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How Does the RAM ProMaster Not Have a Third Brake Light?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2017

I've recently made a surprising discovery: The RAM ProMaster, a van that's designed to carry around virtually anything that has ever been made, including some of your larger highway bridges, does not have a third brake light. It has two brake lights on the back, like everything else, but it doesn't have a third brake light. I'm serious. It doesn't exist.

If you take a look at the photos I've included above, you'll probably think I'm lying. After all, in these photos you can clearly see the two brake lights on both sides, and you can also clearly see the strip of red lights above the doors. One of those must be a brake light, right? But they aren't. Those lights are mandated by the government for tall vehicles, and the ProMaster is certainly that; they turn on when the headlights turn on to warn -- I don't know, maybe birds? -- that a tall vehicle is coming.

Those lights do not light up when you push the brakes. Indeed, not even the little one on that black piece that sticks out directly in the middle. That piece simply includes the backup camera, which is now (or soon to be) federally mandated; the light mounted on the piece doesn't do anything except light up when the headlights are on like the rest of 'em. You may not believe me, but take a long look the next time you see a ProMaster. Not a ProMaster City, the smaller version, which does have a third brake light -- but an actual ProMaster. Watch it brake and you'll agree: there's no third brake light. This is in spite of the fact that I even found press images of ProMasters with third brake lights -- but on the road, they don't have them.

This concerns me, as a citizen of our great nation, because in the 1980s it was mandated that all vehicles must have three brake lights: Two fixed lights on either side of the rear, and one third brake light, then called the "CHMSL," for "Center High-Mounted Stop Light." The ProMaster flies in the face of this rule, and I will not stand for this. Actually, I almost certainly will stand for it, but I'll also write an article about it.

Now, for a while I figured the ProMaster was exempt from this third brake light regulation because it's a cargo van, and maybe commercial vehicles don't need the extra light. But then I saw a few Chevy Express and GMC Savana cargo vans, and they have third brake lights -- and those are probably the finest examples of cost-cutting on the market today. If General Motors could've ditched the third brake light in those vans, they would've. So why does the ProMaster get away with it? Maybe because it's taller? Maybe the dozen ProMasters I've seen simply have a burnt-out third brake light? Maybe no one ever bothered to check?

If any of you know the answer, I'm eager to find out. Otherwise, we have a true automotive mystery on our hands. One which we will all forget about in a few hours.

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New 2018 RAM ProMaster 2500 159" High Roof
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New 2018 RAM ProMaster 1500 136" High Roof
New 2018 RAM ProMaster
MSRP $35,470
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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New 2018 RAM ProMaster 1500 136" High Roof
New 2018 RAM ProMaster
MSRP $35,470
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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New 2018 RAM ProMaster 1500 136" High Roof
New 2018 RAM ProMaster
MSRP $35,470
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
How Does the RAM ProMaster Not Have a Third Brake Light? - Autotrader