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Chevrolet Malibu Reverse Light Bulbs Replacement Guide
How to change a burnt out reverse tail light bulb in the trunk lid of a 9th generation 2016 to 2023 Chevy Malibu.

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2020 Malibu Tail Lights
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Reverse - Trunk Lid
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Open Trunk Lid
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the ninth generation 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 GM Chevrolet Malibu in changing a burnt out reverse bulb located in the separate tail light housing attached to the trunk lid.

The 9th generation Malibu was supposed to undergo a "facelift" in 2022 or 2023 and the refreshed vehicle may have continued being produced into the 2024 and 2025 model years but it will now apparently be discontinued after the 2023 model year.

Owners of other General Motors vehicles from Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Holden such as the Impala, Corvette, Bolt, Sonic, Spark, Express, Trax, TrailBlazer, Equinox, Traverse, Blazer, Tahoe, Suburban, Colorado, Silverado, Cruze, Volt, Camaro, Encore, Envision, Enclave, Regal, LaCrosse, Canyon, Sierra, Terrain, Acadia, Yukon, Savana, XT4, XT5, XT6, Escalade, CT4, CT5, CT6 and Commodore may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

The compatible replacement miniature wedge base light bulb part number is 921 (also known as "W16W") which are available from various manufacturers such as Sylvania, GE, Bosch and Philips.

If you would like to have brighter reverse lights that will also last much longer before burning out like the traditional incandescent bulbs, install some 921 LED unit.

The only tool needed to access and replace the bulbs is a plastic pop rivet removal tool.

The first two steps are to open the trunk lid and then move to the side of the car with the burnt out reverse light bulb.



 

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Pry Out Pop Rivet
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Christmas Tree Fastener
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Removing Pop Rivets
Locate the round black plastic pop rivet fasteners along the outer edge of the carpeted trunk lid liner.

Use the pop rivet removal tool to gently pull out the friction fasteners.

This style of pop rivet is also called a "Christmas tree rivet" or "Xmas tree" friction fastener.

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Another Pop Rivet
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Pry Off Latch Cover
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3 Pop Rivets & Cover
Then gently pry off the plastic cover on the electronic trunk lid latch mechanism.

Set the pop rivets and plastic cover aside in a safe place.

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Peel Back Carpet Liner
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1/4 Turn Counterclockwise
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Reverse Bulb Socket
Gently peel back the trunk lid liner to access the back side of the tail light housing.

Rotate the gray plastic bulb socket 1/4 turn in the counterclockwise direction before pulling it straight out of the housing.

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Pull Out Old Light Bulb
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OEM Reverse Bulb
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Push In New Light Bulb
If the old light bulb was recently turned on, be careful when you remove it since the bulb might still be hot enough to burn your fingers.

Carefully pull the old light bulb straight out of the socket.

If you have trouble removing the old light bulb due to rust or debris, try gently wiggling it back and forth while pulling it straight out.

Push a new number 921 miniature wedge base light bulb straight into the socket.

If you would like to have brighter reverse lights, install some compatible replacement 921 LED bulbs.

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Empty Bulb Housing
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1/4 Turn Clockwise - Lock
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Replace Trunk Lid Liner
If you installed a traditional incandescent bulb, be sure to wipe it clean with a micro fiber towel or a paper towel and some rubbing alcohol.

Any grease or dirt on the new bulb could create hot spots which might reduce the lifespan of the bulb.

I recommend testing the new light bulb before re-attached the trunk lid liner panel.

Tip - If your new LED bulb doesn't work, try pulling it out of the socket, rotating it 180 degrees and pushing it back into the socket. Some LED bulbs are polarized and will only work when the "+" positive and "-" negative electrical contacts are in the correct orientation.

Re-insert the bulb socket into the housing and rotate it 1/4 turn in the clockwise direction to secure it into place.

Push the trunk lid liner back into place.

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Line Up Pop Rivets
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Push To Secure
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Xmas Tree Fasteners
Line up the pop rivets and firmly push them back into place.
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Trunk Lid Electronic Latch
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Push On Plastic Cover
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Reverse Bulb Replaced
Line up the plastic cover with the electric trunk lid latch mechanism.

Push the cover back into place.

You should feel or hear the cover "click" securely into place.

To test the new light bulbs, have an assistant step on the brake pedal and shift the transmission into reverse.

Be sure to write down the bulb change in your vehicle's service records.

Please check out all of the 2016-2023 GM Chevrolet Malibu DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.
 

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