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Summary
  • When choosing the right tail lights, you should consider their light source and lens color.
  • Halogen, incandescent, LED, and halogen/LED tail lights each have advantages and disadvantages.
  • The lens color and interior color affect the tail light’s appearance and illumination.

Are you planning to install new tail lights on your car? Whether you’re replacing old or damaged lights or upgrading the ones on your vehicle, it’s a great idea to get the best parts that your budget can afford. After all, tail lights play a critical role in keeping you and your passengers safe on the road, whether it’s during the day or at night. You want and deserve tail lights that look good and deliver effective, reliable performance.

Choosing the Right Tail Lights For Your Car

When browsing a selection of tail lights for your vehicle, the two main factors to consider are the light source used by the part and the tail light lens’ color. These two work together to make tail lights work and look the way they do.

Light Source

Tail lights rely on their light source for illumination. Most tail lights use either halogen, incandescent, or LED light bulbs as their light source. Some products combine two different light sources because their performance complements each other.

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Incandescent Tail Lights

Incandescent tail lights use non-halogen gases to generate light. Older vehicles use the tail lights with these earlier light sources as stock parts. Between their older design and widespread availability, incandescent tail lights are commonplace and affordable.

Looking for incandescent tail lights? Try one of the following high-quality products:

Halogen Tail Lights

Halogen tail lights use an incandescent light bulb that contains halogen gas. When an electric current runs through the tungsten filament, it heats the halogen, making the gas glow brightly.

Many tail lights still use halogen light bulbs as their light source. They’re affordable and give off enough light in most conditions.

Here are some excellent halogen tail light products:

Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Tail Lights

LED tail lights generate light by running a current through a semiconductor diode. The electrically excited semiconductor material releases photons, causing the diode to glow brightly.

Compared to earlier light sources, LED tail lights shine brighter, last longer, and consume less electricity. They do cost more than other tail lights, but they more than make up for their price tag over their service life.

If you want brilliant tail lights that save power, we recommend checking out these LED tail light products:

Halogen/LED Tail Lights

These tail lights have halogen and LED light bulbs. They get the benefits of both light sources. However, they also consume more power than either halogen-only or LED-only tail lights.

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If you’re in the market for a halogen/LED tail light, here are some recommended products for you:

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Tail Light Lens Color

Tail lights rely on their glass lenses to set their color. When light passes through the lens, its color changes to match the material of the lens.

Like headlights, taillights must also keep their brightness to a level that won’t ruin people’s vision. Thankfully, regulations also require tail lights to have red coloration. Red light is less harsh on human eyes, so it looks dimmer.

If you want to stay on the safe side, check the product information for the DOT or SAE seal of approval. These tail lights are confirmed safe for humans to look at.

Clear Lenses and Black Interior

These tail lights have clear lenses and a dark-colored interior that contrasts with the red lighting. They lend your vehicle a sleek and elegant look while meeting legal requirements for tail lights.

Here are some of our recommended tail light products with clear lenses and a black interior:

Smoked Lenses and Black Interior

Smoked lenses get their name from their darker color. They tone down the brightness of the light source without making the light so dark that it violates federal and state regulations on tail light brightness.

Here are some recommended tail light products with smoked lenses and a black interior.

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Clear and Red Lenses

These tail lights have both clear and red lenses. Having different colors increases the tail light’s visibility in various lighting conditions.

We recommend the following tail light products with clear and red lenses:

Chrome Interior

Whereas a black interior contrasts with the brightness of the light source, a chrome-plated interior reflects and amplifies the lighting. Chrome interior tail lights also enhance your vehicle’s appearance with their gleaming metal surfaces.

If you’re looking for tail lights with clear lenses and a chrome interior, here are some recommended products:

There are also tail lights that combine a smoked lens and a chrome interior. The dark lens subdues the chrome’s metallic sheen without completely hiding the interior.

If you want a smoked tail light with a chrome interior, check out the following parts:

A set of good tail lights can fulfill both practical and aesthetic purposes. They can indicate your vehicle’s position to other drivers at night or in other low-light conditions. At the same time, they can also accentuate the appearance of your vehicle’s rear end. If you’re planning to replace the tail lights on your vehicle, you can have fun choosing new ones.

About The Author
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.

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.

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