Most drivers think of the tail light lens as simply an accessory for their cars. Well, it's more than that. The lens is an indispensable part of the tail light assembly. The most important use of the lens is to protect the assembly's bulb. Bulbs are pretty fragile; exposure to the elements can easily cause them to burn out or even crack. With the lens securely fitted over the bulb, you're saved from the problems of smashed or short-circuited tail light bulbs. Aside from bulb protection, tail light lens also helps cut down the glare from your car's tail lights. That way, motorists behind your vehicle don't experience the negative effects of glare. So a damaged lens can cause more problems than you think. To be on the safe side, replace your vehicle's tail light lenses when necessary. Carparts has lenses for all makes and models.
• We offer plenty of custom lens designs for you to choose from.
• Our tail light lenses are more durable than stock lenses.
• Tail light lenses from us provide a perfect fit for easy installation.
Tail Light Lens Buyer's Guide
- The tail light lens is an inject-molded plastic cover that encases the tail light bulb and other electrical components inside the tail light housing.
- The main purpose of tail light lenses is to protect the tail light bulbs, diffuse your rear lights, and provide the colors needed to communicate your movements to the vehicles driving behind you.
- There are four common types of tail light lenses based on color and tint. These are clear lenses, smoked lenses, red lenses, and red smoked lenses.
- Most states require red rear lights to be installed on a vehicle. This is typically achieved either by installing a red tail light lens or using a clear lens paired with colored LED lights.
- The cost of a replacement tail light lens varies depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. OE replacement tail light lenses will generally cost you anywhere between $8 to $565. These are sold individually or in sets of two.
- Even with a working tail light bulb, a broken lens can reduce your tail lights’ ability to meet visibility requirements set by the law.
- These lights were designed to keep you and other vehicles from getting into a rear-end collision.
What is a tail light lens?
The tail light lens is an inject-molded plastic cover that encases the tail light bulb and other electrical components inside the tail light housing. The color of the lens distinguishes the different lights included in the tail light assembly. Vehicles typically carry lens assemblies that come in a combination of red, amber, and clear lenses.
What are tail light lenses for?
The main purpose of tail light lenses is to diffuse your rear lights and provide the colors needed to communicate your movements to the vehicles driving behind you.
The tail light lens is your tail lights’ first line of defense against damage in a rear-end collision. It also protects the bulb, reflectors, and any internal wiring from anything that may cause corrosion or premature wear. This includes water, snow, sand, rocks, and other road debris that may get kicked up while driving.
Types of tail light lenses
There are four common types of tail light lenses based on color and tint. These are clear lenses, smoked lenses, red lenses, and red smoked lenses.
This type of tail light lens incorporates a clear outer shell that houses red inner lenses for the tail lights and brake lights. A clear lens is also commonly paired with LED tail light bulbs that illuminate in red or amber to satisfy traffic laws.
A lens assembly that combines both red and clear lenses typically makes use of the latter to provide better illumination while backing into a parking spot.
Most modern vehicles carry red tail light lenses or a combination of clear, amber, and red lenses. The red plastic or glass cover is typically paired with clear incandescent lights or white LED lights.
This type of tail light lens is tinted to provide a seamless look at the rear of dark-colored vehicles. The smoked appearance of the tail lights makes your rear lights pop once activated. While these lenses may look stylish, they are illegal in most states because authorities may deem that your rear lights aren’t bright enough.
Red smoked lenses
As its name suggests, this type of red tail light lens is tinted to make its appearance more subdued without making the assembly disappear into the body of the vehicle. Before purchasing any tinted or smoked aftermarket tail light lenses, make sure to check your local traffic laws to avoid getting pulled over by authorities.
Why do tail lights have to be red?
Most states require red rear lights to be installed on a vehicle. This is typically achieved either by installing a red tail light lens or using a clear lens paired with colored LED lights.
The color red has always been a symbol of danger for humans. Most poisonous berries and insects are naturally red, which makes us averse to the color. We associate it with harm because our blood is the same color, making its use effective in warning signs and symbols.
Red was first used to mark the rear of trains. In fact, most of the warning systems and colors we use for modern driving were derived from early train systems. The most sensible explanation for this is because this color is highly identifiable compared to other colors such as green or blue. The rear lights on trains were covered with the same red glass seen in lamps used by train workers to communicate with one another.
How much does a replacement tail light lens cost?
