The tail light lens is one of the commonly damaged parts during rear-end car accidents. If broken or shattered, it is important that you get a replacement as soon as possible. Changing lenses should not be limited to repairs though. Customizers can pimp their ride with a unique set. Read this simple guide to give you a jump start in helping you pick the right lens for your car.
Looking for the right lens is simply finding a specific set designed to fit your car. For most American makes, OE replacement lenses can be identified by a small alphanumeric code etched on the lens' surface, or on the assembly's gasket. This will give your car's make, model, and year which will help in the buying. Note that this option may be impossible to do if your lens is completely ruined, and the code is mixed in the many pieces of shattered plastic.
Lenses are commonly secured to the tail light assembly in one of two ways: screws, or glues. Your choice is automatically limited if you're only looking for an OE replacement. If you want to convert to an attachment style different from your car's current style, you may need to modify the whole assembly.
- Screw: Lenses are secured to the assembly using screws. This makes installation, removal, and replacement quick and easy. However, this style means having screw holes on the lens itself, giving it an uneven finish. The assembly may not be fully sealed against water leaks that can damage the lights. Gaskets must be in good shape to keep the lights safe.
- Glue: This type of lens has better sealing and protecting qualities compared to screw-in types. It also has a cleaner finish because there are no holes for screws. However, since it's discouraged to pry the lens out during repairs, installation and removal is more difficult.
Tail lights contain the parking and braking indicators. Other styles can also include reverse indicators, and turning signals. Each light is a different color for the lens. Most come in only two colors: red for brakes, clear for reverse. Some include amber for turn signals. Match the lens' color to the set of your assembly.
As a final note, before you pick a set of tail lights, make sure that it meets DOT (Department of Transport) / SAE (Society of Automotive Engineering) standards. Lights that pass these strict quality control measures are guaranteed bright and safe enough to use.