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I think slamming the lid closed causes vibration, which causes it to fail early. I switched to LED, but that makes a pink light and is not safe/out of spec. I then bought the Brabus LED version, which is a legal option.
 

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I am seeing a lot of the 451s with the third brake lite out, has anyone found a common problem with these cars?
Not that I've seen. But we have two '09 models and I've switched to a 360-degree style LED from SuperBrightLEDs and added the pulse module from SmartMadness. Must be doing the trick as I've yet to see any drivers be surprised at my being stopped.

One more thing, I was surprised at the amount of dirt that can make it's way behind the lens assembly in that upper part of the hatch.
 
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