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Replacing Your Taillight Bulbs and Assembly
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Your Taillight Bulbs and Assembly

Steve Vernon

Time:

1 hour1 hr

Tab:

2

Tools:

8mm socket

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz W203 (2001-07)

Parts Required:

Taillight assembly, taillight bulbs, taillight bulb sockets, taillight electrical connector pigtail

Hot Tip:

Use a wire brush to clean the bulb holder contacts prior to installation of the bulb

Performance Gain:

Working tail lamps

Complementary Modification:

Install new center brake light

The taillight assembly on the Mercedes C320 is a modular unit that houses the running light, brake light, turn signal and reverse light all in the same housing. All of the bulbs can be replaced without removing the unit from the car by accessing and removing the bulb housing portion of the unit through the access panel in the trunk. While we demonstrate how to replace the bulbs with the unit out (for better pictures) you do not need to remove it to just change the bulbs.

If you have a bulb that is out or are getting a bulb error message always inspect the electrical connector and the taillight bulb socket before just replacing the bulb. The sockets can get corrosion in them over time which can lead to a bulb not working. Make sure you clean all the sockets with a small wire brush or some Emory paper before installing new bulbs.

Whether you are going to just be changing the bulbs or the entire assembly you will need to start by opening the trunk. With the trunk open you will find access panel on each side of the rear of the trunk behind the tail light assemblies. Open the access panel by slipping the panel away from the rear trim and pivoting towards the middle of the trunk. You can now see the electrical connector at the base of the housing.

Remove the connector by squeezing in the sides and pulling it straight back.

There are four 8mm speed nuts holding the assembly to the body: three at the rear and one on the rear quarter panel. Remove these and be careful you don't drop them down into the body.

With the retaining nuts removed you can simply lift the assembly from the car. Place the assembly face down on a cloth or some other soft surface to protect the plastic lens. Now is a good time to check the gasket as well.

On the rear of the assembly is a plastic "face" that houses the bulbs. Turn the plastic lever from closed to open and pull the face from the housing. With it out of the housing you will be able to see the four different bulbs along with the electrical connections. Check these for any corrosion or damage. The bulbs are simple push turn connections.

With the trunk open you will find access panel on each side of the rear of the trunk behind the tail light assemblies.
Figure 1

With the trunk open you will find access panel on each side of the rear of the trunk behind the tail light assemblies. Open the access panel by slipping the panel away from the rear trim and pivoting towards the middle of the trunk (yellow arrows). You can now see the electrical connector at the base of the housing (red arrow).

Remove the connector by squeezing in the sides (yellow arrows) and pulling it straight back.
Figure 2

Remove the connector by squeezing in the sides (yellow arrows) and pulling it straight back.

There are four 8mm speed nuts (yellow arrows, two shown) holding the assembly to the body: three at the rear and one on the rear quarter panel.
Figure 3

There are four 8mm speed nuts (yellow arrows, two shown) holding the assembly to the body: three at the rear and one on the rear quarter panel. Remove these and be careful you don't drop them down into the body.

With the retaining nuts removed you can simply lift the assembly from the car.
Figure 4

With the retaining nuts removed you can simply lift the assembly from the car.

This photo illustrates the location of the four retaining studs (red arrows).
Figure 5

This photo illustrates the location of the four retaining studs (red arrows).

On the rear of the assembly is a plastic
Figure 6

On the rear of the assembly is a plastic "face" that houses the bulbs. Turn the plastic lever from closed (yellow arrow) to open (green arrow) and pull the face from the housing.

With it out of the housing you will be able to see the four different bulbs along with the electrical connections.
Figure 7

With it out of the housing you will be able to see the four different bulbs along with the electrical connections. Check these for any corrosion or damage.

The bulbs are simple push turn connections.
Figure 8

The bulbs are simple push turn connections.

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Comments and Suggestions:
glo Comments: left rear break light goes out periodically and needs to be giggled and it comes back on. mechanic says I ned a new assembly for $265. parts and labor. my car is a 2001 MBZ320
December 1, 2016
cindy Comments: Back right tail light. In need of the Black housing with wires to each bulb and metal contacts for bulbs to sit on to work. 1992 500sl Mercedes Thanks you
November 17, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I’m not the best with part numbers.


Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Robert Comments: Hi, I have a 2004 c230 Kompressor. The left rear brake light stays lit after the engine is cut off, also the turn signal and parking lights are not working on that same side. Sometimes the brake light does not light at all. Does this sound like a bad connector plate, fuse or something else? Thanks.
February 27, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: It could be. I would start by checking the brake light switch function, if the signal isn't being sent when the lights are on, the control module may be faulty. You will need a wiring diagram. I would grab a repair manual. It will have the wiring diagram.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799.- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
sefik Comments: My both turn signals on back aren't working also one backup light is always on and on same side brake light isn't working. By the way I got 2004 clk320. Any advice. Thanks
December 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Start by checking the fuses, bulb holders and electrical connectors for the tail lights. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
RB Comments: My old unit got warped bulb would work if pressed against housing. I got 2 new units for both sides and swapped but now only brake light working. Any advise?
October 30, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: The wiring may be damaged. Check the connector for signs of burning or broken wires. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Tango14 Comments: 2009 ML 320 Diesel, LED Tail Light, left side
Rear left turn signal flickering, warning light in dash for left rear turn signal fault. LED assembly.
Is this a straight pull the connectors, remove the assembly and re connect, or is there a computer reset required? Finally is this a do it your self job, as it should be? Thanks
September 23, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Straight forward remove and replace. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Jeramy Comments: Alright, I changed the entire housing only to realize there are fuses for each side. I changed the fuse and it popped instantly. It's a new housing, socket and bulb so it logically has to do with the harness I assume? What other problems could it be? It's just the left side marker light that doesn't work. Thanks!
May 4, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Sounds like a short in the harness. Rather than chase it down, just run a new wire. Will be a lot faster. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
rosco Comments: i have a mecredes ML320 and my brake and reserving lights are blown - how do i replace them can i get to them outside of the car after opening boot or is it more complicated than that
April 2, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: What year is your vehicle? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
chaz Comments: Original rear bulbs for my "99 s420 had brass bases. There is an electrical wattage difference between brass and the newer nickel bases. The on-board computer detects the difference and sends an alert to your dash light. Mercedes specs for almost everything are exact. The on-board computer is programed to those specs. Anything out of range will brighten your console until remedied.
Chaz/ N. Merrick,ny
October 2, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Greg Comments: Thanks for the info
May 21, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Silentklank Comments: I did all this and I'm still getting the notification that it's running on the substitute bulb. What could it be then?
May 12, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Could be a bad bulb, socket or wiring. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ironlegs Comments: Thanks , you saved me at least an hr of investigating this car...changed a ton of bulbs in my time but never a mercedes
March 24, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the feedback. Glad we could help.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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