Clancy’s Toyota Camry has a bit of a leak on the passenger side rearview tail light. It’s a small crack up top. Not even a damage crack… it’s just a bit displaced. Just displaced enough to let water in and short out the tail light. It seems likely that I can tape over the little crack, but I don’t know what kind of tape to use.

Duct tape seems kind of harsh.

Packing tape does not seem harsh enough.

Electrical tape seems like it could work, but I’m not sure it’s wide enough to get a really good hold on both sides.

Clancy mentions seeing some sort of tape that people put over their tail lights that’s translucent but also (apparently) strong enough to withstand the outdoors. Does anyone know what kind of tape that might be? Is there a particular kind of tape that I can buy for this sort of thing? Maybe at an auto parts store?

Category: Road

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13 Responses to Need Advice: Car Tape

  1. web says:


    If you have a picture I can suggest more. You might actually want to stuff in some thin foam tape or something “between” the housing if the crack is what I think you’re describing.

  2. trumwill says:

    If I wanted to go to a store and get this stuff today, what kind of store would I go to? Like a Home Depot or a car care kind of place?

  3. web says:

    Home Depot type places usually

  4. DaveinHackensack says:

    Why not get the glass cover on the taillight housing replaced? You mentioned in another post that you both come from upper middle class families — surely someone can spare the $50 or whatever it would cost?

    My M.O. with cars has always been to buy a solid used one for a good price, but to not skimp on maintenance (e.g., I use high-end synthetic oil, high-end tires, etc.). Has served me well. I wouldn’t tape a taillight.

  5. trumwill says:


    If it were $50, I’d gladly pay it. According to the dealership, the part alone is $250. I could try to get one from another source and learn how to put it on myself. I tried that with my Escort’s sideview mirror and it didn’t work out at all. Plus, this needs to be done before the end of the week for our coming road trip.

    The car is a teenager now and has a pretty big scratch along the side, so I’m not worried about the aesthetics. The tape will fit right in.

  6. Transplanted Lawyer says:

    $250 is criminal. Highway robbery (literally). I say, use the tape. Who are you trying to impress with your snazzy Escort anyway?

  7. Transplanted Lawyer says:

    Er, I mean, Camry. Really, from a prestige perspective, is there a lot of difference?

  8. trumwill says:

    I think the Camry scores slightly more (or deducts slightly fewer) points than an Escort. Even in our case because both cars have outward damage. But they get us from Point A to Point B, which is what matters. Though we’re going to be getting rid of the Escort as soon as a bank deems us worthy of a loan or we have enough cash on-hand to buy a crossover SUV outright.

    On a sidenote, my folks had the rear bumper on their Ford Aerostar held up with duct tape for almost an entire year. They only got it fixed because Delosa has safety inspections. It was good and sturdy. Sturdier, in fact, that it was when they initially took it in to get fixed by a car guy. Eventually, they had an amateur who bolted that sucker down but good with real equipment instead of just car repair equipment.

  9. DaveinHackensack says:


    A good mechanic could probably get you that part in good condition for a lot less from a junkyard.

  10. trumwill says:

    Every time I’ve tried to replace a part on the cheap, it doesn’t worked out. That includes sideview mirrors (there are four different kinds of sideview mirrors for the 98 Ford Escort and I ordered the wrong one), car radio harness (I found the right harness only to discover that it didn’t come with some cables that you couldn’t get without ordering the whole harness retail), a door handle (if I wanted something that wasn’t factory direct, I was going to have to find it myself), and a car lock (replace the lock on one door? No can do. It’s all or nothing).

    Most mechanics I’ve dealt with really don’t want to do anything that isn’t clearly spelled out. If you’ve got a part, they’ll put it in. If you don’t have it, they’ll call their supplier and order one. Unless you’re buds, though, I don’t think that they’re going to go dumpster diving for you. Why should they? It’s not worth their time.

    Of course, it’s a moot point. We need this by Sunday. Even if they were willing to look around on my behalf, it wouldn’t be done by then.

  11. DaveinHackensack says:

    You’ve got to build a relationship with a mechanic you trust. I’ve been using the same one for almost 20 years.

  12. trumwill Clancy says:

    Dave, agreed with you about the mechanic; the problem is we haven’t lived in any one place very long in the last few years. Would that we had the same mechanic for the last 20 years! I know my folks do. And on the subject of out “upper middle class” folks providing the x dollars that it takes to replace whatever part we need. . . um, we’re independent adults. I don’t know about you, but I’m not turning to my folks for every nickel-and-dime — or larger — thing. And I’m really not concerned about aesthetics; I just want a functional repair that’ll keep the light from going out so I won’t get pulled over by the cops when driving. If tape does the trick, that’s fine.

  13. trumwill says:

    Oddly, Clancy’s comment above got posted in my name. Not sure why that’s the case. She described the situation pretty well. The only thing that I would add is that I actually have a decent relationship with a mechanic in Enterprise City, where I worked. He knew who I was and that I was a regular customer, but he wouldn’t really help me with the sideview mirror situation unless I brought in the one I needed. Also, my car stereo guy in Colosse was a friend (or ally at any rate and he told me the same thing, that he doesn’t go dumpster-diving.

    I realize that different mechanics are different, but you don’t only need a friendly mechanic with whom you have a relationship. You need one that will play ball.

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