How to Make Custom Plastic Taillights

by J. Williams

Everyone loves their cars, but one person's car often looks like another. Creating custom taillights is a fun and cheap way to personalize your car. With a few simple designs and inexpensive tools your car will stand out from the rest.

Getting started

Peel any stickers off of your covers. Using Goo Gone, rub off any remaining residue. Use alcohol to wipe away the oily film left by the Goo Gone.

Use contact paper to design your pattern. You can do this by freehand or use the computer to create a design. If using the computer you will have to print and trace your design onto the contact paper, or buy contact paper designed specifically for your computer. Don't forget that you are drawing on the back of the contact paper, so your image should be reversed.

Cut out the image with the X-Acto knife or scissors. Do not cut up the outside of your pattern. Set it aside for use later.

Place your cutout on the taillight where you wish the design to be. Tape the outside scrap of contact paper to the taillight cover. You will use this as a guide to paint your pattern.

Use masking tape to cover any remaining exposed taillight. Do not cover your pattern cut out. Also cover the back of the taillight with masking tape. This will ensure that you do not get paint where you do not want it.

Using your chosen color of spray paint, cover the exposed tail light that is within your pattern. Remove the pattern and masking tape. Allow to dry.

Apply a layer of clear acrylic. Allow to dry. Repeat to apply a second layer. Allow to dry. Your product is now complete.


  • check Use a credit card to run along the edges of the contact paper to ensure there are no gaps. Buy an extra set of taillights in case you mess up. Work in a well-ventilated area.


  • close Make sure your custom taillight covers comply with local laws. Be sure that your design isn't covering so much of your tail light that it might block others from seeing when you are stopping or turning.

Items you will need

About the Author

Judy Williams has spent more than six years of her writing career as a video-game reviewer at and a fiction writer for "Equinox" magazine. She enjoys writing about culture, folklore, mythology and religion. Williams graduated from Lindenwood University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and sociology. She is currently completing a Master of Arts in history with an emphasis in museum studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

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