How To Replace The License Plate Light?

A license plate light is a small illumination device mounted above a vehicle’s license plate. Its purpose is to illuminate the plate for visibility at night or in low light conditions. This light ensures that the license plate is readable from a distance, making it easier for law enforcement and other drivers to identify the vehicle. 

It is a required feature on all vehicles to comply with road safety regulations.Replacing a license plate light is a straightforward task. It involves removing the old bulb, inserting a new one, and ensuring it works properly. This simple process of understanding what it means when someone bends your license plate keeps your vehicle compliant and safe on the road.

List of Materials Needed

Replacement bulbSpecific to vehicle make and modelCheck vehicle manual
ScrewdriverTo open the light compartmentTypically Phillips or flat-head
Safety glovesTo protect handsOptional but recommended
Safety glassesTo protect eyesOptional but recommended

This table provides a quick reference to ensure you have all necessary materials before beginning the process. Having everything on hand will make the replacement smoother and quicker.


Before you start, it’s crucial to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Make sure the vehicle is turned off, the keys are removed from the ignition, and the car is parked on a stable, flat surface. It’s also a good idea to work in a well-lit area or during daylight to have the best visibility of the work area.

Locating the license plate light compartment is your next step. Typically, it’s directly above or near the license plate. Some vehicles may have it accessible from the trunk, while others might require you to reach it from under the bumper. Familiarize yourself with your vehicle’s specific configuration by consulting the owner’s manual or an online guide for your car model.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step by Step Guide

1. Access the License Plate Light

Accessing the license plate light usually involves removing a cover or a small compartment door. Use the appropriate screwdriver to carefully remove any screws or clips holding it in place. Be gentle to avoid stripping the screws or damaging the housing.

2. Remove the Old Light Bulb

Once you’ve gained access, gently twist or pull the old bulb out of its socket. If it’s hot or broken, be extra careful to avoid burns or cuts. Dispose of the old bulb safely, keeping it away from children and pets.

3. Prepare the New Light Bulb

Before installing the new bulb, ensure it’s the correct type and size for your vehicle. Handle the bulb with clean gloves or a cloth to avoid getting oils from your skin on it, as this can shorten the bulb’s lifespan.

4. Install the New Light Bulb

Carefully insert the new bulb into the socket, ensuring it’s secure and properly fitted. Avoid forcing it, as this could damage both the bulb and the socket. Once in place, twist or push it according to the design of your vehicle’s light assembly.

5. Test the New Light

Before reassembling everything, it’s important to test the new light. Turn on your vehicle’s lights and check that the new license plate light is working. If it doesn’t light up, double-check the bulb’s placement and connection.

6. Reassemble Any Removed Parts

Once you’ve confirmed that the light is working, replace any covers or housing you removed. Ensure everything is secured back in place to prevent any parts from coming loose while driving.


If the new light doesn’t work, first ensure it’s properly installed and the right type for your vehicle. Check for any blown fuses or loose connections that might be affecting the power supply. If you’re not comfortable troubleshooting electrical issues, it is time to consult a professional.

Remember, while some issues can be resolved with a quick fix, others might indicate a more serious problem. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you’re unsure or if the problem persists. It’s always better to be safe and ensure your vehicle is in proper working order.

License plate light replacement cost

The cost of replacing a license plate light can vary widely based on several factors such as the make and model of your vehicle, the type of bulb required, and whether you’re replacing it yourself or hiring a professional.

DIY Replacement: If you’re doing it yourself, costs are typically lower. You’ll only need to pay for the bulb and perhaps a few tools if you don’t already have them. Bulbs can range from around $2 to $20, depending on the type and quality.

Professional Replacement: If you’re going to a mechanic or dealership, labor costs will add to the total price. Labor can vary significantly by location and the specific service provider but generally might range from $20 to $50 or more for the service.

Vehicle Type and Bulb: Some luxury or specialty vehicles might require specific types of bulbs or have more complex assembly, leading to higher costs for parts and possibly labor.

Additional Costs: If there’s damage to the wiring or the housing of the license plate light, costs can be higher due to the need for additional parts and labor.

What can I use for a tag light?

What can I use for a tag light

For a tag light, which is essential for illuminating your vehicle’s license plate at night, there are several options you can consider.

LED Bulbs: These are a popular choice because they’re bright, energy-efficient, and long-lasting. They come in various sizes and are relatively easy to install.

Incandescent Bulbs: Traditional bulbs are cheaper but less energy-efficient and have a shorter lifespan compared to LEDs. They are, however, often easier to find and replace.

Universal Tag Light Kits: These kits come with everything you need to install a tag light. They’re handy if you’re replacing a broken light or installing one from scratch.

Motorcycle Tag Lights: Specifically designed for motorcycles, these lights are smaller and more robust to handle the vibrations and conditions of motorcycle riding.

Waterproof/Weather-Resistant Lights: Ideal for vehicles exposed to harsh conditions, these lights provide extra protection against moisture and dust.

License plate light bulb size

The size of the license plate light bulb can significantly depend on the make, model, and year of your vehicle. Here are some common bulb sizes and types you encounter.

168, 194, and 2825 Bulbs: These are very common sizes for license plate lights and are generally interchangeable. They are small, wedge-shaped bulbs used in many vehicles.

T10 Bulb: Another name for the 194 bulb size, often used interchangeably.

LED Replacements: Many drivers choose to replace their standard bulbs with LED versions for brighter light and longer life. These will often be marketed with compatibility for 168, 194, and other common sizes.


Replacing a license plate light is an essential maintenance task that enhances road safety by ensuring the vehicle’s identification is visible at night or in low light. This straightforward process involves a few simple steps and materials, including a replacement bulb specific to the vehicle, a screwdriver, and optional safety gear. 

Prior to starting, it’s crucial to ensure a safe working environment by turning off the vehicle and working in a stable, well-lit area. The actual replacement involves accessing and removing the old bulb, then installing and testing the new one. If issues arise, checking connections and consulting a professional are advised. 

While costs vary, DIY replacement generally saves money, but professional help might be needed for complex cases or specific vehicle types. Alternatives like LED bulbs offer enhanced brightness and longevity, making them a popular choice for tag lights. Overall, this task is a key aspect of vehicle maintenance that contributes to safety and compliance with road regulations.


Can I get fined for a non-functioning license plate light?

Yes, driving with a non-functioning license plate light can lead to fines and citations, as it’s a legal requirement in many areas to have a visible and functioning light.

Can I replace the license plate light myself?

Yes, most people can replace the license plate light themselves. It generally requires simple tools and a few minutes, but always refer to your vehicle’s manual for specific instructions.

Why is it important to replace a faulty license plate light?

Replacing a faulty license plate light is crucial for legal and safety reasons. It ensures your license plate is visible to law enforcement and other drivers, helping avoid potential fines and improving vehicle visibility.

Leave a comment