Guide: 2nd Generation CX-9: License plate bulb installation/upgrade

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
L
Canada
V
'18 CX-9 Signature
I realized that I had promised a DIY for this process in another thread some time ago (can't seem to find it now), but never delivered. Anyway, better late than never, right?.. Right?? (silly)


This is a DIY How-To for a license plate bulb installation for the 2016-2018 Mazda CX-9 (and 2017-2018 Mazda CX-5). I decided to document this process because there has been a bit of confusion regarding how to remove the plastic bulb covers. Hopefully this clarifies it a bit.

This process was documented/photographed by myself, using my crappy cellphone camera and my 2018 Mazda CX-9 Signature as the "demo" vehicle. This DIY is provided as a learning aid and reference guide. I assume no responsibility for any damages you may inflict on yourself or your vehicle.

The CX-9 comes factory equipped with standard 194 bulbs. One for the first things I did to the car was upgrade most of the lighting to LED. Initially, I had upgraded to a pair of iJDMtoy LED 194 bulbs. I had used these bulbs briefly in my Lexus IS250 before I sold it. Shortly after I installed them on the CX-9, a few of the LEDS on the left side bulb crapped out and started flickering. I ordered a pair of T10/W5W/198 LED bulbs from SiriusLED on Amazon.ca to replace them.


IMG_20180730_214028.jpg


What you'll need:

- Flathead screwdriver
- License plate bulbs (194/T10/W5W)


1. Open the liftgate to a comfortable working height that won't have you bending at weird angles. When the liftgate is in operation, you can press the door open/close button (by the license plate or by the latching mechanism on the inside) to stop it at your desired working height.


This next step is probably the hardest, which is removing the plastic covers. Here's what they look like:


IMG_20180730_215444_HDR.jpg

As you can see, each side has a slot that you can fit a flathead screwdriver into. Now, the reason these can be difficult to remove is because of the way they clip on to the bulb holder. In the photo below, you can see that the holder actually hooks on to the cover. Typically, it's the other way around.


IMG_20180730_215839_HHT.jpg

With that said, here's what I did to remove them.


2. Insert the flathead into the slot of the cover that is furthest from the centre. If you're removing the cover on the left side, the flathead should be in the left slot of the cover, and vice versa for the other side.


3. Now push the screwdriver "in", towards the centre of the car. Gradually apply smooth, controlled pressure, and don't jam it back and forth. You might have to crank it pretty far before the cover pops off. Note: The bulb holder is also a bit loose by design, so if you notice that the entire assembly moves a bit while you're applying pressure, don't worry, that's normal.


IMG_20180730_220427_HHT.jpg


4. With cover off, you can now easily swap the installed bulb for the new bulb. You just pull the old ones out and pop the new ones in. Ensure that you test each bulb before you put the covers back on by switching on your parking lights.


IMG_20180730_220140_HHT.jpg


5. Reinstall the covers. They basically just snap right on, but require a bit of elbow grease.


And you're done! Hope this helps you guys out a bit :)
 
Last edited:

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
L
Canada
V
'18 CX-9 Signature
Here are a few comparison pics from my bulb upgrade/replacement for good measure.

Old bulb output. Good, but one side is dimmer than the other and flickers occasionally.


IMG_20180730_215407_HHT.jpg

Failing bulb replaced with new bulb. A little brighter :)


IMG_20180730_220526_HHT.jpg


Does anyone want a quick video of me taking off the plastic covers? Sometimes pictures and text isn't good enough, so just let me know if that's the case :)
 
Last edited:
V
Mazda CX-9 2018 Touring
Thank you for the DIY write up! I just replaced my license plate light just a moment ago, and found this video to be very helpful in removing the light cover.
 
Hi Sm1ke,

Thank you for the writeup. I am having difficulty removing the lens as there is no groove to stick a screw driver in. Am i supposed to pry around the edges between the lens and foam? I followed your instructions on using a screwdriver to go for the outer centre but i am unsure how and where to place the end of the screwdriver. Any further guidance or video would be appreciated greatly. This is for the 2nd gen cx9. Thanks
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
L
Canada
V
'18 CX-9 Signature
Hi Sm1ke,

Thank you for the writeup. I am having difficulty removing the lens as there is no groove to stick a screw driver in. Am i supposed to pry around the edges between the lens and foam? I followed your instructions on using a screwdriver to go for the outer centre but i am unsure how and where to place the end of the screwdriver. Any further guidance or video would be appreciated greatly. This is for the 2nd gen cx9. Thanks
See the video posted by tennishu above. If your lens cover doesn't have the slot/groove, please take a photo and post it here and I'll try to assist. What year is your CX-9?
 
Hi Sm1ke,

Apologies for the extremely late reply. I was away and didnt have the chance to log in to check for your reply.
This is an Australian Spec 2019 CX-9. I spoke to the dealership and they advised it must be replaced through the inside of the boot as the lens are completely sealed. Therefore I will need to remove the black plastic trim from the inner side of the trunk.
Do you happen to have a HOW TO or the link on how to do this?

I could only find one for the CX-5 which im thinking could be quite similar. Havent looked at the actual trim panel but I am hoping I could skip directly to 1m35s and pull down just enough to reach the bulbs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl_9C76UeZk


Many thanks!
 
Last edited:

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
L
Canada
V
'18 CX-9 Signature
Hi Sm1ke,

Apologies for the extremely late reply. I was away and didnt have the chance to log in to check for your reply.
This is an Australian Spec 2019 CX-9. I spoke to the dealership and they advised it must be replaced through the inside of the boot as the lens are completely sealed. Therefore I will need to remove the black plastic trim from the inner side of the trunk.
Do you happen to have a HOW TO or the link on how to do this?

I could only find one for the CX-5 which im thinking could be quite similar. Havent looked at the actual trim panel but I am hoping I could skip directly to 1m35s and pull down just enough to reach the bulbs.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl_9C76UeZk


Many thanks!
I see. It seems to be another "stealth change", in addition to the sealed LED units and slightly different layout for the overhead console.

Unfortunately, I haven't removed that particular panel, but it does look quite similar to the CX-5's panel. Hopefully it's just as easy.
 
Thought I might contribute if someone else decides to open up the boot panels. If you follow the video, it is pretty straight forward. I was able to open all panels with ease. The only thing to keep in mind is when you pull the plastic away from the car, do not bend and pull away. Pull the plastic and keep it parallel to the car body. You can slightly bend it to give it a bit of a lift. Do not be scared. It is clipped on quite tight but they are just clips.
For the final panel, do not remove the whole thing as per the video. What i did was i started to remove from the inner side (where the middle brake light sits). So the outer edges are still clipped on. Then slightly pulling down the plastic, you can stick your hand in and reach for whatever you need (in my case the rear plate lights). Very manageable.
To put it back all together, the hardest piece was the outer piece. You have to pretty much guess where the holes are and use your fist and knock it in. Eventually the clip will fall in if you wiggle the plastic around while hitting it in. Again, do not be afraid as nothing will break. Just have to apply pressure or else the clip wont go in. The rest is pretty easy.
First attempt took me about 30min because I was scared. Opened up the next time and it took me less than 10min.

Hope this helps.
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
Moderator
Contributor
L
Canada
V
'18 CX-9 Signature
Just a note, this guide may not be applicable for newer models (2019+ CX-9 and CX-5). This is because Mazda moved to LED license plate bulbs and changed the housing. The new housing can't be opened as described in this DIY - instead you'd have to do something similar to what Shimian did above.
 
Top