View Full Version : How to seal leaky taillamps

03-04-2006, 01:56 PM
Problem: Every S13 I have seen had some sort of surface rust on the trunk panel. This is due to water leak, and the most common cause is the taillamps. Fastbacks are especially susceptible to this, but I've also seen coupes with this problem as well.

Solution: You can tell if your taillamps are leaking by removing the interior trim panel and looking at the inside of the lamps. Soak the rear end with a garden hose for a few seconds and check inside the lamps. Most likely water is coming in through the butyl seal that goes around the lamp assembly. Water leak can also short out your light bulbs as well.

What you need to do is get new butyl seal from the dealer. Part number B6553-89965. This is a universal kit for most Nissan taillamps. You will need 2 sets to do both taillamps. They retail for about $20 apiece. You can save yourself a few bucks if you get butyl tape sealer from your local auto parts store. They come in various sizes. Get the size that's slightly smaller the thickness of your pinky.

Every S13 fastback owner needs to do this because the seals go bad after about 8-10 years, sooner if you do not garage your car. It's also applicable to most other Nissan vehicles as well.

* rubber mallet to tap out the taillamps if they get stuck
* a putty knife or gasket scraper of some sort
* 8mm deep well socket and ratchet. You may also use a wrench.
* some sort of adhesive remover. I used 3M Adhesive, Wax, and Tar Remover.
* silicone sealant to seal up the bolts.
* some rags to clean up the inevitable mess.

It should take you about 2 hours. The most frustrating part will be cleaning the old sealant material off of your taillamps and chassis. The rest is fairly simple.

1. Go ahead and remove your interior trim panels so that you can access the lights. You can see where the bolts holding the lights on are starting to rust due to leak. I used silicone sealant to seal them up.

2. For the hatch, it's easier if you remove the center assembly that houses the backup lamps. These may be leaking as well so you'll want to apply a little silicone on the bolts to seal out water. Each side is held on by 3 nuts. Undo these and unclip the wire harness. Repeat for the other side.

3. Gently slide the center panel out. You may have to tap the bolts lightly with the rubber mallet. Go ahead and inspect the seal around the lamps. Usually these don't leak too much. Mine was okay.

4. Unclip the bulb assembly from the taillamp. Squeeze the clip at the bottom and slide it out. There are 2 per side. I already removed the inner ones. The outter one is dangling here as you can see.

5. Undo the 4 nuts holding the lens assembly onto the chassis. They are circled in red below. The 4th one is off-camera.

6. Once those nuts are out, gently tap the bolts with a rubber mallet if necessary and gently slide the taillamps assembly out. Do the same for the other side.

7. Here comes the messy part. What you need to do is clean off all the old sealant materials and prep the surface for the new seal. Use whatever adhesive remover you like. It will get a little messy. The top one has been cleaned and the bottom one has not. Also clean out the body panel and clean off dirt/debris/sealant. You can see where the seal has dry rotted. This was letting water into the car.

8. Butyl sealant is hard to work with when cold. You will want to hit it with a heat gun for a few minutes to heat it up. It will become more pliable and putty-like. Then you just cut it up and line the perimeter of the lamp like so.

9. It's also a good idea to give the retaining bolts a dab of silicone to help them stop leak. Follow the instructions that come with your silicone.

10. Reinstall the taillamps. Remember to install the sides first and then the center unit. It will go in more easily. When you tighten the nut, you may want to give the lens a little push to help seal them up as you're tightening the nuts. Make sure they sit flush with the body panel. Plug in all the harness and make sure all your bulbs work properly.

11. Let it cure for about 24 hours. If it's particularly cold where you are, allow it more time.

You can test it by hitting the rear end with a garden hose again. If you did it right the lights shouldn't leak any more. Go have a beer :)

03-04-2006, 04:03 PM
very nice write up +1 rep for you :), btw where in VA u located?

03-04-2006, 04:19 PM
Well done this is something I need to do, Im sure the process is the same if I want to change the weather stripping by where my doors and windows are at.

03-04-2006, 04:30 PM
copying into FAQ/Archive.