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Tail Lamp Bulb Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your tail lamp bulb replacement? Use Jerry’s GarageGuard to get fair cost estimate for your tail lamp bulb replacement.
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John Davis
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Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
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Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does it cost to replace a tail lamp bulb?

You can expect to pay an average cost of $20-$100 in total for a tail lamp bulb replacement. This cost including parts and mechanic labor costs. The exact price will vary based on your vehicle’s make and model.
How long does it take to replace a tail lamp bulb? In general, it takes 1-1.5 hours for a certified mechanic to replace a tail light bulb. Your mechanic will inspect your lights to determine if a replacement is needed, then follow through with the replacement procedure. 
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How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What parts do I need for my tail lamp bulb replacement and how much do those parts cost?

For a tail lamp bulb replacement, you can review your owner’s manual or consult with a mechanic for information on parts and tools. In general, here’s what you’ll need to replace a tail lamp bulb:
  • Tail lamp bulb: Based on your manufacturer’s recommendations, you’ll need the correct replacement bulb for your vehicle’s tail lamp. Tail lamp bulbs typically cost $20 to $100.
  • Socket set or screwdriver set: You may need a socket set or screwdriver set to access the tail lamp assembly. Screwdrivers typically cost $15 to $100 while socket sets can cost $25 to $125.
  • Dielectric grease: To protect your bulb and socket from corrosion, you can apply dielectric grease to the bulb socket. Dielectric grease costs $7 to $30.
  • Protective gloves: You should avoid handling your new tail lamp bulb with your bare hands. To avoid depositing oils from your skin onto the bulb glass, you’ll need protective gloves. Mechanic gloves cost $30 on average.
You can buy tail lamp bulb parts for your car from auto parts stores like AutoZone, NAPA Auto Parts, and Advance Auto Parts, as well as online retailers such as Amazon and RockAuto. However, like price, recommended brands may also vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model.
Pro tip: When replacing your tail lamp bulb or brake lights, you should also request an inspection for your other back lights, including your
reverse light
and
turn signals
.
Depending on your vehicle and bulb type, you may need OEM bulbs, but aftermarket bulbs are commonly used for car light bulb replacements. OEM bulbs may be more reliable, but aftermarket bulbs are fairly affordable, accessible, and can last very long if they are LED tail lights.
Whether you opt for OEM or aftermarket parts, LED bulbs are your best option. LED lights are durable and typically shine brighter than OEM halogen or incandescent bulbs. Additionally, LED bulbs are easy to install.
You can buy replacement tail lamp bulbs directly from your vehicle’s dealership, or from auto parts shops like AutoZone or O’Reilly Auto Parts. You can also purchase new bulbs online from Amazon, eBay, or other car part retailers. 
Pro tip: Check your owner’s manual or consult a mechanic for bulb specifications to ensure you buy the correct light for your vehicle.

Where can I get my tail lamp bulb replaced?

To ensure your tail lamp bulb operates properly and lasts long, you’ll need a trusted mechanic on the job. Luckily, Jerry's
GarageGuard™
can help you compare costs from over 2,500 vetted automotive repair shops in the US to find the right mechanic for your replacement. 
Jerry's GarageGuard™ compares fair price estimates* from each shop using their real hourly labor rate. With GarageGuard™, you can budget for the cost of diagnostic fees (and find out if they’re included in the auto repair or replacement cost), and you’ll have access to real reviews to help you choose the best service.
Check out some of our vetted shops below and download the app to compare car repair quotes in your area.
164 Reviews
D1 Auto Repair
address
1840 North, Miami, FL
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$50
171 Reviews
Regal Auto Care Tire Pros
address
1901 Auburn Way N,, Auburn, WA
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$180.33
105 Reviews
Velasquez Auto Care - Palatine
address
1450 N Rand Rd, Palatine, IL
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$120
190 Reviews
Fairburn Emission and Automotive
address
418 SE Broad St, Fairburn, GA
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$115
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How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How will a mechanic replace my tail lamp bulb?

