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Home | DIY | How to Replace Brake Light

How to Replace Brake Light

March 1, 2024 | Victor Lukasso
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If your brake light has stopped working, replacing it as soon as possible is essential to ensure you can signal to other drivers when you’re slowing down or stopping.

Before you decide to take your car to a mechanic for a brake light replacement, we’ll like to inform you that the process is simple and can be achieved within some minutes in the comfort of your home.

All you need to do is purchase the correct brake light bulb for your car, locate and remove the tail light housing with a screwdriver to remove the burnt bulb, and install a new one.

If you noticed, we used the terms tail light and brake light interchangeably because they mostly share the same bulb on most cars. A tail light comes on when the headlights are turned on. Meanwhile, the brake light comes on when the brakes are engaged.

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Also, some cars have different bulbs for the two, which might confuse newbies as to which bulb is the brake light bulb.

Changing a brake light is a relatively simple DIY task that can save you time and money. I’ll show you how to replace a brake light in this article.

How to Change Brake Light

  1. Determine which bulb you need to replace.
  2. Purchase the correct replacement brake light bulb for your car.
  3. Confirm If you can access the bulb from the trunk or hatchback.
  4. Unscrew the tail light housing or lens with a screwdriver.
  5. Remove the damaged bulb.
  6. Install a new bulb.
  7. Test the new bulb.
  8. Close the brake light housing.
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The steps explained above are the general method of replacing a brake light. However, you can refer to your manufacturer’s guide if you have difficulty locating or unscrewing your brake light housing.

Now, for the practical aspect, You will need to prepare these requirements to ensure the replacement procedure goes smoothly. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

  • Correct replacement bulbs
  • Gloves
  • A Screwdriver
  • Bulb grease (Optional)
  • Determine which bulb you need to replace.

The first step is determining which bulb needs replacement by visually inspecting the brake light casing. You can have someone use the brakes while you check which light is not working from the car’s rear. Alternatively, you can turn on your hazard lights and walk around the car to see which bulb is not lighting up.

This step is necessary because some cars place the tail light and the brake light in the same casing, thus confusing bulb replacements.

1. Purchase the correct replacement brake light bulb for your car

Now that you’ve found the faulty bulb check your car’s manual or do a quick online search to find the exact bulb type and size for your car’s make and model.

You can now purchase the replacement bulbs at any auto store close to you or online.

2. Confirm If you can access the bulb from the trunk or hatchback

The brake light in some cars can be accessed directly from the trunk, while others need you to lose the brake light housing with a screwdriver to access the bulbs.

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While at this, you might want to consider removing your car battery and turning off the vehicle to prevent shock, although it’s a choice.

3. Unscrew the tail light housing or lens with a screwdriver.

If you can’t carefully pull out the tail light from the trunk, then a screwdriver should aid you in unscrewing the tail light assembly. You may need to remove some coverings to get to the hidden screws.

4. Remove damaged bulb(s)

To remove a burnt or damaged bulb, rotate the bulb in an anti-clockwise direction. You may need to put on Gloves if the bulb is still hot to prevent burns.

5. Install a new bulb.

Now it’s time to install the new bulb. Hold the bulb by its base and gently push it into the socket. Then, twist it clockwise until it clicks into place. Be careful not to touch the glass part of the bulb with your fingers, as the oil from your skin can cause the bulb to burn out more quickly.

6. Test the new bulb

Once the new bulb is installed, reconnect your battery, turn on your car, and test the new brake light by having someone press the brake pedal while you check to ensure the new bulb is lighting up.

7. Close the brake light housing.

Finally, you can now close and tighten the taillight casing. Ensure to dispose of the burnt bulbs to prevent injuries properly.

I hope you’ve been able to replace a brake light with the above DIY illustration.

If you’re having trouble replacing the brake light yourself, you can always take your car to a mechanic or auto parts store to have the bulb replaced for a fee.

In addition, some modern cars may come with complex systems that’ll make the changing process more challenging. In this case, I’ll also recommend you call a mechanic.

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FAQs

Can you change a brake light yourself?

Yes, you can change a brake light bulb yourself from the comfort of your home without the assistance of a mechanic. All you need to do is purchase the correct brake light bulb for your car, locate and remove the tail light housing with a screwdriver to remove the burnt bulb, and install a new one.

How much does it cost to change a brake light?

Depending on the model and make of your car, the cost of changing a brake light ranges between $70 to $200

Is it hard to replace a rear brake light?

Changing a rear brake light isn’t hard and should take approximately 30 minutes if you know your way around it. Replacing a rear brake light for newbies should take between 40 minutes to 1 hour with the correct guide.

Can you drive with one brake light out?

State laws require that you have both brake lights in working condition. However, you might not quickly notice when it goes bad because of its placement, so I’d advise you to inspect your brake light regularly.

How do I check brake lights by myself?

You can check your brake lights yourself by engaging the brake while backing a wall. Alternatively, you can turn on your hazard lights and walk out to inspect your brake lights.

Is the tail light and brake light the same bulb?

Most vehicles have the tail light and brake light on the same bulb. Both lights are red, but the brake light tends to shine brighter than the taillight.

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Meet Victor Lukasso, the owner of V. Auto Basics. Through this blog, Victor Provides Insights on the latest tips, maintenance, repair, and techniques in the automotive world.

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