Since 1968, amber front and red rear side markers have been a strict safety requirement across all 50 States. They have been proven to annually prevent over 100,000 accidents, near the same number in non-fatal injuries, and close to $350 million in damages. Buying one is pretty straightforward, but you can maximize what your investment by following these simple tips.
The first thing that you should know is that new and replacement markers should be an exact fit for your vehicle's specific year, make, and model. With the exception of a few of its components-as you will soon see-there is no such thing as Universal fit when it comes to side markers.
Bringing it All Together
There are five components that make up your side marker. Each component can be replaced individually depending on the damage and/or need, or the entire thing can be replaced altogether.
- Bulb Socket: This holds the actual bulb that lights the marker up. This is the only component that is generally universal across the board. The thing to look for when it comes to the socket is the connectors. Very rarely will you find a set-up that isn't the standard 3-wire-but always check the manual of your vehicle or the existing socket to be sure.
- Base: This secures the entire side marker in place and is always chromed out to reflect and enhance the light coming from the bulb. The two things to look out for when picking a base are the fit on your car, and whether or not the one you need is for the driver's side or passenger's side of your vehicle-these cannot be interchanged.
- Lens: The lens is the most visible aspect of the side marker. Do not be fooled by those selling you lenses in a variety of colors. Federal regulations are very clear that the only acceptable color is amber. It is again important to consider the specificity of fit for your ride and which side you're looking to fix a marker on. Some customizability is allowed for vehicles with flat sides-it's still safest to stick with an exact model.
- Trim: Side marker trims anchor the assembly in place. Almost always chromed, they allow for a great deal of customization and come in a variety of designs: from the plain standard versions to those with grills incorporated. The only real limiting factors for the trim are the shape of the base and of the lens that you have installed.
Getting It Right
Research-and a lot of it-make it easy to bring all the elements together to keep you street-legal and safe. For any easier shopping experience, it's always a good bet to use your present markers as a reference. Better still, try to shop on a website that gives you the option to incorporate the specific year, make, and model of your car when searching for side marker parts-this approach minimizes errors of fit significantly.