Driving around with a busted tail light makes you a road hazard. This is why you'll definitely get a citation if cops catch you. To avoid getting in trouble with the law, other drivers, and pedestrians, replace broken tail lights right away. Now you don't have to shell out a huge amount of money when doing this because you can actually do it within the comforts of your garage. Here, check out this simple step-by-step guide:
Tools you'll need:
- Socket and ratchet kit
- Plastic prying tool or wooden spatula
Step 1: Determine how the tail lights are attached since manufacturers usually employ 2 basic techniques.
Tail light assemblies are usually attached using captive studs and sockets or threaded studs that are embedded in the tail lights. Once you've figured out how the tail lights are attached, get your hands on the right tools since you'll either have to remove screws first (captive studs and sockets) or remove the nuts with a socket and ratchet (threaded studs).
Step 2: Remove the screws and nuts.
For captive studs and sockets, you need to remove the assembly screws with a screw driver. Keep in mind that these screws are usually hidden under covers. As for threaded studs, use a ratchet and socket to loosen the nuts. These nuts are usually just behind the tail lights.
Step 3: Pull off the old assembly.
Once the screws and nuts are removed, you either have to pull out or pry off the old assembly. To prevent scratching your car's paint, use a plastic prying tool. Or better yet, use a wooden spatula since this won't damage your car's paint job.
Step 4: Attach the new light bulbs (If available).
If the replacement kit you bought comes with bulbs, simply remove the old ones by twisting them until they're released from the catch mechanism. Carefully snap the new light bulbs in place. Make sure that the bulbs won't come in contact with your bare hands since the oil from your skin can ruin the quality of the glass.
Step 5: Attach the new tail light.
Attaching the new tail lights is basically a reverse of the removal process. Just place the new lights in position, double-check the wirings and see if everything is in order, and bolt or screw the replacement lights in place. Test and see if the bulbs will work.
Never use a screw driver to pry off a stubborn screw or bolt since you'll likely scratch or damage the paint. A plastic tool or wooden spatula is the perfect prying tool because it won't scratch the surface, saving you from a costly paint job.
As a precaution, it's best to buy extra tail light bulbs and covers. This way, you won't have to rush to the store to get replacement parts in case the tail lights get busted again. Keep in mind that a broken light should be fixed as soon as possible to avoid getting a ticket from the cops.