Picture of Change the brake/signal light on your 2003 Dodge Truck

You might think this instructable doesn’t apply to you. But, if you read through it, you just may glean some useful information.

First off, you’ve probably discovered that your vehicle’s “Manual” is totally useless in figuring out how to gain access to the various bulbs on the exterior of your car. Let’s face it; the manufacturer wants you to go to the dealer to have that bulb changed. (Better that you pay them $100 for ten minutes work, rather than you spend $5 on a bulb & DIY.)

I have a van that requires accessing bulbs from somewhere inside the body. My truck accesses the lights from the outside.

Step 1: Look for screws that may give access to the lamp housing

Picture of Look for screws that may give access to the lamp housing
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Here, the screws are covered/hidden by the tailgate. I looked all around the lamp housing and found nothing, I looked on the inside of the truck bed too — Nada. I saw the Torx screws and thought I’d give them a chance.

Sure enough, they released the housing on one side. But the plastic was still held by something on the other side (towards the truck’s side). I didn’t know if there were more screws to remove so I was reluctant to just pull — If I break the housing, it’s going to get real expensive, real fast.

As I moved the housing around trying to see what’s holding things in place, I spotted the pins and figured that they were just a press fit. They were, and with a little tug, the housing pulled away from the truck body.

Step 2: Replace the bulb

Picture of Replace the bulb
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Now that you have the housing off, it’s a pretty simple task to remove the burnt bulb and replace it.

BTW, go to your local auto parts store before you start. They can sell you the exact bulb you need. (In fact, if you’re cute, they might even help you change it.) (If they don’t help, don’t worry, your mother, and me too, still think you’re cute.) ūüėČ

Some lamp holders pull out of the housing, some twist out. I was lucky; there was an arrow that said “Turn”. I turned.

Look at your replacement bulb and see how it mounts. Mine is a press fit that has a tab so it goes in only one way. Many bulbs have a “bayonet” mount that press-and-turn into the lamp socket.

Step 3: Put it all back together

Picture of Put it all back together

Almost done. Before you reassemble everything, turn on the Turn Signal and verify that it works. If it doesn’t check that the bulb is seated well (pull it out & put it back). Fit the bulb holder back into the housing — there may be a grounding connection that’s not being made. Do you need to turn on the key or start the engine?

If it still doesn’t work, well…. you may just have to make that appointment with your mechanic.

If all works, CONGRATULATIONS! Put everything back in it’s place and give yourself a pat on the back.

A final note: The first time I changed a turn signal bulb, it was in the front. It took me a half day to do it.

  1. I couldn’t find the screws that held things together.
  2. The screws were so small and hidden, I couldn’t tell what kind they were. (Torx)
  3. I made TWO trips to the hardware store, guessing each time what size I needed. (#10 torx) before finally
  4. buying a set of extra long bits. (the only way I could get a #10 Torx.)

Save yourself some trouble. If you need specialty drivers, buy a set. After all, you’re a DIY-er. You’ll need them again.