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Improving Your Hindsight: Challenger Tail Lights

Improving Your Hindsight: Challenger Tail Lights

Dodge muscle cars, like the Challenger, have always had the best looking rear ends. Let’s face it; from front to rear, the Challengers carry a distinctive aggressive style that’s combined with the most tasteful tail lights ever seen. Third-generation Challengers (2008-present) are no exception to this statement. Both tail light layouts of the third-gen Challengers are absolutely captivating. But as typical gear-head mentality goes, there’s always room for improvement. After all, the Ford Mustangs rear end, though maybe not as good looking, can do some pretty neat tricks. As a Challenger owner, it’s not ok to let any car outshine a Mopar – especially a Ford.

Challenger Factory Tail Lights

Before discussing upgrades, it’s good to talk about the factory equipment. The 2008-2013 Challengers were the first of the third generations onto the scene, and the first to steal our hearts. They wore a bar-style taillight similar to the 1970 Challenger. This broad light stretches from end to end and lights up directly across the break with either side flashing for the turn signals.

In 1971 the Challengers tail lights changed from the bar-style tail light to two separate housings surrounded by a black tail panel. The same is true for Challengers from 2014 to modernity. It’s kind of appropriate considering both the first gen and third gen Challengers are separated by styling differences.

Despite the makeover, the bulb types remain the same on all third gen Challengers. Knowing this is good for maintenance and when you’re out looking around for aftermarket bulb options. The reverse lights on the challenger are 921 bulbs. As for the turn signals and the brake lights, you’re going to be looking at 3057 bulbs.

Challenger Rear Bulb Sizes:

  • Brake Light Bulb Number: 3057
  • Turn Signals Bulb Number: 3057
  • Reverse Lights Bulb Number: 921

Aftermarket Challenger Tail Light Options (2008-Present)

The factory equipment’s already pretty cool; especially if you’re the lucky owner of a 2014-current Challenger with those throwbacks. Despite this, you’re probably eager to know a bit more about what you can do with the Challenger’s tail lights.

Some popular modifications you can make are sequential lights (like those on a Mustang), bulb upgrades, tinting, or trim pieces.


Popular Challenger Tail light Upgrades:

  • Sequential Tail Lights
  • Aftermarket Bulbs
  • Tinting
  • Trim

Sequential Tail Lights

Sequential tail lights are the top upgrade you can make to your Challenger’s tail lights. It can also be the most costly, but it’s worth it. Sequential lighting works to add some flare to the Challenger’s turn signals. Rather than the whole assembly lighting up at once, the bulbs flash from inside to out just like they do on S197/S550 Mustangs.

This modification is done with a specialty harness, which makes installation easy but brand options are a bit limited.

Aftermarket Bulbs

Bulbs are the next best thing you can do other than swapping out the entire tail light housing. It’s always a good idea to brighten up the rear bulbs considering how bright headlights are becoming these days.

Fancy colors aren’t exactly an option considering the lenses are already colored, and in some states changing the colors is illegal. However, going LED is a great way to make sure other drivers can see your brake lights. LEDs also have a smaller draw on your Challenger’s alternator than their halogen cousins.

Tinting Your Tail Lights

Tinting tail light housings are something to tread lightly with. We say this because it’s easy for Johnny Law to get angry with your choice.

Tinting isn’t for everyone, but black is becoming a popular trim color on these cars more and more every day. Blacked out or tinted tail lights are great for following through with a custom paint job.

Challenger Tail Light Trim

Trim is the easiest of the category. Trim simply tapes on around the edge of the tail light housing to give your ride a little more edge to it.

We did talk about black trim already, but stainless steel is also an option. Black speaks for the aggressive nature of the Challenger, while on the opposite end of the spectrum chrome speaks for its class. Pick your poison.

Installing Your Challenger Tail Lights

The installation of housings and bulbs on Challengers is straightforward. You will need to work in the trunk, but you can hide three bodies back there so you’re good. Pop the trunk, pull back the carpeting to reveal for the bulbs, and disconnect them. Along the lip of the trunk, it’s the same process but you’re working upward. If you’re just replacing the bulbs, you can simply remove the old bulbs and install the new ones with their appropriate harnesses.

For housings, in the case of a repair, you’ll need to remove the hardware that holds the stock housings in place and swap in the new ones from there. It’s worth noting sequential lighting systems for the Challenger are a bit hard to find and might require custom work. In this case, you already know the price is high. For 2008-2013 Challengers, harnesses are readily available from many sources to make this happen.

If you’re dealing with a 2014-current Challenger you’ll likely need to consult a professional to do the custom work for you. Sure, you’re going to be paying a good amount of money to have it done, but you can rest assure nearly no one’s Challenger is quite like yours. Plus, you won’t have to do any installation work.

Fitment includes: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-8, RT, SE, SXT, RallyeRedline, ScatPack, Hellcat, GT, TA, Demon