How to Test and Replace Tail Lights

Broken or cracked, faded or prone to intermittent outages, when a tail light isn't functioning properly, you are putting yourself and other drivers at risk. Not only is driving with damaged tail lights dangerous, in many states it is illegal and will result in a hefty fine. Fortunately, with a little bit of guidance, you'll be able to replace your tail lights with high quality parts, so that you can get back to driving safely at any time of the day or night. 

How to test your tail lights 

To test your tail lights, ask a licensed driver to turn the car on. Look to see if both tail lights are on when the car is in neutral and drive. Next, have the driver step on the brake to ensure that the brake lights turn on. As a final test, repeat the previous two steps with your headlights on and when you turn the blinkers on.

Replacing tail lights 

Changing out your tail lights is a relatively simple process. Below are the 10 steps to removing and replace your vehicle's tail lights. 

  1. Turn off the vehicle, place it in park, and disconnect the battery.
  2. Depending on the type of vehicle, open the trunk, hatch, or tailgate to gain access to the back side of the tail lights. Remove any trunk mats or items that are blocking access to the tail lights. In some vehicles you will have to remove the spare tire to access the rear side of the tail lights. 
  3. Some vehicles have a plastic trim panel that covers the rear side of the tail lights. Use the screwdriver or a trim removal tool to carefully remove this plastic piece. Make sure that you don't snap or damage any plastic connectors or tabs during the removal process. 
  4. For this step, you'll want to wear gloves. Find and remove the bulb holders. Typically these items are located at the back of the lamp assembly and can be removed by rotating them in a counterclockwise direction. At this point, you should also remove any defective light bulbs. Replace the new bulbs into the holder. 
  5. Remove the nuts that keep the tail lights in place. The nuts are exposed to all types of weather so you'll need to use the right socket to remove them. 
  6. Carefully slide the tail light assembly straight out. 
  7. Install the new tail light assembly. Carefully slide it back into place. Hand-tighten the nuts in place before using a ratchet to secure them in place. 
  8. Place the new bulb holders (with their new bulbs) back in place.
  9. Replace the plastic trim cover (if applicable), trunk mats, and any other items that you removed. 
  10. Reconnect the battery and complete all of the previously discussed tests to ensure that your new tail lights are working properly. 

By following the above steps, you can easily test and replace your vehicle's tail lights with high quality parts.

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