How to Fix a Trailer Light On The Fly

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Emergency Trailer Light Fix. How-to on the fly!

Duck Brand Tail Light Tape. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse while out on the road than getting a ticket. I have been pulled over for faulty trailer lights before and it is always far away from home so you end up just paying the fine since you can't go to court, it is very annoying. For that reason I always make sure all my trailer lights are in good working order. This is also to stay safe, if people can't see what you and your trailer are doing it can be dangerous on the road. Recently we came out of a Wal-Mart far from home and found that someone had been kind enough to back into our trailer, thanks! What to do? I looked and Wal-Mart did not have the correct lens to fix the light, and we didn't have time to track down a trailer store, so we had to think outside the box. We bought a roll of Tail Light Tape. I do not recommend using this as a long term fix, but it can save you in a pinch, and in this case, we were in a pinch.

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The finding of the broken tailight lens.

The Broken Tail Light Lens. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

This is what we found when we arrived back at our trailer. Needless to say this is not how we left it. Remember not to get fired up and angry when you find something like this. Just because the car parked next to you looks like it's probably owned and driven by the type of idiot who would be happy to destroy your tail light and walk away from it, that doesn't mean he actually did it. Don't forget to look for dents that need repair, too. 

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This is what the trailer lens should look like.

The good lens. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

We used the good trailer light as a guide of what we wanted our repair to look like. It's never a bad idea to have your lights match each other. 

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Removing the light from the trailer.

Removing the light from the trailer. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

We were able to remove the light with minimal effort by un-bolting the rear bolts that secure the plastic light to the trailer. Before you remove it, you should check your bulbs to be sure none of the bulbs need replacement. If they do, you should replace the light bulb now, before you put tape all over it!

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Wrapping the light with the Tail Light Tape.

Wrapping the broken light with the Tail Light Tape. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

Once we had the light removed we wrapped it with the Tail Light Tape. The tape is a strong semi-clear red tape that mimics the original lens. Even though it was pretty cold outside, hovering somewhere in the 30s, the tape was still sticky and worked well. Make sure you leave the ground contacts on the back of the light clear so the light stays fully grounded. If they seem very corroded, you can clean them off with sandpaper or the flat side of a screwdriver or pocket knife. 

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The finished fix.

The finished fix. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

We wrapped the light and re-installed it. It isn't pretty but it held up throughout the whole trip and kept us safe.

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The fixed light in action.

The fixed light in action. Photo by Adam Wright 2010

Once we fixed the light with the Tail Light Tape we tested it out and it worked great. Like I said, this was not a pretty fix, but we stayed safe and avoided a costly ticket. The Tail Light Tape worked well as an emergency fix but should not be used as a lasting fix.