What Does the Bulb Failure (Exterior Light Fault, License Plate Bulb, Brake Light Bulb) Warning Light Mean?

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In order to help the driver maintain their vehicle, manufacturers have been using computers and sensors to monitor just about everything in a car. Modern cars are sophisticated enough now to detect when any exterior lights have stopped working. When a bulb goes out, the overall resistance in the circuit changes, which then affects the voltage for that circuit. The computer monitors the circuits for all of the exterior lights for any changes in voltage and then displays a warning light.

What the bulb failure light means

The computer will switch on the bulb failure warning light when it detects any non-normal voltage in any of the bulb circuits. If you see the light come on, check all of the bulbs to find the one that is not working. Be thorough when checking the lights as modern cars have quite a few that can turn on the warning light. Some harder bulbs to find include license plate bulbs, turn signals on the side mirrors, the yellow parking lights at the front of the vehicle, and the tail lights at the back that come on with the headlights.

When you find the bad bulb, replace it and the warning light should turn off. It is possible for false positives to occur in which case the entire circuit would need to be inspected for any damage.

Is it safe to drive with the bulb failure light on?

In most cases, the car is still driveable. Now this doesn’t mean you should ignore the light. The exterior lights are very important for warning surrounding drivers of your car’s position and actions. Having non-functional lights can also make you responsible for damages in the event of a collision.

If you need any help replacing bulbs or if the light won’t turn off, our certified technicians are always available to assist you.


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Matthew

32 years of experience
704 reviews
Matthew
32 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala - Warning Light is on - Norfolk, Virginia
First off he was on time....actually 30 mins early which was great. Everything he described was what I was going through and he knew exactly what I needed before he even looked at the car. Other mechanics i feel were trying to take advantage because I am a woman but he made me feel comfortable. Still have to get work done on it but at least I know exactly what the problem was.
Chevrolet Tahoe - Warning Light is on - Norfolk, Virginia
Very detailed and takes the time to explain what is being done. Willing to answer any questions you may have. I would definitely use his services again and have already been telling my coworkers about this site. I have a unique electrical situation going on with my truck that none of the dealers could assess. Just by Matt doing some general maintenance , my truck is already driving smoother. Matt asked that I monitor things to make sure we don't need to troubleshoot anything else. I feel quite confident.

Quentin

18 years of experience
13 reviews
Quentin
18 years of experience
Volkswagen Tiguan - Warning Light is on - Nottingham, Maryland
Quentin was very professional and meticulous with locating the issues with my car. Great spirit and explained and answered all of my questions.

Travis

12 years of experience
69 reviews
Travis
12 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz C230 - Warning Light is on - Charlotte, North Carolina
Travis came out to determine cause for the Check Engine light. He did so and told me what needed to be done and the cost.

Juan

8 years of experience
50 reviews
Juan
8 years of experience
Suzuki Grand Vitara - Warning Light is on - Durham, North Carolina
I won't go into details about the actual work performed - the result was completely satisfactory. Juan is knowledgeable about how these computerized engines work . He's very personable, polite, patient with my questions, and when I need service again, I'll request Juan. He put in more time than originally scheduled and seems to want to see things through and honest enough to tell you if the job is beyond his expertise and suggests taking car to dealer for more extensive diagnostic tests. I am well pleased.

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