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Tail Lights (Taillights)

Tail Lights

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Tail Lights at 1A Auto

What are tail lights and where are they located?

Tail lights, also known as taillights, tail lamps, taillamps, brake lights and brake lamps, are essential to the safety of all drivers. 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! Let’s go back to basics for a moment. On the back of any car, there are some lights with red lenses. Those lights are usually called “tail lights,” because that is exactly what they are: lights on the tail end of the vehicle. Now, if somebody were to hop inside that vehicle and tap the brake pedal, those red-colored lights would illuminate. Those specific lights are called brake lights, but are also referred to as tail lights. Most vehicles today have one set of lights that illuminate with the headlights, and another set that illuminate when the driver hits the brakes.  The former are called tail lights because the brake pedal has no connection to them whatsoever, but somewhere along the way we adopted the same name for brake lights too.

Tail lights have been on cars for a long time because they improve everyone's driving experience. If the vehicle behind you can see and understand your intentions, then everybody on the road is safer because of it. Having rear tail lights on a car, truck, or SUV can help prevent car accidents. That is why state inspectors are so strict about them working properly!

Third brake lights – let’s learn about them too!

Third brake lights are a smart and terrific addition to automobiles because they also improve driver safety. Imagine for a moment that you are behind the wheel of a large four-wheel drive truck, and the car in front of you is a tiny two-door hatchback. In traffic, you would never be able to see the hatchback’s brake lights due to simple height discrepancies. The third brake light solves this problem by mounting to a higher position for greater visibility. By the mid-1980s, center-mounted (third) brake lights became a requirement on all vehicles in the United States.

How do I know if my tail lights need to be replaced?

If your tail light is physically damaged, you need to replace it immediately since it's 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:

  •   Yellowing or Faded Tail Lenses - Over time, plastic lenses tend to glaze over and lose their clarity. This significantly cuts down on the     amount of light that shines through them. You don't realize just how much light is missing until the new set of tail lights are in place. 
  •   Moisture - Sometimes old automotive tail lights will allow water inside and this moisture is extremely 
      difficult to get rid of. Moisture can dramatically shorten the life span of bulbs.
  •   Internal Circuit Boards - Some vehicles have circuit boards built into the tail lights. These circuits 
      burn out over time, and often can't be replaced by themselves. This means that the entire tail light 
      assembly needs to be replaced even if the lens itself is perfect.
  •   Worn out looks - Old tail lights can make your car look old and worn out. If you want your car 
      to look its best and have the highest resale value, you just have to have clean rear tail lights.

Can I replace the tail lights myself?

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. The repair is generally not complicated. You'll want to remove any screws or bolts holding the tail light to the car, and depending on the tail light, either remove the sockets or disconnect the tail light wiring harness to remove it from the vehicle.

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.

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"Thanks for the fast reliable service. Great price, and the headlights were as good as oem or better!!! Keep up the good work..."
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