While I was picking up Frugal Boy from the baby sitter the other day I noticed that the turn signal indicator was blinking faster than normal. That is a good indication that one of the bulbs is burnt out and needs to be replaced. Sure enough, when I got home I verified that the rear turn signal bulb was no longer working.
A trip to the parts store and $6 later and I had a pair of replacement bulbs. You should always replace bulbs in pairs.
While every car is a bit different the steps are probably very similar. The only tool that I needed was an adjustable wrench.
To make the replacement I first had to pop the trunk so I could get access from the inside.
There are two black caps that have to be removed. They hold the fabric in place. In the above picture I have already unscrewed the upper cap and the lower cap remains.
Once the caps are off you can pull the fabric away from the chassis of the car. There was two nuts that I had to unscrew. I was able to do one by hand and the other was just a bit too tight so I needed the wrench.
With both bolts undone, the entire tail light assembly should slide out from the exterior of the car like so.
Somebody had put a little adhesive (maybe the factory?) so I had to put a little muscle into it.
With the tail light assembly dangling by its electrical connections, find and unscrew the bulb mount that you want to replace. Our car had labels underneath the dirt and grime.
As you are installing the new bulb, take care not to touch the glass with your hands. Oily residue from your skin will cause the glass to retain more heat and that will lead to premature failure of the bulb. Installation is the reverse of taking it all apart. I like to check that everything works before I fully assemble it all. You can save the good bulb for later.
Finally, it is a good idea to keep a record of all your car repairs. Not only is it easy to do with a simple spreadsheet, it also will make resale a bit easier when you can show a history of maintenance to potential buyers.
I started logging our repairs last August. I know we are due for an oil change soon and also brake pads/rotors. I’m just waiting for the weather to warm up!