How to diagnose a bad or failing tail lamp bulb?

Article by Christian A., on August 3, 2018

Tail lights – also known as rear lights -- refer to the two lamp clusters at the rear end of a vehicle. The entire rear lamp assembly typically includes the signal, brake as well as reverse lights. Basically, tail lights help warn other drivers on the road that a car is in front of them. They provide a warning that the car is turning left or right, reversing or braking.

In truth, tail lights play a vital role in vehicle safety. This role has been well acknowledged by the authorities, who wouldn’t hesitate to pull you over if one of your tail lights is missing. Even insurance companies have recognized the importance of tail lights. In any case, you would be at a disadvantage if another car rear-ended yours just because your tail lights didn’t work properly. You wouldn’t want to pay a large fine or lose insurance money for a busted tail lamp which costs only $3.

Light bulbs are considered one of the wear items. They usually aren’t covered by the car warranty. They do go bust much earlier than other parts of the car, especially when used frequently. Your car’s tail lamp might still be working on the last time you went for a drive, but now has gone busted. So before going off for a drive, you should first check whether the tail lamp bulbs are still in working good condition. If not, then you should promptly replace these failed lamp bulbs.

Nonetheless, it is of note that different carmakers have different configurations for the tail lamp bulbs of their cars. Usually, the tail lights illuminate when the headlight is turned on. Likewise, the brake light turns on when the brake pedal is depressed while the turn indicators illuminates when the turn signal switch is activated. From these configurations, it would be now easy to determine is a tail light bulb has gone busted and needs to be replaced.

To determine whether the tail light bulbs have already failed, you just need to turn on the car and do some tests. First, turn on the headlights and then see if the tail lights are also illuminated. If the tail lamps failed to light up, their bulbs might need replacement. In addition, activate the turn signal switch to the left and to the right. If any of the left or right signal lights doesn’t indicate, it is possible that their light bulbs have gone busted. Then, try to depress the brake pedal and see if the brake lights turn on. If they don’t, there might a problem with their light bulbs.

Once you have determined which of the tail lights don’t work, it is time to replace them. Of course, you need to purchase first the correct light bulbs for your car. To replace the defective tail light bulbs, you need to first unscrew the tail light housing. Then pull out the housing, although you won't be able to pull it out entirely. Next, you have to unscrew the bulb holder and pull out the defective bulb. Lastly, replace the light bulb and put everything in place. Just to be sure that you have properly replaced the bulbs, you may conduct the tests again.

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