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5 Common Reasons Why Brake Lights are not Working but Tail Lights Are

When it comes to driving, safety is paramount. One of the things that can help ensure road safety is to make sure that the brake lights and tail lights of your car are working properly. Brake lights light up whenever you step on your brakes to keep trailing motorists notified that they should slow down accordingly. Taillights, on the other hand, activate when your front headlights are turned on. They don’t shine as bright as brake lights because they are designed to light up when there’s heavy rain or when it’s nighttime. 

These lights may vary in terms of functionality but both are crucial for road safety. But what if your taillights are working but your brake lights are not? These are the possible reasons for that.

brake lights

Malfunctioning light bulbs

One of the most common reasons behind brake lights not working is blown out light bulbs. This is especially true for those with older cars. When you depress the brakes and the brake lights are not lighting up, immediately check for faulty light bulbs

This inspection and/or repair doesn’t necessarily require professional help. All you have to do is remove the taillights back cover by opening your car trunk. Use screwdrivers to remove the bulb and check if it has blown out. A replacement may be required if the bulb has turned black or if you can see a broken filament inside. 

Fuse box and light switch

The wires that supply electricity to all the electronic equipment in your car go through a fuse box. If you have a modern car, you’ll have to look for two fuse boxes. Locate your brake light fuse with your car manual. Brake light problems can be caused by a blown fuse. If it’s blown, replace it with a new one. Check the amperage of the new unit and be sure it is the same as the old one. Otherwise, the problem might keep recurring.

Electrical ground

The electrical ground is one of the things you should also check if the taillights are working and brake lights are not. This could be the possible issue, especially when the brake light switch is functional. Check for bad electrical ground which may be a result of corroded or damaged wires. You’d know it’s the ground connection that needs fixing if the brake light turns on when the light switch is connected to a good ground while the brake pedal is pressed.


If the light bulb, fuse box and electric ground are working fine, there’s one more thing you can check to find out why the brake lights are not working – wiring. Take a look at the wiring to the brake light switch from the fuse panel and the one to the bulb sockets from the switch. The connections could either be loose or the bulb housing may be corroded. If you find any problems with these components, be sure to have them replaced.

Turn signal switch

The brake lights in some vehicles are powered through the same circuit that powers the turn signal light. If this is the case for your car and the turn signal light isn’t working, chances are the brake lights aren’t either. If it’s possible to replace the wire connecting these two, go ahead and do so. Otherwise, you may need to reach out to your trusted mechanic.

Taillights can turn off for a number of reasons and could also be the same reasons for why your brake lights stop working, too. However, there are also certain instances where brake lights fail while the taillights are working. When this happens, you may use this guide to help you identify the source of the problem. Always refer to your owner’s manual or have your vehicle checked by your trusted mechanic. 

At the end of the day, it is your responsibility as a driver and car owner to make sure that your brake lights and taillights are constantly working. This will help reduce the likelihood of road accidents and ensure your safety while driving. 

For more helpful tips on car maintenance or if you’re looking to driving home a good quality second hand vehicle, please feel free to visit The Auto Warehouse