Vehicle light bulbs require careful installation, so it's generally recommended that you take your car to a professional mechanic if you need a tail lamp bulb replacement. If your car has a faulty tail lamp bulb, your mechanic will follow these steps to replace it:
  1. ​​Preparation: With your vehicle off and parked with the parking brake engaged, your mechanic will disconnect your car battery as a safety precaution.
  2. Access the tail lamp housing: Your tail lamp housing will be accessible through your trunk or the exterior of your car. Your mechanic may need to remove a trim panel to access the tail lamp assembly.
  3. Remove the old bulb: After removing the tail light cover, the old tail lamp bulb can be removed by gently twisting it counterclockwise.
  4. Inspect the socket: Your mechanic will inspect the tail lamp bulb socket for corrosion, damage, or faulty connections. If necessary, they will clean or repair the socket.
  5. Install the new bulb: To secure the tail lamp, your mechanic will gently twist the new tail lamp bulb clockwise in the socket. 
  6. Test the bulb: Your mechanic will activate the new tail lamps and get an assistant to stand behind the vehicle to monitor the tail lamp's functionality, including how the lights operate when the brake pedal is engaged.
  7. Reassemble the housing: If any vehicle parts were removed to access the tail light assembly, your mechanic will reinstall them at this point.
  8. Final inspection: Once everything is reassembled, your mechanic will do one last light test and inspection to ensure you’re good to leave the shop.

What happens if I don’t replace my tail lamp bulb?

If you notice your tail lamp bulb is not illuminating, get an inspection immediately. A faulty tail lamp bulb can lead to the following issues:
  • Lower rear visibility 
  • Car accidents
  • Traffic violations or citations
  • Difficulty parking
  • Lower resale value

What is a tail lamp bulb?

Your tail lights are located above the bumper on the back of your car, and they should come on (and stay on) whenever your headlights are turned on, illuminating the back of your car to those behind you. If either of your tail lights is not working, it becomes more difficult for any cars behind you to see you, putting you and others at risk.

When should I replace the tail lamp bulb on my car?

Here are a few indicators that it’s time to replace your tail lamp bulb:
  1. No lighting: If your tail lamp does not turn on when your headlights are activated, they are likely faulty or burned.
  2. Dim lighting: Flickering or dim tail lamps indicate your lights are nearing the end of their life. Replace them before they completely burn out to avoid accidents and traffic citations.
  3. Damaged bulb: Routinely inspect your tail light to ensure it isn’t cracked, discolored, or disconnected. If the bulb’s glass is damaged, you’ll need to replace it.
  4. Traffic Violation: If you are pulled over by a police officer and your tail lamp is not working, you could receive a traffic violation ticket. If you are notified that your tail lights are out, head to the mechanic for a replacement as soon as possible.

How often should a tail lamp bulb be replaced?

Tail lamp bulbs last five to six years on average. If you use LED tail lights, they can last up to 12 years or more. 
Pro tip: Get a friend to help you inspect your tail lights routinely. In many cases, drivers do not notice that their tail lights are not operating since these lights are located behind the car and out of the driver's field of vision.

Can I replace my tail lamp bulb myself?

You can replace your tail light bulb yourself, but if you aren’t well-versed in DIY car repairs, you may want to leave the job to a certified mechanic. Your car’s light bulbs are very fragile and any mishandling or incorrect installations could lead to a much shorter light lifespan—meaning more frequent replacements. 
To avoid extra repair costs, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop if you have a broken tail light.

FAQs

On average, it costs -- in total for a tail lamp bulb replacement. With this cost, you’re looking at -- for parts and -- for labor.
Yes, you can replace your tail lamp bulb yourself, but it’s best to take your vehicle to a mechanic for a replacement. Your tail lamp bulbs are extremely fragile and require precise installations to ensure they last long. 
If you’re interested in changing your tail light bulb yourself, you can follow these steps:
  • Turn off the vehicle and disconnect your battery.
  • Inspect the bulb itself, along with sockets, wires, and fuses.
  • If the bulb is blown, remove and replace it. 
  • If needed, repair or replace any damaged sockets, wires, and fuses.
  • Check the operation of all lights, including headlights.
On average, a brake light bulb costs $7 to $14 for parts alone. Depending on your vehicle, the price for a new brake light could be much higher.
You can get your tail light bulb replaced at your vehicle’s dealership or at an automotive repair shop. Tail lamp bulb replacements are fairly straightforward, so it won’t take long for a certified mechanic to get the job done.
Tail lights and brake lights are both located in your tail light assembly, but they are not the same bulb. Your tail light bulbs illuminate when you turn your headlight bulbs on, and they are meant to safely notify other drivers that you are present on the road in low-light conditions. On the other hand, your brake lights are activated when you apply pressure to your brake pedal, thus informing other drivers that you are braking.

Meet Our Experts

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John Davis
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Car Expert
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Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
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Jessica Barrett
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Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
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Kathleen Flear
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Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.