How to Replace a Burnt-Out Turn Signal Light Bulb

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turn signal light bulb

While the number of hours that a bulb can burn will vary from 1,000 hours to 50,000 hours, eventually, any bulb will stop working. When a bulb burns out, you might think you need to make a trip to the mechanic ASAP to get things taken care of. However, you can easily change your turn signal light bulb on your own without trouble.

Here are the six steps to replacing your burned out signal bulb.

1. Find the Bulb Type

The most important element of bulb replacement is to make sure you have the right bulb. While some car manufacturers use the same types of bulbs across different makes and models, not every two models are the same. If you have a car model that you bought five years ago, it could very well use a different bulb than the one built last year.

Bulbs might seem like they would be universal but because of power demands, the way that designers prefer a certain color, and size they could be different. In an effort to streamline the front of the car, there could be two mm in space less than there used to be, changing the bulb drastically.

No matter what the reason why the bulb style was chosen, it’s up to you to find the right one. An improper bulb might not fit in the socket or if it does, it could blow out because it’s not prepared for the amount of light being sent to the filament.

Check out the manual that’s in the glove box if you can’t figure out what your bulb type is. Otherwise, your car manufacturer’s website or even a quick search engine search will help you find the type of bulb you need.

2. Should You Replace Them All?

If you need to replace one bulb, you could end up replacing the other in a week or two. Since there’s an even amount of pressure put on both bulbs, the likelihood they will blow out around the same time is high.

Since you don’t want to be up the creek without a turn signal light, letting other drivers, bikers, and pedestrians where you’re headed, you should replace them all. Don’t leave one light bulb to pick up slack for the others or make other drivers have to guess where you’re headed.

Once you’re under the hood replacing your turn signal, you might as well save yourself the trouble and replace them all. When you replace your turn signals, you can rest assured that you’ll get a long life out of them. Many turn signal bulbs will last for a year or more.

If you’re doing a lot of city or urban driving, your turn signals are the key to staying out of trouble. Don’t underestimate their importance. Change them all together.

3. Getting To The Bulb

The hardest part of changing your turn signal bulb is just getting to the actual bulb itself. While there are several ways to get to it, there is no one way that works for every car.

For the rear signal bulb, you may be able to get to it through the trunk. This way, you can just remove a little cover that gives you access to the bulb and make quick work of it. In other cases, you need to go through the tail light cover itself to get it taken care of.

Look on the exterior portion of the car to see if there’s a clear indication of which way you need to access the bulb from.

There may be screws or bolts that are holding the cover in place that allows you to take it off. If you don’t see them on the exterior, check on the side of the trunk.

For front turn signals, expect to be able to get to it from under the hood of your car. There could also be bolts or screws here. Remove the plastic cover by turning those crews or removing the plastic cover.

4. Taking the Bulb Out

Make sure the car has been off for a while with the keys removed from the ignition. You don’t need to handle hot light or risk electrocuting yourself.

Once you’re in there, use a rag or a glove to carefully but snugly grab the bulb. While some will unscrew, most require that you push them in and turn. This quick release mechanism helps for easy bulb changing.

5. Clean it Up

Sometimes a bulb goes out, not because it burnt out, but because there is gunk in the socket. Take a look at the socket for any corrosion, grime, or debris in the way.

These things can get in the way of contact for your bulb. Even if you put a working bulb in its place, you’ll get no result. Grab a small plastic brush to clean the socket out.

Scrub out rust or debris, making sure you don’t stick any metal in there.

6. Replace the Bulb

Not every bulb is the same but you should be able to replace it the inverse way you put the bulb in.

Before you do that, look at the bulb you took out for a style number. That should match the one you got from the store.

Once it’s in place, make sure to test it out before you hit the road.

A Turn Signal Light Bulb is the Most Minor Issue

If you can handle taking on your turn signal light bulb, you can start handling lots of other issues with your car. Even though we often adapt to changes and problems with our vehicles, you could fix some of the problems that arise on your own now.

If you’re interested in comparing the types of bulbs on the market, check out our guide for more details.


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