What is Considered a Broken Tail Light?

A broken Tail Light

If you notice your car has a broken tail light or the tail light is no longer working properly, you will need to replace or fix it before driving again on the road.

A failure to do so could impair your safety and other drivers on the road. Besides, any registered vehicle in the US is required to have a fully functional tail light before it can be driven on the road.

According to the tail light laws in the USA and Canada, the tail light lens is expected to be red in color, this can be bright enough to see especially in daylight.

Since the light bulb that illuminates the tail light is usually white, the alert light can appear white if the tail light lens becomes cracked, broken, or damaged, thereby making it very difficult to notice for others to see.

This alert light is meant to alert other drivers of braking or your presence driving in front of them during night hours. So it’s against the law to drive with a broken tail light.

Every car is required to have two working tail lights.

In addition, all tail light lenses have to be clear and should be the lenses constructed by the original manufacturer and must be in good condition. It’s also unlawful to use dark bulbs or lenses that could render the tail lights ineffective.

Your car tail lights must have bulbs approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Causes of your Broken Tail Light

1. Faulty Fuse

In most cases, there is a fuse box located on the front passenger side or under the hood of every car. The electrical components of your car are controlled by fuses.

So a problem with the fuse box can be the reason why your tail light is no longer working. Details about your vehicle’s fuse box location are always in the owner’s manual.

It will also indicate which of the fuses controls the tail light, and others like the anti-theft light. With a fuse tester, you can detect if your tail light fuse is working properly or not.

Once the fuse is not lit up, it’s best to replace it with a new one with the same amperage.

2. Dead Bulb

A long time of use can cause your tail light bulb to burn out. To know if this is the situation, take a look at the bulb.

To be sure if it’s defective, you can examine the bulb’s filament. If found to be broken, replace the bulb as soon as possible before it’s too late.

3. A bad socket

On some occasions, the light bulb socket of the tail light may malfunction and this can happen due to moisture finding its way into the socket and causing some corrosion.

A poor wire connection from the socket to the bulb can also cause the tail light to malfunction. You can check the socket for any damage, disconnection, or discoloration.

If the pins appear broken or the socket has either a brown, blue, or white color, then it is due for replacement.

A multimeter can be used to check the electrical current of the socket and to show you if the electricity is really getting to the socket’s pins.

As you can see, getting to know the source of a bad or broken tail light can be somehow challenging and frustrating if not easily detected.

To save yourself time and stress, it is better you go and see a professional if you are not sure of the cause of the broken tail light. This will get your car inspected in order to detect the cause, and then get your broken tail light fixed or replaced.

Why do you Need to Fix your Broken Tail Light?

A broken tail light is not going to fix itself. The longer you wait to get it fixed, the more likely it will result in an accident and, to make matters worse, loss of life.

So be very proactive when it comes to maintaining your car. Regularly check your tail lights for any malfunctioning. If you discover any defects, take care of them  immediately.

Before buying a used car, do not forget to ask the seller if the tail lights are working and ensure you go to physically inspect the car if possible.

Get the vehicle history report to have a good judgment about the condition of a used car you’re considering.


If you have a broken tail light out, you need to repair or replace it right away. Because, if your tail light is not working, other motorists may have trouble seeing your car.

This can increase your risk of an accident. Be proactive when it comes to car maintenance and repairs.

Test your tail lights regularly and if you find any defects along the way, see to them right away.

A quick detection of broken tail lights requires you to frequently check the rear tail light of your vehicle especially after a long period of use.

This would only take a few minutes and can save you from receiving a fine from the road police or worse, being involved in an accident.

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