Temporary Fix Guide For A Broken Taillight

Posted on: 7 April 2016

A minor collision can leave your car damaged but still drivable. Broken taillights are a common place for this sort of damage to occur. You may not be able to get this repaired immediately, because you are waiting either for an insurance settlement or for the right time to take the car into the collision center for a repair. The following guide will help you ensure that your car is street legal until you can get the taillight fixed.

Step 1: Check the bulb

Often, a broken light cover and minor body damage also results in a broken bulb. It's illegal to drive with a broken taillight bulb, so you will need to replace this before you go back on the road. Fortunately, it should be easy to access it since the cover is broken. Begin by checking all the lights that are encased within the taillight. You may need someone to help you so one can run the car through the different operations while other checks the lights. Even if a light doesn't appear broken, the bulb may not be functioning after the accident.

First, depress the brakes and check to see if the brake light comes on. Then, turn on the headlights and verify that nighttime running taillight comes on. Next, check that the reverse light works. Finally, switch on the appropriate turn signal to make sure the signal light activates. Plan to replace whichever bulbs are failing to operate. Some cars have multi-function bulbs, so you will only need to replace one bulb.

Step 2: Clean up the area

Now that you have working lights, you will need to tend to the lens cover. First, make sure you have taken photographs for any insurance assessment purposes. Next, clean out any broken shards so they don't come loose as you drive. You may want to remove the entire lens cover if it is badly damaged. Methods for removal vary depending on the vehicle. In some, there will be screws that you access from inside the trunk or beneath the bumper. Others are held in place by clips that you can depress with a flathead screwdriver. If in doubt, check the owner's manual or a repair guide for the year, make, and model of the vehicle. Repair guides are readily available at auto parts stores or in some libraries. You may also be able to find them online.

Step 3: Tape it up

Lens tape is a temporary solution that is available at auto parts stores. You will need to get tape in the color of the broken light segment. For many lights, this will mean red and amber tape. You may also need clear tape if the reverse light lens is affected. Apply the tape over the appropriate spot for each color, pressing the ends down so that they seal into place. Lens tape uses a mild adhesive that shouldn't damage the paint on your car. It's important that the tape is sealed in place. Not only does this ensure your lights show the appropriate color to the drivers behind you, tape also prevents moisture from getting into the lighting system and causing electrical shorts.

Keep in mind that this is only a short term solution. Contact a shop like Milton's Paint & Body Shop LLC for help making permanent fixes as soon as possible.

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