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How to Replace Tail Lights on a Toyota Sienna

by Marion Cobretti

The tail light bulbs in your Sienna will fail over time from the consistent wear and tear associated with periodic use. However, damage can occur, and most often does, from a water leak around the tail light assembly. This can happen from a dry-rotted seal around the assembly. Cracks or holes in the tail light lens can also lead to dirt contamination. With a few tools, you can replace the Toyota Sienna’s defective tail lights right at home. The repair should take you no more than one hour to complete.

Step 1

Turn on your Sienna’s tail lights and proceed to the rear of the vehicle. Identify which of the tail light bulbs have burned out and then turn the power back off. Pull the hood release lever located on the driver’s side interior, beneath the dashboard.

Step 2

Raise the hood and remove the black cable from the battery with a socket wrench. The black cable is the negative cable. There should also be a negative sign (-) next to it, on top of the battery.

Step 3

Lift and properly support the lift-gate at the rear. On the inner side of the tail light assembly, you should see two small bolts. Remove both of them with the socket wrench.

Step 4

Grasp the tail light assembly with both hands and slowly pull it toward you, away from the frame. Use care, because there are wires connected to the assembly.

Step 5

Remove the taillight socket by rotating it a quarter turn counterclockwise to unlock it from the assembly. Pull the socket away from the tail light assembly slowly.

Step 6

Remove the defective bulb by grasping it gently between three fingers. Pull the bulb straight out of the socket. Put on a pair of latex glove and open the new bulb’s packaging.

Step 7

Apply a small hair line bead of dielectric grease on the metal contacts at the bottom of the bulb. If the grease gets on the glass, discard the bulb and start again with a new bulb. Insert the new bulb back into the socket and gently push it down into place.

Step 8

Return the socket back to its original position in the tail light assembly. Lock the socket in place by rotating it clockwise a quarter turn. Remount the tail light assembly in the opposite manner of its removal. Return and tighten the two tail light assembly bolts with your socket wrench. Shut the lift-gate.

Reconnect and secure the black cable to the battery with your socket wrench. Shut the hood and turn on the power to the tail lights once more to check the repair.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench set
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Latex gloves
  • Dielectric grease

About the Author

Marion Cobretti began working as a freelance writer in 2006. His work appears on Newsvine and other websites. Cobretti completed a three-year course in automotive technology and is currently seeking an Associate of Applied Science at Macomb Community College.

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