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Common Reasons Your Brake Lights Work When the Tail Lights Don’t

The lights on your car provide an important safety feature. They let other drivers predict your movements, and they make you visible in dark or hazardous weather. In most cases, your tail lights engage when your head lights do, and many modern models have automatic settings that allow the car’s computer to sense when conditions are right for illumination. Sometimes, however, the tail lights stop working but the brake lights stay functional. Here’s a look at common causes of this phenomenon.

Damaged Fuse

Any time an electrical part fails, the first step is checking the fuse. This piece consists of a plastic covering housing a metal band, and it’s designed to break when the current rises too high. To check if the fuse has caused your tail lights to go out, find the fuse box for your vehicle (usually housed under the hood or behind a panel under the dashboard on the passenger side). Once located, check the list of fuses on the inside cover and find the one for the tail light. Remove it and test the power with a fuse tester. Replace the fuse if necessary, or move on to the next possible source of trouble.

Worn Out Bulb

When a light goes out, it could always be the bulb. You can remove the tail light cover and check, and if the bulb needs replacing, it’s an easy inexpensive fix.

Faulty Wiring

Damaged wiring can cause an entire system to fail and will likely require professional assistance. If you want to check the wires yourself, locate the wiring diagram in the owner’s manual and perform a visual inspection for obvious signs of damage.

Bad Socket

The place in which the bulb plugs in is called the socket. If you remove the bulb and notice discoloration on the socket, corrosion has likely set in and you’ll need a new one before the lights can work properly.

Broken Sensor

Today’s cars rely on a number of sensors that communicate with the computer system. If the sensor controlling lights malfunctions, the headlights and parking lights will stop working along with your tail lights.

Damaged Control Switch

The control switch that engages the tail lights can stop working. To check it, simply pull it out from the dash and use a multimeter to gauge performance. If you don’t have this tool, you can take it to a technician for inspection.

For all your vehicle’s maintenance and repair needs, call Fairfax Auto Repair at 703-822-5911 and schedule an appointment today!

Call Fairfax Auto Repair at 703-822-5911 for an appointment today!

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