How to Change the License Plate Light on a Ford Escape

Taking the Mystery Out of Auto Maintenance

© 2013 ; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission; Author’s Google profile; posted September 3, 2013


Ford Escape licence plate lights; photo © KSmith Media, LLC


Unfortunately, the glory days of the shade tree mechanic are fading into the sunset with the advent of automotive on-board computers, fuel-injection systems, black boxes, and more. But there are still a few jobs that we can do... if we know how.

The Ford Escape has two license plate lights. Redundancy is a good thing and handy for avoiding traffic tickets, but for some reason both of them on our car went out at the same time. Of course that first led me to suspect a fuse issue but that was not it.

Thinking that this would be a simple matter (I’ve done it many times on other vehicles), I had a look at it and it had me scratching my head. I couldn’t find any clear info online so I persevered.

Yes, the web is generally the first go-to source for these types of things but it was a no-go for this task; so, I figured it out myself. This is how to replace the bulbs:

  1. Remove the Light Assembly. Open the hatch door about halfway so that you are staring at the license plate lights; (see the photo above). Disregard those bolts you see; they have nothing to do with this repair.

    As you can see, there is an arrow emblazoned on the lens cover. You can just make it out on the right-hand side in the photo above; it is obvious in real-life. This indicates the direction the lens cover must be pushed to disengage it. The lens body is spring-loaded into the body of the vehicle.

    So, push/slide the lens to the right (or left if that is the case with your arrow) and the left side will easily disengage and you can just pull the assembly out.

  2. Ford Escape licence plate light bulb; photo © KSmith Media, LLC
  3. Remove the Light Bulb. Now that the lens assembly is loose, remove the bulb socket by twisting it. It will come free from the lens body, giving you access to the bulb.

    Now pull the bulb straight out of the socket; do not twist it. This might be the hardest part of the job because glass is... slippery! Don’t get frustrated and break the bulb.

  4. Reassemble the Lighting Unit. This is basically the reverse of what you’ve done before. Insert the new bulb, insert the socket into the assembly and twist it to secure it, and insert the assembly into the car (remember that one side is spring-loaded).

So there you have it. Ford actually did a fairly slick engineering job here; I just wish they had of annotated it in their Ford Escape owner’s manual . Once you know the steps, the job should only take about three minutes and no tools!

Do you have any car maintenance tips that our readers would benefit from? Please submit them in the comment section below!

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