Replacing the Brake Lights on a Chevy Tahoe

by Valerie David

Taillights are necessary to warn the drivers behind you of imminent turns, reversing direction, and sudden braking. Driving with burnt out brake lights could confuse other drivers and lead to an accident. You can also be pulled over by the police for malfunctioning lights, and receive a costly ticket. With the help of a friend, replacing the brake lights on a Chevy Tahoe is a simple process. There's no reason to put off this important task.

Removing the Brake Light Bulb

Park your Chevy Tahoe on a level pavement. Turn the engine off.

Open the tailgate. Locate the two screws adjacent to the affected taillight inside the hatch doorjamb. Use a Phillips screwdriver #2 to remove both screws.

Grip the edges of the taillight housing and pull it straight back. The housing should pop out easily.

Look at the back of the taillight housing and locate the brake bulb socket and wires at the bottom. The socket will line up with the red brake lens on the front of the housing.

Push the plastic lock tab in on the bulb socket. Holding the tab down, turn the socket counter-clockwise until it stops.

Lift the bulb socket up and out of the taillight housing. Flip it over to access the bulb itself. Grasp the bulb at the bottom, and pull straight up to remove the bulb. Do not twist.

Replacing the Brake Light Bulb

Replace the old brake light with a new 3157 bulb. Fit the base of the bulb into the socket and press down gently until it snaps into place.

Hold onto the taillight housing and bulb. Ask a friend to turn the Tahoe's ignition to the accessory setting and apply the brake. The new bulb should light up in response. Release the brake and turn off the ignition (See the Tips section for more information).

Push the bulb through the opening in the taillight housing, towards the outer brake light lens. Line the bulb socket tabs up with the notches in the housing (it can only fit in one way). Turn the socket clockwise until the plastic lock tab clicks past the lock stop.

Grasp both sides of the taillight housing. Line up the two dowel pins at the back with the slotted holes in the body panel. Push into place.

Hold the taillight steady. Replace the two screws in the tailgate doorjamb, applying the first few turns of each screw by hand.

Tighten the screws with the Phillips screwdriver until they are snug against the doorjamb. Do not over tighten.

Repeat the removal and replacement steps for the other brake light, if necessary.


  • check If the new bulb does not illuminate when the brake is pressed, the new bulb may be bad. If a second new bulb does not work, you have a fuse or other electrical issue.

Items you will need

About the Author

Valerie David has been a professional writer for over a decade, composing articles for,, IMDB, and her own TV news blog. She has also been published in fiction, with short romantic stories and a manga comic script. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with extensive background as a research librarian.