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Replacing Your Car's Taillight Assembly: A How-to Guide

Technical  ·  May 27, 2020

Replacing Your Car's Taillight Assembly: A How-to Guide

Taillights are essential safety parts of your vehicle. There's no way a driver behind you will know you're braking unless you have functioning taillights. They are traffic requisites, especially when driving at night. With darkness and minimal visibility, the taillight will let the driver behind you know that you are there. 

So, when your taillights get damaged, are burnt out or become faded, you need to replace them ASAP! However, getting a professional to do it will cost you more. Why not do it yourself? Here's how.

Purchase the bulb

Buy high-quality bulbs. You can find these from your local car shops or via part-finder platforms, like CarPart through our free request-a-part function. When you purchase from our network of certified sellers, you are assured of authentic taillights, not cheap knock-offs.

Get a location

Where do you park your car? That is where you should replace it. Inside your home garage would be the best place, but if you have no garage, you can do it outdoor. It won't take you that much time anyways.

Before you start

The procedure on replacing your car's taillight assembly varies from car to car. So, you may want to have a look at your car user manual first. There may be great tips there. You can quickly look up some tutorials and instructions on the internet if you don't have one.

Prepare the tools you need

Generally, you’ll need a screwdriver, safety glasses and latex gloves to prevent damage to the replacement bulb.

Make sure you have your latex gloves and safety glasses on before you start the replacement process. Also, ensure that you have disconnected the battery cables and that the car has been switched off.

Clean out your trunk

You will need unrestricted access to your trunk. All you need to do is to remove any car mats or carpet in the back because you don't want them in the way. Also, if the spare tyre is at the back, then out with it too. This also applies to the storage tray and any other baggage in your trunk.

Remove the rear bumper if necessary

If the rear bumper obstructs you from properly removing the assembly, then I suggest you remove it before you begin.

Unscrew and pull out the taillight lens housing

The taillight is inside the lens housing. You only need your screwdriver to do the unscrewing. Some cars like Volkswagen, Mercedes, and BMWs require special screwdrivers, so have that in mind. Once you've removed the screws, place them in a safe place so that they don't get lost. Then pull out the entire tailgate assembly. Usually, there's wiring, so be careful not to pull the assembly too far. Don't worry, the space you have is enough to do the replacing. However, there are some lucky car owners whose assemblies have a removable outer cover, which is even better!!

Turn the plug

The plug holds the bulbs in the taillight assembly in place. You can find the plug if you follow the wires to the back of the taillight you're replacing. If you slightly turn the plug, it will unseat the bulb. This is usually a quarter-turn counterclockwise.

Pull the old bulb out

Once the plug no longer holds the bulb, all that's left is to pull it out.

Clean the plug

This is to ensure that there is no remaining dirt and dust. You can use a wet cloth to do so.

Check the Lens

If the old lens was damaged, let's say, you hit a pole, you should replace it with a new one.

Put the bulb back in place

Apply slight pressure to the centre of the bulb, and plug clockwise until it is locked in place. If you apply too much pressure, you might end up breaking the bulb; so it helps to be extra careful. You may also use your gloves when doing this because skin oils shorten bulb life.

Put the taillight assembly back in place.

Make sure that the assembly perfectly slides back into its original position. Use the screws to tighten them in place. Be careful not to use to much force when tightening as you might damage the assembly because most manufacturers use plastic.

Start the car

This is to confirm whether you succeeded in replacing the car's light assembly or not. If you didn't, it might be wise to contact a mechanic. Or if you are intent on doing it yourself, then why not! Failing is just a part of learning.


But remember, the key to replacing car parts like taillights by yourself is to do it slowly and keenly. If you replace the taillight assembly haphazardly, you might cause further damage to the assembly and the car itself and eventually make the dreaded call to the mechanics. For more essential tips on how to take care of your vehicle, follow us at We also invite you to use our Request a Part tool at absolutely NO COST to you. It is the latest tool for locating the auto part that you need at the most competitive price. Contact us now

By Eric Anyega

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