How to Remove Red from Tail Lights

Faded or discolored red tail lights not only detract from the aesthetic appeal of your vehicle but also compromise its safety on the road. Over time, exposure to sunlight, harsh weather conditions, and environmental factors can cause red tail lights to lose their vibrancy and turn cloudy or yellowish. However, knowing how to remove red discoloration from tail lights can help restore their clarity and functionality.

How to Remove Red from Tail Lights

In this guide, we will explore effective methods and step-by-step instructions on how to remove red from tail lights, whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a vehicle owner looking to improve the appearance and safety of your car. By following these techniques, you can bring back the bright, red brilliance to your tail lights, ensuring they not only look great but also perform their vital function on the road.

The Importance of Clear and Functional Tail Lights

You may not think about your tail lights very often, but they are an incredibly important part of any vehicle. Tail lights allow drivers behind you to know when you’re braking or turning, so it’s essential that they remain clear and functional at all times. Unfortunately, over time the red plastic cover on your tail lights can become cloudy or hazy with a yellow, chalky residue.

Reasons for Wanting to Remove Red from Tail Lights

Tail lights are an important part of vehicle safety, as they help to alert other drivers when you’re slowing down or stopping. However, the law in many states requires that tail lights be red, and if yours have become faded or discolored over time, it may be necessary to remove the red pigment from them.

Fortunately, there are a few different methods you can use to safely remove the red from your tail lights without damaging them.

One method of removing red from tail lights is to use a rubbing compound or polishing solution. Rubbing compounds and polishes often contain abrasive materials that can help remove discoloration, and they’re safe to use on plastic surfaces like tail lights. Be sure to read the instructions on the label of your chosen product before use, as some rubbing compounds may require additional steps for best results.

If you’d rather not use a chemical solution, there are physical methods you can try to remove red from tail lights. For example, you can use a fine-grit sandpaper to gently buff away any discoloration. However, this method requires patience and a steady hand, as sanding too hard or unevenly can damage your tail lights.

If you choose to go this route, it’s best to start with the lowest grade of sandpaper and work up from there until you find a grit that removes the red without causing any damage.

Start With the Lowest Grade of Sandpaper

10 Steps How to Remove Red from Tail Lights

Gather the Supplies Needed

To begin, you will need to gather all of the supplies needed for this project. These include a soft cloth, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, white vinegar, and a plastic scraper. You may also want to wear gloves and safety glasses to protect your hands and eyes from any debris or chemicals that may be released during the process.

Clean the Tail Light

Once you have gathered all of your supplies, it is time to begin cleaning the tail light. Start by using a soft cloth and warm water to remove any dirt or grime from the surface. Be sure to use gentle circular motions to avoid scratching the surface of the light. If necessary, you may use a mild detergent to remove any stubborn residue. Once the light is fully cleaned, you can move on to the next step.

Apply Rubbing Alcohol

Once you have cleaned off any dirt or grime from the light, apply some rubbing alcohol directly onto a soft cloth and wipe down the surface of the tail light once again. This will help to remove any stubborn stains or residue that may be present on the light’s surface.

If any of the red tint remains, you may need to repeat this step a couple of times before it is completely removed. Once all of the red has been wiped away, be sure to rinse off with warm water and allow the tail light to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Sprinkle Baking Soda on the Surface

After wiping down the tail light with rubbing alcohol, sprinkle some baking soda onto a clean cloth and rub it into the surface of the light in small circles until it forms a paste-like consistency. The baking soda will help to break down any remaining stains or residue on the tail light’s surface.

Wiping Down the Tail Light

Allow this paste to sit for about 15 minutes before wiping the surface clean with a damp cloth. Repeat as necessary until all traces of red are gone.

Wipe Away Excess Baking Soda

Once you have applied enough baking soda onto the surface of the tail light, use a wet cloth to gently wipe away any excess baking soda that may remain on its surface. Be sure not to scrub too hard, as this could cause damage to its finish.

Once all the baking soda has been removed, check to see if the red tint has also faded away. If it hasn’t, you may need to repeat this process a few times until your tail lights are back to their original color.

Apply White Vinegar

Once all of the excess baking soda has been wiped away from its surface, pour some white vinegar onto a clean cloth and use it to wipe down the entire tail light once more in order to remove any stubborn red stains that may still remain on its surface after applying baking soda and rubbing alcohol earlier in this process.

Rinse with Water

After wiping down with white vinegar, rinse off your tail light with warm water in order to remove any remaining residue from its surface before continuing with further steps in this process. Make sure that all of your cleaning supplies are completely washed away before moving on.

Dry Tail Light Thoroughly

After rinsing off your tail light, use an old towel or rag in order to dry it off thoroughly. Make sure that there is no moisture left on its surface before proceeding with further steps. This is especially important if you are using an acetone based cleaner, as the chemicals will react with the water and can damage your tail light.

Scrape Off Any Remaining Stains

If there are still some stubborn red stains remaining on your tail lights, use a plastic scraper in order to scrape them off carefully. Be sure not to press too hard, as this could cause damage or scratches on its finish.

Use a Plastic Scraper

Once all of the stains have been scraped off, use a microfiber cloth to buff the surface and remove any remaining residue. After this step, your tail lights should be completely free of red and ready to shine!

Polish Tail Lights

Once all red stains have been removed from your taillights, use an automotive polish in order to restore their shine and protect their surfaces from further damage caused by environmental elements such as sun exposure, rain, etc. Read all instructions on the product’s label before use and apply as per directions for best results.

Some Common Mistakes When Removing Red from Tail Lights

When attempting to remove red from tail lights, it is important to pay close attention and be careful. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when tackling this task:

  • Not using the right tools. Depending on the type of red you’re trying to remove, different tools may be necessary. If you don’t use the right ones for the job, you risk damaging your tail light.
  • Not using enough patience. Removing red from tail lights isn’t always a quick and easy process. Be sure to take your time to do it right, or you may have to start all over again.
  • Applying too much pressure. It’s important not to apply too much pressure when wiping away the red. Doing so can cause scratches and other damage that will be difficult to fix.
  • Not following the instructions carefully. Make sure to read the instructions thoroughly before you start, as not following them correctly may result in damaging your tail light.
Make Sure to Read the Instructions


Removing the red from your tail lights is an important part of car maintenance. Not only does it keep your tail lights looking clean and bright, but more importantly, it helps ensure that other drivers can see you more clearly at night or in bad weather. When done properly, removing the red paint from your tail lights can also extend the life of your vehicle.

Taking care of the small details like this pay off in big ways because they help to keep you and all those around you safe on the road. So if you haven’t already, now is a great time to take a look at how to remove red from tail lights. It’s simple enough that anyone can do it, and in no time you’ll be feeling secure and driving safely knowing that those behind you can spot your tail light from a mile away!

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