Tail lights are red lights on the back of a vehicle. They are turned on whenever the head lights are on. When stopping, the tail lights have a bright red appearance compared to a dimmer red appearance when the vehicle is in motion.

Location of Tail Lights

Tail lights are on the rear end of the vehicle, facing rearward. Some tail lights have reflective material inside of them to help amplify the light, allowing them to appear brighter and larger. Most states in America restrict the colors of the tail lights to red.

How Tail Lights Work

Tail lights work on a relay, which means they turn on when the head lights are turned on. This way, the driver does not have to worry about turning on the tail lights. Tail lights are wired to the same switch that turns on the head lights, making them function easily. If you have automatic lights, the tail lights will turn on when your vehicle is on. If you use a switch to turn your vehicle’s lights on, the tail lights will illuminate once your head lights are on. In addition, the tail lights are wired right to the battery.

Types of Tail Lights

LED lights are becoming a more popular choice for tail lights. LED lights use a smaller amount of energy and last longer than traditional tail lights. Halogen lights are the most common type of light and come standard on most vehicles. Xenon lights are a third type of tail light that are strong, bright, and higher intensity than other lights. These lights use an electrical arc compared to a filament.

Safety Aspect of Tail Lights

Tail lights provide a safety aspect of the vehicle. They show the rear edge of the vehicle to allow other drivers to appropriately gauge the size and shape of the car. In addition, they allow other vehicles to see the car in inclement weather such as rain or snow. If a tail light has gone out, replace it right away. You can get pulled over for having a tail light that does not work.

Tail lights are an important safety aspect of your vehicle. They are located in the rear and face rearward to show other cars where you are located on the road. There are different types of tail lights you can purchase depending on your preference.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 4 Essential Things to Know About Your Car’s Tail Lights and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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