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Installing Aftermarket Lenses
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Installing Aftermarket Lenses

Time:

30 minutes30 mins

Tab:

$100 to $300

Talent:

*

Tools:

Needle-nose pliers, small screwdriver, 10mm wrench, squeegee, credit card

Applicable Models:

R50 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2002-06)
R52 MINI Cooper Convertible (2005-08)
R52 MINI Cooper S Convertible (2005-08)
R53 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2002-06)
R55 MINI Cooper Clubman Wagon (2008-14)
R55 MINI Cooper JCW Clubman Wagon (2009-14)
R55 MINI Cooper S Clubman Wagon (2008-14)

Parts Required:

lenses

Hot Tip:

Don't touch the glass parts of the bulbs.

Performance Gain:

Sleeker look

Complementary Modification:

Replace all light bulbs in the car
How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI

This article is one in a series that have been released in conjunction with Pelican Parts' new book, How to Maintain and Modify your new MINI The book contains 240 pages of full color projects detailing everything from performance mods to changing your brake pads. With more than 500+ full-color glossy photos accompanying extensive step-by-step procedures, this book is required reading in any MINI owner's collection. The book is due to be released in late 2015. See The Official Book Website for more details.

One easy way to personalize your MINI and make it stand out is to install a set of different rear taillight lenses. This quick replacement can change the overall look of your car quite dramatically while still allowing you to change back to a stock appearance if needed. There are a variety of different taillight lenses that can be used on the MINI Cooper. Changing the lenses requires removing the taillight assemblies from the car.

Begin by disconnecting the negative terminal on the battery. It's a good idea to do this anytime you are working around anything electrical on the car to prevent any possible problems. Please refer to our article on battery replacement for more info.

To remove the rear taillight assemblies, remove the plastic panels mounted on either side of the trunk. Press down on both tabs of each panel and pull it off. Inside, you have just enough room to see the bulb holder on the back of the taillight assembly and a 10mm nut on a stud.

This is one of those instances where a ratcheting wrench comes in very handy. I've been using Gearwrenches for nearly a decade and highly recommend them. It's well worth the additional cost of a regular wrench set. Once the nut is removed, carefully pry the taillight assembly out of the body. Once removed, disconnect the electrical harness from the bulb holder and press down on the black plastic tab that secures the bulb holder to the taillight assembly. At this point, you can simply pull the bulb holder out.

At this point, you can take the bulbs out of the bulb holder and replace them if needed with clear or different colored bulbs if required for the new taillight housings. Keep in mind that you never want to touch the glass of an automotive light bulb with your bare hands. Use a paper towel to hold them as you install them.

Now just install the bulb holder into the new taillight lens and you're all set. Now install the new lenses into the rear of the car and hook up the electrical harness and then the battery.

In some cases, instead of replacing the lens itself, you will apply a tinted film to the outside of the lens. In these cases, it's advisable to remove the lens completely to make the work just a bit easier.

The first step in applying the film to the lenses is to clean the surface. It's a good idea to use rubbing alcohol on a clean towel to clean any oil, wax or residue that may be left on the surface. Failure to clean the surface can result in the vinyl not adhering correctly.

You will need to prepare a solution of soapy water to act as a lubricant while setting the film. The solution also helps to squeeze out any air pockets under the stripe. Get an empty spray bottle and use three to four drops of liquid dish soap to one quart of water. I tend to go a bit on the heavy side as it will allow the film to slide easier. The downside is that it will take longer to dry. Spray a good amount on the surface of the hood and also the adhesive side of the film.

Press down on the two tabs (green arrows) to remove the access covers on both sides of the trunk compartment.
Figure 1

Press down on the two tabs (green arrows) to remove the access covers on both sides of the trunk compartment.

With the access cover removed, you can just barely see the bulb holder inside (purple arrow).
Figure 2

With the access cover removed, you can just barely see the bulb holder inside (purple arrow). The easiest way to change the bulbs is to remove the whole taillight assembly. This is done by first removing the 10mm nut seen here (green arrow).

Once the nut is removed, carefully pry the taillight assembly out of the body.
Figure 3

Once the nut is removed, carefully pry the taillight assembly out of the body. Shown here are the two clips that hold the assembly in the car (green arrows).

With the taillight assembly removed, push the tab on the electrical connector and remove it from the taillight.
Figure 4

With the taillight assembly removed, push the tab on the electrical connector and remove it from the taillight.

Now press the black plastic tab (green arrow) down to release the bulb holder from the taillight housing.
Figure 5

Now press the black plastic tab (green arrow) down to release the bulb holder from the taillight housing.

Once the bulb holder is removed, transfer it to the new aftermarket lenses.
Figure 6

Once the bulb holder is removed, transfer it to the new aftermarket lenses.

Shown here is an example of an aftermarket lens installed.
Figure 7

Shown here is an example of an aftermarket lens installed.

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