Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How to Replace a License Plate Light

How to Replace a License Plate Light 1

The license plate lights on a vehicle are for just that, they light up the area on the back of the vehicle so that people can see the license plate. In most states, it is against the law not to have the license plate illuminated on a vehicle that was equipped with lights from the factory. Some states will even require lights to be added to vehicles that did not come with them from the factory. Purchasing a good quality license plate light will reduce the number of times you need to replace it in the future.

Replacing a license plate light bulb is completed by either removing a lens cover to access the bulb, or by accessing the bulb socket from the interior of the car. The latter is usually going to use an access point in the trunk area. Both methods will be covered below.

Method 1 of 2: Replacing a license plate light bulb with a lens cover

Materials needed

How to Replace a License Plate Light 2

Step 1: Remove the license plate light lens cover. Remove the hardware holding the license plate light lens cover in place. Carefully remove the lens cover.

How to Replace a License Plate Light 3

Step 2: Remove the bulb from the socket. Carefully reach in and pull the old bulb out, being careful not to break the glass.

Step 3: Compare the replacement bulb to the one you removed. It should be the same size and have the same type of contacts.

Step 4: Install the replacement bulb. Place the new bulb into the bulb socket.

How to Replace a License Plate Light 4

Step 5: Turn the headlight switch on. Before reassembling the license plate light assembly, turn the headlight switch on to verify the function of the replacement bulb.

Step 6: Reinstall the license plate light lens cover. Place the license plate lens cover back into place and reinstall the hardware that was removed during the disassembly process.

Method 2 of 2: Replacing a license plate light bulb without a lens cover

Materials needed

Step 1: Open the trunk. Open the trunk to gain access to the area behind the license plate.

How to Replace a License Plate Light 5

Step 2: Pull back the trim carpet. Remove the trim carpet that covers the metal panel that the license plate is mounted to, as in the picture above. This may require the removal of push pins, trim screws, or the weather strip around the trunk.

How to Replace a License Plate Light 6

Step 3: Remove the license plate light bulb socket. This usually requires the socket to be rotated one-fourth to one-half turn in a counterclockwise direction.

How to Replace a License Plate Light 7

Step 4: Remove the license plate light bulb. Gently pinch the bulb with your fingers, being careful not to crush the glass. Then gently pull out on the bulb.

Step 5: Compare the replacement license plate light bulb to the one you removed. It should be the same physical dimensions and have the same type of base for connection.

Step 6: Install the replacement license plate light bulb. It should go in the same way that the other one came out. Just push the new one into place with light pressure to seat it into the socket.

With the bulb installed in the socket, reinstall the socket into the housing and turn it the required one-fourth to one-half turn it took to remove it, only this time, you will turn it in a clockwise direction.

How to Replace a License Plate Light 8

Step 7: Turn the headlight switch on. Before reassembling the license plate light assembly, turn the headlight switch on to verify the function of the replacement bulb.

Step 8: Reinstall the trim carpet. Put back the trim carpet that was removed to gain access to the license plate light bulb. Be sure to reinstall any hardware that needed to be removed to get to the carpet edges

A license plate light might not be considered a safety feature directly, but it can help other drivers see you on the road. And, as stated above, it is typically required to have the license plate lights working by most municipalities.

If at any point you feel you could use a hand with replacing a license plate light bulb on your vehicle, contact a professional technician, such as those available at YourMechanic. YourMechanic has trained and certified repair professionals that can come to your home or workplace and perform the repairs for you.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.

ASK A QUESTION

More related articles

How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
P2159 OBD-II Trouble Code: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2159 P2159 code definition Vehicle Speed Sensor B Range/Performance Related Trouble Codes: P2158: Vehicle Speed Sensor B P2160: Vehicle Speed Sensor B Circuit Low P2161:...


Related questions

Q: Taillight not working after bulb replacement

You may have a couple possible problems on this vehicle. The most common problem on these vehicles is the totally intergraded power control module not sending power to the rear lights as it should. Another possible problem is if you...

Q: License plate light out

Sounds like you might be having an electrical issue. The circuit is simple as compared to other systems on your car, but a wiring schematic will still be necessary to trace the power distribution. There is a possibility that the...

Q: I put in a new starter but car won't turn over

If the starter cranks, this is the same thing as turning over. If the starter is working just fine but the engine will not run, the cause of this is ignition or fuel related. I would recommend having your ignition...