Installing tail lights is a simple process taking very minimal amounts of time. You want to begin by inspecting your new tail lights for any defects, cracks and the bulbs. Note that some light will come with new bulbs whereas others will require the use of your factory bulbs. You should identify this before even beginning the install. Also be sure the new lights are complete with a rubber gasket. You will NOT be able to reuse the original ones.
Take the lights and set them in your trunk. If you are using the factory bulbs and harness, remove them from the back of the factory tail light. The factory tail light should still be bolted to the vehicle. Plug the bulbs into the new tail lights to test for fitment. If you are using supplied bulbs and harnesses, unplug the factory light at the connection point and plug it into the new lights harness to ensure fitment. Repeat this process for each light, left and right. Once complete, leave them unplugged. If the plugs fit, you will be ready to remove the factory lights.
On the inside of the trunk, behind the light, there is usually a plastic or carpet trim panel which covers the backside of the tail lights and trunk area. Remove the paneling which covers the metal on the backside of the tail lights in which the lights are mounted to. This will expose the bolts and nuts which hold the lights on. The light usually has a stud attached to it, which passes through a hole on the vehicle and is bolted on the other side to fasten it. The bolt is usually small, 10mm or so, and around 4-8 in count. Remove all the bolts which are holding the light on. Be sure to do it one side at a time. Once the bolts are removed, begin to easily wiggle the light out of its holes. Take care to move it left to right up to down. This will break the seal on the factory gasket to allow you to pull it away easily. Make sure you keep the factory bolts/nuts; they are not usually supplied with light kits. After the light is removed, check the light housing on the vehicle to be sure the gasket was completely removed. If there is any gasket remaining, scrape it away with a knife or razor blade. Now you can install your new lights.
First install the gasket! This is the most important part of the entire installation. Once complete, take your new light and slowly push the studs through the holes, making sure the light is properly aligned. Slide it into place until it sits securely in place. Now take your bolts/nuts from your factory lights and hand tighten them onto the new lights. Now gently press on the outside of the light to press it into the hole in which it sits. This will seal the gasket and prevent from over tightening. While pressing on the light tighten the bolts/nuts which hold the light tight. General rule is once they are snug; one full turn should be enough. The lights do not need to be bolted down too tight, as it could damage the lamp. Once done, install the bulbs or plug, whichever was supplied. Repeat the same for the opposite side of the vehicle. Reinstall your panel/carpet cover and begin testing them.
It is recommended to have a person to assist you when testing light functions. With the vehicle key in the on position, test all of the tail light functions. Test your blinkers, right and left, hazards, tail lights with headlights and parking lights, brake lights with headlights on and off and your reverse lights. That’s it, your ready to roll.
Written By: Chris Glardon