Rear Light Assemblies Buying Guide

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Rear Light Assemblies Buying Guide

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident in the United Kingdom. Statistics indicate that 420,000 rear-end collisions occur in the UK annually. A driver can incur a hefty fine if he is pulled over for a non-functioning rear light assembly. This is because the purpose of a rear light assembly is to signal to other road users a driver's intentions on the road, including slowing down, stopping, and turning or changing lanes. Rear light assemblies also increase a car's visibility in low-light conditions. Each rear light assembly has several lighting components, and each has a specific purpose.

When shopping for replacement rear light assemblies, the buyer should factor in the make and model of car. This is because rear light assemblies are often manufactured with specific vehicles in mind. There are also assemblies for the left and for the right side of the car and these assemblies are not interchangeable. While rear light assemblies are often replaced in their entirety, it is possible to replace individual components, like bulbs and coloured lenses. It is important for the buyer to take local laws into account, as regulations regarding rear light assemblies can vary from country to country.

Drivers these days often turn to eBay to find replacement vehicle parts, including rear light assemblies.

What Are Rear Light Assemblies?

Rear light assemblies are basically composed of three lighting units: turn signal or indicator lights, parking lights, and braking lights. Each of these components is important, and if they become damaged or start to malfunction, it is advisable to replace the defective unit immediately. Driving with broken turn signals, parking lights, or brake lights is very dangerous. It is also against the law.

Parking Lights

Parking lamps are automotive lights used to increase the visibility of cars in a variety of situations. While most countries do not require the use of parking lights, almost all cars have parking lights. This light is linked to the headlights and so is not on an independent circuit. Parking lights must emit white light and so the lenses on parking lights are always clear. While parking lights are not as bright as headlights, a car's parking lights ensure a car is visible in low-light conditions.

Turn Signal or Indicator Lights

Turn signal lights inform trailing drivers that the car ahead is turning. A driver uses the indicator lights to signal his intention to turn the car left or right, or change lanes. All drivers can attest to the fact that the indicator lights are the most underutilised signalling lights on a car. Many drivers simply forget to engage the turn signal when turning. Not engaging the indicator or driving a car with a malfunctioning indicator light is one of the leading causes of accidents.

Brake Light

The brake lights warn any trailing drivers about the driver's intention to bring the car to a stop. When the brake light is lit, the drivers behind the stopping car know that they must reduce speed or come to a stop themselves. When brake lights fail to function properly, the likelihood of rear-end collisions increases dramatically. This is because it is difficult for drivers on the road to judge changes in another car's speed.

Reverse Lights

Reverse lights provide extra visibility in situations where lighting conditions are poor, such as on a rainy day or at twilight. These lights signal a driver's intention to reverse the car. The driver may be trying to back out of a driveway onto the street, or hitch a caravan to the car.

Coloured Lenses

Some cars and trucks have clear, red, or amber lenses. There really is no difference between these lens covers, except for the fact that these lenses come in different colours. If tail lights need to be replaced, it is a good idea to replace them as a set so that the colour of the lenses remain uniform. Remember, when ordering a right tail light, the right light is located on the driver's side of the car, and a left tail light is located on the passenger's side of the car.

Aftermarket vs. OEM Car Parts

The definition of an aftermarket part is any vehicle part that is manufactured by a third party, and not by the original part's manufacturer. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts are original car parts, comparable to the factory-installed car parts. There are many companies now that make parts according to specifications laid out by the original equipment manufacturers. Buyers needs to consider the pros and cons of aftermarket versus OEM parts when shopping for rear light assemblies for their vehicles.

OEM Parts


OEM Parts


Aftermarket Parts


Aftermarket Parts


Easier to find the exact part required

More expensive

Less expensive than OEM parts

Buyer has a number of options to sort through

Greatest assurance of quality; parts come with warranties

Only available from licensed dealerships

Parts are widely available and so easier to source

Quality can vary greatly; and parts do not always come with warranties

The bottom line is that although not all aftermarket parts are created equal, all OEM parts are. OEM parts are meant to fit the vehicle exactly, and while many aftermarket parts, including rear light assemblies, are built to spec and exacting quality standards, these parts do not always fit the vehicles they were designed for. If after a collision, a rear light assembly is damaged and needs replacement, a driver should opt for OEM parts. If OEM parts are outside a driver's budget, he should do the necessary research to determine whether or not an aftermarket part is compatible with his vehicle.

Installing Rear Light Assemblies

Installing rear light assemblies is actually quite simple. Any person experienced with do-it-yourself projects should have no trouble fitting a new rear light assembly to a vehicle. It should go without saying, but it bears repeating, left and right assembles are not interchangeable and the assembly must be compatible with the make and model of vehicle.

To remove the old rear light assembly, one needs to access the screws that fix the assembly in place. Depending on the make and model of car, access might be through the boot of the car or the tailgate. Once the screws are located, use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screws. With the rear light assembly loosened, unscrew the light bulb housing from the back of the assembly. When removing the old light assembly, be careful not to pull at the assembly too hard, as this could damage wiring.

Before fitting the new unit, check for the presence of a rubber gasket. This gasket goes between the rear light assembly and the car body, and ensures a tight seal that protects the wiring from any moisture. If a gasket is present, it is critical that one put the gasket back in place before screwing on the new assembly.

Place the new assembly into the housing. If the new rear light assembly has tabs at the bottom, secure the bottom of the unit first. Next, replace and secure the screws on the sides. Secure the screws at the top of the unit last. Finally test the lights. If everything has gone well, the lights should work perfectly.


No vehicle should be on the roads without functioning tail lights. To ensure the safety of everyone within the vehicle as well as trailing vehicles, rear light assemblies must be kept in working order by replacing any burned out bulbs, cracked lenses, or faulty wiring. It is often easier to just replace the whole rear light assembly instead of going to the trouble of repairing individual lighting components.

When searching for rear light assemblies, the buyer has many choices to choose from. However, not every rear light assembly fits every car. When a rear light assembly is required, a buyer should check the vehicle manual to determine which type is best for that particular vehicle. The buyer also needs to consider the benefits and limitations of OEM versus third party, aftermarket parts. Rear light assemblies are available from many different locations, such as auto parts shops, and online sites such as eBay.

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