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Replacing Es300 (1994) Taillight Lamp Bulbs

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You have to remove both taillight assemblies to get to any of you bulbs. While this is not entirely time-consuming (<1 hour the first time you do this), I would recommend replacing all of the bulbs at the same time and not worrying about it for a while...


14 total light bulbs (part numbers listed are Sylvania ( www.sylvania.com )

[QUANTITY 6] 1157 bulbs (I recommend 1157LL long life) (Brake Light bulbs)

[QUANTITY 4] 1156 bulbs (I recommend 1156LL Long Life) (Reverse/Turn Signal bulbs)

[QUANTITY 4] 168 bulbs (corner marker and license plate lights)


1 pair of latex (or latex free is your allergic) gloves

small flat-head screwdriver

Phillips screwdriver

8mm open end wrench (5/16" is good substitution if lacking metric)

8mm deep socket wrench

Flashlight (optional)

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Step 1:

Clean out your trunk :)

Step 2:

Remove or fold back carpet (I took both of mine out and vacuumed them)

Remove or set aside the cover to the spare tire and tools area. (good time to check the condition of your spare)

Step 3:

Remove trunk light lens (use small flat-head screwdriver to pry carefully if it will not come out in your hands easily)

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One thing to keep in mind is their are only 4 studs which have nuts to loosen. Their are lots of nuts back their which have nothing to do with removing the taillight.

1 is on the furthest point out where the lens curves

2 are on the upper part of the light

and one is at the lower insdie of the taillight

here is alittle more detail

pry up the trim plate on top of the trunk ,it has no screws just clips

remove a plastic grommet from each corner of the 3 carpet panels.

just pull back to acess the nuts

no need for gloves or cleaning the trunk

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Step 4:

Remove 3 black plastic quarter-turn retainer screws on top of rear panel by with phillips screwdriver and pull out carefully

Remove 2 black plastic nut caps on bottom of rear panel using small flat-head screwdriver to pry carefully if you cannot get them off with your fingers.


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Step 5:

Remove rear panel carefully by sliding down and then out. If you are worried about burning your hand on the exposed lightbulb in the trunk, replace the cover at this time.

Step 6:

There are 4 nuts holding each taillight assembly on. All eight nuts are 8mm. Some are easily removed with an 8mm wrench, others are recessed in hard-to-reach areas on long screws; I used a socket wrench with an 8mm deep socket to remove these.

Here are the locations:


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Step 7:

Each of the taillight assemblies should slide straight back now. There is a plastic clip on the taillight assembly that is holding the wiring harness. Slide the wiring harness off this clip and it will let you have full access to the taillights.


Step 8:

Replace your bulbs. Everything is quarter-turn. I would wear gloves to keep from touching the bulbs directly but this is not as important as the headlight bulbs. Here is where the bulbs go:

(this is the driver side taillight assembly)


BTW, the 1157 bulbs (brakelights) have two posts on them to keep them secure in the socket, these posts are offset so that they can be installed only one way. If the bulb will not install into the socket, you probably have these posts reversed, just rotate the bulb 180 degrees and it should slide and twist right in.

The 1156 bulbs (turn signal and reverse lights), the posts are not offset and they are reversible.

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Step 9: That's it! Be sure to test all your bulbs before you bolt anything back together. Reverse this procedure to reinstall the lights. If you placed the lenscover back on the trunk light, you may have to remove it to place the trim cover back in.

Hope that helps! Anyone with any shortcuts or ideas to improve this by all means jump in and let us know.

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  • 2 years later...

hello out there...

I made this huge mistake. I took an 1157 brakelight and forced it into the socket, which subsequently burned up my wiring for the tailights on the passenger side, and now none of the taillights work on that entire side. Now I am stuck asking "What burned out? Is it a DIY fix"? As stated earlier I did smell a burned odor coming from the connector harness under left #2 bolt.

I'd really like to get this fixed asap, I am a broke student not needing any driving tickets for a defective auto.



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  • 2 years later...

Just did my tail lights for my dad's 96 es300. Thanks to this rooms help! Who would think it would be this involved. But I did find a few things that were not that well explained, so here is my experience on HOW TOO...

1. Open trunk duh...as one guy said...then clean it out. Another said you don't have to clean it out...well it depends on how much stuff is in there! As you work...I put everything on top of the CD changer for safe keeping.

2. PLASTIC TRUNK CAP COVER: Controversy here on the plastic that runs over the top of the trunk deck to remove or not. I discovered that it does not need to be completely pulled off. But you do have to pop the ends up on each side to get to a plastic Phillips head screw looking plug holding the top of the carpet. A bit scary but it will pop up with a steady pull.

3. PLASTIC "SCREWS": The plastic plugs in the carpet on the trunk deck (that you have to take down to get to the bulbs) are a trip. They look like a Phillips screw with a compression ring. THEY ARE NOT! You can take a Phillips screw driver and give them a 1/4 turn that seems to loosen them but turning any more is a waist of time. Once it comes loose a bit take a regular driver and carefully pry the "screw" out... you will find it is a plug with a flared end with the Phillips head on the other. The "compression ring" part has a four prong pieces that swells when the "screw" piece is pushed into it. It is really hard to remove or install with it all together. When replacing push the "compression" ring part in first then push in the "screw" part. You will find 3 of these on the top of the carpet. On the bottom is two plastic caps at either end. They just pull off and snap back on.

4. TRUNK LIGHT: The trunk light on mine had two prongs to snap it into the body. Someone must have been there before because one was busted off so I can't really tell you how it comes out because once the carpet was lose it came down with the carpet. The clips are on right/left/center so you might be able to push one with a small screw driver if it is stuck and won't move. Other wise you will probably brake it like mine was. I'm still working to put the lens cover back on! I see above that removing the light may not be necessary, just the cover so you may just try that.

5. BOLTS: 2 on each side are under the side flap of carpeting...just pull it out and look behind it...you will see them. I found 5 nuts on each side. Four 8mm and one 10mm each. The thread part is screwed securely into the light assembly. I had no problem using an open end wrench(s) to get at them. 1/4 turn and the nuts spun off by hand. Gently push on the thread parts to make the tail light move and ease it out. There is a plastic clip holding the wires and it is easy to pull it free allowing you to lift the assembly up to the top of the trunk deck to work on it. Nice if you have 4 hands but not necessary.

6. BULB SOCKETS: All the sockets take a 1/4 turn and pull out. They only go in and out one way so that is easy. Push twist the light bulbs out and in. You will need 4-168's 4-1156 4-1157 to do both sides. Obviously replace them as they come out so as not to mess up like one guy did forcing an 1156 in a 1157 hole. Not a good thing to do.

Anyway...thanks to the forum and mods here it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Special thanks to DKRC-2003. The only thing I see different from your 94 to my 96 was: 2 1157 bulbs, it looks like the top light is missing on mine. Wonder why they omitted it. Save Lexus a few bucks I suppose. Also there was a 10mm nut added. The others looked to be the same on mine. I got to the deep one with my wrench Thru the trunk light hole and did not need a socket wrench. I noticed that you did not take the carpet loose at the top to get at the one farthest to the outside. I found it better to take the carpet loose at the top as I explained above. Oh...and I can see where someone may think they have to take the bolts out of the trunk lock...NO. And there are two bolts to the inside that look like they may hold the light assembly...they hold body trim on...you don't have to remove them. Other than these things that's about all I have to report on this little project. The pics were totally awesome...thanks. Off to work on my moms Fiero...there is a great owners forum for them also.

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  • 3 years later...

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