How to Replace a License Plate Light

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.


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Recent License Plate Light Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating

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Jim

33 years of experience
185 reviews
Jim
33 years of experience
Toyota Corolla L4-1.8L - License Plate Light - Dublin, California
Jim was great with the car. He quickly identified the issue and proposed the solution. He showed great expertise in providing valuable feedback to some of my questions as well. I would recommend Jim any day for auto services.

Darnell

19 years of experience
21 reviews
Darnell
19 years of experience
Volkswagen GTI L4-2.0L Turbo - License Plate Light - Los Angeles, California
Darnell did fantastic work on my VW GTI and treated it like it was his own car. Highest recommendation!

Riley

41 years of experience
18 reviews
Riley
41 years of experience
Subaru Forester H4-2.5L - License Plate Light - Washington, District of Columbia
He was very kind and professional - quickly diagnosed the problems with our car and repaired them. I would highly recommend Riley for your car repair needs.

Ramon

20 years of experience
166 reviews
Ramon
20 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.8L - License Plate Light - Tucson, Arizona
Ramon is very professional and personable. He took the time to explain how the window regulator works and why mine needed to be replaced. Found and repaired a couple of other issues I had with my car as well. Thanks to Ramon my first experience with "Your Mechanic" was a good one and I will definitely use your business again.

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