Home Diagnosis and TroubleshootingElectrical System and Electronics Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works – Why Is This The Case?

Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works – Why Is This The Case?

by Jordan Harris
Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works

Are you having a problem with your brake lights? Your brake light not working but tail light works perfectly well? If that is the case, then you have a big problem, because brake lights should always be in perfect working order. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to explain everything to you and after reading this article you will be able to repair your brake lights and return the functionality of your signalization.

Visual signalization is one of the things that always need to be perfectly in check. If not, there is a big chance that you will not be able to pass your registration and be stopped by police and fined because your signalization malfunctions and you are driving like that.

Another thing that you need signalization for is your own safety. If your signalization is not working properly, you will not be able to inform other drivers about your intentions. For example, if your turn light isn’t working the drivers will not know your intentions and you will end up crashing into them. If the brake lights don’t work, there is a big chance that someone is going to rear-end you. That’s why we will help you out with that.

In this article, we are going to learn the basics, what is a tail light and what is a brake light. Then we will learn the possible reasons why brake light not working but tail light works. Then we will see how you can repair them. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

What Is A Brake Light? – Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works

The brake light is an indicator for the driver behind you that you are applying the foot on the brakes. Then the driver gets this information and acts accordingly and starts to brake as well.

If there is no information from your side, the driver behind will not be able to tell if you are braking or not. And they might rear-end you, this type of accident often has permanent consequences to your vehicle. In most cases, it’s going to total your car because the tub is pushed in and bent. That’s why always make sure that the brake lights are working and avoid situations when brake light not working but tail light works.

Nevertheless, there are usually three brake lights on your car. One of them is mounted at the top of the rear glass window. But this light is not mandatory and is not included in all vehicles. This light is often used on hatchbacks, SUVs, or minivans. If you have a sedan, then you are less likely that you have a third brake light.

But there are also two brake lights on each side of the car in almost every vehicle that has four wheels. Usually, motorcycles have one brake light but this is understandable why is this the case. This is because they are not that wide and do not have the same width on the road.

The brake lights can often malfunction and cause the brake light not working but tail light works problems to appear on your car. That’s why it is useful to check the signalization on your car every once in a while. Knowing that there is a problem. You will be able to tell if the light is broken and needs checking or replacing.

What Is A Tail Light – Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works

The tail light is a light that is located at the rear of the vehicle. But what does this tail light mean? What is its purpose?

The purpose of the tail light is to inform drivers in the dark that you are in front of them. During the day, tail lights do not work, unless you turn on your DRLs or daytime running lights.

These lights are mandatory in the European Union, but they are not mandatory in the US. If the driver does not have his DRLs on during the day, you will not see the tail light turned on.

But as it gets dark, all drivers will turn their running lights and the taillight will illuminate. When the taillights illuminate at the rear. The drivers that are located at the back will have a clear understanding that there is a car in front of them. Thus, leaving no chance of them crashing into you.

Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works

Taillights are red in color, similar to the brake lights. The difference is that the taillights work all the time. While brake lights turn on when you apply the brakes. That’s why many inexperienced drivers confuse these two lights and think that the brake lights and taillights are the same. Which is not the case.

Modern taillights are produced from LED, similarly to brake lights and on some cars, there is a huge light bar that goes from one side of the car to the other. But bulbs are still in wide use until this day and still cause problems like brake light not working but taillight works to happen and annoy you and the drivers that are behind you. But we are going to help you out with that in this article.

Why Do The Brake Lights And Tailights Need To Be In Proper Working Order?

The brake lights and taillights need to be in proper working order because they guarantee your safety on the road. As well as the safety of your occupants and other participants in the traffic.

Imagine that you are driving at night and your taillight isn’t working. Suddenly a speeding car appears at the rear and crashes into you. This could have some permanent consequences for you and your car. As we said, the rear of the car is usually very fragile, and even with a hit at a small speed, it’s going to bend your rear tub. This will total your car because there will be frame damage and the repairs will be more expensive than the value of the car in most cases.

If the brake lights are not working properly then you can get rear-ended as well. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, many drivers are reckless and drive near you at great speeds. If your brake light isn’t working then, you can get rear-ended fairly quickly.

That’s why you have to check your signalization more often and make sure that you have proper working lights.

Also, when you take your car with bad signalization to the place where you do your registration. Your car will not be able to pass the test and will fail. Then the technicians will tell you to get your car sorted and then come back to pass the test. This will possibly frustrate you because you will have to come back but that’s the way it goes.

Another thing is that you can also get fined by the police. If they notice you on the highway with bad signalization. They will stop you and fine you. And now let’s see why this problem appears in the first place.

Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works? Why?

