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Old 01-01-2012, 02:10 PM   #1
M.H. Yount
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Charlotte, NC
Default 5-panel tail light to 6-panel tail light

A pretty easy project -- but perhaps something I learned will help someone else. Step one is removing the old units. Usually pretty easy -- although 30 year old gaskets/goop is always pretty. Be sure to take careful measurements. It almost always ends badly if you don't measure carefully - there are a number of interference points on the 6-panels compared to the 5-panel. Use lots of tape - if you slip it may save damage on good paint/rubber/bumper. I used a small cut-off wheel on a Dremel tool. Made short work of the sheet metal. Towels in the trunk to minimize debris in the carpet - and a shop vac handy with the brush attachment to clean up debris as you go. It's like surgery - things go better with cleanliness.

Here they are after the cut, filed edges, paint touched up.

Last - get ready to bolt them in. These replacement units came from IPD -- and I found that trimming the gaskets was helpful in terms of fitment. I trimmed around the bottom of two openings where the housing/bulbs stick through, and I also trimmed 1/8"-1/4" all the way around the outside of both gaskets. I then used a bit of Armor All to lube things up so they would slide and not bind when being compressed. All of this after carefully cleaning the openings before re-assembly.

Before with the tired - 30 year old 5-panels --

After --

One of the light bulbs in the new tails was broken upon arrival. I simply replaced it with one of the bulbs in the set I removed. Worked -- but, of course, set off the 'something's wrong with your lights idiot' idiot light. So I pulled the matching bulb out of the other original housing and put it in the same spot in the other new housing. Problem solved - as usual - replace bulbs in pairs to keep the light-safety gods at bay. I also opened up the factory plugs (on the end of the harness) and pulled each wire/clip out and squeezed the ends together so it would make fresh/tight contact when I plugged them in. A sharp dental pick makes this a piece of cake.

Light was good for a couple of new pics....

'82 242 6.2L; '17 Mazda3; '16 CrossTrek

Last edited by M.H. Yount; 01-01-2012 at 11:24 PM..
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