how to turn on tail lights

How to turn on tail lights

While driving at night or during a heavy downpour or cloudy day, one of the most common mistakes you will notice some drivers make is forgetting to turn on their tail lights – this is true especially if you are driving behind one of these phantom cars. Now, why would anyone forget to turn on their tail lights when we are seeking ways to improve nighttime driving? The answer is simply due to the following misconceptions. 

Three car tail lights misconceptions:

  1. Taillights are always automatically on – they are similar to daytime running lights

This is false as car tail lights usually turn on along with the car headlights. In some vehicles, they don’t and would require the driver to manually switch them on. 

  1. My dashboard light is on so, my tail lights should be on as well: 

This is another misconception as the car’s dashboard lights have nothing to do with the taillights. In fact, in some vehicles, the dashboards are constantly backlit. 

  1. Tail Lights aren’t needed since I am driving during the day: 

This is not true as your car taillights are as important as your headlights. They help other drivers see you clearly from behind especially in the winter season when rain and fog are common. So, you should learn how to clean your taillights as you do with your headlight. 

What are car tail lights? 

What are car tail lights

If you are still unsure or having difficulty differentiating between your car brake lights and taillights, here is what tail lights are: Tail lights are the red lights on the back of your vehicle. They usually come on when your car headlights are on. When you are driving, the tail light displays a dim red light in appearance and a bright red light appearance when you are coming to a stop – mind you these are not your brake lights. 

Where are my car tail lights located? 

Taillights are typically located at each end of the back of your car – facing backward. While traffic laws in some states in the U.S. maintain that the color of the tail lights must remain red as compared to headlight tinting, some tail light housings have reflective mirrors that help to amplify the appearance of the emitted lights – making them appear larger and brighter. 

How does the tail light work?

Most tail lights work on a relay which means they are turned on when the headlights are on. Since most car headlights are turned on automatically when the ignition is on, tail lights can also be turned on when the car ignition is on. If you are using an automatic switch, the taillights will be turned on automatically via the automatic lighting system. In the same vein, if your car makes use of a manual switch, the tail light will also be turned on manually. 

What are the types of tail lights?

What are the types of tail lights

The type of tail lights on your car depends largely on the type of bulb in your tail light housing. That being said, halogen bulbs were previously the industry-standard bulbs until recently as LED lights are increasingly becoming the people’s choice due to how bright they are while consuming less energy. In addition, HID bulbs are also another type of tail lights. These high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs are stronger and also very bright. Taillights, unlike headlights that make use of filament, utilize an electrical arc. 

Why are car tail lights important?

Tail Lights like your car headlights provide some measure of safety for yourself and other road users. They illuminate the rear of your vehicle enabling you to reverse perfectly at night or within a dark corner. They also serve as an indication to other drivers that you are on the lane during a cloudy or rainy weather condition. If you notice that your tail lights have gone off, or your tail light bulbs are blown, then you should get a replacement as soon as you can. That’s because you can be pulled over by the police for driving with one tail light or headlight. However, if the case is that your tail lights wouldn’t come on: here is how to fix your car tail lights. 

How to fix your car tail lights?

How to fix your car tail lights

Step One: Check the fuse box

This is the first place to start as a blown fuse would usually mean both tail lights and headlight would be off. If you are using a new car, chances are your tail light and headlights are fused separately so, if the fuse for the tail light is bad, the taillights alone would go off. To access your fuse box, check in your owner’s manual. The fuse box can be located either under your dashboard – if you are using an older car or under the hood of your car. Locate it and use an external light to inspect if it’s blown, fractured, or intact. 

How would i know what to check for?

Pick up the fuse using a piece of tweezers or your fingers to take a closer look at the fuse. If the piece of metal in the fuse is broken that means it’s blown. If it’s fractured, that means it’s bad. Whichever it is, you will need to replace the fuse. However, for a quick DIY, you can take a thin piece of naked wire, wrap it around both teeth of the fuse and plug it in. If you check and the piece of metal inside the fuse is intact, that means the fuse is good. 

Step two: Inspect the tail light wiring

Another reason why your car tail lights wouldn’t come on could be as a result of bad tail light wires. Open the trunk of your car and check the tail light wires which are situated inside the lid of the trunk. When your trunk is up, you should be able to see where the electrical wire connects with the tail light housing. Inspect it properly to ensure none of the wire has been disconnected. If any of the wires is disconnected, reattach it immediately. For newer car versions, this wiring harness is situated within a panel. If that’s the case, get a screw and open the panel box to access the wires. 

Step three: Replace your car tail light bulbs

Lastly, after you have gone through the two steps above, the next thing to do would be to replace your car tail light bulbs. To inspect your tail light bulb, unscrew the tail light lenses using a screwdriver – you can locate the tail light screws either from outside or inside the trunk of your car. Remove the faulty bulbs and inspect them the way you would observe your household bulbs by checking the filament inside of them to determine if they are still intact. 

If they are intact, you can check the bulb’s socket to see if it’s burnt. If you either have a burnt socket or a bad bulb, then replacing your car bulb would solve the problem immediately. After replacing your car tail light bulbs, ensure you restore your tail light lenses using a restoration kit so the light emitted doesn’t appear dim. However, if none of the steps listed above is able to turn on your car tail lights then, you might have a deeper electrical problem and would need to consult your rewire technician. 

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