How to Buy Used Rear Light Assemblies

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How to Buy Used Rear Light Assemblies

Rear lights were not considered an important element of cars in the beginnings of the automotive industry. They were small then, and they only functioned as position indicators and stop lights. The functionality and customisation possibilities of rear light assemblies have greatly increased over the years. In modern vehicles, rear lights function as reversing lights, rear indicators, rear fog lights, and reflex reflectors as well. In fact, they have become an important element in a car's design.

The purchase of custom automotive lighting is a very easy way to redefine a vehicle's overall appearance. Generally, auto manufacturers do not offer much variation when it comes to rear lights design, and adding custom lights can give a car a unique style.

Changing the lighting is also a very affordable way to customise a vehicle, as opposed to more structural changes. There is a wide variety of used rear light assemblies available on the online market. In fact, as long as they fulfill all the legal requirements and are fitted so as not to blind approaching drivers, rear lights can offer virtually endless possibilities for car customisation.

When looking for used rear light assemblies, buyers should consider what type of assemblies are available in the market, while also keeping in mind current regulations that affect light bulb types and rear lights.

Rear Light Assembly Basics

These modern sets of lights have the primary function of increasing the visibility of a vehicle's rear end, especially during the night or in other low visibility conditions, such as fog and rain. Rear light assemblies are made up of different lights, each one with a specific purpose. As rear lights need to fulfill certain legal requirements, some basic lights are always present in this type of assemblies, while others are optional.

Generally, rear light assemblies feature turn signal lights, parking lights, and stop lights. By informing drivers behind a car that one intends to turn, change lanes, park or stop, these lights can help prevent collisions, especially in the case of narrow roads and poorly lit areas. As these lights are so crucial to safety, it is very important to always make sure that they are in optimum condition, which makes maintenance and light bulb replacement a priority for every car owner. To ensure proper functioning, it is also advised to make sure rear lights include good protective devices, such as lenses and bezels.

In terms of rear light assembly components, another common combination consists of turn signals, brake or stop lights, and reverse lights. Rear light sets may also feature fog lights, plate lights and a number of other lights with combined ornamental and increased visibility functions.

Used vs. New Rear Light Assemblies

Lense cleanliness and proper reflection are some of the most important aspects to consider when replacing rear lights. If the lenses are not clear or the reflectors are not reflective enough, light visibility may be compromised. Therefore, when shopping for used rear light assemblies, the condition of reflectors and lenses and the latter's opacity level in particular should always be carefully assessed.

Some used rear lights may require a bit of work, but if they can be fixed with a little plastic polish, which can work wonders on some lightly scratched lenses, they may still be a great buy. Likewise, silver paint can be used to enhance old reflectors, maximising light distribution.

Naturally, new rear light assemblies can be pricier than used items; however, some vintage rear lights can be more expensive than newer versions. It is also important to consider that if the lenses are in good condition, it is always possible to replace the light bulbs on old rear light assemblies. This can make old rear lights with a great design safer and even more modern-looking.

The last consideration to take into account when buying used rear light assemblies has to do with age and wear. Buying used items sometimes implies a reduced durability; however, some old and vintage rear lights may have a long useful life.

Light Bulb and Light Types

The original rear lights on the majority of car models feature incandescent bulbs, which use a similar technology to that of common household bulbs: a tungsten filament heats up, radiating light when powered with electricity. In the case of rear lights, common bulbs actually feature two filaments, one for the standard position light and the other one to be used as a stop light.

Incandescent Bulb Options

One of the quickest ways to customise rear lights is to change the original bulbs for brighter ones. In the case of these incandescent lights, brighter light also means increased heat. This may cause discolouring and even the melting of plastic lenses, therefore, it is only safe to use brighter lights with more amperage in the case of glass lenses. As an alternative, it is also possible to drill ventilation holes in the plastic housing of rear lights, in order to help dissipate heat.

Halogen bulbs

A car's original rear light bulbs can also be replaced with halogen bulbs. While some common halogen bulbs can fit standard sockets, others may require special wiring. Although halogen bulbs also use tungsten filaments, these are enclosed in quartz and filled with halogen gas. The halogen gas makes the bulbs last longer, as it eliminates oxygen, preventing corrosion and other similar problems. At the same time, the halogen helps produce a brighter light by increasing heat. As these lights can get hotter than extra-bright incandescent bulbs, they should only be used with glass rear lights.

LED Rear Lights

Light-emitting diode (LED) rear lights offer many advantages when compared to standard and halogen lamps, but they also present some disadvantages. Featuring multiple bulbs, LED systems commonly emit numerous glittering lights, which provides increased visibility, resulting in better safety on the road.

This lighting technology is also more energy-efficient, using up much less battery power than standard car lights, which can ultimately result in an extended battery life. As for durability, LED lights can last for 10 years. Devoid of dissipated heating problems and easily breakable filaments, they are highly durable and reliable. Built to endure difficult road conditions, they perform well even when subjected to extreme vibrations and thermal shocks.

LED lights are also easy to install. Unfortunately, their higher initial cost can be discouraging, even when LED rear light assemblies actually constitute an excellent investment in the long run. The complex circuits of this type of lights can also be considered a disadvantage, as they can make repairs troublesome.

Rear Light Safety

On the open road, rear visibility can easily become a matter of life and death. While even the authorities agree that the powerful LED lights first introduced by luxury car manufacturers might save lives, the present cost of this type of lights makes a massive upgrade very unlikely.

As of today, road safety regulations require a properly functioning steady red rear light on all cars. This and all other required rear lights must be visible from a reasonable distance. In the UK, a rear fog lamp is also required for all vehicles first used after 1980. In the case of rear light assemblies combining stop and turn lights, each lamp is required to be at least 50% visible from the rear. As a general rule, none of these or any other rear lights should be obscured or housed in an opaque casing.

European statistics reveal that a hefty percentage of rear collisions might be prevented by improving rear lights on all legally circulating vehicles. Therefore, replacing and fixing rear light assemblies should be some of the main safety concerns of responsible drivers.


When it comes to car light components, rear light assemblies are some of the most crucial ones, as they play an important role in road safety. Buying used rear lights can be a way to both customise the look of a car and improve its overall safety.

There are many legal regulations one must consider when looking to buy rear light assemblies. Once that is out of the way, the main focus needs to be on durability and brightness. While halogen lights can be very bright, they can melt plastic casings, so, they must be used with glass ones only. LED lights can be expensive, but they can last for 10 years and provide increased safety in a variety of ways.

It is possible to create a wholly different effect in rear lights by simply changing their light bulbs, so, the overall look of a newly purchased set can be greatly altered by this simple switch. Whether one is looking to create a new stylish look for a car or in need of a replacement for a set of damaged rear lights, the online market offers a wide variety of affordable, high quality options.

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