As a broad generalisation tail lights / rear lamps are an extremely simple part to replace. There will of course be exceptions to the rule but in the most part you wont need any special equipment or great level of skill to change a tail lamp on your car, in-fact it’s an ideal job for a newbie DIY’er to cut their teeth on.

We recently replaced the tail lights on our 2005 mk5 Volkswagen Golf GTi. Check out the video below to see how it’s done…

…or if you prefer to take your time, read our step-by-step guide:

What you’ll Need:

This will vary from car to car but on our mk5 Golf all we needed was:

  • 13mm Spanner or socket & ratchet
  • Flat screwdriver

How Long Will it Take?

Again, this will vary from car to car but on our car it took about 10 minutes per side

Getting Started:

Firstly peel back the carpet section behind the rear lamp, exposing the electrical connection and the two plastic nuts

replace a tail light mk 5 golf gti

Use your flat head screwdriver to gently release the clip on the electrical connector.

replace a tail light golf gti

Move the connector out of the way and then loosen the two plastic nuts a couple of turns with the 13mm spanner. Once loosened you should be able to take them off more quickly by hand.

You can now remove the lamp. The bulb holder will come away with the lamp housing and will need to be removed and re-fitted to your new lamp. The bulb holder is simply clipped into place.

la mp


To remove it you’ll need to very gently prise back the plastic tabs whilst pulling upwards on the bulb holder. The plastic tabs holding it in place can be very brittle and are easy to break so extra care here.

release replace a tail light bulb holder

Fitting the bulb holder into the new lamp is just the opposite process of removing it and fitting the new lamp into the car is also the opposite process of removing it. Simple!

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