Sometimes brake lights can malfunction and stop working. It is key for you to notice this issue as soon as possible and resolve the problem quickly and effectively. That’s why in this chapter we are going to give you the prime reasons why the brake light not working but tail light works. Then we will look for the proper solutions for this problem and also how much they are going to cost you. So, let’s get started.

Loose Connector

If you notice that your brake lights are not functioning. The first thing you need to do is to check the connections. This is often the case because cars get old and these connectors made out of plastic start to give up and cause issues with your brake lights and make them not function right.

Also, if you experience some bumpy ride, this can also make the connectors pop out by accident and cause the brake lights to fail and stop working. But where are these connectors located?

These connections are located behind the tail light and you will have to remove the protective cover in the trunk in order to get access to the connectors.

Remove the cover and inspect the connections. Make sure that they are pressed nice and tight and do not have a play. It is also useful to remove them and inspect the pins for corrosion.

Corrosion can also damage the connection and make the brake lights malfunction. If there is corrosion then get sandpaper and quickly sand the connector pin. Make sure that it’s nice and shiny.

Also, check the connectors and make sure that the plastic is not broken and the connector is not loose when it gets connected with the pin. If it is, you will have to replace the connector. You can find these connectors at most car parts stores. Just grab a new one, replace the old one and you will be good to go. The connectors are usually cheap and cost somewhere between $25 to $50.

Then, connect everything back in its place and see if the brake lights are working. If they are working then, excellent. If they are not working. Then, move on to the next one.

Burnt Light Bulb

The second most probable reason why your brake light not working but tail light works is the light bulb. Modern cars often use high-tech LED lights that are almost impossible to fail. But that wasn’t always been the case. Most of the older models and some new cars are using regular light bulbs.

As we know, light bulbs know to fail and burn. They usually burn when they are exposed to a lot of stress and run them for a long time.

But how to know if a bulb has failed? It is fairly simple. You need to remove the bulb and see the wire inside if it’s in good condition. If the wire is perfectly normal then the light bulb is ok and you don’t have to replace it. But in some situations, even if the wire is in good condition it can fail. So, in order to troubleshoot the problem. Try to swap the bulb with the bulb from the other side.

By doing this you will make sure that either the connector that we discussed above is making the problem. Or the bulb is the real issue when it comes to your brake light not working but tail light works problem.

The bulb will also have some burn marks on the inside if it has failed. They are usually a dead giveaway when it comes to this problem. But as we said, they are not always the case.

If you checked everything and the connector and bulb are ok. Then you need to move on in solving the problem. There are other components that are in charge of these lights as well and they also need to be in check.

Bad Brake Light Switch

The next thing you need to check is the brake light switch. But what is the brake light switch? The brake light switch is an electrical component. This switch is located underneath the steering column where they are located with the other fuses.

The brake light switch is in charge of turning on the brake lights. Sadly, this brake light switch can fail and cause a problem like a brake light not working but tail light works problem to appear.

When this switch is broken. Usually, both of the brake lights will not work. So, this is an important thing to note if you want to avoid checking things unnecessarily. If all of the brake lights don’t work. Focus on the brake switch and make sure that it is properly working.

But how to check the brake light switch and see if it’s functioning properly? Let’s find out.

The first thing you need to do is to pop off the panel that is protecting the fuses and remove the brake light switch. The second thing to do is to get a multimeter.

The multimeter tool is an essential thing that you will need to test the brake light switch. Apply the multimeter probes on both connectors and then press the brake light switch. If the circuit closes, then the brake switch works. If it doesn’t, then the brake light switch is probably broken and needs to be replaced with a new one.

A new brake switch, fortunately, is extremely cheap and you can find one for like $7 or less. That’s why replacing the switch is a good idea. Here is a video of how you can test a brake light switch with a multimeter tool. This is going to be of big help.

Blown Fuse

А blown fuse can also cause your brake light to malfunction and issues to develop. But what are fuses? Fuses are specifically built for security. For example, if there is a big power surge from a malfunction on some component or bad ground. The fuse will blow and prevent your wiring from frying and creating a possible fire hazard.

That’s why fuses are key when it comes to the security of your vehicle and making sure that no fire hazards are there.

Fuses can also blow by an accident. This accidental blow can be caused by a power surge or simply the fuse has failed by itself.

Fuses are dirt cheap and you can get ten of them for a few dollars. So, you shouldn’t have to worry about the cost. You just need to find your blown fuse. Just remember that there are three panels of fuses. One under the hood, one under the steering column, and one in the trunk. It is very likely that the fuse you are looking for is located in the trunk. Here is a video on how to find the right fuse.

