In our last installment of this Saving Silverado project, we remedied some issues with the HVAC system, and until this point, we’ve been doing a lot of fixing and repairing on the truck. I’d say it’s time to do something a bit more fun, so this time around, we’re going to “fix” the lighting situation by upgrading and/or replacing the factory lenses all the way around.
The Silverado is no exception when it comes to modern composite lens deterioration due to UV light. One of the headlight lenses had been replaced at some point, so it looked a bit newer, but the other side wasn’t in good shape, and the lower lamps were even worse with much of the inner chrome plating flaking off due to the assemblies collecting condensation and filling up with water.
At the back of the truck, the stock taillight lenses were deteriorating badly and looked as if they might be de-laminating or something. They were an eyesore for sure and had to go. While we’re talking about brake lights, we replaced the center high-mounted or third brake light at the top of the cab.
The third brake light actually turned out to be the most important of all the lights to replace. Our subject Silverado had a water leak somewhere, and while we first suspected the poor-sealing door weather strips, a good friend told us that the third brake light is usually the cause.
We grabbed the garden hose and ran water all along each door and around the window perimeters. Finally it was time to douse the third brake light and almost immediately, we started to see drips at the corners of the back window on the inside. Once we removed the stock lens, it was easy to see why. Much of the stock gasket had simply disappeared or slid inside of the body. Unfortunately we had no luck in finding a replacement gasket. You have to buy a whole lens, or maybe make your own gasket. Seeing as how the lens itself had lost its shine, we opted to replace it with the others.
When it comes to lenses for your vehicle, Summit Racing Equipment offers quite a selection across a number of brands. We found that replacement lenses, especially those from the aftermarket, are largely a matter of personal taste. We didn’t want to divert from stock in this instance all that much.
Despite its sizable catalog of factory replacement parts, Summit Racing didn’t have stock Silverado replacement lenses for this truck. It did, however, have some suitable front headlight lenses from Matrix. These are smoked lenses and the retail price was reasonable at just $189.97. They are advertised as a direct fit and use the OE bulbs.
At the back of the truck, the stock lens was again not an option, so we picked out the least Euro-looking of the third brake light options and went with the Matrix Truck-Tek LED light. It’s a clear lens and backing with LED lighting, and we really like the way it blends well on the white body. After surveying the taillight options, we didn’t find any to our personal liking, so we just ordered a set of stock replacements for about $80. One thing to pay attention to when ordering these is whether or not they come with harnesses. Some aftermarket lights will not work with your factory harnesses/bulbs, and some just come with replacements, usually at a slightly higher price than others.
The last thing we wanted to do was add a little style to the front of the truck by going with an aftermarket grille. These, just like the lights, are a matter of personal taste, and since we’ve been playing it relatively low key thus far, the grille we picked was a T-Rex billet grille that was simple in design and powdercoated black so as not to attract to much attention to itself.
With all of the updates complete, the Silverado is looking better than ever, and the lights are brighter all the way around the truck—which is a good safety benefit. Installation is very easy and only requires basic hand tools for the most part. We did need to fire up the cordless drill for the headlights, but it’s something the average enthusiast can easily handle.