Wondering why, on your super hi-tech Model S, your license/number plate lights are not LED? Us too. To address that, we've developed a pair of LED replacement festoon bulbs that are exclusively designed for the Tesla Model S.
Please note: if you have a newer Model S (late 2014 or later), then your bulbs are probably not replaceable; if you see two small screws then they are, but otherwise newer Model S's (and all other Tesla's) ship with non-replaceable LED bulbs.
These bulbs differ from anything else you'll find on the internet. Specifically:
In summary, we've been really thorough when designing these. Check out the photo which shows all the design iterations before we finally got to a design we were totally happy with. They’re not too bright (but are bright enough to visibly light the road directly behind you in the rear camera view), not too blue, and represent the very best quality and design in the world of replacement LED bulbs/lamps - these are the bulbs your Model S deserves!
Step 1 - Preparation
Pop the truck/boot, and pull it back down slightly to a level where you can comfortably get to the lights above the license plate. There are 4 relatively small screws, each pair securing the two light lens. In order to replace the bulbs, each of these screws will need to be removed. Note, they do not need to be removed all the way to release the lens, though it doesn't matter if they do come out all the way. Just be sure not to drop the screw, as there's a small rubber gasket on the screw to help protect again water penetration.
Step 2 - Remove Screws
This bit is important. The screws are removed vertically, but since the rear of the hatch is angled slightly outwards, the screwdriver rubs against the car when removing the screws. Find a towel or something else to protect the surface of the hatch against the screwdriver and anything else that might fall. Once that's in place slowly remove each screw. None of them should be too tight, but because of the funky angles, take care not to strip the top of the screw. Also at this time, note that the shape of the lens is not entirely symmetrical, the curvier side is nearer the body of the car.
Step 3 - Remove Lens
Once you have the screws most of the way out, grab each screw and pull gently. If they've been loosened enough then the lens will easily pop out of the spring-clip mount, if not, loosen then some more until the lens is released. The existing bulb will come out with the lens. Gently remove it by pulling it up and away from the lens.
Step 4 - Install new bulb
Installing the new bulb is a reverse of the process, with a couple of important differences. The first thing to note is that our bulbs have an exclusive polarity indicator on one of the contact terminals, so look for a red "+" sign. Assuming all Model S's have been built the same, the positive terminal should be installed on the left. The other thing to note is that the light is emitted from the two yellow LEDs, so these should face down. Gently push the new bulb into place, with the positive terminal on the left, and the light source facing down, towards the bottom of the lens. Then refit the lens on your Model S, remembering that the curvier side of the lens is nearest the car. As you push the lens into place, you'll feel the spring clips (that hold the bulb) close around the bulb, holding it, and the lens, in place.
Step 5 - Test
Before tightening the screws, it's worth testing the bulbs, so complete steps 1-4 for both sides, then go to your Model S control screen and set the Headlights to On. This will make the license plate lights illuminate. If both are lit, then you're all good, go ahead and carefully tighten the screws so they're hand-tight, remembering to have the towel in place to protect the car bodywork. If one, or both bulbs are not lit (and assuming the rest of the lights are on), pop them out one by one and flip them around, so the "+" is on the right side of the lens holder. Push them back in to verify they now light up. There's no need to turn off the lights during this process, no harm will be done. If you're still having an issue, then open a ticket with us using the link at the top of this page.