What to do when your taillights are not working?

By: Kris LeSueur   |   16 Oct 2023
Image from: AutoDeal

Driving when it’s dark can be daunting because you are less aware of your surroundings. But there are a few safety measures car manufacturers were mindful enough to add to cars to keep you safe during such situations. One of them is your taillights.

What are taillights for?

Taillights make other drivers aware that there is a car in front of them even when it’s too dark or raining. But what will you do when your taillights are not working?

Here are some reasons your taillights are not working. Read on to find helpful tips for your troubleshooting.

How do taillights work?

Taillights are automatically turned on when you put on the headlights. It’s as simple as that. Some people confuse taillights and brake lights. They serve different purposes. Brake lights only light up when the brake pedal is pressed and shut off automatically once you lift your foot off the pedal.

Can you drive if your taillights are not working?

No. First of all, it’s a traffic violation to drive a car with malfunctioning or totally absent taillights. And even if it was not a violation to do so, you should not risk it.

Reasons your taillights are not working

A busted bulb

Taillights use lightbulbs just like the ones you find at your home. They are not designed to last forever, so there will come a time when they will get burnt out.

This is just one of the many possibilities as to why your taillights are not working. It’s a good practice to have spare bulbs with you. If not, your local mechanic should find it easy to swap out your busted taillight bulbs.

If this solves the taillight problem, then congratulations. If not, try looking into…

Faulty electrical panel

Your car has an electric panel that is responsible for lighting up all the lighting components. This electrical panel works thanks to wires and a fuse. If there is a problem with your electrical panel, the first things to look into are the wires and the fuse.

It could be a blown fuse. In which case, replacing it would do the trick. If the wiring is the problem, you can have it checked by your local mechanic.

Sometimes, the culprit is frayed, loose, or disconnected wiring. You can easily fix these issues on your own. Simply reattach disconnected wires.

However, if it’s too complicated, the safest way is to bring your car to your trusted mechanic.

Corroded light socket

If it’s not the bulb or the wires, maybe the socket is corroded. A simple inspection will confirm this suspicion. If the light sockets are corroded, you can clean them out with an electric contact cleaner. You can get this in all auto supply stores.


Taillights play an important function for your safety when driving. Never drive with broken taillights. The most common causes are a busted bulb and a faulty electric panel. Immediately address the problem by fixing it on your own or bringing it to your mechanic.


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