Why Do My Brake Lights Work but My Tail Lights Don’t?

Car troubles are something we all must encounter at some point or another. Sometimes these can be minor problems, while other times, they can cost you a pretty penny.

So, it’s wise to keep an eye on issues your car is having before it becomes too big. The headlights and tail lights are ones you should keep an eye on.


Many of you might wonder why my brake lights work, but my tail lights don’t. If you are one of them, then this is exactly what you need to read. You will know the reasons why you’re facing these issues, and will also see some ways to deal with it for little cost.

Here, we’ll go through the probable reasons one by one.

Faulty Tail Light Bulb

One of the main reasons why you might see your brake lights working while your tail lights don’t is because the bulbs installed in the tail light were faulty.

You should run some tests to make sure if the bulbs are the main culprit or not and to do that, you will need to remove the tail light cover.

The task you have is not difficult. You have to make sure the filament in the bulb works. If you see illumination, then it is working, and something else might be the problem. If it doesn’t, we know what has been causing the problem all along.

So, change out the bulbs. If you don’t know how to do that, then there are many easy to follow instructions and videos available. Most of them will help you reach your desired outcome. If the tail lights still don’t work, then you need to look a little harder for other reasons.

Problematic Fuse

More than the faulty bulbs, you will see that there is something wrong with the fuse, which makes the whole electric system of the car run smoothly without anything getting damaged.

[external_link offset=1]

Its main job is to break when the flow of current is too high. This breakage protects the electric system.

Now, if you want to check the fuse, then there are two places you can find them in the car. The first one is in the panel found in the cabin inside the car. You shouldn’t have much of a tough time finding it.

The second place is just under the hood of the car. That is where all the important parts of the car are placed. All you need to do is identify which one the fuse is. You should see a black box that has a lot of wires. The fuse can be reached when the cover is removed.

Moreover, the fuse obviously controls different parts and systems of the car, so you have to look for the right one. This is something you should find in the owner’s manual or might look for it on the internet.

Use a fuse tester to see if it is up and running or not. The way to find out if it works or not is to see if the tester lights up or not. If it does, then it is fine. However, if it does not light up, then you will have to buy a replacement for it.

Bad Bulb Socket

Say you checked out the fuse, and the bulbs, then you find out that both of them are absolutely fine, then the next thing you should be looking into is the socket. Sometimes failure in the socket might lead to the tail lights not working.

The reason why the sockets might get damaged is moisture. Sometimes buildup of any type of moisture might mess up the wiring, and then that would lead to failure. Poor connection of the wiring might also lead to the sockets not working properly.

If it is due to the buildup of moisture, then you should be able to see some type of discoloration on the socket. That would be a sign that you need to change it or get it looked at. Also, if the pin of the socket is broken, you are very likely to see the light not working.

So, keep an eye out for these visible problems so you can sort it out quickly.

Well Worn Wiring

The wiring system is what keeps everything running smoothly. And if there is some wire out of place, then chances.

You can’t go on about this without having a proper diagram of the wiring of the car. And you have to locate the ones that are connected to the tail lights and then figure out what is going on. Going over all the wires to find a fault in the tail light is too time consuming and unnecessary.

Along with a worn-out wire in the car, you should also keep an eye on the ground circuit, at times that might also cause an issue with the tail lights.

Faulty Light Sensor

With time more and more automatic features are getting added to cars. This makes driving much easier for us.

[external_link offset=2]

One of the new features is the light sensor. The computerized system of the car can often detect when to turn on which light. If there is something wrong with the sensor, then that might be why your tail lights aren’t working.

The sensor might have a command of not turning the lights on during the day, but because the sensor isn’t working properly, it might not be able to tell the difference between day and night.

So, it won’t turn the tail lights on at any time of the day. The sensor can either go bad, in which case you will have to get it fixed or replace it with a jeep light bar.

There is also a situation where the dirt in the sensor stops it from working properly. In that case, a good cleanse will do the job.

Failure in the Control Switch

The very last reason why your tail light might not be working even when the brake lights work is because of the control switch. When you want to turn the headlights or the tail lights on you, have to press a switch.

It sends the signal, and that’s when the lights start working. If the switches were at fault, then there would be no signal.

You might not be able to figure this out yourself, but if you have already exhausted all the other options, then chances are the control switch might be the culprit behind all the issues. In order to ensure whether it is the case or not, you will have to take it out of the dashboard and run some tests.

If you are not comfortable doing it, then you can always show it to someone who has more experience or take it to a professional to make sure everything runs smoothly.


By the end, you should have the answer to your question why do my brake lights work, but my tail lights don’t. Just look around a bit, and you should have the answer to your question![external_footer]