The cost of a replacement tail light lens varies depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model. OE replacement tail light lenses will generally cost you anywhere between $8 to $565. These are sold individually or in sets of two. These parts are lightweight and easy to install, making replacement a great weekend project for enthusiasts and amateurs alike.
When is tail light lens repair and replacement needed?
Due to its location at the rear of your vehicle, your tail light lens is prone to getting damaged from a parking accident, rear-end collision, or even by a shopping cart in the parking lot. Keep in mind that small cracks will eventually get worse and may cause parts of the tail light lens to fall off while you’re driving.
Exposure to the elements can cut the life span of your tail light bulb short. Corrosion due to water damage may cause rust buildup in the tail light housing and surrounding parts, resulting in more costly repairs down the road. To catch tail light damage before it gets worse, make it a habit to check them every time you’re filling your car up at the gas station.
Why is tail light lens replacement important?
Remember that driving with a busted or damaged tail light is illegal in most states. Even with a working tail light bulb, a broken lens can reduce your tail lights’ ability to meet visibility requirements set by the law. If you have a clear incandescent tail light bulb, it will be harder for other drivers to identify your tail lights, brake lights, and turn signal lights with a broken tail light lens. A temporary fix like covering it with red tape is likely to get you pulled over.
These lights were designed to keep you and other vehicles from getting into a rear-end collision. These lights make it possible to weave through traffic safely. Your car’s tail light assembly alerts other drivers about when you intend to switch lanes, make a turn, or when you’re stuck on the side of the road on a dark street.
Techniques on How to Install the Tail Light Lens on Your Car
If you start noticing that the tail lights don't shine as bright as before, and you just got new bulbs last weekend, then it could probably be due to a hazy or cracked lens. It's important for the tail light lens to be in good condition at all times; otherwise, it could damage the parts on the assembly. Once you notice that it's cracked or broken, don't think twice about getting a new one. Besides, this is much cheaper than getting a new tail light.
Required skill level: Novice
Needed tools and materials:
Fastener removal tool (wrench or screwdriver)
New tail light lens
Inspecting the tail light lens
Take a good look at the tail light to know what kind of tool to use to remove the old lens. You may need to use the wrench to take out fasteners or the screwdriver to pull out screws.
Using the right removal tool
Use the correct tool to take out the fasteners or screws that hold the tail light lens in place. Be sure not to lose the fasteners because you're going to need them later.
Getting rid of the old tail light lens
Slowly but surely, pull the lens from the assembly. Be careful when doing so because you wouldn't want to end up breaking the wires on the tail light.
Disconnecting the wires
Pull out the wires from the assembly. You'll have to take out the light socket by rotating it a quarter of a turn toward the left. Once you're done, you can place the old tail light lens aside.
Installing the new tail light lens
Grab the replacement tail light lens and hold it up near the tail light. You can now put the light socket back on, and twist it a quarter of a turn going to the right to secure it back in place. After you've done that, you can put the tail light on and line up the fastener holes. Get the old screws or fasteners that you set aside earlier and place them back on. Tighten them up, but be careful not to do it too much. And voila! You have a new tail light lens on in no time.
The Better Tail Light Lens: Spyder or Replacement?
Looking for a tail light lens is challenging because you have to ensure that it would fit correctly on your tail light assembly. Thoughts would also run on your mind thinking which one would be better: screwed or glued; plastic or glass? With the different brands in the market, you'll surely have a difficult time settling for one. But to narrow down your choices, Replacement and Spyder are two of the top-quality brands in the market that are often bought by consumers. It's up to you which one to choose.
It's important that there are a lot of different products to choose from because different vehicles require certain kinds of tail light lenses. Since both Spyder and Replacement offer direct-fit lenses, you definitely have plenty of options when looking for an installation-friendly replacement.
WINNER: Spyder and Replacement
Some consumers believe that the pricier the product, the better quality it has. However, some people would choose the more affordable brand because it's more pocket friendly even though they believe that they are sacrificing quality. But to be honest, price is really not the basis of the value of the product. With Replacement, you can get a tail light lens for as low as $16 and as high as $100. But, with Spyder, the tail light lenses are worth from $47 to $200.
Design is also a factor why consumers purchase a certain product. If you're the simple kind of guy, then the Spyder tail light is the one for you. But, if you're looking for multi-colored lenses, then Replacement is the one that you should consider.
