Here is a scenario that I’m sure you all have experienced: you are driving along without a care in the world when all of a sudden you look in your rearview mirror and see the flashing lights of a police car signaling for you to pull over.   You comply and the officer tells you that your tail lights are out and he proceeds to write you a ticket for $100 and tells you to have a nice day.

Sound familiar? That’s because it has happened to all of us most likely, something so simple that it could have been avoided if we had just paid attention to our tail light assembly before driving. But seriously, who does that? We need to go to the store; we hop in the car, start it up, and go to the store. We don’t get out and have someone pump the brakes, turn the turn signals on, and flash the emergency flashers, all to see if it’s safe to go to the store. Nobody does that, right?

Okay, that was the worst case scenario! Now here is the good news: when a tail light goes out, or the brake lights, or the flashers, or the fog lights, we are looking at a repair job that could be done by a 5th grader. There is no need to go to your neighborhood mechanic; no need to freak out and worry about the money it is going to cost you. This isn’t like you are facing a repair on the transmission or the fuel pump. Few of us know how to fix those things, just as few of us know how to replace an engine. However, you need to know nothing to fix a tail light.

Here is how you fix a tail light. Pay attention because this gets pretty complicated. Open your owner’s manual for your car; look up tail light replacement; follow the instructions. In ten minutes the job is done. Oh, you lost your owner’s manual? Fine, look it up online! No matter what you drive it is simply a matter of pulling the old light out of its socket and pushing a new one in. Is the light expensive? No, it costs in the neighborhood of $3-$5.

How about if you have to replace the plastic protective covering? Simply go to a salvage yard, find the car that you drive, take off the tail light assembly ( might need a screwdriver) and buy the whole assembly for a fraction of the price you would pay at an auto parts store.

If you know nothing about car repair and you need work done on your brakes or alternator then by all means have a mechanic do it; but something as simple as a tail light you can and should do it yourself.

One other word of advice: if you are even the least bit accomplished at repairing things, always go to a salvage yard (junk yard) to buy replacement parts. Why pay more for new aftermarket parts if you don’t have to?