Tail Light Buyer's Guide
- Tail lights illuminate the rear edge of the vehicle, serving as a warning for other vehicles that your car is ahead, especially on low-visibility conditions.
- It also allows other drivers to properly estimate your car’s size and shape.
- Halogen, LED, and xenon are three of the most common light sources of tail lights.
- Signs of faulty tail lights include dim lights, cloudy, and lights that don’t turn on along with the headlights.
- Having faulty or busted tail lights does not just increase the risk of accidents. It is also considered a traffic violation.
- Tail lights cost around $20 to $100.
- Replacing vehicle tail lights is not as hard as it sounds, especially if you have the right tools (a wrench or screwdriver) and DIY know-how.
The automotive lighting system is an integral part of your car’s safety mechanism. Car lights are not just installed in cars as aesthetic accessories. Each of them serves a purpose, either to illuminate the road or to serve as the car’s signaling device. One of the most crucial components of a car’s automotive lighting system is the tail light
Where are tail lights installed and what do they do?
Tail lights are the part of a vehicle’s lighting system that is attached to its rear section. They usually come in pairs (left and right).
Just like headlights, tail lights are one of your car’s safety components. They illuminate the rear end of the vehicle, warning other drivers about the distance between you and them, especially during low-visibility conditions. Since they are located in the rear, they allow other drivers to properly estimate your car’s size and shape.
In most cars, brake lights are located on the same housing, sharing the external covering of the tail lights. But these two lights differ from each other. Brake lights illuminate only when you apply pressure to brakes while tail lights turn on along with your headlights or whenever your parking brake is on. The brake and tail lights are all parts of the vehicle’s rear lighting.
Although some brands offer a different shade, most states strictly require the use of red tail lights. Since tail lights work simultaneously with headlights, these two are wired together. Automatic vehicles are fitted with automatic headlights that turn on during ignition.
What are the types of tail light bulbs?
There are two common types of bulbs used for tail lights: halogen, LED, and xenon. Each bulb has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to consult your car’s user manual before deciding which is best for your vehicle.
Halogen Tail Lights
Halogen tail lights are a standard in most vehicles due to their affordability. This type of back light uses halogen gas mixed with tungsten-halogen filaments to generate light. One of the disadvantages of using this kind of tail light is its lifespan. It only lasts for about 18 to 24 months, while a high-quality LED light can last for years.
LED Tail Lights
Although halogen tail lights come as standard in most vehicles, LED lights are becoming more popular. As a matter of fact, many car owners are starting to upgrade from the usual halogen lights to LED. Although LED lights are more expensive, they offer more benefits compared to halogen lights.
LED lights provide better visibility than halogen bulbs, making your vehicle more visible at night.
Another advantage of switching to LED tail lights is their energy efficiency. LED tail lights only require a minimal amount of energy compared to other light bulbs. This creates less stress on your car’s battery, which reduces repair expenses, allowing you to save money to buy other car accessories.
LED tail lights are also easy to install. Because it uses advanced technology, LED tail lights require less wire splicing during installation. In fact, a lot of LED tail lights installations simply involve plug and play. If you have LED lights installed, it will be easy for you to replace it with a new one if necessary. You can also contact your trusted mechanic to do it for you.
Xenon Tail Lights
Some cars use Xenon bulbs for their tail lights but this rarely happens because Xenon bulbs are bright and irritating to the eyes. This type of tail light is also expensive. Only professionals can install them.
These are just some of your options. Weigh their pros and cons to determine the ideal bulb type of your replacement tail lights.
Apart from the bulb being the major component of the tail light, most car owners also consider the color of the tail light’s housing. There are a number of variants available when it comes to this. Most come in shades of dark black or chrome.
What are the signs of a faulty tail light?
If you are always the one driving, it will be difficult for you to detect a faulty tail light. What you can do is to ask someone to stand outside and check while you turn on the headlights. If the tail light is working well, it will turn on at the same time as your headlights. Otherwise, there may be something wrong with it.
You can also activate your brakes to make sure your brake lights are working well. If your tail lights are dim or cloudy, have them checked immediately.
Don’t put off the checkup. Remember: having a faulty or busted rear tail light assembly is considered a traffic violation. It also increases the risk of collisions and other road accidents. After all, tail lights ensure that the driver behind your car has enough time to slow down when you’re about to stop, turn, or switch lanes.
How much does a tail light cost?
At an average, the cost of a tail light bulb would be around $20 to $100. The whole tail light assembly replacement would cost around $200 to $2000 depending on the inclusions and the quality of the bulbs used. This does not cover replacement and installation costs. Car tail lights are sold individually or in sets of two or four, as it is advisable to replace these lights all at once.
How to install tail lights
Whether you are replacing a broken tail light or simply want to switch to a more cost-efficient aftermarket version, it would be much cheaper to do the installation on your own. Replacing vehicle tail lights is not as hard as it sounds, especially if you have the right tools (a wrench or screwdriver) and DIY know-how. It only takes an hour or two to accomplish.
Ensuring a safe installation
Make sure that the ignition is turned off and the negative battery cable detached from the battery to avoid the risk of electric shock when installing the tail light.
Removing the paneling
Open the trunk of your car and remove the paneling needed to gain access to your tail lights. These panels are often secured with screws, so have a screwdriver ready.
Removing the bulbs and wires
Pull out the tail light bulbs and wires from the tail light housing. Be extra careful when removing the bulbs to avoid breaking them.
Taking out the housing
Unbolt or unscrew the tail lights from the car. Once all the screws or bolts are removed, pull the housing out from the outside of the car.
Installing the new tail light
With the old housing out of the way, put the new tail light housing in its place. Secure the housing with the appropriate nuts or bolts. Most tail light assemblies come with screws and other installation hardware, although you can purchase them separately as well.
Returning the bulb and wires
Attach the new bulb and wiring to the new tail light housing, then replace the paneling you removed earlier to access the tail light in its place. Test the tail lights to check if they have been installed properly.
Make sure that aftermarket tail lights are legal in your state before installing one in your car. Several states have strict regulations on the use of aftermarket vehicle tail lights.