Have you ever been driving home, only to see the blaring lights of a squad car suddenly appear in your rearview mirror? It can be a relief to learn that the officer is only citing you for a burnt-out bulb, but that relief can turn into frustration if a replacement does not solve the problem. Unfortunately, not all lighting failures are as simple as a bad bulb.
If one or both of your tail lights are out, then it may be due to one of these three common causes. Although you may have to seek professional repair services to get to the root of the issue, this article will help you to perform a few simple diagnostic steps. Check for each of these problems to rule out the most straightforward explanations first.
1. Bad Fuse
If only one tail light is out, then you can usually safely skip this step. If neither lamp is working, then you may have blown a fuse. For most cars, you can find your fusebox near the steering wheel or in the glovebox. Look for a diagram inside the fusebox so that you can locate the appropriate fuse. Replace the fuse with a spare if you are not confident in your ability to evaluate the condition of the old fuse.
2. Water Infiltration
Water can cause the contacts inside your tail lamp housings to corrode, preventing your lights from working correctly. Check for cracks or other areas where water may have entered into the tail light assembly. If you notice corrosion, first remove the fuse and then try using contact cleaner with a wire brush to clean the socket.
Be aware that cleaning the corrosion will not fix the underlying problem. Use resin or duct tape to seal a broken light assembly temporarily, but be sure to replace the entire unit as soon as possible. Temporary measures will often still allow moisture to enter the assembly, creating more damage in the future.
3. Wiring Faults
If there are no other apparent causes, then you may be suffering from a wiring fault. Wiring problems can arise due to corrosion or physical damage. In some cases, the problem may originate from a bad ground wire. Common signs that you have a wiring issue include intermittent functionality, flickering, or bulbs that burn out frequently.
In most cases, you should leave faulty wiring diagnoses to the experts. If you can't find a reason for your lamp troubles, always have your car evaluated and repaired as soon as possible. Driving with a faulty light can be hazardous for both and other drivers. Contact car repair services for more insight.