How to Guides

Side Marker Light Bulb

Zaki Moulvi posted this on Jun 16, 2014

The exterior lighting system of your vehicle consists of a myriad of different lights in an array of colors and sizes, all designed to keep you and your car safe in one way or another.

What is the Side Marker Light?

Side marker lights are mounted on the side of a vehicle and are used to alert another driver to your presence from the side.  These may be found on the bumper, fender or the rear quarter panel of a car.  On some models you will find that they light up with the headlights, while other cars will have them blinking with the turn signal lights.  On some cars, they are designed to do both.  International automotive regulations stipulate that the side marker lights should always produce an amber light.

Side Marker Light Bulb

All of the light bulbs used to light up the outside of an automobile needs to be extremely durable. They are being forced to withstand heavy vibrations, changes in temperature and possible exposure to the elements.  You should always maintain functioning side marker light bulbs to ensure your safety from side swipe impacts.

When originally added to cars, side marker light bulbs along with all other exterior bulbs were incandescent and prone to breakage.  This is the same type of sensitive lighting device you may use at home.  Not able to withstand the heavy use required by automobiles, frequent bulb changes were the norm until Cadillac developed a more durable light bulb to be used in cars.

Now a car owner has a choice in the type of side marker light bulb he installs in his car:

  • Halogen light bulbs were introduced in 1962 and employ a metal sheet at the back of an incandescent bulb to help direct the beam of light in a specific direction.  You will find this bulb being used today in many automobiles.
  • Xenon or HID light bulbs are brighter and last longer than your typical incandescent or even halogen light bulb.  BMW began using this type of tail light bulb in their 1991 line of cars.
  • Light emitting diodes or LED is quickly becoming the new trend in car lighting options, especially in the luxury class.  This type of light bulb proves to be more luminous than all others and last longer.

Which Type of Bulb is Right for Your Side Marker Light?

If you have to replace your side marker light bulb, you should consult with your owner’s manual first.  All vehicle light bulbs, including those for side marker lights, come in an array of voltages and sizes. You will need to know exactly which one is right for your car. If you are not sure what type is needed you can take the existing side marker light bulb out and bring it to an auto parts store for comparison.  This would be the time for you to decide if you want to upgrade your side marker light bulb to a xenon or LED light. 

Changing Your Side Marker Light Bulb

In order to gain access to the side marker light bulb you may have to open the hood, trunk or get to it from underneath your car.  Check with your owner’s manual for the specifics in your car.  Once you have exposed the side marker light bulb, a gentle counter clockwise turn should release it.  Now all you need to do is install the new side marker light bulb and put the light assembly back in place.

Also important to note is the condition of the lens cover.  If it is loose or cracked you should have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.  This will help prevent water from entering the assembly and damaging the electrical components.

Without the protection of your side marker light you could be invisible to cars that are in an adjacent lane of traffic.  Protect yourself and your car by always making sure that the side marker light bulb is working the way it should.

Categories: Autowiki Car Systems