A brake light system is designed to warn other drivers of the intention of the car in front of them, which is going to be slowing down, or stopping. When the brake lights don't work or a brake light bulb is out it can diminish this warning system which can be hazardous, fortunately replacing a brake light bulb is easily done with everyday tools. A replacement bulb will cost around $3.00 for the part on Amazon or the local parts store. A shop or dealer can charge as much as $60.00 to do the job.
A brake light bulb is a high wattage bulb which can pull a fair amount of amperage causing the bulb to go out, or for the bulb to melt the plastic light socket in the tail light lens.
This guide should be sufficient to help you change the brake light bulb in your car, but each car's configuration is a little different so if you need help please ask one of our experts (free) to provide you with specific instructions for your particular car.
1. Locate the brake light bulb that is not working by having a helper press on the brake pedal while you watch. In the image below the driver's side bulb is out and needs to be replaced, which we will do in the following guide and video.
2. There are two types of brake light bulb arrangements, either you can gain access to the bulb from the rear of the lens, or you must remove the lens to service all bulbs included in the lens, such as the reverse, brake and running light bulbs. In the image below we will be removing the lens to do the job, to remove the lens mounting screws raise the lift gate, tailgate, hatch, or trunk lid.
3. Grasp the lens firmly and pop the clips loose on the opposite side of the screw mounts, these clips are usually mounted in plastic or rubber.
4. Once the lens is loose from the car you can access the bulb sockets, which will have an electrical connector attached. This connector may have a safety clip that will need to be removed or released as in the example below, then just unplug the connector from the bulb socket.
5. Grasp the light socket and twist counterclockwise to remove the brake light bulb assembly. Some vehicles will require you to remove the bulb mounting plate from the lens to access the bulbs.
6. The brake light bulb and socket are now loose from the lens and ready to be replaced.
7. There are two types of bulbs, one will need to push down and twist counterclockwise, the other is featured here in the image below. While holding the bulb socket firmly, use your opposite hand to pull up on the bulb to remove it. Match the new bulb to the old bulb to ensure a proper installation and reinstall, you will hear an audible click when the bulb is fully seated. When the bulb is removed, clean the socket with a shop towel and inspect the contacts. Use dielectric grease before the new bulb is installed to help prevent corrosion.
8. Reassemble the bulb socket back into place and reattach the wiring connector, then remount the tail light lens and reinstall the mounting screws and you are all set. Again, have a helper step on the brake light pedal to make sure the new bulb is working correctly.
Please watch this video of the job being done, then continue with the guide to glean additional helpful information.
Our certified technicians are ready to answer brake light bulb questions for free. We hope you saved money and learned from this guide. We are creating a full set of car repair guides. Please subscribe to our 2CarPros YouTube channel and check back often for new videos which are uploaded regularly. We are a team of ASE certified mechanics that have created this guide to help you save money while doing the job yourself, or at least see what you are paying for when having the job done at a shop.