Brake Light Bulbs

Brake Light Bulb Guide: What You Need to Know in 2022

The brake light is an important part of your car. Without working brake lights you are not allowed to go out on the street and you would not receive car insurance. But it can happen that the bulbs in the brake lights fail and no longer do their job. Clear case - they must be replaced.

Good news: You can save yourself the trip to the workshop. The bulbs of your brake lights can be easily replaced but you need to know how to approach this task. In this guide, you can find out what is important about brake light bulbs, what is required, and how best to proceed.

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Brake light bulbs: operational characteristics

Brake lights are the key elements of light signals intended to warn other drivers of slowing down or stopping. They have a direct impact on road safety, which is why their proper functioning is required by law. 

Conventional light bulbs or halogen light bulbs are typically used as the light source in brake lights.

Tips on how to choose, use and replace the brake light bulbs

The average lifespan of the bulbs used in brake lights is 250-650 hours depending on the rating of the part. However, there are items with a longer lifespan. They can last around 1250-2000 hours.

It is better to replace both brake light components at once. Since they have the same lifespan, failure of one means the other will soon be out of service as well. In addition, their light intensity decreases over time. Therefore, only by replacing them in pairs, it is possible to obtain lighting of the highest quality and equal intensity.

To make the brake lights clearly visible during the day, you should choose halogen bulbs. They are certified according to your country’s standards, so they can be used on public roads. Compared to conventional light sources, they also have a 60% higher light output and a high color temperature of up to 4500 K.

Pay attention to the color of the cover of the bulb: clear bulbs are built into the fixtures with a red lens, red bulbs are used with white or clear lenses.

Using LED bulbs as brake light bulbs

The brake light bulbs can be very different, depending on whether they are xenon, halogen, LED, or normal incandescent bulbs. 

If your car allows this, then it is better to switch to LED lamps. You have to replace both lamps at the same time, but the durability is significantly higher, which means that you will have to carry out the procedure less often in the future. Unfortunately, xenon and halogen lamps cannot usually be easily converted to LEDs. At most, the entire lamp can be replaced.

Xenon lamps usually last almost as long as the car. This also applies to LED rear lights and brake lights, the bulbs of which usually cannot be replaced. In the event of a defect, a whole headlight kit has to be replaced. It is recommended that even with LED lights, the light modules should be replaceable by the workshop.

With LED light bulbs, a distinction must be made between LEDs that are modeled on light bulbs and those built on corresponding lamp bases. LED bulbs can be replaced by yourself. These are then changed like normal light bulbs, which is why the DIY instructions for changing light bulbs can be used.

The situation is different with the latest generations of LED brake lights. These LEDs are firmly integrated into the rear light. This means that the entire tail light usually has to be completely replaced. 

Choosing the right brake light bulb type

To determine the right type of brake light bulb, all the information contains in the car registration papers or the operating manual. The correct lamp type with the corresponding socket is specified there, which saves you expensive bad buys.

Check your brake light regularly, so you can be sure that everything is working. Also, check if the cover glass of the lamp fogs up. This can be a sign that moisture has collected inside. Wetness and electricity don't mix. In such a case, you should definitely check the sealing of your lamp and replace it if necessary.

Malfunctions of the brake lights, their causes and symptoms

Filament breakage. The reasons for this are expired service life, unstable voltage, as well as the use of incompatible or poor-quality components. The sign of this defect is the absence of light when the lamps are turned on.

Soot deposits on the cover. This is more important for halogen lamps, especially if mistakes were made during installation. As a result, the cover becomes darker and the light intensity decreases.

  • Familiarize yourself with the bulb replacement in advance using the vehicle operating instructions.
  • Put a replacement bulb box, suitable for your car, available in the workshop or in the car accessories store, in the trunk. Especially abroad, driving with defective lights can result in high fines.


Because vehicle lighting needs to illuminate the road as safely and brightly as possible, drivers should take extra care when choosing the right brake light bulbs for their vehicle. With our article, you can easily choose the right type of a brake light lamp and make use of tips to install the lighting technology you are looking for.


What are the regulations for brake lights?

All motor vehicles and their trailers must be equipped with two rear brake lights that shine red. These must be switched in such a way that they light up when the service and hand brakes are actuated. As a rule, a brake light is installed in the immediate vicinity of the tail light.

Do I need a third braking light?

Do you often travel with a small trailer or do you have a larger van? Then a 3rd brake light could be interesting for you. Because with it you don't have to rely on the attention of the person behind you but signal unequivocally as soon as you have to slow down.  

