Tail Light Reflector Maintenance

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Tail Light Reflector Maintenance

The noble Volkswagen Beetle has been much maligned. One of the main criticisms has been lighting.

In the day of the 6 volt system, eventually connectors would corrode and an approaching Beetle’s head lamps glowed as two yellow-flamed candles!

Even with the 12 volt systems that generated so much excitement when VW unveiled its ’67 Models, one needs to keep a watchful eye on the electrical system, including the battery, generator, regulator and all connections. Left to themselves, these components will degrade with time and one will find himself fighting to see at night.

There is an additional concern. The tail lights and brake lights are there for the purpose of keeping those behind us aware that, one, we are there, and two, that we are braking!

If you have followed a Beetle, you likely have noticed just how dim the tail lights and brake lights are.

Two of my Volkswagen friends, came upon an ingenious method for remedying the situation. They polished the bulb reflectors on their Bug!

They removed the reflectors and pulled the bulbs. This is an easy process, as you will soon discover. The work comes in the polishing. However, the rewards are worth it in increased reflection.

Let me add a word of caution: do not attempt to polish the upper reflector! It is coated with a special mirroring and can be damaged by cleaning. A damp cloth can be used gently to remove any dust or light deposits that may be present.

It’s best to start with reflectors which are not rusted. If the bottom reflector surface is greatly damaged, the chances of bringing it back to life are slim. So, find some good reflectors, if yours are damaged.

We used Mothers Mag and Aluminum Polish which can be purchased at most automotive product stores.

’67 Volkswagen Beetle — Tail Light Reflector Maintenance

While my friends used a Dremel Tool with a polishing wheel, I chose to do my work using a rag and my fingers.

After some polishing, you will find that something like the Dremel will offer a quicker method and will be less tiring to the fingers.

I polished the lower reflectors as well as the tops of the dividers (taking care not to touch the upper reflector, mind you).

As you can see in the test photo in this article, the reflector, when polished, is going to be much more effective. And, that’s going to translate into safety!

Posted by Jay Salser

My wife, Neva, and I have been driving and working on VWs since 1976. In fact, we raised our family in these cars. Now, we are retired and enjoy VWs as a hobby. The ’67 Beetle always has been our favorite year. We own a '67 Beetle and a '68 Karmann Ghia.

  1. This is good stuff ! Very useful.

    1. I want to give special thanks to the two friends who brought this to my attention: Kurt Troeger and Adam Troeger of Grapevine, TX. They have restored a fine, show-winning ’63 Beetle as it should be from the factory. They have maintained the 6 volt system but wanted to improve the quality of reflection from those tail lights! After their demonstration, I immediately came home and went to work on my ’67 Beetle, “Baby”. The car “liked” it and I was extremely pleased with the improved quality of reflection. Long live Innovators! jay

  2. What a great idea! Thanks, Jay!

    1. Yeah, thanks Jay!

      1. Do you know where to find white or colored e-brake and g-shift boots?

        1. Ed,
          Possibly Wolfsburg West or The Samba?

  3. Hi Jay,
    I am very proud with you and very hope to hear/learn more and more all about….
    Be Volkswageneers!!!

    1. Hello, Zainal in Malaysia! Thank you for your very kind words! Stay tuned for more important Volkswagening information right here on 1967beetle.com!


      1. Jay,
        It’s awesome to “know” you.

    2. Ha. Yes!

  4. What about using aluminum foil?

    1. I’ve heard that works too.

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