How Much Does Tail Light Replacement Cost?

Last Updated on March 4, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Are you grappling with the dilemma of a burnt-out tail light, wondering how much it will cost to get it fixed? Fret not, for this comprehensive guide will illuminate the intricate world of tail light replacement costs, equipping you with the knowledge to make informed decisions that align with your budget and vehicle’s needs.

In this article, we’ll explore the complex details of tail light replacement, going over the various types of lights available, their corresponding costs, and the labor charges involved.

We’ll also shed light on the pros and cons of opting for OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or aftermarket parts, ensuring you understand the implications for your vehicle’s value and insurance coverage.

Additionally, we’ll address the legal and safety considerations surrounding functional tail lights, underscoring the paramount importance of maintaining proper lighting for your vehicle’s roadworthiness and your peace of mind on the road.


  • Tail light replacement costs can range from $10 to over $1,000, depending on the vehicle, type of lights, and parts/labor costs.
  • OEM parts offer a guaranteed fit and compatibility but can cost $50 to $300 more than aftermarket options.
  • Factors like vehicle make and model, LED vs halogen lights, and labor costs at dealerships vs independent repair shops can significantly impact the overall cost.
  • Considering a DIY approach can save on labor costs but requires proper tools, knowledge, and caution.
  • Maintaining functional tail lights is essential for road safetylegal compliance, and avoiding potential fines or costly accidents.

How Much Does Tail Light Replacement Cost?

The total cost of tail light replacement can vary between $10 and $1,000 depending on a multitude of factors. Let’s break it down:

Average Costs for Bulb vs Whole Assembly Replacement

In some cases, a simple bulb replacement may be all that’s needed, with costs ranging from $10 to $50, depending on the bulb type and vehicle make and model. However, if the entire tail light assembly requires replacement, you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $300 or more for the part alone, with higher-end vehicles often commanding premium prices.

Price Ranges for OEM and Aftermarket Options

OEM parts, manufactured by the same company that produced the original components for your vehicle, offer a perfect fit and optimal compatibility. However, this convenience comes at a higher cost, with OEM tail light assemblies typically ranging from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the vehicle make and model.

Aftermarket parts, on the other hand, are produced by third-party manufacturers and are generally more affordable, with prices ranging from $50 to $200 for a tail light assembly. While cost-effective, these parts may not match the quality or fit of OEM parts, potentially impacting your vehicle’s resale value or insurance coverage.

Labor Costs for Professional Installation

If you opt for professional installation, labor costs can add a significant expense to the overall bill. At dealerships, labor rates can range from $80 to $150 per hour, with a typical tail light replacement taking 1-2 hours, resulting in a labor cost of $80 to $300.

Independent repair shops often offer more competitive rates, with labor costs ranging from $50 to $150 for the same job.

Tail lights at, for example, range in price from as little as $27 to as high as $337.

According to, aftermarket tail lights can cost around $5 to $1,300, with expert installation services available with a 12-month or 12,000-mile service warranty.

NuBrakes writes that the average cost to replace a tail light bulb is between $20 and $100, with pricing varying based on the type of car and the quality of the auto shop.

AutoNation Mobile Service says that a brake light bulb replacement is relatively inexpensive, with a replacement bulb usually costing around $5-$10 and labor charges ranging from $10-$20, depending on the locality.

Tail Light Overview

Before embarking on our cost exploration, it’s crucial to grasp the significance of functional tail lights. These automotive lighting components serve as a vital communication tool, signaling your intentions to other drivers and ensuring your vehicle’s visibility, especially in low-light conditions or inclement weather.

Tail lights come in various forms, each with its unique characteristics and associated costs. Halogen tail lights have long been the industry standard, offering a cost-effective solution.

However, LED tail lights have gained widespread popularity due to their superior energy efficiency, longer lifespan, and brighter illumination, albeit at a higher price point.

Factors Influencing Replacement Costs

Several factors can significantly influence the overall cost of tail light replacement, including:

Vehicle Make and Model Variations

Luxury and high-end vehicles tend to have more expensive parts and higher labor rates due to the complexity of their systems and specialized components. For example, replacing a tail light assembly on a luxury sedan like a Mercedes-Benz or BMW can cost upwards of $500 to $1,000, while a mid-range sedan like a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry might cost between $150 and $400.

Differences Between LED and Halogen Lights

LED tail lights are generally more expensive to replace than their halogen counterparts, but they offer improved visibility, longer lifespan, and better energy efficiency. For instance, replacing an LED tail light assembly on a modern vehicle could cost anywhere from $200 to $600, while a halogen assembly might range from $100 to $300.

OEM Parts vs Aftermarket Parts

As mentioned earlier, OEM parts are typically more expensive but offer a guaranteed fit and compatibility with your vehicle, while aftermarket parts are more budget-friendly but may not match the quality or fit as precisely. The cost difference between OEM and aftermarket parts can range from $50 to $300 or more, depending on the vehicle make and model.

