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Tail Light vs Brake Light: Are They Same Lights?

When referring to automotive lighting, some people use the terms ‘brake light’ and ‘tail light’ interchangeably. This makes many people confused. Are tail lights and brake lights the same bulb? Well, no. Interchanging the terms is a mistake. These are separate lights and perform different functions. Knowing the differences between tail light vs brake light is important to understand their functions and roles in automobile safety.

Both these lights are located on the rear side of a vehicle. To grasp their differences, it’s important to understand how they work.

Tail Light vs Brake Light: The Differences

You may notice sometimes that the tail lights of your car are working but the brake lights don’t, and vice versa. This wouldn’t have happened if they were the same lights. Here are there definitions and functions so that you understand how they are dissimilar.

Brake Lights

The brake system triggers the brake lights. They come on whenever you apply the brakes.

A pair of working brake lights are critical to driving and road safety. They give the drivers behind you a signal about the imminent speed change. Imagine driving behind a vehicle that has dud brake lights. You will have no clue when they are going to change the speed. Such misunderstandings can lead to road accidents.

There are several reasons for brake lights to not work or give delayed responses. Dim bulbs, dirty lenses, and defective wiring are a few of them. Performing routine maintenance is a great way to avoid these issues. Like any other car components, brake lights and their related accessories need occasional repair and replacement. Regular inspections will help you detect a problem on time. Your timely action may save you from a major accident on the road.

are tail lights and brake lights the same bulb
The third brake light.

There is another brake light known as the center high-mount stop lamp. You might be wondering what is this light doing in a discussion about tail light vs brake light. You are not alone. Scads of drivers don’t know the function of this third brake light.

Located in between the right and left brake lights but at a higher point, this light is a fail-safe in case brake lights are not visible for any reason. It warns the following drivers about the impending braking action. Its location is higher than the other two brake lights so other drivers won’t face any problem seeing it.

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Tail Lights

tail light vs brake light
Tail lights come on in dim conditions.

Front headlights trigger the tail lights. As you turn on the headlights only at night or in dark conditions, the red tail lights also remain inactive during the daytime. Their brightness is lesser than the brake lights because they are designed to be switched on in hazy, foggy, and dark conditions.

The function of tail lights is to announce the presence of your vehicle to other drivers when visibility is impaired. Just like brake lights, they malfunction due to cracked lenses, broken wiring, faulty bulb filaments, and a few other reasons. Regular checking will help catch the problem early on. These bulbs are cheap, and fixing them is a quick job.