When replacing a fuse make sure that you replace it with a fuse that has the right amp strength. If your fuse is rated for 20 amps and you want to replace it with a fuse for 15 amps the fuse will burn off immediately. That’s why pay attention to this and make sure that you never use a fuse that has a lower rating than it should for that specific application.

Bad Ground Connection

In some instances, like this when brake light not working but tail light works can also indicate that there is a bad ground problem in your vehicle.

This bad ground can cause your system to short and cause a number of malfunctions like burnt components and blown fuses. And precisely this issue with the brake light is one of the most common if your brake light switch is in proper working order but your fuse consistently burns.

In this case, you need to check the ground connections on your car. Make sure that the negative battery terminal is in good condition. I the terminal is dirty then you need to get a steel brush and clean it off the rust deposits.

Or if the terminal has seen better days and is not making a good connection then it’s best to replace it altogether with a new one.

Another thing can be the ground connection that goes from the battery. This connection is connected to the chassis and if it’s rusted out. Then you need to remove the cable and bolt it on at a place where it will have a good connection and that will be rust-free.

Also, if you were doing some electrical work on your car recently like installing a radio or speakers. Maybe you haven’t bolted attached the wires properly and your system has a short.

If everything we have mentioned above is good, then you best take your car to a car electrician for further inspections. Electricians have huge knowledge and will find the cause of the problem in several minutes. Doing this will save you a lot of time and potential headaches because dealing with electricals can be a huge mess.

Bad Wiring

The last thing that you can check is the electrical wires. They can also be one of the things that can make your system short and cause it to malfunction and brake light not working but tail light works problem to appear.

Remove the tub cover and inspect the wires that are going into the front end of the car. If the wiring is bad is usually starts somewhere around here. Also, as we mentioned in the first chapter, make sure that all connections are ok and all wires are properly insulated. If some of them are not insulated and are touching the metal is going to make your system too short and the brake light not working but tail light works problem to show.

Cost To Fix Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works

The cost to fix the brake light can vary. If you do all the work by yourself, you are going to pay the least. All you will need to start is a multimeter tool. Which can be found for $30. Then based on your troubleshooting you might be needing to pay for a light bulb, brake light connector, brake light switch, a fuse. All these things cost somewhere between $1 to $30. So, we can come to the conclusion that this repair is not that expensive.

Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works

If you decide to take your car to a shop. You will pay quite a lot more. The hourly rate is somewhere between $50 and $100. This work will probably take a couple of hours and they will ask you to pay somewhere between $300 to $500.

If you don’t know anything about electricals and you don’t want to risk. Then this is your best bet. Or if you want to learn and troubleshoot, you might want to try and test some things with a multimeter.

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

  • Brake lights and tail lights are important for road safety while driving, and both are crucial to ensure that you and others are safe.
  • Malfunctioning light bulbs are a common cause of brake lights not working. Check for faulty light bulbs by opening your car trunk and removing the taillights back cover using a screwdriver. If the bulb is blown out, replace it with a new one.
  • Brake light problems may also be caused by a blown fuse, which can be located in the fuse box of modern cars. To fix this issue, replace the blown fuse with a new one that has the same amperage as the old one.
  • Check the electrical ground if the taillights are working and the brake lights are not. Corroded or damaged wires may cause a bad electrical ground. Connect the light switch to a good ground, and if the brake light turns on, then the ground connection needs fixing.
  • If the above solutions do not work, check the wiring to the brake light switch from the fuse panel and the one to the bulb sockets from the switch. Loose connections or corroded bulb housing may cause the brake lights to stop working. In this case, have them replaced.
  • The turn signal switch in some vehicles powers the brake lights and the turn signal light through the same circuit. If the turn signal light isn’t working, the brake lights might not work either. Check if you can replace the wire connecting these two, or reach out to a mechanic for help.
  • Taillights can turn off for several reasons, and sometimes they may also cause brake lights to stop working. Use this guide to identify the source of the problem, or consult your owner’s manual or a trusted mechanic for assistance.
  • As a driver and car owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your brake lights and taillights are always working correctly. Regular maintenance checks can help reduce the likelihood of road accidents and ensure your safety while driving.

Conclusion – Brake Light Not Working But Tail Light Works

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to the brake light not working but tail light works problem on your car. We learned what are brake lights and what are taillights. Remember that they are not the same and they work differently.

Then we have covered the most common reasons for the brake light not to work. If you have one light that doesn’t work, then it’s probably the bulb or the brake light connector or wiring.

If all of your brake lights do not work, then it’s highly likely that you have a blown fuse or a problem with the brake light switch. To test these components, you will need a multimeter.

Lastly, we have covered the cost for you to solve your problem with the brake light not working but tail light works. Happy troubleshooting!

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