Light Inspection

How to Perform an Exterior Light Inspection

The exterior lighting system of your car is an important safety issue. Any lights that fail to illuminate and is illegal.  Most bulbs are easy to replace but we have seen some tricky ones but they are few. Most car repair garages will charge between fifty and one hundred dollars to replace a four dollar bulb.

Checking Headlight Operation


Vehicles today have a variety of features incorporated into the front lighting system. This car has high/low beam headlights, front running lights and turn signals, headlight lens cleaners and a headlight sensor used to automatically lower the vehicles high beam headlights when the sensor detects opposing traffic.

Checking tail light, side marker, reverse, running light and stop light bulbs.

tail light

For best results check bulb operation at night or in a dark garage. Step on the brake pedal to check brake lights, make sure all brake lights illuminate including the middle third brake light. Turn headlight switch to the first selection, inspect all side marker, front running lights, and tail lights.

Checking third or upper brake light.

upper brake light

All passenger vehicles have a third or upper brake light located between and above the normal side brake lights. To check on this light operation, turn key to the "on" position (do not start). Step on brake pedal, all brake lights should illuminate including the third or upper brake, light.

Replacing a Brake Light Bulb

Checking emergency flashers or hazard lights

emergency flashers

To check your emergency flasher lights (or hazard flasher) operation locate the emergency switch then activate it. Check around your vehicle to make sure all lights are functioning properly. Deactivate emergency flasher switch to stop flasher operation.

Checking Factory Alarm Operation


Some vehicles are manufactured with a "built in" alarm system. To activate the alarm system depress the "lock" button on the key fob. All doors will lock and the alarm indicator light will start blinking to inform you the alarm has now been activated. To disarm alarm system depress the "unlock" button on the key fob.

Common Problems:

  • Bulb burned out.
  • Incorrect bulb replacement causing system short circuits/incorrect operation.
  • Bad light socket ground causing the bulb to be dim.
If further assistance is needed, our certified car repair technicians are ready to answer your car questions. Also, gain manufacturer specific instructions and information by clicking - Auto Repair Manual

Related Car Repair Information

Article first published