How to Paint Tail Lights Black

Written by fatima farakh
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How to Paint Tail Lights Black
Tail lights enhance the visibilty of cars at night. (highway at night image by kuhar from

Paint your tail lights black to enhance the visual appearance of your car. When painting tail lights, it is important to keep in mind that they are not painted too dark, as this will interfere with the visibility of the car to oncoming traffic during night time. You can make your tail lights tinted in a safe manner by using transparent black spray paint. It is better to remove the tail lights from the car before painting so that the tinting material is not dispersed onto the car, which will damage the actual car paint.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Black tinting paint
  • Screw driver
  • Masking tape
  • Newspapers
  • Alcohol or soap and water
  • Paint thinner or nail polish remover

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  1. 1

    Remove the tail lights from the car frame. Although you can paint the tail light while attached, this risks the paint reaching other parts of the car. Unscrew the tail lights with a screw driver. Depending on the type of vehicle, there may be more than one screw holding the tail lights in place, including some tabs that fit the light tightly on the frame. Apply masking tape about four to six inches thick all around the frame of the tail light if you plan to spray paint it while attached to avoid getting the paint on the car.

  2. 2

    Clean the surface of the tail lights thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Place the tail lights on a flat and even surface against a wall and cover the wall with newspapers to avoid getting the paint on them.

  3. 3

    Shake the black tinting spray can well and begin spraying evenly across the surface of the light. There are different black transparent tints available, such as Foliotec or Nite Shade, that can be found at most auto shops. Some hobby shops also carry spray paints, such as Testor and Model Master.

  4. 4

    Spray the paint evenly while keeping a distance of about six inches. This is important because if the paint is sprayed from a short distance, it could drip and ruin the tail light. The first coat needs to be very thin. Start spraying from one end of the tail light while keeping your distance of about six inches and slowly reach the other side. Spray past the ends a little to make sure it covers the corners properly.

  5. 5

    Wait 20 to 30 minutes to let the paint dry and repeat the same process three to eight times depending on the amount of coats you want. The darker you want your lights, the more coats you will need. If the tail lights are still attached to the car, you can test them out to see how they look with the new paint when they are turned on.

  6. 6

    Let the last coat dry for 30 minutes and then apply a coat of clear lacquer enamel to protect the tinted paint. The lacquer enamel is also available from an auto store. It is best to buy an enamel with ultraviolet protection to protect the paint from the sun's rays. Apply one or two coats evenly and let it dry for six to seven hours and then replace the tail lights back on the car frame.

Tips and warnings

  • You can use nail polish remover or paint thinner to remove the paint if you make a mistake during the process. However, you will then have to remove all of the paint and start from the beginning.
  • Apply the paint evenly, as any blemishes will be visible when the tail lights are turned on.
  • Some states prohibit changing the colour of tail lights so check with your local DMV to find out if it is allowed in your state.

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