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Nissan Xterra Tail Lights

Diagnosing Nissan Xterra Tail Lights

The tail lights of the Nissan Xterra are designed to be simple enough to turned on with a simple switch, but it is actually a bit more complicated of a device. This is why whenever the tail lights malfunction, it can be due to a variety of different reasons. And knowing how to diagnose which of these causes might have lead to the failure of the tail lights will not only help you save money on repair and replacement costs, it also give you a better understanding of how your car works as well. The following are some of the common signs of Nissan Xterra tail light failure and how to diagnose them.

One tail light has stopped working

If one of the tail lights isn't lighting up when the brake pedal is stepped on, it may be due to a burned out bulb. Remove the housing and detach the bulb from its socket. Check the condition of the filament; if it is severed and there is black powder on the inner side of the glass, the bulb needs replacing. However, if the bulb appears to be in good condition, check the socket for rust. Severely corroded sockets may not allow enough voltage to reach the bulb and need to be replaced.

Both tail lights have stopped working

On the other hand, if both of the tails have stopped working, the problem may be with a busted fuse. The tail lights are protected from short circuit and overloading by a small fuse, and in the event of an electrical surge it will absorb most of the energy at the expense of being burned out in the process. Look for the fuse in the fuse box (for Nissan Xterras, it is located under the instrument panel on the left of the dashboard) and pull it out carefully. Check if the metal strip inside the fuse is still in one piece. If the strip is broken, the fuse is busted and must be replaced. However, if the wire appears to be in good condition, the problem might be with loose or damaged wiring.

The tail light brightness fluctuates

Fluctuating tail light brightness may indicate a problem with the vehicle's alternator. Connect a voltmeter to the car battery and check the display. If the displays anything less than 1.3 volts, the alternator is malfunctioning.

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  • Tips on Maintaining Nissan Xterra Tail Lights 27 February 2013

    Although they have passed rigorous quality standards, the tail lights of the Nissan Xterra remain vulnerable to everyday wear and exposure from harsh elements. Eventually these factors will cause the tail lights to lose their effectiveness or even stop working altogether. Because if this, it's important to have the Nissan tail lights checked and maintained regularly so that not only will they work as they should whenever they're turned on, their service lives will be lengthened as well. So if you want to save on replacement costs and keep your tail lights from failing, follow these simple maintenance tips.


    Clean your tail lights with toothpaste.

    While car shampoo can certainly remove dirt on the tail light's lens cover, toothpaste is a much better (and cheaper) at it. This is because the same compounds found in toothpaste that help whiten teeth can also remove the haze that develops on the lens cover's surface over time. Apply a sizable amount of toothpaste on a dry, lint-free cloth and rub onto the lens cover in circular motions. Make sure to use regular toothpaste however, as whitening and specialty toothpaste often have additional chemicals that might degrade the plastic.


    Remove UV-induced fog from the headlights with sandpaper.

    The tail lights in Xterra models tend to develop a foggy appearance over time. This is due to constant exposure to sunlight, whose UV rays cause the plastic to deteriorate. To remove this fog, spray the lens cover with water from a spray bottle and gently scrub the surface with 400-grit sandpaper. Once the entire cover is sanded, repeat the process again with 12,000-grit sandpaper for a more even look. We also recommend having the tail lights sprayed with plastic adhesion promoter and automotive clear coat afterwards to fully restore the tail light's appearance.


    Make sure to remove any condensation inside the tail light housing.

    If you notice droplets of water inside your Nissan Xterra's tail light, it's a likely indication that the tail light's seal has worn out and condensation has entered the housing. If left to accumulate, these droplets can corrode the socket and other metal parts of the tail light. To remove this condensation, disassemble the housing and wipe the inside of the housing and allow it to dry in the sun. Make sure to spray the inside of the lens cover with alcohol as well to prevent molds from growing and to replace any worn gaskets.