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A 355nation How To presented by
Indychus

Project Name
Tail light bulb upgrade for under $10

Project Description
Upgrading the stock bulbs to brighter bulbs.

Skill Level
Easy

Project Vehicle
Make: GMT
Model: 355
Year: ALL
Engine: ALL

Tools Needed
Philips head screwdriver

Project Time
~5 min

Project Cost
~$10

This is the best kind of mod. No real modding involved, and costs less than 10 bucks. This is a very common mod on most vehicles, but I have not seen anyone here talk about it.

Here's the theory:

Our trucks come with 3057 bulbs in the tail lights. They have an MSCP (mean spherical candle power) of 2MSCP/32MSCP. The first number is just the tail light, the second is when the brake lamp is lit. There are several other bulbs on the market which are a direct fit into out sockets with better MSCP ratings.



Choosing a bulb:

Stock (3057)
2/32MSCP 2.1watt/.48A

This is the dimmest bulb available for our wedge type socket. GM uses these bulbs because they are marginally cheaper and have longer lifespans.




3157
3/32MSCP 2.1watt/.59A

The 3157 bulb is not much of an upgrade. It is a slightly brighter tail lamp filament with the same brake lamp filament as the stock 3057.




3357
3/38MSCP 2.1watt/.59A

The 3357 bulb combines the brighter 3157 tail lamp filament with a 38 MSCP brake lamp filament. Compared to the stock bulbs, it has a slightly brighter tail lamp, with a noticeably brighter brake lamp. Sylvania offers a 3357/3457 bulb, which is the same as 3357's. It does not have the brighter 3457 filament.



3457
3/41MSCP 2.1watt/.59A

The 3457 is the brightest incandescent bulb available for out stock wedge sockets. It combines the tail lamp filament from the 3157/3357 bulb with a brighter still 40/41MSCP brake lamp filament.
Sylvania offers a 3357/3457 bulb, which is the same as 3357's. It does not have the brighter 3457 filament.




I chose to use the GE 3457 bulb. It does have a slightly reduced life due to higher operating temp, but you gain 33% more light from the tail filament, and 22% more from the brake filament. The extra heat and watts/amp are well within safe ranges for our stock electrical systems.


The swap:

Lower tailgate, remove the two screws holding the tail lamp lens into place. Carefully remove the lens. Remove sockets from back of housing. The top two bulbs are the tail / brake / turn lamps. Use a clean rag to grasp the bulb, and pull firmly until it snaps out of the socket. Being careful not to touch the glass portion of the bulb, apply dielectric grease to the base of the new bulb. Using the rag again, press the new bulbs firmly into the socket. Try not to get any fingerprints or grease on the bulbs. Reassemble.


Results:

Do not expect results similar to swapping in LEDs. There is a definite difference in the brightness of the 3457's compared to stock 3057's, but it is subtle. Still, it's well worth the $10 and 5 minutes of my time.


 

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Premium Member
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56 Posts
I have a brake light out. Now i'll just switch em all out with some upgrades. Thanks for the info:thumbup:
 

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I could not find the GE bulbs locally so I put the sylvanias in and did notice a difference (did one side at a time to compare). Used a different bulb for the reverse lights that puts off a whiter light and it made a big difference, sorry I do not remember the number but it was also a sylvania bulb.

Nice write up!:thumbup:
 

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Dont let the Nation die
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15,947 Posts
nice, wish i had seen this when my bulb went out while back. :lol:
 

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Lord Bearded One
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23,008 Posts
Excellent mod. When I get my tails tinted I'll upgrade to those GEs for sure!
 

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I could not find the GE bulbs locally so I put the sylvanias in and did notice a difference (did one side at a time to compare). Used a different bulb for the reverse lights that puts off a whiter light and it made a big difference, sorry I do not remember the number but it was also a sylvania bulb.

Nice write up!:thumbup:
shoulda taken pics for comparisin
 

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230 Posts
I just found this! What a great idea! I had these bulbs (GE 3457) in stock at work for $1.09 each!

Here is a daylight side by side comparison.



I replaced both lights on the left, the difference is very slight during the day but I was not expecting a huge difference for a dollar. It only took 5 mins to replace all six bulbs with 3457's and LED reverse lights.
 

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Would there b any chance of heat damage to the light socket?
I assume it is possible but the regular/marker light filament is not much brighter, it is only the large/turn signal filament that is noticeably brighter and they are never on for an extended period of time unless you rest your foot on the brake pedal for a long period of time but i'd imagine it would take a very long time to cause damage.

I've got 3457 in all four tail light sockets now and have had no problems.

PS: I purchased these for about a dollar a bulb from my place of business.
 
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