Where can you buy brake lights for cars?

Car repair shops sometimes also have a small or larger shop attached. But you can also get brake light bulbs at good gas stations. You can usually get all halogen bulbs and most marker lights in larger supermarkets and hardware stores.

What bulb is used for a brake light?

The most common bulb used in automotive tail light and brake light applications is the 1157 bulb.

How much does a brake light bulb cost?

Changing a faulty brake light is something anyone can learn to do. A replacement bulb costs about $10, and replacing it on your own will save about $20 in labor and the time it takes to travel to the shop and wait for the work to be done.

Is a brake light out illegal?

Brake lights are vital to letting those driving behind you that you are either slowing or coming to a stop. By law, you need to have both brake lights in working order. If your brake light is out, drivers may not be able to tell and it could cause a collision. It is illegal to drive with a brake light out.

Are tail lights bulbs and brake lights the same?

Tail lights are engaged when the you turn on your headlights or when your parking brake is on, whereas the brake lights will light up immediately when you apply pressure to the brakes. On most vehicles, the tail lights are red and the brake lights are a more luminous red.

What Color is a brake bulb?

You'll find brake or stop light bulbs at the rear of your vehicle. They are a red color.

Are all brake light bulbs the same?

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.

Are brake light bulbs and headlight bulbs the same?

Yes. Usually the brake lights are dual filament wedge style bulbs or bayonet style bulbs (push-in and twist). Your head lights are usually 55 watt halogen bulbs with a plug base of some sort. These are vastly different bulbs with different brightnesses, base types and are not interchangeable.

Are 1157 and 2357 bulbs interchangeable?

Bulb bases are identical between the 1157 and 2357. Installed 2357 bulbs on both driver's side tail lights. Running lights are the same brightness between the 1157 and 2357. The brake lights of the 2357 are brighter than the 1157 bulbs as shown in pic below.

What causes brake lights to stop working?

If one or more of your brake lights isn't working properly, it could mean one of three things: The brake light system fuse is blown, the brake light bulbs are burned out or the brake light wiring switch is broken. All of these issues are easy to troubleshoot.

How do I buy brake lights?

When you are shopping around, here are a few tips to make sure you're getting a good quality brake light bulb:

  • Getting the right bulb: Use your retailer's online or in-store interface to determine the correct bulb. ...
  • Reliable brand: Go with a trusted brand name. ...
  • Bulb life: Check the life hours rating.
  • Can you get fined for having a brake light out?

    No brake lights penalty

    If you have a single brake light out for example and the police officer is of reasonable mind, they may simply pull you over and give you a verbal warning to get it fixed as soon as possible.

    Can you drive with two brake lights?

    It may seem obvious but these are essential for letting drivers behind you know when you're braking. By law you need to have two working brake lights. However, because they're positioned on the back of your car it's not unusual for you to go for a few days, without noticing that one of your bulbs has gone.

    Do you need all three brake lights?

    Federal law mandates that all vehicles have the third brake light outfitted within the car. Additionally, the third light must be comparable to the other brake lights on the vehicle so that it is not distracting to the drivers behind the vehicle.

    Why does my brake light work but not my tail light?

    The most common reason why your tail lights are not working but brake lights are is due to a bad or wrong type of light bulb installed. It can also be caused by a blown fuse, bad wirings, or corroded sockets or plugs. A faulty control light switch could also be to blame.

    Is brake light top or bottom?

    The turn signals are amber in color. The tail/stop lights are red on the bottom ones.

    How many bulbs are in a brake light?

    There should be at least 2 bulbs that light up regardless of the lighting configuration. It is not a bad idea, to make an easy reminder, to check all of your bulbs any time you change your oil.

    What is the difference between 1157 and 1157A bulb?

    1157A is amber coated and 1157NA is natural amber glass or not coated.

    What does a 2357 bulb fit?

    Qty: ... bulb, - White LED bulb, ideal for daytime running lights (DRL) and back-up/reverse lightsSpecs- ANSI Code: 2357, - Also Fits: 1157, 2057, - Sylvania Part Number: 2357SL.

    When should tail lights be on?

    Tail lights are required to produce only red light at the rear of the vehicle and are wired such that they are lit whenever the headlights are on. This helps drivers who are traveling behind you to recognize that you're there and how far ahead you are.

    Are headlights and brake lights the same?

    Brake lights are lights on a tail light that alert other drivers when you are pressing the brake pedal to slow down. The tail lights are lights that illuminate when the headlights are turned on to create visibility for drivers behind you during the night or adverse weather conditions.