How to Replace a License Plate Bulb


Many states require that your license plate is visible at night. For this reason, vehicles are equipped with license-plate bulbs. These bulbs are usually mounted above the plate, although in some cases they may be mounted to the side of the plate. A typical license plate bulb is a standard wedge-based bulb. A replacement is usually less than $5, but the exact bulb specification depends on your vehicle. Replacing a license-plate bulb does not require automotive expertise or skill.

Things You'll Need

  • Replacement bulb
  • Screwdriver or socket wrench
  • Paper towel or gloves
  • Purchase a new license-plate bulb. Check your owner's manual to determine the specified bulb. You can also look up the bulb number online (see Resources). Additionally, you can contact an auto-parts store or a dealer, provide them with information on your vehicle, and find out the correct replacement bulb.

  • Examine the license-plate bulb lens to determine what type of tool you'll need, and then acquire the appropriate tool. In most cases, you'll need either a Phillips or a flat-head screwdriver. In other cases, you might need a wrench. Also, look at the license plate itself; determine what type of tool you'll need to remove the bolts or screws from it.

  • Remove the bolts or screws from the license plate. Pull the license plate off to create more working room.

  • Remove the bolts or screws from the license-plate bulb lens. Grasp the lens and pull it off. On the back, you'll find the license-plate bulb. Pull the bulb straight out of its socket.

  • Wrap the new bulb in a paper towel, or wear gloves to keep from touching the glass. Insert the replacement bulb into the socket. Place the license-plate bulb lens back into place. Tighten the screws or bolts.

  • Reposition the license plate. Re-attach it by tightening the bolts or screws.

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  • Photo Credit wv license plate image by timur1970 from
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