Can I Replace My Tail Lights With LED?

Date Posted: 8 November 2023 

Can I Replace My Tail Lights With LED? main image Can I Replace My Tail Lights With LED? image

If your tail lights are giving their final flickers of life, why not upgrade with LED tail lights? Replacing your incandescent bulbs with LED alternatives is not only possible, but it’s also recommended. In addition to looking spiffy, LED tail lights run cooler, illuminate better and draw less power than their incandescent counterparts. So, if you’re a keen tinkerer of auto parts, it’s time to grab your screwdriver and set aside an hour. As far as DIY car jobs go, this upgrade is as simple to do as it is advantageous in application!

LED Headlights: Lighting the Way Since 2000

As an auto part, the LED light is newer than you may think. In fact, you would have first seen LED tail lights on the Cadillac DeVille in the year 2000. They may have only seen the light of day since the turn of the century, but LED lights have wasted no time in establishing themselves as firm favourites. Among vehicle manufacturers, they are the preferred rear lamp technology—and, when you consider their distinct advantages, it’s no mystery why. Who wouldn’t want tail lights that look better, cast a brighter light, pose less of a fire hazard, and have a longer life overall?

LED Bulb Retrofitting: A Retrospective

As great as LED tail lights and headlights are, major vehicle manufacturers have taken their time to adopt them. While entrepreneurial companies were waiting for the big names to catch up, they took it upon themselves to create and import LED replacement bulbs. If you come across these, it’s important you don’t use them for driving purposes if they’re labelled ‘for off-road use only’. In many jurisdictions, it’s illegal to use these auto parts on the street.

Why is it important to stay street smart when it comes to auto parts? Because if you wind up in an accident and your insurance company finds you’ve been hooning around with LED headlights or tail lights, chances are you’ll have to wear the costs. Even worse, you may run the risk of failing a state inspection or of sustaining a ticket from a police officer. So, if you’re going to replace your tail lights with LED alternatives, make sure they’re the real deal from either a major manufacturer or a company that’s deemed them ‘road-worthy’.

‘Road-Worthy’ LED Bulb Variations

Comparable to how coffee can come in single-, double- and triple-shot levels of strength, LED lamps can be single-, double- or triple-duty. Use the latter two types for your brake light, indicator or tail lamp. A car that leverages these different LED lamps is the 2003 Ford Explorer, which uses a 3157 clear lamp for all three of the aforementioned applications, as well as a 3156 clear lamp for reverse lighting. Moreover, it also uses five 194R red bulbs in its Center High Mount Stop Lamp. So, if you have this car in your possession 20 years following its creation, it should be LED City with little to no upgrades required.

Shedding Light on LED Costs

Of course, the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree doesn’t come dirt cheap. Due to their higher quality, LED bulbs are a little more expensive than incandescent old faithfuls. When making your choice, you should choose a brand that will give you more bang for your buck. You should also bear in mind that some LED bulbs and their lower currents can trigger the outage detection system, which results in ‘fast flashing’. To prevent this, you should buy one load equaliser per LED bulb, which is another cost to consider.

The Ultimate Takeaway

When you replace your tail lights—or headlights, or brake lights or indicator bulbs—with LED alternatives, ensure you source your upgrade from either a major car manufacturer or a trusted aftermarket supplier. When you buy LED headlights or tail lights from Machter, you’ll know you’re buying auto parts that have the on-road tick of approval.

If you have any concerns about which auto parts fit with what model or year of car, we can help guide your decision. Hit us up and we’ll assist you with your purchase or special-order in what you need!