Tail Light Bulb Sizes

Tail Lights Guide: Everything You Need to Know

The lighting in the car is safety-relevant and must always work properly. A broken rear light is not only a hazard, but also a legal problem. However, you can replace most of the tail lights in your car by yourself. This guide contains everything you need to know about taillights, tips on purchasing and instructions on how to change the tail light yourself.

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In this article you will learn:

  • Function and structure of the rear light
  • What do I have to pay attention to when buying the rear light?
  • Advice - rear light scratched or bulb defective
  • Changing the rear light yourself – step-by-step instructions
  • Changing the rear light yourself - costs and effort

Function and structure of the tail lights

The rear light (tail light) of the car is part of the safety-relevant lighting system. It is activated with the low beam and serves to make the vehicle visible to other road users from behind. In addition, it has a red color, which clearly distinguishes it from the headlights, the flashing light and other lighting on vehicles.

The rear light consists of several parts. The plastic housing is responsible for the red signal color and protects the lamps from damage. It also has a way to mount it in the car. Inside the housing is the socket with a light source. 

Incandescent lamps were normally used here in the past. These lamps have been replaced by LEDs in newer cars due to their durability and energy consumption. 

Sometimes the brake light and the rear fog light are also integrated into the housing of the taillights.

How durable are taillights?

The tail light in a car is subject to very little wear. It often lasts for the life of the car, you only have to change the bulbs from time to time. However, it can happen that the rear light becomes unusable due to coarse scratches or damage. Quick diagnosis by visual inspection reveals whether such symptoms are present. In this case, you have to change the entire lamp.

If you drive the car frequently on routes with a lot of foreign objects (e.g. stones, grit, gravel, dust), this will lead to fine scratches on the rear light in the long term. Too many scratches or abrasion marks will cause the lamp to go blind. You should replace such a cloudy rear light soon.

The rear light can also be damaged in an accident. A rockfall at high speed can also cause a crack in the housing by hitting the rear. A mechanically defective rear light endangers safety and must be replaced immediately.

What do I have to pay attention to when buying the tail light?

When buying a rear light, you need to consider two things:


The design is important, because only a light that is suitable for the car also fits properly. Unlike bulbs, headlights and lights are specially designed for each car. For this reason, rear lights always only fit a few or even only individual models.


In addition to the design, the law is also important: The light must be approved for operation in your particular country. Check if the taillight has a stamp that certifies that this light can be used in road traffic.

What happens if I drive with a broken or non-approved rear light?

The driver of the car must ensure its proper condition. It doesn't matter whether it's a worn lamp or illegal tuning: the effect is the same. Driving with an illegal lighting system invalidates the car's operating permit and can even affect the vehicle registration. This leads to fines on the road and problems with the insurance company in the event of an accident. Insurance companies do not accept cars with illegal modifications. 

Tip: Before the inspection, you need to swap the illegal lamp for an approved rear lamp.

Is your taillight scratched or a bulb is defective?

The rear light no longer lights up or has a small dull spot? In these cases it may not need to be replaced but can be repaired. You may only need to replace the bulb or polish the surface.

Replace bulbs

On this website, you will find detailed instructions on how to change the complete rear light. Follow the instructions up to step three, then the lamp is dismantled. At this point you can also reach the lamp holder and the bulbs in order to exchange them. 

You don't need any special knowledge for this and you can easily buy the lamp online. In contrast to the bulbs, the entire taillights are not always replaced in pairs.

Attention: Buy the right bulbs for your lamp! Although it is possible to convert from conventional bulbs to LEDs, the entire lamp usually has to be replaced!

Polish cloudy taillights yourself

Minor scratches and dull spots can be buffed out provided the car's lights aren't cracked. To polish the headlights, you need the following tools:

  • Water
  • Car shampoo or other cleaning product
  • Sandpaper, various - minimum 1500 grit
  • Masking tape
  • Optional: grinding machine and grinding paste

By using little pressure, polish the tail lights in circular movements until the surface is shiny and clear.

Changing the rear light yourself - costs and effort

With the help of our guide, you can replace the rear lights in your car yourself. The new lamp usually costs between $25 and $60. The cheapest way to get them is to order them online. A used lamp from a certified dealer costs half as much on average. Depending on the car, changing the broken rear light takes 15 to 60 minutes and does not require any special knowledge.

Having the rear light replaced in the workshop

Replacing the rear light in the workshop is quick. The experts change and check your lamp according to the regulations. Here, however, the workload is added to the higher purchase price of the spare part. In total, you face the costs of $60 to $150 including working time.


Tail lights are essential car safety components. By having properly functioning tail lights, you will not only increase you car’s visibility on the road but also will comply with local regulations. In this article, we have covered the questions such as tail light functions, costs, and ways to replace your tail lights.


What is the tail light on the car?

The rear lamp or the tail lamp designates a combination of light sources that are directed backwards. The tail light set includes the tail light, which lights up red continuously when switched on and is switched with the parking light at the front.

Where is the taillight on the car?

Taillights are the portion of vehicle lighting that are found at the rear boundary of a vehicle and are rearward facing.

What color is the tail light?

Tail light or rear light in red. There is a bulb of 5 or 10 watts that is permanently lit. Tail light is also referred to as parking light together with the front position light.

What is the tail light on a car?

What is a tail light? Tail Lights are mounted to the rear of the car above the bumper. They are red in color and have accompanying white lights beside them to indicate when the vehicle is in reverse. When you're on the road, tail lights make other car's aware of your presence so that you can travel safely in the dark.

What is the difference between tail light and brake light?

The main difference between tail lights and brake lights is that the former lights up as soon as the headlights are turned on, while the latter only engages upon stepping on the brake pedal. While both lights are red, brake lights tend to emit a more luminous red light.

How much are tail lights?

A new tail light switch, accounting for labor, will cost from $70 to $100. The plastic and colored lens over on top is a bit more pricey. Depending on the make and model of your car, a replacement tail light lens will leave you lighter by between $100, and upwards of $750.

Is a brake light a tail light?

Brake lights are lights on a tail light that alert other drivers when you are pressing the brake pedal to slow down. The tail lights are lights that illuminate when the headlights are turned on to create visibility for drivers behind you during the night or adverse weather conditions.

When should tail lights be on?

Tail lights are required to produce only red light at the rear of the vehicle and are wired such that they are lit whenever the headlights are on. This helps drivers who are traveling behind you to recognize that you're there and how far ahead you are.

Are there different types of tail lights?

Types of Tail Lights

Halogen lights are the most common type of light and come standard on most vehicles. Xenon lights are a third type of tail light that are strong, bright, and higher intensity than other lights.

Should you replace both tail lights at the same time?

' The answer is, no, it's not required to replace both bulbs. There are some advantages, however, to getting a professional Ace Auto Parts mechanic to change both lights at the same time. The most important reason for changing out all headlights at the same time is that you don't want both headlamps to go dark.

How long should Tail lights last?

Some bulbs can last for up to five or six years (traditional, incandescent bulbs). However, LED bulbs have a life expectancy of 12 years or more. Another factor that can affect the life of the vehicle is the amount of voltage being sent through the wiring.

Why do my tail lights work but my brake lights don t?

Why is that? The most common reason your brake lights are not working but tail lights do is a bad light bulb. It can also be caused by a blown fuse, bad brake light switch, or issues with the wirings. Your vehicle's taillights are working fine, but the brake lights don't come on when you press the brakes.

Can you drive with a busted tail light?

While some police officers issue citations for broken taillights – which they can do, as it is technically illegal to drive with a broken taillight – most will probably just give you a warning and tell you to get it fixed as soon as you can. If you notice that your taillight is out, don't try to test the system.

Why do police tap the tail light?

Whenever an officer approaches a stopped car, they have to be ready for a potentially dangerous situation. The person they've pulled over may have a firearm or dangerous drugs in their car, so a tap on the tail light can distract them while attempting to hide any contraband.

Does AutoZone install tail lights?

The most effective way to get your hands on the correct tail light bulbs is to head to AutoZone and shop online. The website has just what you're looking for to complete this job. You can schedule an in-store pickup, or you can have AutoZone ship them to your place.

Why are tail lights red?

Originally, the signal indicating traffic was free to go was the same white light used to illuminate the forward path. A red lens fell out of a train lantern resulting in another train plowing into the other rather than stopping.

What are rear lights on car called?

Rear position lamps (tail lamps)

Conspicuity for the rear of a vehicle is provided by rear position lamps (also called tail lamps or tail lights). These are required to produce only red light and to be wired such that they are lit whenever the front position lamps are lit, including when the headlamps are on.

Can you use headlight bulbs for tail lights?

LED bulbs can be used as brake lights and even should be a preferred option due to the benefits they provide. LED taillights are brighter, faster to illuminate, and longer-lasting, making them a better option than halogens.

How far should tail lights be visible?

Tail lights must be visible for 500 feet. 6.

Are tail lights on during the day?

Misconceptions: Tail lights are like daytime running lights: they are always on. Not true. They turn on with the headlights.

Is it illegal to have tinted tail lights in California?

Tinting head lights and tail lights are illegal in CA.

How do you check taillights?

First, check your tail lights by turning on your headlights. If working properly, they will come on simultaneously and glow red. Next, tap your brakes and have your partner verify that the brake light bulb is shining significantly brighter than your normal tail lights.

What are LED tail lights?

LEDs are Brighter

Rather than uniformly putting out light like an incandescent bulb, LED tail lights focus the light outward, toward the cars behind. This makes it very difficult for other drivers not to see you.

Are LED tail lights good?

LED lights are now cheaper and more reliable options for a variety of applications. And using LED in tail lights of cars is one fine example. The LED lights offer a pretty long life, look attractive, and are compatible with numerous vehicles. So if you're looking for the best LED Tail Lights, read along.

How often should you change your car lights?

If one of your headlight bulbs has burnt out, you should look for a replacement pair as soon as possible. The typical car headlight can last 500 to 1,000 hours, but there are a lot of factors that can change that. In fact, some headlight bulbs are efficient enough to last well over 30,000 hours.

Do brighter headlights burn out faster?

The more power going through the bulb will mean that it's lifespan is greatly reduced when compared to a bulb that has a lower wattage. Usually the brightest bulbs tend to burn out faster however as technology changes and adapts, we develop new techniques that make these bulbs last even longer.

Will AutoZone replace light bulbs?

AutoZone does not provide mechanic services; thus, no disassembly should be done. However, they can change headlight bulbs in some cases. AutoZone will not replace the bulb if the store dealer must remove other car elements, such as the windshield wiper fluid or battery.

How often should I check my car lights?

Most sources suggest checking your lights twice a year. If you know that the lifespan of your bulbs is coming to an end, we advise you to check them more regularly, such as when you check your oil.

How do I fix my tail lights?

Note: Be sure the vehicle is turned off before you start.

  • Step 1: Locate the tail light access panel. ...
  • Step 2: Unbolt the tail light housing. ...
  • Step 3: Unlock the tail light socket. ...
  • Step 4: Inspect the wiring. ...
  • Step 5: Remove and inspect the bulb. ...
  • Step 6: Replace the bulb with a brand new one. ...
  • Step 7: Test out the new bulb.
  • What can cause tail lights not to work?

    Need immediate help for your car problem? Chat online with an expert:

    • 6 Common Causes for Tail Lights Not Working But Brake Lights Are. #1 – Bad Tail Light Fuse. #2 – Bad Tail Light Bulbs. #3 – Socket Failure. #4 – Worn Out Wiring. #5 – Control Switch Failure. #6 – Dirty or Bad Ambient Light Sensor.
    • Conclusion.

    Can a cop pull you over for a cracked tail light?

    Once an officer has reasonable suspicion, he can flip on those red and blue lights and pull you over. You can be pulled over an issued what's commonly referred to as a “fix it ticket” to have the issue fixed before continuing to drive your vehicle on the roadways.

    Can you put tape over a broken tail light?

    3M Lens Repair Tape. 3M Lens Repair Tape provides temporary repairs of broken or cracked taillights, parking lights and side directional lights. The tape applies smoothly and tightly holds with its 3M adhesive that ensures a strong bond. Lens repair tape is available in both red and amber to match the lens color.

    Can you put red tape over a broken tail light?

    The red tape you mentioned is not an approved repair for tail light lens by the state of Texas. So putting red tape on the crack is not repairing the vehicle. If you chose to do so, red tape should only be utilized as a temporary fix and not a repair.