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Car maintenance can be a challenging, confusing, and expensive process, and many drivers may be tempted to let mechanics handle all of their car maintenance needs. This isn’t a terrible idea since many people aren’t familiar with fixing a car, but it can be expensive, especially if your car’s problems aren’t minor. Here’s a look at four common brake light problems and how owners can try to fix those problems themselves.

1. The bulb is burnt out

Napa Blog said that one of the most common problems with the brake light is that the bulb simply burns out. At the end of the day, brake lights will burn out after they’ve been used for too long. Similarly, just like how people can replace the burnt-out bulbs in their homes, they can also easily replace them in their brake lights. 

Just like with the light bulbs in a home, there can be some variety in the type of bulb in a car’s brake lights. Most new vehicles have LED lights, allowing them to last much longer than the traditional bulbs still found in older cars. If the car has those traditional bulbs, replacing a burnt-out one is an easy process that involves opening the housing and simply unscrewing the burnt bulb before screwing in a new one.

If your brake lights are LEDs, replacing a burnt-out one can be more complicated. It ultimately depends on the make and model of the car. As such, it’s a good idea to consult a mechanic regarding this repair.

2. The brake light switch has gone bad

Brake lights of a Volkswagen vehicle lit up in a winter fog in the Harz Mountains of Saxony-Anhalt, Elbingerode
Brake lights illuminated in fog | Matthias Bein/picture alliance via Getty Images

Another standard brake light problem is that the brake light switch has gone bad. This problem simply happens after using the car for too long, but it’s also a fairly easy problem to diagnose or fix. For example, Napa Blog says that it’s very unlikely that a car’s three brake lights go out simultaneously. If this happens, then it’s very likely a problem with the switch.

Once the problem is diagnosed, replacing the brake light switch is a simple process. The first step is to disconnect the car’s battery for safety reasons. Then it’s as simple as finding the brake light switch, removing it, and replacing it with a new one.

3. The fuse has been blown

If the switch is fine, but the brake lights are still faulty, then there may be a blown fuse. As Napa Blog explained, the first step is to find the car’s fuse box. It’s usually located under the hood or in a panel near the passenger compartment. There may be a diagram on the box that drivers can use for reference; if not, there’s probably a diagram in the owner’s manual. 

Then it’s just a simple process of using that fuse diagram to find the fuse for the brake light. If it’s been blown, then it needs to be replaced. This is pretty easy, as many fuse boxes have a fuse removal tool that can be used to remove the blown fuse. After removing it, it’s time to replace it with a fuse with the same amperage. The fuse’s amperage is usually the number that it’s marked with.

4. The socket is bad

This problem happens because the wiring in the socket gets worn down from use. Once again, this is an easy repair that can be done cheaply. Owners just need to snip off the old wires and then splice in new ones. However, if you’re uncomfortable performing this or any maintenance on your car, you can always bring it to a mechanic for professional, though pricier, care.

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