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ZRE152 tail light removal and attempt to fix water issue

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hi there,

my mate's 2008 ZRE152 Levin ZR had water in both tail lights. I took a few photos during the process of removing, cleaning and resealing the light units.

To remove the lights open both service covers inside the boot. Disconnect the wiring. Each tail light unit is held in place by two 10mm nuts and two blue plastic clips. Undo both nuts, then squeeze both clips and pull the light assembly out to the back. You will notice there is a third clip to the side of the car. The light unit will just slide off this one, no need to undo it.


Once the units were removed it was obvious where the water leaked through. The top bit of the seal wasn't in touch with the cars body tight enough and allowed for water to leak through (yellow line in pics).

post-32472-0-97953900-1372378856_thumb.jpost-32472-0-88701700-1372378842_thumb.jAfter cleaning:post-32472-0-71052500-1372463450_thumb.j

Remove and wash the seal. Then remove the wiring harness with the bulbs ( post-32472-0-58561700-1372378963_thumb.j) from the unit and give the housing a good rinse.

Put in sun to dry. I used a hair dryer to speed up the process.

After the bulbs and the seal are back in place apply a bead of silicone where the seal touches the cars body.


Then refit them back on the car.


I left the service covers off for a couple of days to allow remaining moisture to evaporate.

Hope this finally fixes the problem. Lets wait and see...

Edited by 02 Ateva
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the guide. I've had the same problem with my 2009 Corolla, just got Toyota to fix it under warranty. Now it's out of warranty, this guide will be extremely handy if it happens again (touch wood it doesn't).

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  • 1 year later...

Hi Alex. can you clarify please. Was the water in the tail lights or on the floor in the boot? Just came acroos your post after joining and have similar problem with water in boot area.

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Hi Kevin,

no water in the boot area in my case. Just inside the tail lights, visible from the outside.

Have you tried to inspect the boot area from the inside while someone pours water over the back of the car?

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Thanks Alex. Dealer has now replaced the gasket around the light and says that was the problem. Have had the vehicle inspected by RACQ and although I purchased it NEW I have been told that the left rear has been repaired so now we have a bun fight with the dealer. Thanks for your help.

Edited by KiwiKev
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  • 1 year later...

back from dead - but I had this issue on mine too.

Qs. with the new gasket, it has one side that is meant to stick on and other side is as is. Do you put the sticky side towards the light housing ?

in the picture below, this side is the sticky one - do rest that bit on the light housing then fit the light? or is the sticky bit meant to go on the body?


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  • 3 years later...

Thank you so much 02 Ateva for posting this. My Corolla had exactly the same problem as you described and I was able to fix it by just following your steps (the pictures were extremely useful too). I couldn't quite get every drop of water out of the interior of the unit, but I did use the hairdryer to ensure the electrics were completely dry before reassembling. I am hoping some sunny weather will sort out the rest.

As for the new gasket JDM101, I would assume the sticky side should face towards the car body as that's where 02 Ateva said to put the silicone and that was definitely where the leak was happening. Mind you, I think this has been an afterthought, on the part of Toyota, to fix a problem that is obviously fairly common.

Thanks again for the step-by-step instructions… hoping not to have to do the other unit, but certainly won't hestitate to do it if the problem rears its ugly head on that side.

Regards Lyndelle.


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  • 2 years later...
On 9/11/2021 at 12:26 PM, Suze said:

Hi I have water in my 2012 Corolla can someone instruct me on how to take out my tail light to empty out the water 


Hi Susan, Not sure if your's is a hatch or sedan, but essentially the procedure for both is very much the same. Some disassembly is involved of the internal boot trim liners. Once peeled back you will see the tail light assembly from the back. Unclip the globe connectors and remove the 10mm nuts holdng the light in. Once all the nuts are removed, just a gentle bump from behind and it will come out.

If you're lights are filling with water, you may want to investigate why this is. Is the lense itself compromised or is the gasket ?

The very first post of this thread provides some handy tips. The only thing I would do differently is NOT to use silicon, but a mastic sealant.

Silicon is ok, but will dry and if you ever wanted to remove the light again, the chances of tearing the gasket is certain. Mastic provides a malleable seal and can be removed with no issue.

Here's a video that may help.


Edited by Tony Prodigy
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