1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Troubleshooting Tail Lights

A car's tail lights are an important safety component and if they begin to malfunction, they should be repaired or replaced immediately. Contained within the tail lamps of a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass are stop lamps, turn signal lamps and back-up lamps. There is a very simple troubleshooting process that involves checking the electrical connector, replacing the bulb, and replacing the fuse. The entire procedure takes only a few minutes and does not require any special tools.

Tools Used: Clean gloves, Replacement bulbs, Replacement fuse

Troubleshooting Tail Lights

Turn off the engine and open the trunk. Put on gloves.

Unscrew the butterfly fastener holding in the trunk trim and remove the trunk trim. Remove the three plastic wingnuts from the rear of the tail lamp assembly. This will loosen the assembly from the vehicle.

Pull the assembly out of the vehicle. Lightly tug on the electrical connector at the rear of the assembly. If it comes loose, securely plug it into the assembly.

Remove the assembly's backplate by pulling up on the four outer tabs and two inner tabs. Wiggle the bulbs to remove them from the socket. The top bulb is the stop lamp. The bottom bulb is the rear turn signal lamp. The middle bulb is the backup lamp. The backup lamp uses a 3057 bulb. The other two lamps require 3157NA bulbs.

Pull the old bulb out and install the new bulbs. Place the backplate back onto the assembly, securing all six tabs.

Place the assembly back into the vehicle and reattach the three plastic wingnuts. Place the trim back into the trunk and secure it with the butterfly fastener. Close the trunk. If the tail lights are still malfunctioning, the issue is probably a fuse.

Open the hood. Remove the cover from the fuse block on the driver's side and locate the tail lamp fuse, which is labeled "45." If the fuse is broken, it will need to be replaced with a new 15A fuse. A fuse is broken if the aluminum rod inside the fuse is no longer in one unit.

Pull the old fuse out and install a new fuse. Place the cover back onto the fuse block and close the hood.

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