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What are Tail Lights?
Tail lights can also be referred to as taillights (one word), tail lamps, taillamps, brake lights or brake lamps. The funny thing about tail lights though is that not all tail lights are brake lights, but all brake lights are considered tail lights. Confused yet? Trust me, I know! The automotive world is a plethora of confusion, especially when it comes to naming the parts. Luckily, we are here to make sense of it all for you.
Let’s go back to basics for a moment shall we? On the back of any car, there are some beautiful lights with red lenses. Those lights are most commonly called “tail lights”, because that is exactly what they are, lights on the tail end of the vehicle. Makes sense right? Now, if somebody were to hop inside that vehicle and tap the brake pedal, some of those red colored lights on the back of the vehicle would illuminate. Those specific lights can be called “brake lights” or “tail lights” because they light up when the brake pedal is pushed down. However, the vehicle may also have other lights on the rear of the vehicle that turn on with the headlights, but do not light up with the brakes. Those would only be called tail lights, because the brake pedal has no connection to them whatsoever.
Okay, we got the tough part out of the way, but why do we even have these things stuck to the back of our cars and trucks? Well, it is as simple as you probably imagine. If the vehicle behind you can see you and understand your intentions, then everybody on the road is safer because of it. Having rear tail lights on a car, truck, or SUV flat out prevents car accidents and that is why they exist. Because the color red draws your eye’s attention, all vehicles must use red lights for brake lights. Seems logical right? That is why the state inspector is so strict about them working properly!
Third Brake Lights – Let’s Learn About Them Too!
Third brake lights are a terrific addition to the automotive world because again, they make all drivers safer. Imagine for a moment that you are in traffic, driving a large four wheel drive truck, and the car in front of you is a little tiny two door hatchback. In a traffic situation, you would never be able to see the little hatchback’s brake lights because the nose of your truck is higher than their tail lights. This can be a scary scenario for everybody involved. Luckily, the third brake light solves this problem by being mounted way up high in the center rear of the vehicle. Not even large trucks can miss it when it lights up. By the mid 1980’s the center mounted (third) brake lights became a requirement on all vehicles in the United States.
When are Replacement Tail Lights Needed?
As you can imagine, if your tail light is physically damaged, you would most certainly need to replace it immediately as it is a serious safety concern for you and the drivers around you. That being said, it may need to be replaced for a variety of other reasons too:
Replacing Tail Lights
Replacing your tail light can be very easy. The majority of vehicles have rear tail lights that can be replaced by a do-it-yourselfer with basic hand tools. It usually requires a ratchet set and possibly a Phillips or flathead screwdriver. Sometimes the bolts can be hidden, so a repair manual or online instruction can be extremely helpful.
For more detailed information about tail lights, their history, diagnosis and replacement tips, and more, check out our in-depth guide to replacement tail lights.
Need a Replacement Tail Light Assembly?
If you need a replacement tail light assembly for your vehicle then you have come to the right place. At 1A Auto, we carry a large selection of aftermarket tail lights for many cars, trucks, SUVs and vans that are among the highest quality replacements available. We also carry OEM replacements for certain makes and models as well. All of our OEM and aftermarket tail lights are DOT (U.S. Dept. of Transportation) and SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) approved.
Written By: Jeremy Nutt
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We employ USA based, knowledgeable support technicians. They'll help you through your project. We always make sure you get the right part. And we boast the industry's most generous returns policy. You won't find a company more passionate about auto parts than 1A Auto.