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The Difference Between a Broken Tail Light vs Brake Light

Andy Mohr Collision Center Blog

Posted: October 31, 2018

To help Indianapolis and Bloomington area drivers understand the difference between a broken tail light vs brake light, Andy Mohr Collision Center created this quick guide.

Why? Because we understand that it’s easy to go a long time without making sure your brake lights and tail lights are working properly. They should be checked regularly, though, considering that these are essential safety features when driving around the Fishers and Plainfield areas.

If you find that you have a broken tail light or broken brake light, it’s important to get it fixed as soon as possible, but which is which? Let’s answer that question first. 

What is a Tail Light?

Tail lights are located on the rear of your vehicle and face rearward. They illuminate whenever your headlights are activated.

The purpose of tail lights is twofold:

  1. Indicate your vehicle’s presence in low-visibility conditions
  2. Show the rear edge of your vehicle so drivers can accurately gauge your car’s size and shape

Most states legally require these lights to be red in color. They are also on the dimmer side so they’re easily visible in dark or inclement driving conditions.

What is a Brake Light?

Brake lights are often located in the same spot as your tail lights, but shine a much brighter red, since they’re meant to be seen in sunny conditions, as well as dark and rainy ones.

These lights illuminate whenever your brakes are in use. They indicate to other drivers that you’re about to make a speed change, and give them ample time to prepare and respond.

How to Check Your Tail Lights and Brake Lights

Since both lights are crucial to driver safety, it’s important to check them periodically.

You can’t see behind you, so ask a friend or family member to stand behind the vehicle while you start the ignition.

Turn on the headlights and have your partner tell you if the tail lights illuminate. Then press on the brake to check the brake lights.

If you notice that something isn’t lighting up, you should head in for a repair soon.

Tail Lights vs Brake Lights: How to Diagnose the Problem

If you find that either of these lights isn’t working properly, it’s common to assume that the bulb needs to be replaced. This is an oversimplification, however.

There are many reasons why your brake or tail lights may not be working, including:

  • Wiring issues
  • A blown fuse
  • Electrical problems

In some models, as well, it could be an issue where the brake pedal step cushion is worn down, which makes the brake lights fail to recognize that you’re applying the brake pedal.

Because there are so many potential causes, the best thing to do if you notice your tail or brakes lights aren’t working is to take your car to your nearest auto body shop for a proper diagnosis.

Repair A Broken Tail Light or Broken Brake Light in Indiana

We’re happy to help Indianapolis and Bloomington area drivers better understand the difference between a broken tail light vs brake light.

If you need your tail lights or brake lights repaired in the Indianapolis or Bloomington area, don’t hesitate to contact Andy Mohr Collision Center.

We have years of experience repairing broken tail lights and broken brake lights on all makes and models and will do our best to give your car a thorough inspection to find the most efficient fix.

Use our online portal to quickly and easily schedule your service today!

Andy Mohr Collision Centers