Labor Costs: Dealership vs Independent Repair Shop vs DIY

Dealerships often charge higher labor rates compared to independent repair shops, with the cost difference ranging from $30 to $100 per hour. However, if you’re skilled and confident, you can save significantly on labor costs by tackling the tail light replacement as a DIY project, provided you have the necessary tools and knowledge.

You might also like our articles about the cost of fog light installation, car headliner repair, and headlight alignment.

DIY Replacement Guide: A Cost-Saving Option

If you’re considering a DIY tail light replacement, here’s a comprehensive overview of what you’ll need:

Tools and Parts Needed for DIY Replacement

  • Replacement tail light assembly or bulb (OEM or aftermarket)
  • Basic hand tools (screwdrivers, pliers, socket set, etc.)
  • Repair manual or online tutorial specific to your vehicle make and model
  • Optionally, a tail light assembly repair kit (ranging from $20 to $100) for added convenience

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Locate and access the tail light assembly, following your vehicle’s repair manual or online tutorial.
  2. Carefully disconnect the electrical wiring and remove the old assembly, taking note of the wiring configuration.
  3. Install the new tail light assembly, ensuring a proper fit and secure connections.
  4. Reconnect the wiring according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  5. Test the new tail lights thoroughly to ensure proper functionality.

Tips for Successful DIY Repair

  • Follow the repair manual or tutorial meticulously to avoid costly mistakes.
  • Take appropriate safety precautions, such as disconnecting the battery and wearing protective gear.
  • Consider purchasing a tail light assembly repair kit, which may include specialized tools and instructions, potentially saving time and effort.
  • If unsure or uncomfortable with the process, seek professional assistance to avoid potential damage to your vehicle.

Choosing Between OEM and Aftermarket Parts

Brake LightWhen it comes to selecting between OEM and aftermarket parts, there are pros and cons to consider:

Pros of OEM Parts

  • Guaranteed fit and compatibility with your vehicle’s specific make and model
  • High-quality materials and construction, adhering to manufacturer specifications
  • May help maintain your vehicle’s resale value and avoid potential issues with insurance claims
  • Often covered by manufacturer warranties, providing added peace of mind

Cons of OEM Parts

  • Significantly more expensive than aftermarket options
  • Limited availability for older vehicle models or discontinued parts

Pros of Aftermarket Parts

  • More affordable, potentially saving $50 to $300 or more per tail light assembly
  • Wider availability for various vehicle models, including older or discontinued parts
  • Opportunity to upgrade or customize with advanced features like LED lighting

Cons of Aftermarket Parts

  • Potential fit and compatibility issues, requiring modifications or adjustments
  • Quality may vary between manufacturers, potentially impacting longevity or performance
  • May not be covered by warranties, leaving you responsible for any future issues
  • Could negatively impact your vehicle’s resale value or insurance coverage

Legal and Safety Considerations

Beyond the cost aspect, it’s crucial to understand the legal and safety implications of faulty or non-functioning tail lights.

Legal Requirements for Tail Lights

Most states and jurisdictions have specific regulations regarding the proper functioning of a vehicle’s lighting system, including tail lights. Driving with defective tail lights can result in fines or citations, with costs ranging from $50 to $300 or more, depending on the severity and location.

Impact of Faulty Tail Lights on Road Safety

Properly functioning tail lights are essential for communicating your intentions to other drivers, especially when braking or signaling turns. Faulty tail lights can significantly increase the risk of accidents and compromise the safety of you, your passengers, and other road users. The cost of a collision or injury resulting from faulty tail lights can be exponentially higher than the cost of a timely replacement.

Final Words

Tail light replacement costs can vary widely, ranging from as low as $10 for a bulb replacement to upwards of $1,000 for a complete assembly replacement on a luxury vehicle, plus labor costs.

Factors such as the type of lights, vehicle make and model, choice of OEM or aftermarket parts, and whether you opt for professional installation or a DIY approach, all play a significant role in determining the overall cost.

However, prioritizing functional tail lights is not just a matter of cost; it’s a matter of legal compliance and, more importantly, road safety. Investing in proper tail light maintenance can save you from potential fines, accidents, and costly repairs down the line.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to replace a tail light socket?

The cost of replacing a tail light socket can range from $20 to $100 or more, depending on the vehicle make and model and whether you opt for OEM or aftermarket parts. Additionally, labor costs may apply if you choose to have it professionally installed at a repair shop or dealership, typically ranging from $50 to $150.

Is it easy to replace a tail light?

Replacing a tail light can be a relatively straightforward DIY task for those with basic mechanical skills and the right tools. However, the level of difficulty can vary depending on the vehicle’s design and accessibility to the tail light assembly. Consulting a repair manual or online tutorial specific to your vehicle can make the process easier and safer.

Do mechanics replace tail lights?

Yes, mechanics at both dealerships and independent repair shops routinely replace tail lights as part of their services. Dealership mechanics may be preferred for OEM part replacements and warranty-related work, while independent mechanics can often provide more affordable options, particularly for aftermarket parts and labor costs.

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