How to replace a rear brake bulb on Volvo XC90 (2003 – )

by: EdmundIJones

I know a lot of people are not technically minded but I urge anyone to replace their own bulbs if they fail rather than going to a garage who would charge you lots for the privilege. Volvo XC90’s have the best design for bulb replacement I’ve ever seen, rather than spending time grazing your knuckles in awkward positions, the whole lighting cluster comes out and you have loads of room to work. The headlights are really quick and simple, the rear clusters take a while longer. I’ve documented the process should it help anyone else.

Step 1. I started the car, put it in park and put a brick on the brake pedal to find out which light wasn’t working, it seems to be the passenger side:

Step 2. Turn off the engine again and open the tail gate, on the left (as we’re working on the passenger side) see the trim next to the rear light cluster, this needs to be removed.

Step 3. Firstly remove the boot tray and then the quarter piece of flooring to expose a little plastic tab connected to the upright trim:

Step 4. Gently squeeze the tab to release the upper trim, you can now see the inner workings of the wheel arch and the rear fuse box/seatbelt mechanism:

Step 5. There are you big bolts that hold the light cluster in place, you will need a 10mm socket on a short extension as the top bolt is quite recessed. They are ringed in red below:

Step 6. Remove the two bolts and just place a hand behind the light cluster in case it drops off, you don’t want to crack it. My light cluster was firmly in place, here are the bolts I removed:

Step 7. I giggled the light cluster around it and came away easily, don’t just pull it out as there are lots of thin wires for the bulbs:

Step 8. Remove the top bulb holder (twist it a little) and take out the bulb. I bought 10 brake bulbs off ebay a few years ago as it was cheaper to buy 10 than it was to buy 1 so luckily I have spares. Here is the blown bulb on the left compared to a new one:

Step 9. Put the new bulb into the holder:

Step 10. Push the holder back to its slot and twist it into place.

Step 11. Put the cluster back into position and screw the two bolts back in, re-attach the trim and place the boot tray back in. Start up the engine, have it in park and put the brake on the brake pedal. Go round the back of the car and marvel at the red glow.

This is very simple and took me about 10 minutes which included taking pictures and looking for the right socket and bulb, certainly not worth paying a dealer money for. If you have any questions, let me know.


The instructions in this tutorial will work in the following models / years:

– 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Volvo XC90