light assembly off, so if you're bored and want to see if your LED's are burned out too, it should only take a few seconds...

Disconnect the 3rd brake light plug in the trunk.
Push up on one of the corners of the assembly, just above the "seam" of the 2 plastic pieces on the "front" (towards the front of the car). There are 2 snaps (one in each corner) that will pop apart.
Once you pop one corner, pop the other.
You'll have to lift the "front" portion slightly and pull it towards the front of the car, being careful with the wires etc.
The "rear" part of the top half of the assembly has two tabs that slide into the bottom half, so putting it back together can be a little tricky, but just reverse the steps.
From another forum:

Quote:
the 3rd brake light can come apart in 2 pieces. at the seam push up and then slide back and unplug. when putting it back on put the front end down first as there are 2 tabs it has to slide under to fit right
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:16 AM   #21
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i lost a clip on each side :-(
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:41 AM   #22
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Tinters are just pulling out the door pin switch to stop them from going down while door is open. Its a negative trigger door pin. Removing it solves the moving issue while its being tinted.
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