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Summary
  • Backup lights illuminate when you set the gear lever to reverse.
  • These lights are usually white and bright enough to illuminate the space directly behind the car.
  • Vehicles are federally mandated to have at least one reverse light. It should also be visible to anyone immediately behind the vehicle.

Your vehicle’s backup lights illuminate when you set the gear lever to reverse. The lights tell drivers behind you that you’re about to reverse your vehicle. 

What’s the Function of Backup Lights?

Backup lights are meant to warn pedestrians and drivers behind your vehicle that you’re going to be reversing. If you’re backing up from a parking spot, backup lights are valuable for passing pedestrians or drivers who might need to stop or give you space to let you reverse. Alerting other people when you are reversing is crucial since you won’t have perfect visibility when your vehicle is reversing. 

The backup light is white and is usually bright enough to illuminate the space directly behind the vehicle, which can be useful for seeing potential obstacles, objects, or walls when reversing. While backup lights aren’t as powerful as headlights, they should provide ample lighting for you to be able to reverse carefully even in pitch-black darkness. Your car’s reverse light can also provide the light needed by your reverse camera to see in low-light conditions.

car tail light
The backup light is white and is usually bright enough to illuminate the space directly behind the vehicle, which can be useful for seeing potential obstacles, objects, or walls when reversing.

Are Backup Lights Mandated by Law? 

All vehicles are federally mandated to have at least one reverse light. Backup lights should be positioned where it’s visible to anyone immediately behind the vehicle. You might be wondering, “What color are reverse lights?” Backup or reverse lights are white, which makes them stand out against the vehicle’s red rear lights. Backup lights also illuminate with greater intensity compared to the vehicle’s rear lights when the brakes aren’t being pressed.

Backup lights also have minimum luminous intensity requirements. If the vehicle only has one backup light, then the light’s luminous intensity requirements double. 

There are also laws in some states such as Ohio that prohibit turning on backup lights when the vehicle is moving forward.

Reversing your vehicle out of a parking spot might catch nearby drivers or pedestrians by surprise, increasing the likelihood of an accident. Additionally, driving without a reverse light puts you at risk of getting a ticket from law enforcement. 

If one of your vehicle’s backup lamps has gone out, then you should have it replaced immediately. Remember that a faulty reverse light can be caused by other issues aside from a burned out bulb such as a faulty reverse light switch or gear selector mechanism. If you have a broken reverse light and don’t know how to fix it, don’t hesitate to reach out to a trustworthy mechanic.

Where to Get Backup Lights for Your Vehicle

By now, you’re already well aware of how important it is to have functioning backup lights for road safety. Once the housing is cracked or the bulb starts to dim, you should find replacement lights as soon as you can. Thankfully, CarParts.com has an array of backup lights for you to choose from.

Since functioning backup lights are mandated by law, we know how important it is to get your orders delivered as fast as possible. We’ll ship your order from the distribution center nearest you, so you can get back on the road in a matter of days.

Need to ask a few questions before deciding on your order? Our toll-free lines are open 24/7. Our team members will be happy to answer any questions you may have about our products, whether they’re about fitment or shipping.

Don’t wait too long before replacing dim or busted automotive lights. Shop and order replacement lights today!

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Automotive Features Reviewer at CarParts.com

Lisa Conant grew up in Canada around a solid contingency of gear heads and DIY motor enthusiasts. She is an eclectic writer with a varied repertoire in the automotive industry, including research pieces with a focus on daily drivers and recreational vehicles. Lisa has written for Car Bibles and The Drive.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Car Lights , DIY Tagged With :
Garage Essentials
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