How to Replace a Turn Signal Bulb

Easy to follow step by step guide on how to replace an automotive turn signal (blinker) bulb, though appearances may vary, the process is similar on most vehicles.

Difficulty Level - 3 of 10

Tools and Supplies Needed

  • Mechanics tool set
  • Replacement blinker bulb

Begin with the vehicle on level ground in park with the emergency brake set, engine "OFF", wear protective eyewear and gloves.

Step 1 - Identify the turn signal light (blinker) that has failed, insect both front and rear bulb operation.

Turn Signal

Step 2 - Gain access to the rear of the lens by opening an access door or removing a few screws to remove the panel.

Open Access Door

Step 3 - Release the wiring connector from the bulb housing. (Note: Some vehicles are designed with bulb socket attached, in this case turn the socket counterclockwise to remove.)

Remove Wiring Connector

Step 4 - Grasp and turn the release fastener and pull the bulb housing plate from the lens.

Twist to Release

Step 5 - Once loose, gently remove the bulb mounting plate which will expose the various bulbs including the turn signal.

Removing Bulb Plate

Step 6 - Identify the failed blinker bulb, this failure is sometimes accompanied by a darkish color inside the bulb glass.

Failed Blinker Bulb

Step 7 - While holding the plate down, gently grasp the failed bulb and twist counterclockwise while pushing down slightly, then pull up to remove.

Twist to Remove

Step 8 - Once the bulb has been removed, inspect the bulb and socket for corrosion or damage.

Failed Turn Signal Bulb Removed

Step 9 - Occasional a bulb electrical contact can become overheated and burnt due a to high resistance of a poor connection, this will hinder the new bulb operation.

Burned Bulb Contact

Step 10 - Using a sharp tool such as an Exacto blade, clean the contact by scraping the terminal to expose new metal.

Cleaning Turn Signal Bulb Terminal

Step 11 - Match the new bulb to the old unit, they should match identically.

New Blinker Bulb

Step 12 - Its important that the bulb terminals are the same. (Some bulbs are designed with two terminals which can cause operational problems if installed.)

Single Bulb Terminal

Step 13 - Once the socket has been cleaned thoroughly, gently install the new bulb by inserting it and twisting clockwise. (Do not over tighten.)

Installing New Blinker Bulb

Step 14 - After inspecting all bulbs in the mounting plate the new bulb is ready to be reinserted into the lens.

New Turn Signal Bulb Installed

Step 15 - Reconnect the wiring harness connector to the blinker bulb mounting plate.

Reinstall Wiring Connector

Step 16 - Turn the ignition switch "ON" while engaging the blinker lever to operate the bulb to ensure the repair is done correctly.

Turn Signal Bulb

Step 17 - Carefully reinsert the bulb plate onto the lens.

Reinsert Bulb Plate

Step 18 - Work the plate into place while twisting the bulb plate fastener clockwise. (Do not over tighten.)

Tighten Bulb Plate Fastener

Step 19 - Once the repair is complete close the bulb plate access door.

Close Bulb Access Door

Helpful Information

When replacing automotive bulbs use quality replacements to avoid premature failure.

Some vehicles are not designed with an access door, in these cases the lens or plastic covers may need to be removed.

Bulb and socket configuration will vary per manufacturer.

Article first published