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How to Replace a Turn Signal Bulb

hand removing a turn signal bulb

Fixing a burned-out turn signal bulb is a safety concern as well as a monetary one. When a turn signal bulb gets burned out, it's important to replace it as quickly as possible. If you drive with a burned-out turn signal bulb, you are at risk for a possible ticket and heavy fines.

You can easily change a blown out turn signal bulb using basic tools and by following some easy steps.

Part 1 of 3: Find the burned-out turn signal bulb

Materials Needed

Step 1: Prepare to test the turn signals. Park your vehicle and set the emergency brake.

turn signal flashing

Step 2: Switch on the turn signals. Turn the ignition to the accessory position and turn on the turn signals one side at a time.

Walk around the vehicle to determine which turn signal has failed.

Step 3: Switch off the turn signals. Turn the turn signals and ignition off.

Part 2 of 3: Replace the front turn signal bulb (if applicable)

If you determine that one of your front turn signals is burnt out, the next step is to replace it.

You can find detailed instructions on front turn signal bulb removal for your car’s specific make and model in either your owner’s manual or the factory repair manual.

Materials Needed

The following steps will work for most modern cars.

Step 1: Prepare to remove the old turn signal bulb. Open the hood and go to the turn signal that you have to replace. Ensure that you know which bulb to remove.

removing an electrical connector

Step 2: Remove the electrical connector. Remove the electrical connector by pushing down on the locking tab and sliding it back.

turning bulb

Step 3: Remove the old bulb. Turn the bulb socket counterclockwise.

removing front turn signal bulb and socket

Depending on the design, either pull the turn signal bulb straight out or press the bulb in while turning it counterclockwise.

removing a turn signal housing

  • Note: On some vehicles, it is necessary to unfasten the retaining screws, then remove the turn signal housing from the front of the vehicle to access the turn signal bulb.

side view of a bulb showing alignment pins

Step 4: Insert the new bulb. If the bulb has alignment pins on the base, make sure they line up with the complementary slots in the socket.

Step 5: Reassemble the turn signal. Put everything back together in the reverse order of disassembly. Turn on your car and then test the new turn signal bulb to see if it is working.

Part 3 of 3: Replace the rear turn signal bulb (if applicable)

person removing a rear turn signal bulb

Detailed instructions on rear turn signal bulb removal can be found in either your owner’s manual or the factory repair manual.

Materials Needed

The following steps work on most modern cars:

Step 1: Switch on the turn signals. Switch on the turn signals again to ensure you know which bulb to remove.

Step 2: Switch off the turn signals. Turn the turn signals off and switch off the ignition.

removal of retaining screws

Step 3: Remove the retaining screws. Open the trunk or hatch. Locate the tail light lens retaining screws or wingnuts and remove them.

removing the electrical connector

Step 4: Remove the electrical connector. Remove the electrical connector by pushing down on the locking tab and sliding it back.

removing the rear tail light assembly

Step 5: Remove the tail light lens. Carefully pull the tail light lens straight out and away from the vehicle.

unscrewing bulb from socket

Step 6: Remove the bulb. Depending on the design of the bulb, either pull the turn signal bulb straight out or press the bulb in while turning it counterclockwise to remove it.

side view of a bulb showing the alignment pins

Step 7: Insert the new bulb. If the bulb has alignment pins on the base, make sure they line up with the complementary slots in the socket.

Step 8: Reassemble the turn signal. Put everything back together in the reverse order of disassembly.

pulling back the interior trim to access the bulb retainer

  • Note: On some vehicles, it is necessary to remove the rear interior trim panel to access the bulb retaining fasteners. To do this, remove the nuts or other retainers from the rear trim, then remove the trim.

Although this sounds easy in theory, some bulbs can be difficult to replace. If you face any difficulty in changing a turn signal bulb, the team at YourMechanic offers expert turn signal bulb replacement.

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