How to Replace a Brake Light

You don’t have to take your car to the mechanic for a brake light replacement. This simple process is one that you can take care of yourself. Not only is a tail light replacement an easy maintenance task, but it’s also relatively affordable. For example, the cost of a brake light replacement bulb can range from $6 to $30.

From only paying for tools to bypassing labor costs, you can stand to save some cash by DIYing this task. Keep reading for tips on how to change a brake light and a look at the tools you need.

Replacing Your Brake Light

sylvania tail light being replaced on truck 3

Replacing your car’s brake light is a straightforward task you can manage yourself. However, before jumping in, be sure to look at your car’s owner’s manual. It helps by giving you a diagram of where everything is, making the brake light replacement process even easier. 

Tools You Will Need to Replace Your Brake Light

  • Vehicle-specific brake light replacement bulb
  • Screwdriver
  • Ratchet
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Bulb grease (if needed)

Steps to Replace Your Brake Light

1. Open Trunk

Safety first! Before opening the trunk, be sure to put on your safety goggles and gloves. Also, grab your car’s owner’s manual if you haven’t already. When handling any car parts, you want to ensure you’re not getting any substances on your hands or potentially damaging the bulb. It’s also a good practice to disconnect your car’s battery to prevent shock or electrocution, although it’s not mandatory. 

2. Pull out the Tail Light

If you need to pull out the actual light assembly, carefully unscrew any fasteners and bolts and slowly pull it out. Be careful of any wires attached to the bulbs. If you don’t need to remove the assembly, move on to the next step and pull out the bulb directly from the car. 

3. Pull out Bulb

Make sure you have gloves on when you remove the bulbs, as your skin’s salts and oils can decrease their effectiveness. Both substances can cause the heat in the bulb to concentrate and potentially burn out sooner or break. After putting on your gloves, turn the bulb socket toward the left, and it should easily come out. Then, pull the bulb out of the socket slowly.

4. Replace Bulb

You may want to use bulb grease to help you correctly install the brake light replacement bulb into the socket. Once you apply the bulb grease (if needed), slowly guide the new bulb into the socket. Then take the socket and carefully insert it into the same area it came from in the assembly or car. Slowly turn it to the right to secure it.

If you had to take out the assembly, grab those bolts and fasteners and reattach it to the car. Correctly line it up with its original spacing, so it fits and operates properly. 

5. Reconnect Battery

Lastly, make sure to reconnect your battery carefully. 

Important Brake Light Replacement Tips to Remember

hopkins led tail lights on bed of truck 2
  • Ensure the tail lights work – Before you put everything away, turn on your lights to ensure that the tail light you’ve replaced is working properly. If not, you may need to disconnect the battery and recheck the assembly or the car to confirm the bulb’s fit.

  • Select the right bulbs – All brake light replacement bulbs were not created equally. So, check the base of the old bulb for fitting details. Next, shop brake light replacement bulbs at AutoZone to find the correct bulb for your car. We offer a wide range of tail light bulbs, so start there to find the right one for your vehicle.  

  • Newer vehicles could take a bit longer – Tail light replacement on more recent cars may be a bit more complex, but not impossible! There could be more wires to disconnect, so make sure you have those tools handy.

  • Routinely check your tail lights – Once you finish with brake light replacement, plan to check your tail lights regularly. Because of their positioning, it’s hard to know if your tail lights are working properly. Therefore, set a date on your calendar every month to check to ensure your tail lights — and even headlights — are operational. Broken tail lights are not only a traffic violation, but they can contribute to a rear-end accident. So, make checking your tail lights a standard and routine inspection. 

You don’t have to pay the labor costs of taking your car to the mechanic for a brake light replacement. The team at AutoZone can help you find the right products to handle this task yourself affordably. To get started, check out our inventory to get your next set of tail lights.

FAQ/People Also Ask

Can you replace a brake light yourself?

Yes, tail light replacement maintenance is something you can do yourself. All you need is some time and the right tools to get started. 

Is it easy to replace a brake light bulb?

For the most part, yes, it is easy to replace a brake light bulb. Sometimes, newer vehicles can be a bit more complex due to wiring and the tail light assembly, but it’s still possible to do on your own. 

Will AutoZone replace brake lights?

While AutoZone doesn’t offer actual brake light replacement services, our team can assist you with any questions about the process, help you find the right products to get started, and maybe even give you a hand. 

How do you remove a brake light to replace it?

You’ll first need to open the trunk, remove any fabric from the trunk floor, and remove the assembly. From there, you can turn the light socket to the left to easily remove the bulb. 

How long does it take to change a brake light?

It can depend on how quickly you move through the process, but replacing a tail light can take around five to ten minutes. 

Will AutoZone replace headlights?

While AutoZone doesn’t provide mechanical or repair services, we can help customers with any questions they have about replacing headlights with products purchased from AutoZone. 

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

FREE Loan-A-Tool® program requires returnable deposit. Please note that the tool that you receive after placing an online order may be in a used but operable condition due to the nature of the Loan-A-Tool® program.

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