How to Replace the Tail Lights in Your Nissan

Replacing the tail lights in your Nissan is a simple and straightforward DIY project. Anyone can do this at home with minimal fuss and save money.
Written by Matt Terzi
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
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Replacing the tail lights in your Nissan should cost around $35 to $70 per light. The whole process will usually take about 15 minutes, even if this is your first-ever DIY car project.
The importance of having functional tail lights in your car is a no-brainer. They may not improve your visibility, but they do let other drivers know you’re there. That means a blown tail light puts you and other drivers at serious risk.
Not all DIY car projects are for the faint of heart, but there’s real daylight between replacing your Nissan’s tail lights and, say, replacing a blown head gasket. This is a super easy money-saving DIY project anyone can do, and you might come away from it wondering what your next DIY car project should be (spoiler alert, it’s an oil change!).
The
car insurance
experts at
Jerry
put together this quick and simple guide to show you how to replace the tail lights in your Nissan, whether it’s a Nissan Altima, a Frontier pickup, or something else entirely. So without further ado, let’s fix some tail lights—and lower your
Nissan insurance costs
!
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How to replace a tail light in a Nissan

Cost: $35 to $75
Time: 5 to 15 minutes (but don’t rush!)
Tools needed: Replacement parts, flathead screwdriver, needlenose pliers, 8mm socket wrench (most cars will use 8mm to 10mm sockets, so it’s a good idea to have all three handy) 
Difficulty: Easy
Before we start removing your Nissan’s tail lights, let’s first take a moment to identify the problem
If both tail lights are out, chances are you’ll need to replace a fuse. If just one tail light is out—that will usually be the case—you can usually just replace the bulb. If the actual assembly is damaged, you’ll of course need to replace that whole assembly. But don’t worry, it’s easy either way!
First things first, consult your car’s manual or
contact Nissan
to find the exact parts you’ll need, whether it’s a fuse, a bulb, or a tail light assembly. You can find parts at just about any car parts shop in the United States or Canada, or order them online. Once you have your parts, we can start!
The process will be different for sedans and pickups, but your Nissan should match one of these two processes. Either way, you’ll want to start by disconnecting the car’s battery, starting with the negative lead first (ALWAYS disconnect the negative side of a car battery first!).

Replacing a Nissan Altima tail light 

Here are the steps to replace a Nissan Altima tail light. This also works for most Nissan sedans and crossovers: 
  • Open the car’s trunk and find the snap rivets holding the carpet liner in place. They’re usually found near the tail lights themselves. Pop them out with a flathead screwdriver, then pull the lining away from the trunk’s walls enough to access the tail lights
  • Carefully pull off the wiring harness clips from the tail light assembly using needlenose pliers
  • Use your socket wrench to remove the nuts holding the tail light in place
  • Pull the tail light assembly out
  • Replace the bulb or the assembly as necessary
  • Follow these steps backward to get everything back together again

For Nissan pickup trucks and some SUVs

The steps are slightly different for Nissan pickups and some SUVs: 
  • Open the tailgate or liftgate
  • If there’s a bed liner or carpet, locate the retainer rivets or screws near the tail lights and remove them. Pull the liner or carpet back enough to access the tail lights
  • Locate the two screws that connect the tail light assembly with the body. Some Nissan Frontier models will have brass hinge screws you’ll need to remove first
  • Note where the plastic guide pins and sockets are located, then remove the tail light assembly. The sockets can be turned one-quarter counterclockwise to unlock them
  • Replace the bulb or the assembly as necessary
  • Follow these steps backward to put everything back together again
Once you’re all set, you can reconnect your car battery, start up the car, and test everything out. See? It was super easy! And a lot of DIY car repairs are just as simple as that, too.
Pro Tip If you replace the fuse, the bulb, or the tail light assembly and you’re still having trouble, you might have a more serious electrical problem. If that’s the case, take your car to a certified mechanic and have them investigate the issue.

Common reasons for Nissan tail light malfunctions

So what caused your tail light to go out? Unless you’re replacing the tail light for something as obvious as physical damage, you might want to take this opportunity to make sure there isn’t a bigger problem.
Here are some of the more common reasons a tail light fails:
  • Light bulbs simply burn out, especially older-style halogen bulbs (though modern LED lights can burn out over time as well). Halogen bulbs can last up to 1,000 hours. HID (high-intensity discharge) lights can last up to 10,000 hours. And modern LEDs can last 40,000 hours or even longer (that’s 4.5 years of continuous use)
  • Faulty wiring or fuses are known to cause tail light issues
  • Socket corrosion resulting from moisture can be a real problem as well. Whenever you’re working on tail lights or headlights, it’s a good idea to check for discoloration or dampness, and consider replacing the whole assembly if you find it
  • A faulty control switch might be to blame if the bulb, assembly, and fuse all seem fine. 

Does car insurance cover broken tail lights? 

In some instances, car insurance will cover your Nissan’s broken tail light. But truth be told, you really don’t want to, for a number of reasons.
Collision coverage
would pay for damages resulting from an accident with another vehicle, or something stationary like a fence post or a tree. Meanwhile,
comprehensive coverage
would pay for damages resulting from, say, storm damage or vandalism.
The problem is, tail lights are super cheap to replace, and usually way cheaper than your deductible. Let’s say replacing your Nissan Altima tail light is $70. You go to a mechanic, who charges $100 max for labor. Your $500 deductible is already paying for the repair and then some. You’d also be filing a claim, which can balloon your insurance rates too.
If insurance is already paying for other damages as well, or if someone else is at fault and their insurance is paying for repairs, that’s one thing. Otherwise, it’s best to pay for this out of pocket and save some money doing it yourself at home.

How to find affordable Nissan insurance

Learning how to replace a tail light in your
Nissan
is a great way to save money, dodging the pricey labor costs mechanics charge. But at the end of the day, saving money on
car insurance
is going to have a much bigger and longer-lasting impact on your wallet.
Nissan drivers are paying $1,896 per year on average for car insurance, and that’s a lot of dough. So saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year should definitely be appealing. And that’s where
Jerry
steps in!
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FAQs

As a general rule, you’ll end up paying between $35 and $70 to replace a tail light in a Nissan. Prices will vary based on the exact year, trim, and model. It’s worth noting that it’s cheaper to replace the tail light on your own than to pay a mechanic to do it, and this is considered one of the easiest car repairs to do!
Absolutely! Most people will have the tools needed at home already or will know someone they can borrow tools from. Replacing a tail light in a Nissan usually takes around ten to fifteen minutes for a beginner or just five minutes or so for someone whose done it before.
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