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

P0052 OBD-II Trouble Code: HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1)
P0052 code definition HO2S Heater Control Circuit High (Bank 2 Sensor 1) What the P0052 code means This code is seen when the Engine Control Module (ECM) tries to control the...
How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...
How to Get a Louisiana Driver's Permit
s licensing program. The first step in this program is to obtain...


Related questions

Q: My dome light doesn't work - how can I diagnose/replace?

Hello, thank you for asking about your 2005 Nissan Altima. The body control module controls turning on the lights and supplies power to the lights' power saver mode. The body control module would need to be scanned and seek data...

Q: How do I replace a license plate light bulb?

Your car has two small bulbs that light up the license plate for visibility (this is a legal requirement in most areas). Like other bulbs on your car, they’ll eventually burn out and need to be replaced. However, they should...

Q: No parking light bulbs, the good fuses blew. Removed all of the parking bulbs and replaced the fuses. The fuse didn't blow till a bulb is plugged in.

Hello. You likely have a short somewhere in the circuit. This may be related to other light circuits, a terminal or connection, or by a damaged wire. You can start by performing a visual inspection. A rule of thumb is...