Tail Lights Don’t Work but Brake Lights Do? (Causes & Solutions)

Driving at night without a rear light is extremely risky and could result in serious fatalities. Have you experienced a situation where your tail lights don’t work but brake lights do? Want to know the cause and the cost of repair?

Do not panic; even though you’re anxious and worried over the cost of fixes, the solution is generally simpler than users believe, and we’ve got them here.

You’re increasingly prone to experience technical issues if such a situation occurs in a car. Charred bulbs and damaged fuses are the typical causes of these issues, but sometimes things could get extra complex.

Several causes of your functioning brake light, with tail lights not functioning, were listed below.

These are the most frequent causes, though there are other ones as well. This is a pretty thorough listing of the frequent reasons why brake lights will illuminate, but not the rear.

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Reasons Taillights Don’t Work, But Brake Lights Do

1. Bad Tail Light Fuse

Whenever you’re dealing with any electric issue, particularly whenever it relates to broken tail lights, the fuse should always be checked first.

The fuse is just a metallic ring enclosed in a plastic bag intended to blow whenever the voltage running across it rises to a certain level. By doing so, other components are shielded against harm.

In a vehicle, fuses are often located in 2 places.

  1. This fuse board is located within a car’s dash. Usually, it is located in its passenger corner, concealed by a rubber plate underneath the dashboard. However, when the passenger corner doors are fully opened, you may find them on the edge of the dashboard of some vehicles.
  2. This is a major fuse box underneath the bonnet and is the next frequent location to locate fuses. It is a large, black display case with numerous cables. Its fuses are accessible after the upper covering has been removed.

The functions of every fuse, whose cover you stripped away to reach them, must be mentioned. Each fuse regulates various electric elements. If not, the owner’s handbook or an online search where its year, manufacture, and version schematic can be used to identify them.

After your rear lights fuse has been located, you may test it with a fuse tester that will produce light if the fuse is functioning properly.

Change the fuse with one that is of a similar size and voltage if it does not brighten up. A visible fracture in the metallic cable within a faulty fuse can be seen on some fuses.

2. Bad Tail Light Bulbs

Your tail lamp lightbulb should be the second thing you inspect if the fuses within the cabin and beneath the bonnet pass inspection.

However, several vehicles include an access panel, which you may get in and bend the bulbs away from the lenses; normally, this means uninstalling the rear light covering.

The defective bulbs should be removed from the sockets it is inserted into and thoroughly inspected for damage to the filaments. The cable which produces light within the lightbulb is called a filament.

If the filament breaks, there will be no lighting, and a replacement lightbulb needs to be installed.

Have you already changed the light bulb with a new one, and it’s still not working? Read on.

3. Socket Failure

The connection where the light bulbs are inserted do malfunction occasionally. Typically, rust is caused by humidity invading a socket, and this can cause socket failure. Yet, a bad coupling of the cables in the rear could also lead to failure.

If the lightbulb and fuses are in a great state, examine the socket’s health while the light is still in it. Search for some shade changes, such as white, blue, or brown, as well as twisted or damaged hooks.

During such a stage, it’s a great notion to use a multimeter at the outlet to verify the electrical current. Insufficient energy flowing to the clips indicates an electric connection malfunction higher up.

Tail Lights Don’t Work but Brake Lights Do

4. Worn Out Wiring

There is probably a faulty or snapped cable someplace in the line if zero electric charges are getting to the outlet, and the fuse has been verified as OK.

Acquire a cabling schematic at this time, and carefully check the cables throughout the rear light circuits for frayed or damaged insulation.

Verify the surface connections that exit the circuits too. The electrical supply to the outlets will also malfunction if the ground cable is filthy, brittle, or damaged.

5. Control Switch Failure

The button that operates the rear lights is an additional factor in their failure to illuminate. If whatever else has been examined and found to remain in fine working order, the headlamp control on the dashboard must also be examined.

This button often illuminates the brake lights, rear lights, and headlamps. It’s conceivable that this has broken if the rear light circuit’s surrounding components are functioning properly. You can remove it from the dashboard and examine it using a multimeter to confirm that it has broken.

