Everything You Should Know About Your Brake Light

Why are brake lights important? How are they different from tail lights? What does that brake light on my dashboard mean? These are just a few of the questions we’ve heard about brake lights. You may not think about this part of your car often, but it is essential to driving safely. Learn how this small part of your car is essential to driving safety and function!

What’s the Difference between Brake Lights and Tail Lights?

Sometimes, in day-to-day speech, people will use brake light and tail light as synonyms. This makes sense as both of these lights are located in the same area of the car—some manufacturers may even use the same bulb for them. However, these lights do have different purposes. The tail light is what will turn on when you engage your turn signal or when you turn your headlights on. 

Your brake light, on the other hand, turns on whenever you press the brake pedal to let the person behind you know you’re stopping or slowing down. Your car should also have a third brake light—often located in the high center above your rearview window or just above your trunk—which will also only engage when pressure is applied to the brakes. Together, your brake lights and tail lights can be referred to as your rear lights. 

Why Are Brake Lights Important?

Brake lights are essential to communication on the road. It gives drivers behind you a warning about a change of speed or movement. The reason having a brake light bulb out is so dangerous is because it means the people behind you are at risk of not knowing when you’re slowing or stopping. Brake lights also help with visibility, especially in the dark or reduced visibility weather conditions. 

Imagine driving in a world where you never knew if a car was about to stop or being unable to see a car on a dark road until the last second! If the thought of that is enough to deter you from wanting to drive in such a world, you’ll understand why brake lights are so important and legally required for all cars. 

How to Ensure Your Rear Lights Are Working

Knowing how important brake lights are, you’ll want to make sure that your rear light bulbs are working properly. Not only does having a rear light out put you and the drivers behind you at risk, but it could also result in a fine or points against your driver’s license. 

The best way to make sure your rear lights are working is to have someone stand behind your car while you press the brake, turn on your blinkers, and carefully and slowly reverse. After completing these three tests, the person tells you if they saw any issues with the lights. Rear lights can last anywhere from 6–12 years, so perform this test periodically to ensure everything is still working. 

Why Is the Brake Service Light on My Dashboard?

If a problem occurs with your brakes, the brake service light will appear on your dashboard. The warning symbol can look different depending on the manufacturer—it commonly appears as a red circle with an exclamation mark in the middle and two curved lines on either side of the circle, or it may just be the word “BRAKE” in red. Check your car’s manual to confirm what the brake service light looks like for your vehicle. 

The brake light warning is a serious dashboard alert. If it comes on, you’ll want to pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and get in touch with a mechanic for a diagnosis if needed. There are a variety of reasons why the brake warning light is on your dashboard. It could be as simple as your parking brake is engaged or even that your rear light bulbs have burnt out. But it could also mean more serious problems such as a malfunction with your antilock brake system (ABS) or a brake fluid leak. If the light does not turn off after disengaging your parking brake or if your rear lights aren’t burnt out, take your vehicle to your local mechanic to figure out what the problem is. 

Maintain Your Brakes and Rear Lights with City Auto Repair

Brakes and rear lights are crucial to your vehicle’s performance and safety. We want to make sure you and your car are safe when you leave our shop. That’s why we provide high-quality, thorough brake services for the Gainesville community. Whether you need a bulb replaced or you’re trying to determine why the brake warning light is on, City Auto Repair has got you covered. Brakes are too important to delay service—contact us about our brake repairs and maintenance today!