How to Replace Volkswagen Tail Lights

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David Ghanizadeh-Khoob
Updated on Apr 11, 2022 · 4 min read
Replacing your
’s broken tail light will cost between $5 and $175 depending on the extent of the repair and whether you need a mechanic’s help. Replacing a bulb yourself typically costs under $20. 
A blown-out tail light is one of the most common maintenance issues Volkswagen owners will face. Thankfully, this is a cheap and straightforward repair that most people can do themselves with only a few tools.
Here to help guide you through the process of diagnosing a tail light issue and replacing the bulb is
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How to replace a Volkswagen tail light

Cost: $5 to $100
Time: 10 to 30 minutes
Tools needed: Safety glasses, gloves, Phillips head screwdriver, replacement parts 
Difficulty: Easy
Before you head to the store to buy a new bulb, take a moment to consider all possible causes of your broken tail light. 
If your whole tail light assembly is broken, the reason the light is out is probably pretty obvious (let’s say you accidentally backed into a pole in the parking lot).
If just one bulb is out, it likely just reached the end of its lifespan and needs replacing. If you do change the bulb and the light is still out, you might be looking at a socket issue
If both tail lights are out, you could have a damaged fuse or wiring issue
If you are unsure of the issue, don’t hesitate to take your car to a mechanic to have them perform a diagnostic check.  
Okay, so you’ve decided that you need to replace the bulb. Luckily, it’s an easy fix that might not even require any tools depending on the model of your car (thank you to whoever designed the Jetta tail light assembly!). 
The first step, of course, is to source the correct part. Look up the part number in your owner's manual and be sure to get the right bulb for your Volkswagen’s model, year, and trim level
Your local auto parts store will also be able to help since they usually have access to an auto parts dictionary. 
Once you have the bulb, grab a Phillips head screwdriver and a flat head (or another thin-tipped tool that can pry open plastic covers with ease) and follow these steps:
  • Disconnect the battery before you begin to prevent any accidental electrocution. Just unscrew both cables from the batter, starting with the negative (-) cable.
  • Access the tail light assembly. Start at the trunk and find the cover where the tail lights are housed. Remove it and set it aside. 
  • Access the light bulb tray. In some models, you can just pop the tail light tray out by squeezing the attached plastic tabs. Other models will require you to remove the whole light assembly by unscrewing the assembly, disconnecting the electrical connector, and unscrewing the screws that separate the bulb tray from the cover.
  • Replace the bulb. Remove the old bulb either by pulling it straight out or by turning it counterclockwise and then pulling it straight out. Then, insert the new bulb. Hold the bulb by the metal and be careful not to squeeze or turn anything too hard.
  • Reinstall everything by reversing these steps.
  • Reconnect the battery and confirm that the new bulb works.
If you only have to replace the bulb, you’re done!
If you have to replace the whole assembly, you’ll need to perform a few extra steps (i.e., removing and replacing the cover). Be sure to check if the new assembly includes bulbs before you install it
Key Takeaway A Volkswagen tail light replacement is relatively simple as long as you have a Phillips head screwdriver, hold the bulb by the metal, and don’t yank or tug too hard on wired parts.

Common reasons for tail light malfunctions

If you are unsure why your tail light broke, here are a few common reasons:
  • Dead bulb: The most common cause. If the light is only out on one side, then this is the most likely cause.
  • Damaged fuse or wiring: If both sides are out, the whole assembly is out, or if replacing the bulb doesn’t fix the light, you may have a blown fuse or faulty wiring.
  • Faulty socket: When you replace the bulb, check the socket for any signs of damage, corrosion, or build-up of any contaminants.
  • Broken control switch: If you have ruled out the other issues, your control switch may be to blame. If you’re experiencing any unfamiliar electrical issues, don’t hesitate to go to a mechanic right away. 

Does car insurance cover broken tail lights? 

Your insurance won’t cover a blown-out bulb resulting from normal wear and tear.
However, if the assembly was smashed in an accident, by an angsty neighbor, or during a hail storm, then your insurance would cover the replacement as long as you have
comprehensive coverage
Even if your insurance covers the repair, it is usually better not to file a claim for a tail light alone. 
Why? First off, you will have to pay your deductible before your insurance pays anything. The average cost to repair a Volkswagen tail light is between $100 and $175 if you get a mechanic to replace the assembly. This is well below most people’s deductible, and if you do it yourself can be much cheaper (we’re talking less-than-$10 cheap if you already have the right tools).
Additionally, every time you make an insurance claim, you might see an increase in your monthly rate. Unless there is more damage than just the tail light, it is usually not worth it to contact your insurance about it.

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A normal VW tail light replacement costs $5-$175, depending on whether you need to replace just a bulb or the entire assembly and if you do it yourself.
Yes! Fortunately, most tail light replacements are simple repairs that only require a couple of tools. They’re also a low-stakes task, so don’t be afraid to try even if you’re a DIY beginner.

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