WINNER: Spyder and Replacement
Warranty affects the decision of the buyers to get their hands on a certain brand. Replacement comes with a 1-year unlimited warranty, whereas Spyder comes with a 30-day limited warranty.
With the different categories, it's quite apparent that Replacement bagged everything. It's affordable, has different designs, and comes with a great warranty. But in reality, it's all up to you to choose a tail light lens that fits your lifestyle and your vehicle.
How to Choose a Tail Light Lens
The tail light lens is one of the commonly damaged parts during rear-end car accidents. If broken or shattered, it is important that you get a replacement as soon as possible. Changing lenses should not be limited to repairs though. Customizers can pimp their ride with a unique set. Read this simple guide to give you a jump start in helping you pick the right lens for your car.
Looking for the right lens is simply finding a specific set designed to fit your car. For most American makes, OE replacement lenses can be identified by a small alphanumeric code etched on the lens' surface, or on the assembly's gasket. This will give your car's make, model, and year which will help in the buying. Note that this option may be impossible to do if your lens is completely ruined, and the code is mixed in the many pieces of shattered plastic.
Lenses are commonly secured to the tail light assembly in one of two ways: screws, or glues. Your choice is automatically limited if you're only looking for an OE replacement. If you want to convert to an attachment style different from your car's current style, you may need to modify the whole assembly.
- Screw: Lenses are secured to the assembly using screws. This makes installation, removal, and replacement quick and easy. However, this style means having screw holes on the lens itself, giving it an uneven finish. The assembly may not be fully sealed against water leaks that can damage the lights. Gaskets must be in good shape to keep the lights safe.
- Glue: This type of lens has better sealing and protecting qualities compared to screw-in types. It also has a cleaner finish because there are no holes for screws. However, since it's discouraged to pry the lens out during repairs, installation and removal is more difficult.
Tail lights contain the parking and braking indicators. Other styles can also include reverse indicators, and turning signals. Each light is a different color for the lens. Most come in only two colors: red for brakes, clear for reverse. Some include amber for turn signals. Match the lens' color to the set of your assembly.
As a final note, before you pick a set of tail lights, make sure that it meets DOT (Department of Transport) / SAE (Society of Automotive Engineering) standards. Lights that pass these strict quality control measures are guaranteed bright and safe enough to use.
Easy Fixes to a Shattered Tail Light Lens
Keeping your tail light lens in good condition is a must for every car. A broken, cracked, or shattered lens is enough reason for the police to give you a ticket. Also, an exposed tail light can be damaged by rocks, mud, and water. The degree of your repair will depend on the extent of the damage on your lens. Look after your busted tail light lenses with the help of this simple repair guide.
Difficulty level: Easy
- Socket set
- Tail light lens repair kit (red lens-repair tape, plastic film, crack filler, plastic glue, etc.)
- Kitchen oven (if necessary)
- Replacement tail light lens
Step 1: Locate the tail lights. If the damage is limited to small cracks on the lens, simply apply strips of red-lens repair tape over it for a temporary repair.
Step 2: For splits, or large cracks, another method is to fill-up the crack. To do this, you need to remove the lens, or whole tail light assembly, from the car. If the lens is screwed on, simply take off the screws.
Step 3: If it's glued, take out the whole assembly. Remove any mounting screws and nuts holding it in place. On old cars, the screws are on the outside of the car near the taillight assembly. Newer models have their screws in the interior either underneath or near the edge of the trunk carpet, or directly behind the assembly. Keep all the screws in a safe place.
Step 4: Remove all the wiring and electrical cords from the tail lights. Remember where the cords are connected so that you can properly reconnect them when installing the new assembly. Once all wires are off, carefully pull out the unit.
Step 5: Place the assembly face up on a baking sheet lined with foil. Put it in the oven at 200? F for 20 minutes to melt the glue. After, take out the assembly and pry the lens from the housing.
Step 6: For a split lens, you can use plastic glue to reconnect the pieces. For bigger cracks, put plastic film on the inner side of the lens. Prepare the crack filler with your repair kit. Fill the crack from the outer side of the lens. Let it dry for 24 hours.
Step 7: Return the lens on the assembly. Screw or glue it back on. Next, return the assembly to the car. If necessary, connect the wires to the new tail lights the way they were connected in the original assembly. Next, slowly fit the whole unit into the body and return all the screws and nuts to keep it in place.
- The same removal steps can be done for complete lens replacement.
- Wear protective gloves to avoid cutting yourself.