Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Long Does a Tail Lamp Bulb Last?

Tail Lamp Bulb

All vehicles are required by law to have operating tail and brake lights. Your tail lights may be the same bulb as your brake lights (a dual filament setup) or they could use a separate bulb. In any case, you need working lights or you risk not only a ticket, but creating an unsafe driving situation for yourself and others.

Tail lamps are use in conjunction with your headlights, as well as your daytime running lights. They provide additional visibility in the rear, allowing drivers behind you to see your car in low-light situations (fog, rain), in the dark, and in the glare of direct sunlight (when used with daytime running lights).

Your tail lamp bulbs see more use than almost any other bulb on your car, with the exception of the headlights. They’re on any time you turn on your headlights, of if your daytime running lights are on. That’s a lot of use. However, the real determining factor is the type of bulb used. Some bulbs can last for up to five or six years (traditional, incandescent bulbs). However, LED bulbs have a life expectancy of 12 years or more.

Another factor that can affect the life of the vehicle is the amount of voltage being sent through the wiring. The higher the voltage, the shorter the lifespan of the bulb. You’ll also find that the areas in which you drive can reduce the lifespan of your tail lamp bulbs. For instance, if you drive over bumpy roads, down dirt roads, or in off-road situations often, the increased vibrations can break the filament in your tail lamp bulbs (note that this doesn’t affect LEDs the same way).

If your tail lamp bulb fails, you run the risk of getting a ticket, or even worse, being involved in an accident because a driver behind you could not see your car in time to stop. There are very few symptoms to watch for that indicate you need to replace the bulb:

  • Tail lamp not working (one bulb out is generally a bulb failure, but if both are out, it may be the fuse)
  • Tail lamp working intermittently (this indicates a wiring problem, not a bad bulb)

If your tail lamp bulbs are out, a certified mechanic can help to inspect or replace the bulbs, the fuse, the wiring and have you back on the road safely in no time at all.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...
P0477 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Pressure Control Valve Low
P0477 code means that the PCM has detected an abnormally low voltage reading often due to the exhaust back pressure control valve circuit.
P0608 OBD-II Trouble Code: Control Module VSS Output "A" Malfunction
P0608 means there is an malfunction in the vehicle speed sensor A control module often due too faulty speed sensor or shorted electrical wiring.


Related questions

Q: Headlights

Hello...the headlight circuit is fairly limited in extent, so if you request a headlight circuit diagnostic, a certified mechanic will get this resolved for you promptly. It is possible for both bulbs, left and right side (the low beam filaments...

Q: Can a blown bulb cause a short in the circuit resulting in a drained battery overnight ? Mercedes Benz

Hello - no, I don't think it's possible for a light bulb to cause a dead battery unless it's left on overnight. Something else is going on here that's draining your battery. This problem can be diagnosed by connecting an...

Q: Lights not working proper

Your vehicle was not originally designed to run the low voltage led bulbs so some minor issues can occur. Swap the bulb or bulbs, that are not lighting up with the same bulbs from the opposite side of the vehicle....