Car Question - replacing a taillight on a 1997 Tracer - help please!

Kathy has a 1997 Mercury Tracer (same as the Ford Escort) that has a burned-out brake light. I’ve never had a problem changing these before on other vehicles, but this one’s got me stumped. There is no way to change the bulbs from the inside of the trunk - you obviously have to remove the lens assembly.

You open the trunk and there are screws holding the taillight lens assembly in. I have removed those and that side of the assembly is loose - but here’s the problem. There are two plastic “anchors” (best description either of us could come up with) that hold the side of the assembly firmly in place.

Anyone know? Do you have to break these anchors? Or is there a way to remove them without breaking them off?

Here are some pictures:

With the trunk closed.

With the trunk open.

Me holding the lamp assembly out.

The anchors - from inside the trunk.

Thanks for your help!

Rico I suspect that the two plastic anchors need to be removed inorder to remove the entire light assembly to access the bulbs.
I can’t see enough details in the last picture, can you take a couple more, and post them or maybe e mail them to me? Then I can give you a pretty good idea of what to do next.

They appear to be “Christmas tree” trim retainers . If that’s what they are, pry them out. They can sometimes be stubborn, use a little silicone spray and work carefully. There are special tools made for removing them, but usually a little creative thought, a small prybar, and pliers (needlenose and/or dikes) will do the job. Reinstall them by simply pushing them in.

When they break, it’s at the head (like a nailhead) on the outside out of the trunk. They’re available at dealerships and most auto parts stores, and are quite cheap.

They look like the same thing that holds the upholstered panel on the inside of your door. When I had to fix a power window I bought a tool to remove them (looks like a small prybar with a screwdriver handle) but returned it 'cause it sucked. I just pried them out with a screwdriver - with the harder brittle plastic of the taillight, I’d suggest shoving them out from the inside. Mine lost a few bristles when they got yanked out, but they’re working ok just the same.

Maybe an owners manual will help out?

I just did this on my girlfriend’s 97 Escort.

You don’t need to remove anything from inside the trunk, and prying will probably just break the light.

You need to open the trunk, and remove the two screws at the back. Then you need to thump (with the side of your fist) the narrow, front part of the lens assembly in toward the car. It should pop partway out, then you can carefully pull it out the rest of the way. It may take a few tries to loosen it up, but once you can see the pins you’re good.

Be careful when removing the screws, I dropped one and it dissappeared into the bumper, never to be reached again. That was a 1 in 1000 shot, though, it went in through one of the little holes in the metal part, and then fell deeper in as I was trying to get it out.

Thank you very much. All of my lights are working again :smiley: