Taillights Not Working: Possible Causes and Effective Fixes

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Taillights not working can be worrisome for a lot of car owners, especially those who are new to automobiles. The reasons are clear-cut, for example, the lights may not work if the bulb or socket gets impaired. Taillights Not Working However, these are not the only reasons, so we have explained all situations that can fail the taillights on your car. Read on to find the causes and how to fix each of them!

Why Are Your Tail Lights Not Working?

Your tail lights are not working even though the brake lights are fine because of a tripped bulb, fuse, or socket. The light does not work when moisture or contaminants damage the electrical connections. Moreover, a defect in the sensors or switch may prevent the light from working.
  • Tripped Taillight Fuse

If your LED tail lights not working but brake lights are, your first suspect should be the fuse. Almost all car parts have a fuse in their electrical circuit. The fuse blows due to multiple electrical problems, leaving the tail lights inoperable. The fuse completes the circuit but has a thin metal wire inside a plastic tube. The purpose of this component is to prevent the expensive equipment from damage due to current overload. When there is an overload due to a fault in any car component, the fuse breaks, disconnecting all circuits. Reasons of Faulty Taillights You can detect the problem by finding the fuse box in your car and observing the fuse. If the wire appears burnt or broken in two, you need to replace the fuse. You can also use a fuse tester to analyze whether the fuse is working or not. Sometimes replacing the fuse is not the solution because it breaks again due to an underlying reason. Therefore, you should find the problematic part creating electrical fluctuations. The following reasons can blow the rear lights fuse:
  • A hole or crack in the tail light housing breaks the seal and allows rainwater into the light. Water causes a short circuit and burns the fuse.
  • Damaged wiring resulted in a short circuit. The wiring wears out due to corrosion or rodents chewing the wires and connections.
  • Faulty or substandard electrical equipment, such as sockets, bulbs, or switches can be the cause.
  • Power surge in the tail light circuit due to extra accessories or elements can also contribute to this.
  • Bulb Failure Due to Electrical Issues or Contamination

Bulb failure is the most prevalent reason for rear running lights not working. You will be in luck if this is the problem because it is simple and inexpensive to solve. Once you notice the light failure, remove the light cover and observe the bulb. You might notice burnt or broken bulb filament if the bulb is faulty.
An easy way to detect a faulty bulb is temporarily replacing it with a functioning bulb. If the new bulb works, you will know that the bulb is to blame. Light bulbs wear out after living their limited life span because the filament wears out. You can expect them to stop working if they are old, but the following factors contribute to premature damage of the bulbs:
  • Water seeps inside through a cracked housing or seal and shatters the bulb by suddenly reducing the temperature
  • A fault in the alternator or other electrical devices causes current surges and fluctuations
  • Constant vibrations in the car, for example, due to long or off-road driving
  • Overheating due to contamination of bulb or socket by grease, dirt, or debris
  • Hitting potholes, running into accidents, or other impacts
  • Installing a non-compatible bulb in the socket
Water or dirt entering the light assembly also damages the turn signal light. You can easily detect a crack in the housing or seal if the tail and turn signal lights wear out at the same time.
  • Damaged Tail Light Sockets and Plugs

The tail light not working on one side points towards a damaged socket. The sockets can be damaged due to various reasons, such as:
  • Loose or damaged wires in the socket cause undue resistance and prevent the light bulb from working.
  • Accidents or physical damage while handling can break or damage the sockets.
  • Improper installation or installation at wrong angles fails the sockets.
  • Using high-wattage light bulbs causes overheating of the socket.
  • Corrosion due to moisture or salt exposure can be the reason for this.
You can observe the light assembly and socket while changing the bulb. Minor signs of corrosion can be brushed away by using a wire brush, but extreme damage requires replacement. After visual inspection, you should also use a multimeter to check the wiring connections in the socket. Also, wiggle the bulb in the socket. If the light goes on and off, you have a worn socket.
  • A Defective Ambient Daylight Sensor

Ambient light sensors are present in most modern-day cars. These sensors coordinate with your car’s control unit, automatically turning the taillights on or off. The car turns the light on or off based on the light intensity around the car. The sensors provide signals for headlights and parking lights, so if both fail, you can suspect faulty sensors. However, if you compare tail lights vs brake lights, the latter keeps working in this condition. The sensor may stop working if damaged in an accident or covered in dirt or debris. You can test the sensors by manually turning the light on. If they do, you can blame the sensors.
  • Faulty Control Switch or Frayed Wiring

Both tail lights not working can be clarified by considering a flawed switch or frayed wiring. Both components can fail if there is an electrical surge or overload. An electric overload happens when there is an electrical shortage or if you install a higher-wattage bulb. The wires and switch get damaged over time because of dirt, moisture, or regular wear. The wearing process expedites due to constant vibrations in the car. Driving on rough paths or a road accident can also harm the switch or wires. Pulling the switch out of the dashboard and reviewing it with a multimeter will detect a fault. You can also look at the wires around the taillight, but it is better to hire a mechanic for a detailed inspection.
  • Corroded or Loose Grounding Connection

Many people complain about pushing the brake pedal and brake lights not working but third light is operating. A bad ground connection can explain this issue or a problem with the taillights. An unreliable electrical ground junction causes many problems. The parking brake or taillights have separate circuits, so one can fail while the other works fine. You can check the grounding connections of the failing system. If they appear corroded, frayed, flimsy, or loose, you need to repair the connection. You should not delay the repair because brake lights not working illegally puts drivers in trouble. Moreover, it can be harmful in the long run because it fails to signal the cars behind you that you are slowing down.

How To Fix Your Tail Lights That Are Not Working?

You can fix your tail lights that are not working by replacing the burst fuse in the tail light circuit. You can also buy a new bulb, socket, or switch if the old one is defective and replace it. Lastly, you can calibrate or replace the flawed sensors.
  • Replace the Blown Fuse in the Tail Light Circuit

The replacement of the fuse in the tail light circuit sparks the question: where is the tail light fuse located? There is no definite answer because the fuse box location varies in all car models. You should confirm the location from the user manual and use a fuse tester to analyze its health. Fix Tail Lights on Car If there is no current flow and the fuse wire looks burnt, you need to buy a new fuse and replace it. Fuses are cheap, so you can get one for around $0.50 to $2, but they are usually sold in packs and deals. The fuses used in the tail light circuits are standard or mini blades, so buy according to the specifications mentioned in the car manual.
  • Replace Damaged Sockets and Bulbs

Replacing the worn sockets and bulbs can also fix the tail lights if the brake lights work. You can buy a regular bulb for a few dollars, but if you want an LED bulb, be ready to spend $10 to $30. The socket prices also vary according to their complexity and brand. Normally, a socket goes for around $10 to $50. You can replace these parts yourself to save on the installation cost.
  • Replace the Rear Lights Switch

The cost of rear light switches depends on many factors. The cost varies for basic or specialized switches or the rear light type, for example, are you looking for a tail light or brake light switch? Generally, it will cost around $10 to $30, but if you need additional equipment, you will have to spend more. The total cost will also increase if you are not comfortable replacing the switch and need professional help.
  • Repair Bad Ambient Sensors

If the sensors don’t work but your car has working brake lights, there are two things you can do. First, you can consult the car’s manual to know how the sensor can be reset or calibrated. Secondly, you can take your car to the dealership or a repair shop and ask the professionals to replace the sensors. The new sensor can cost around $50 to $200, depending on whether it is an OEM or aftermarket product. Blown Fuses of Taillights

Can Low Oil Pressure Cause My Taillights to Stop Working?

Low oil pressure is not directly linked to taillight malfunction. However, ensuring your vehicle’s oil pressure is appropriately maintained is crucial for overall functioning. If you notice your fixing oil pressure light is illuminated, it’s wise to address the issue promptly. Although separate from taillights, maintaining proper oil pressure contributes to a well-running vehicle.


Why your tail lights are not flashing but the brake lights are operating is a popular inquiry that you can now answer confidently. You are also capable of diagnosing the obstacle and repairing it with the help of these points:
  • Blown fuses, shattered light bulbs, or electric overload are common reasons for broken or faulty tail lights.
  • Corroded or dirty bulb sockets, malfunctioning sensors, and damaged grounding contacts make the light inoperable.
  • You can fix the light by changing the fuse, bulbs, and switches, as well asrepairing the sensors.
Now that you know the potential causes and ways to fix the taillights, you can ensure your safety while driving in the dark!
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