Order and replace a broken taillight
1 of 2
Photo 1: Remove the nuts
Locate the nuts and remove them from the threaded
studs using a deep socket and ratchet.
2 of 2
Photo 2: Replace the assembly
Snap new lightbulbs into the sockets and install
the new taillight.
Your teenage driver used the
car and returned it washed
and with a full tank of gas.
Isn’t it great that he’s
become a responsible adult? Oh, wait, you
notice that the taillight is broken, and he
has “no idea how that happened.” Time to
head off to the body shop? Nope—this is
a job you can do with ordinary hand tools
and the Internet.
Finding a replacement taillight assembly
is easy. Simply enter “taillight” into your
favorite search engine. You’ll be amazed at
the number of hits you get. Most of the companies
sell low-priced offshore “knockoffs”
of the original equipment (OEM) parts. If
you’re OK with an “aftermarket” version,
make sure the seller lists it as CAPA certified.
A CAPA-certified part is guaranteed to fit
and perform like the original. But don’t end
your search there. Many car dealers have
set up consumer-friendly Web sites that
sell OEM parts at discounted prices. (See “Dealer Internet Sites” below.)
Check out these dealer sites before you
buy an aftermarket version. We actually
bought a genuine Honda taillight for less
than the aftermarket version cost.
Car manufacturers use two different
techniques to attach taillights to the body.
One method uses threaded studs embedded
in the taillight. The studs are inserted
into holes in the sheet metal and fastened
with nuts (Photo 1, top). For the second method see “The captive stud/socket method” below.
Once you have the taillight assembly
disconnected, remove the lightbulb sockets
by releasing the catch mechanism and
twisting. If you haven’t replaced the bulbs
in the past two years, now is a good time
to do that, since you already have everything
apart. Then install the sockets in the
new taillight and reassemble.
The captive stud/socket method
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Photo 1: Remove the assembly screws
Remove the screws from the trunk or lift-gate side
of the taillight. These were hidden under covers.
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Photo 2: Pry out the assembly
Pry the plastic stud out of the socket while pulling
back on the taillight assembly.
method uses screws to secure one end of
the light, and captive stud/socket fasteners
on the other end (Photo 1). If
your vehicle has the captive stud/socket
arrangement, use a wooden or plastic tool
to pry the stud out of the socket. Metal
screwdrivers will scratch the paint.