6. Dirty or Bad Ambient Light Sensor

Upon the dashboard of several contemporary vehicles is an environmental light sensor. Following how bright or dim it is around, the car’s microprocessor can immediately switch up and off the headlamps and taillights.

Many people switch off the day’s driving lights in modern automobiles. That is the probable cause if the brake lights go on but the parking lamps & headlamps do not.

If this malfunction or becomes very dusty, it won’t be able to determine whether it is day or night and won’t switch on the headlights. Then, though, this had an impact on the headlights and taillights; this can be quickly verified by personally flipping the headlight control into the ON mode.

Tail Light Troubleshooting Guide

The easiest solution is typically the issue, according to Occam’s Razor. First, inspect to see whether the lights haven’t burned out and that you have electricity before you begin delving through cabling connections and testing grounds.

No electricity typically indicates a burnt fuse, although it may also indicate a broken control. 95% of the electric issues with taillights are caused by these three components: Switches, bulbs, and Fuses

They’re also the simplest to debug and repair, which is good for oneself! But after you’ve thrown out all those three possibilities, you may go on to the remaining two. Again, look for electricity at the socket, with confirmed solid ground.

They’re also the simplest to debug and repair, which is much better for customers! But after you’ve thrown out these three options, one may proceed to the final 2. Again, look for electricity at the outlet first, preferably using a solid confirmed ground.

Ensure you have an excellent grip on the iron terminal inside the sockets once you test the power. You must first cleanse the connector if rust or something else is blocking it. If the rusting was the cause of the issue, try the lightbulb once more after cleansing the terminals.

Test for electricity at the toggle, if indeed the fuse is not receiving any electricity, though.

Once more, the cabling issue is in the middle if there is electricity at the button but not at the fuse. However, if the button isn’t receiving electricity, the issue is likely among the switches and the battery.

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Frequently Asked Questions – Tail Lights Don’t Work but Brake Lights Do

Is there a fuse for tail lights?

The tail light fuse may be located in either the fuse panel on the front passenger side of your vehicle or the main fuse box under the hood. Once you’ve opened either the panel or the main fuse box, locate the tail light fuse.

What would cause both tail lights to go out?

A blown fuse usually causes both lights to go out. On newer cars, the tail lamps can be fused separately, and/or each bulb or shared circuit can be fused. A fuse can be blown due to other problems, so you’ll need to check more than just the fuse; it’s the right place to start.

Where is the fuse for the rear tail lights?

All these lights normally go out when a fuse blows. On more recent vehicles, the rear lights could be fused individually, as well as an individual lightbulb or combined circuit. You’ll have to examine much more than the fuse because a fuse might burst as a result of various issues, but that is where you should start.

Do tail lights and brake lights use the same bulb?

On quite some vehicles, the brake and tail lights share the same bulb. But, there are some cars that have separate bulbs for each circuit.

What would cause my tail lights not to work?

Burnt fuses are the frequent culprit for broken rear lights, followed by bad cabling or control switch issues. Defective light bulbs, a broken lightbulb socket, or a defective light detector are some more possibilities. Each functionality’s controllers, cabling, and plugs are distinct on the rear lights.

How much does it cost to fix tail light wiring?

At $70-$120, a mechanic can typically repair broken rear light cabling within an hour. You could also try fixing it independently if you’ve done automobile cabling before.

Can you drive without tail lights?

Exactly like any similar component on an automobile, the failure of the brake lights poses a serious threat to public welfare. Owing to the absence of tail lights, this is not a mere risk for fellow motorists, who might not notice your car. It may also result in a penalty from the police or a seizure of your government’s license inspection procedure.

How much does a tail light bulb cost?

Anybody can master how to replace a broken brake light. A new bulb sells for approximately $10, and doing it yourself will spare you around $20 in wage costs and the period it would take to drive to the workshop and sit tight for the job to be completed.

Conclusion – Tail Lights Don’t Work but Brake Lights Do

A burst fuse is nearly often to blame whenever both tail lights malfunction at the same time. Inspect the fuse box and change all damaged fuses to determine if the problem has been resolved.

Ensure they’re its problem before spending money on replacing components, such as a lightbulb switch or an ambient light sensor. It’s often preferable to bring the car to an automobile technician to fix the issue properly.

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