How to Replace Your Turn Signal Bulb

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How to Replace Your Turn Signal Bulb

In order to make roadways safe for all the participants, traffic needs to be regulated. For this reason, many rules have been implemented in various countries, and the vehicles themselves are also equipped with an array of safety features. Inside the cars are air bags and seat belts that are designed to minimise the damages that may result from a crash. However, the vehicles also have preventative devices, such as signal lights, that let other road users know what kind of maneuver the driver is planning by lighting the relevant turn signal.

When the turn signal bulbs burn out, they should be replaced as quickly as possible in order to avoid fines as well as dangerous situations. You can buy turn signal bulbs from car parts shops, or they can be conveniently ordered from online auction sites, such as eBay. With the knowledge of how turn signal bulbs work, it is quite easy to learn how to replace one, be it either at the front or the rear of the car.

Types of Turn Signal Bulbs

As a rule, both turn and brake signal bulbs use the same standards on all car makes and models. However, some variations do occur, and therefore it is important to check the type of  turn signal bulb before buying a new one. The most common turn signal bulb types are called 1156 and 1157 bulbs. These bulbs should not be mixed up, because using one instead of another may cause problems, such as the dashboard lights going on when you press on the brake. Both of these turn signal bulbs can be either round in shape or can have the bayonet style.

1156 Turn Signal Bulb

The 1156 turn signal bulbs are used on cars where the turn lights and brake lights use separate bulbs. Therefore, this bulb is designed for a single purpose only. It is a single-filament bulb that only has one wire in its structure. At the base, the bulb has one brass socket. This bulb is not keyed, so it can go inside the socket in many ways, unlike the 1157.

1157 Turn Signal Bulb

The 1157 turn signal bulb is commonly used in applications where the brake and turn light share the same bulb. The 1157 is a double-filament bulb that has two threads inside it. As this bulb is keyed, the user can only insert it into the socket in one way. Moreover, the lock tabs on the bulb also prevent it from going into the socket the wrong way, because these are placed on different levels.

Removing the Old Turn Signal Bulb

Quite often, the hardest task when replacing the turn signal bulb is removing the old one. First, you need to remove the lens that covers the bulb, so that you can reach the bulb. If you are lucky, this simply involves unscrewing a few screws. Hatchbacks may also come with access panels in the corners. These allow you to easily access the sockets. You can probably find information on how to remove the lens from your car's signal light in the instruction manual of the car.

As mentioned above, a turn signal bulb can either have a round base or be shaped like a bayonet. The removal process is slightly different for each type. Sometimes you even have to take the whole light assembly out and then remove the bulb, but the specific instructions depend on the make and model of your car. Refer to the manual.

Removing Round-Based Bulbs

Removing a round-based bulb is a relatively simple task. Usually, you only have to push the bulb a little and then turn it counter-clockwise. In order to protect your hands, you should wear gloves while removing the bulb. That way, if the bulb breaks, your hands are not injured.

Removing Bayonet Bulbs

The bayonet bulbs cannot be simply turned out of their sockets. They have plastic tabs that lock them into place. Before starting to turn a bayonet bulb, you should take a small screwdriver and use it to unlock the tab. Then you can pull the bulb out.

Removing Bulbs at the Front

If you are removing the turn signal bulb from the front of the automobile, you first have to turn the wheel in the opposite direction of the bulb you are replacing. Do this while your vehicle's engine is on. For instance, when you are changing the right turn signal bulb, turn the wheel as far to the left as possible. As a result, the wheel moves out of the way, and getting the bulb out is much easier. With a screwdriver, remove the wheel well cover and set it aside. Put your hand inside the wheel well and locate the turn signal bulb. Turn it counter-clockwise in order to unscrew it from the assembly.

Removing Bulbs at the Back

Most turn signal bulbs placed at the back of the vehicle can be accessed from inside the boot of the car. Sometimes these access points are covered, in which case you also need to remove the cover to get to the bulbs. You may have to take the whole light assembly out. Such assemblies are generally connected by large plastic nuts.

Replacing a Turn Signal Bulb on a Car

After the old broken turn signal bulb has been removed, the new one can be installed. The specific instructions may vary by car makes and models, but some general guidelines are available as well. Have a clean rag or tissue at hand when unpacking the new signal bulb, in order to prevent the oils on your skin from getting onto the bulb. Otherwise, the bulb may burn out prematurely.

Replacing the Front Turn Signal Bulbs

Carefully insert the bulb at the back of the turn lens cover. Make sure that it is all the way in. The bulb should be lined up evenly and its rubber gasket should not show. Plug the wires back and make sure the bulb is securely fitted. If you need to reattach the wheel well cover, do so.

Replacing the Rear Turn Signal Bulbs

After you have removed the old turn signal bulb at the rear, put the new bulb inside the socket and turn, if necessary. Exactly how the bulb should be put into place depends on its type. The bulb package may have some useful information on it, so be sure to read it. Next, reconnect the electrical connector found at the back of the bulb. If there are any wire clips attached to the socket, you also need to put them back on. Put the bulb socket back into the assembly. Finally, restore the light assembly's initial location.

Buying Replacement Turn Signal Bulbs on eBay

When searching for replacement turn signal bulbs on eBay, first determine the type of bulb required for your car. You can either check your car's instruction manual or see if anything is written on the bulb. It is easier to find the bulb you need if you start with a specific search instead of the general "turn signal bulb" search. If you cannot find the specifications for your car, you can also try to search by the car make and model. In any case, type the keywords into the search box that you can find at the top of any eBay page. After you receive the initial search results, you can sort them by auction time or price. This helps you to find items that are being sold soon and helps you to keep within your budget. If the first search does not yield the desired results, you can click on related searches and see similar results.

Read through the detailed item listing to ensure that the signal bulb is the right one for your car. In case of any doubt, you can also contact the seller and ask. Other things you may want to ask the seller about include refunds, exchanges, delivery, payment methods, and postage.


Traffic is regulated by many rules and regulations, and safe driving involves many visual indicators as well. For instance, the turn signals on vehicles show where a car is going to turn and thus make the traffic safer for everyone. However, as with any electrical component, a turn signal bulb may burn out. In this case, it should be replaced immediately. This is something you can do yourself.

Generally, the turn signal bulbs are the same as the brake bulbs, and the same types are used for most car makes and models. When in doubt, check the instruction manual of your car. The most common types available are the 1156 and 1157 bulbs, which differ from one another by the number of filaments and by how they fit into sockets. These bulbs are not interchangeable.

In order to remove your old turn signal bulb, first detach the lens cover. Then, if necessary, take out the whole light assembly and detach the wires. Lastly, unscrew the bulb by turning it counter-clockwise. In the front, be sure to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction when replacing the bulbs, in order to get the wheels out of the way. At the back, the bulbs are often accessible from the boot.

When handling a new bulb, have a tissue or clean rag nearby in order to avoid skin contact with the bulb, as it may affect the bulb's performance. After putting the bulb into place, reconnect the wires. If you removed the light assembly, put it back into place, and the process is complete.

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