How to do Your Own Tail Light Repair

March 18, 2013

Tail light repair is a fairly easy procedure. If a consumer wants to save money, a consumer can fix their own tail light rather than take their car to an auto repair shop. A person driving without a tail light can get pulled over and receive a citation, so it's best to repair the tail light quickly. The tail light serves an important service to other drivers as well, so it's safer to fix the tail light quickly.

Diagnose the problem

The first step is to pinpoint why the tail light is not working. There could be several different problems with the tail light. The fuse may not be working and you may have to replace the fuse. If both tail lights on the vehicle are not working, than a common problem could be the fuse. Another common problem is that the bulb may be blown. Check to make sure that the bulb is not blown. If the bulb is blown, than replace it. If a problem still exists after checking both issues, the wiring may be cut or pinched and you will need to replace that part of the wiring harness.

Tools and parts needed:

Mechanics gloves to protect your hands, screwdriver (usually Phillips), cleaning cloth, wire brush and the part that needs to be replaced

Procedure to fix the tail light

The first step is to determine how the lens comes off of the car. On some vehicles, the lens is removed by screws located on the outside of the lens cap. Other bulbs come off by accessing the a plastic cover through the trunk. The plastic cover may be held into place by tabs or screws. If you don't see any screws on the tail light lens cap, chances are the bulb is probably accessed through the trunk.

Remove the screws from the lens or remove the tabs from the inside of the trunk. Carefully detach the tail light cover from the automobile. Be careful not to break the tail light lens. Remove the tail light lens.

If you are replacing the tail light bulb, carefully unscrew the bulb from the socket. Take the bulb to your nearest parts dealer to find an exact match. Your tail lights may not work properly if an incorrect bulb is installed. Clean the aluminum frame around the tail light. Use a wire brush to clean if corrosion is evident.

Install the new tail light bulb in the socket. Reinstall the tail light lens, or replace if you are so inclined. Make sure that the lens is tightly secured, especially if the lens is held on by tabs.

Test and make sure that the tail lights are working. Apply the brakes and have another person observe whether or not they are working. Make sure to also turn on your night lights to make sure that function is working properly.

If you decide that the fuse is the root of the problem, look in your owner's manual to determine what the fuse is and locate that fuse in the fuse box, which is usually located under the dash.

Tail light repair is an easy repair that does not require much prior knowledge.

Related Questions and Answers

Are Factory Tail Lights More Expensive than Aftermarket Tail Lights?

When looking at the difference between factory tail lights and aftermarket tail lights, there are some distinctions that can be made. For one thing, buying replacement parts directly from the dealer can be expensive. However, there are OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts available online, and from auto parts stores. Of all the options, those are generally the least expensive. When purchased from the dealer, those same parts will usually cost more. Even in this instance, though, they will likely be cheaper than upgraded or custom products. Euro tail lights will likely cost more, and LED tail lights will be the most expensive.

For more info, see How to do Your Own Tail Light Repair

Are there any Laws Regarding Headlight and Tail Light Covers?

When changing original equipment with custom headlight and tail light covers, it is important to understand the legal rules. Like most vehicular laws, laws regarding headlights and tail lights vary from state to state. In some instances, local or county municipalities will have their own laws regarding equipment on vehicles. The safest route is to go with factory equipment. When looking to upgrade or customize, though, consulting the local police department or DMV can be invaluable. They should be able to relate the "dos and don'ts" for the specific area. It's better to check first than get stuck with a ticket and replacement costs.

For more info, see How to do Your Own Tail Light Repair

Where can I Buy Custom Made Tail Lights?

In some ways custom made tail lights are some of the most readily available items on the market. For starters, custom tail lights can generally be purchased wherever aftermarket car parts are sold. That includes big box auto parts stores, online sellers and more. Auction sites like eBay are another option. Many cities also have businesses that specialize in doing customization work on cars. Those type of establishments would likely be a more expensive option, but can provide the labor and expertise to do the job right. Finding custom made tail lights is a task with many choices.

For more info, see How to do Your Own Tail Light Repair

Do LED Tail Lights for Cars Last Longer than Bulbs?

Those considering purchasing LED tail lights for cars will find that they are the most expensive option. They have a lot of advantages, though. For one thing, LED tail lights usually meet or exceed Department of Transportation standards and local and state rules. Each case can be different, so a consultation with the DMV before purchase is recommended. LED lights tend to burn brighter and use less electricity than other types of tail lights. The lifespan of LED tail lights (normal conditions) is considerably longer than other types of bulbs. When the extended life of the lights are calculated, they can be a better value.

For more info, see How to do Your Own Tail Light Repair

Are White Tail Lights Only for Reverse?

White tail lights are usually only used for reverse indicator lamps. In fact, the Department of Transportation, along with international conventions, have established that. Even so, as with most vehicular laws, there can be state and local variants and rules. When in doubt, the best option is to check with the DMV or local police department before making changes to the lighting system of a vehicle. Things that are banned in one area might be legal in another. Of course, when a change is in the area of local legality, it can cause problems with resale later.

For more info, see How to do Your Own Tail Light Repair