I want brighter taillights

December 1, 2012 | By Richard Prince


I have done all of your publication’s instructions to change the taillights to make them brighter in my 1956 Chevy, but when I have the lights on, brake on, and turn signal on you barely see the turn signal.

Please give me some information on how to fix this problem. I have removed the bright bulb and reinstalled the old bulb. Yes, the brighter one will melt the diffuser. What can I do for this problem?


I’m not sure what you’ve already done to try and remedy the dim light problem beyond installing an especially bright bulb that apparently generated enough heat to melt your lamp’s lens.

To begin with, you need to bear in mind that even if the tail lamps for your 1956 Chevrolet were in perfect working order they still would not be bright compared with the tail lamps in any modern car. This is because a series of changes in DOT regulations requiring brighter, more visible lamps in conjunction with seriously better technology have made today’s tail lamps infinitely better than lamps from the 1950s.

All of this notwithstanding, however, it is possible to optimize the performance of your original lamps.

The components that impact the lamp’s light output consist of everything in their circuit, including wiring, connectors, fuses, ground connections, the flasher unit, the steering column’s cancelling cam assembly, relays, switches and, of course, the battery, generator and voltage regulator.

If you want to be a brainy technician, you can test the resistance and resulting voltage drop across each component. If you want to maintain factory originality and throw money at the problem without thinking too deeply about it, you can replace all of the above-mentioned parts.

And while you’re at it, also replace the lamp housings and lenses, which may have dulled over time.

If you’re not committed to 100% originality you can save a lot of dough and time and simultaneously improve your taillight performance by installing an LED conversion kit. These kits are available for about $80 from various vendors and include LED tail lamp arrays, wire harnesses, brackets and hardware for each side.