Audi: Why Aren't My License Plate Lights Working?

In many cases your car will probably let you know that your license plate light is out by displaying a warning on the dashboard. However, this doesn't always happen. It's important to get all of your lights working again as soon as you notice they are out.

By Kate Halse - March 30, 2016

This article applies to the Audi A6 C5/C6, A3, A4 B7/B8, and Q5/Q7.

If your license plate lights have failed, your first thought is probably to try replacing the bulbs. Unfortunately, new bulbs won't always solve the problem. Whether you've tried replacing the bulbs first or are sure that the issue isn't the bulbs, you may need to take some extra steps to determine the source of the issue. Here are a few suggestions.

Audi Why aren't license plate bulbs working infographic

Materials Needed

  • Replacement bulbs (optional)
  • Screwdriver or pry tool

Step 1 – Inspect the bulbs

They may be burned out.

This is especially true if just one of the lights is out. If you think the bulb might be the culprit, swap out the old one with a new one. The new bulb should illuminate right away.

Figure 1. Remove the bulb housing with a screwdriver and pry tool.

Step 2 – Check the contacts

They might be corroded.

If you've replaced one or both bulbs but still don't have illuminated license plate lights, the issue could lie within the contacts. Over time, the contacts might become corroded. The result is that one or both license plate lights will fail to illuminate. Another potential issue is poor or improper contact. At least one owner noted inconsistent contact with the copper plates inside the unit.

Figure 2. The contacts should be clean, as shown on this bulb housing.

Blinking License Plate Lights

This could be a symptom of Audi's Cold Diagnostics system.

This is a fairly common issue after installing OEM facelift taillights. The primary symptom is when lights begin flickering and then shut off. This is often after a few minutes of idling. At least one owner notes that while the rear lights shut off, the front lights on the vehicle weren't affected.

Figure 3. Some users who installed OEM facelift taillights reported blinking license plate bulbs.

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