So, why would it be useful to learn how to check your brake lights by yourself?
Well, unlike other elements of your car’s visual signalization (headlights, turn signals, reverse lights, and else), the brake lights can’t be directly seen when you press the brake pedal.
For instance, you turn on the headlights and you simply go and see if they’re working. For the brake lights, it’s not physically possible to press the pedal and see the rear of the car at the same time.
So if you don’t have assistance, you’ll see it’s pretty hard to determine if the brake lights are working.
This article will show you a couple of simple ways to solve this problem and successfully make the check on your own.
Besides this, you have a video at the end of the article that you can also watch on our YouTube channel.
RECOMMENDATIONS BEFORE YOU START CHECKING THE BRAKE LIGHTS
When checking the brake lights, best put the car in neutral for stick shifts and park (P) if it’s automatic. Also, pull the handbrake.
To be honest, this isn’t really that necessary, you can do the check without this, but it’s a lot safer
Know that some cars need to have the ignition on for the brake lights to work. So, if they don’t work, try turning the ignition key to the ON stage and then check.
One more thing I would recommend to do is to start the engine and let it run for a minute or two before you check the brake lights.
Otherwise, when you press the pedal a couple of times when the engine is off, it becomes much stiffer and harder, and much more pressure is needed.
When the pedal is softer, you’ll need less pressure which is useful for some of the methods we’re going to show you.
Also, if the pedal is stiff, the brake light switch may not turn on the lights and you might get a false reading.
If you conclude that the brake lights don’t work, click here and check out an article and video that offer some solutions to the problem.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR BRAKE LIGHTS BY YOURSELF?
1. USE A WINDOW OR GLASS STOREFRONT
Perhaps the easiest way to check your brake lights by yourself is to reverse your car near a convenient window at your home or if you live in a building, find a big glass storefront or shopwindow.
This way you’ll get a good reflection of the lights and an overview of which brake light doesn’t work.
Sometimes you don’t even have to get out of the car, you can see which one doesn’t work in the rearview mirror.
2. USE A MIRROR
Just like with the window, you can use a bigger house mirror, it’s the same principle but the big difference is that you’ll of course get a clearer picture.
The bigger the mirror the better, the best one would be a mirror where you can see both lights at the same time.
Otherwise, you’ll have to move it from side to side which isn’t a problem but demands some more work.
In order to hold the mirror in place, you can use a chair, a ladder, or any other convenient thing you have around the household that will give good support. You can even hang it if you have a hook available.
3. CHECK THE BRAKE LIGHTS AT NIGHTTIME
This method is not that reliable but its’ certainly worth the try.
Wait until its’ dark and then do the check. It would be best to reverse the car to a wall, a pillar, or else to get a better view.
When you press the brake pedal, you’ll a see glow on the wall or pillar and if any of the lights aren’t working you’ll recognize it by a missing glow.
What’s also good is that in most cases, you can see the missing light from the passenger cabin, without getting out of the car.
4. PUT A BRICK ON THE BRAKE PEDAL
Find a big heavy building brick and lay it on the pedal. The heavier the brick the better as it will provide more pushing force.
If you don’t have a brick you can use a bigger rock, a piece of concrete, a bigger piece of wood, or else that you have around the house.
Just make sure it presses the brake hard enough so you don’t make a mistake when checking.
5. USE A POLE TO PRESS THE BRAKE PEDAL
Using a pole is better than the brick option because you’re more certain that the brake pedal is pressed enough.
You can use whatever pole-like object you have around the household. You can use a broomstick, a piece of plastic pipe, a wooden pole, or else.
But, try to avoid using metal poles so you don’t accidentally damage or tear the interior.
If you have to, it would be good to have plastic or rubber caps on the tips of the pole so it doesn’t damage the rubber on the pedal or the interior.
Put one side of the pole against the pedal and the other against the seat or some other convenient place.
If you’re using the seat, which is perhaps the best option, press the pole with the seat by pushing it forward. This comes in handy if the pole is shorter.
Make sure the pressure is strong enough. Once the pole is in place, get out of the car and see if the brake lights work.
As you’ve seen it’s very simple to learn how to check the brake lights by yourself. Yes, it may take some more time than having someone help you, but you’ll surely get the job done.
The option with the window reflection and check at night time are my favorites as they are the most simple and need the least work and time.
For the end, give your brake lights a random check from time to time, once a month would be ideal.
It’s common for people to drive without brake lights for days sometimes months without noticing and no need to say how dangerous this is, both for yourself and other participants in traffic.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
HOW TO CHECK YOUR BRAKE LIGHTS BY YOURSELF? YOUTUBE VIDEO
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