avoiding the soccer mom minivan

The 2 Primary Reasons Your Brake Lights Are Not Working

In order to safely drive on the road, you need to have all your lights in good working order on your vehicle, including your brake lights. Brake lights keep you safe on the road and alert other drivers to your actions. If one or more of your brake lights are not working, here are the two primary reasons why as well as how you can check to see if these reasons are the reasons your brake lights are not working.

#1 Your Brake Light Bulb Has Burned Out

Just like the lights in your home, sometimes the lights in your vehicle can get burned out and will need to be replaced. In order to determine if your brake lights are burned out, you will need to check the actual bulb.

To get to your brake lights, you are going to need a screw driver. Use the screw driver to remove the lens that goes over your brake lights; there should be a few screws around the edge of the lens that holds it in place. When you remove these screws, place them inside of a bag or bowl so that you don't misplace them.

Once you remove the screws, gently remove the lens so you can access the area where the light bulb for your brake lights is located.

When you look at the light bulb, the filament inside of the light bulb that looks like a set of small wires will actually looked burned if the bulb is burned out. If you still are not sure, unscrew the bulb and very gently shake it. If you hear a slight rattling sound when you gently shake the bulb, that means it is burned out. Don't shake the bulb too hard or you could end up damaging it.

Take the bulb into your local auto parts store and the techs there should be able to help you locate a replacement bulb. When you have a replacement bulb, screw it back into the brake light receptacle, test your brake lights, and then place the lens cover back over your brake lights and screw it back into place.

#2 Your Brake Light Socket Is Corroded

When you have removed the lens cover to your brake light, you should also inspect the socket that the brake light screws into. If the socket looks rusted, you are going to need to either replace the entire socket or get rid of the corrosion on the socket. Brake light sockets can easily become corroded if water gets into the brake light area on your vehicle. 

If the amount of corrosion is minimal, you can probably remove it without replacing the entire socket. Take an old rag and soak it in some white vinegar until the rag is damp, then put the rag inside of the socket. Let the rag sit inside of the socket for about an hour or so—the vinegar will help break down the rust inside of the socket. Once about an hour has passed, remove the rag and use a different rag to wipe away the rust. If the rust is still stuck, use a scrub brush to remove it. 

If you are not able to remove the rust from the socket or if the rust is so advanced that their are holes in the brake light socket, you are going to want to replace the socket. This is a job you should save for your mechanic.

You should never drive around with brake lights that do not work. If your brake lights are not working properly, first check the bulb and then check the socket. Those two elements are the primary causes behind non-working brake lights. If changing the bulb or cleaning rust out of the socket does not fix your brake lights, take your vehicle in to a local mechanic, such as Tate's Automotive, so they can further inspect your lights.