A Complete Guide to Your Dodge Tail Lights

Simply put, tail lights are the red lights on the back of your Dodge Caliber. Whenever your headlights are on, your tail lights turn on. When you stop, the tail lights give off a brighter red appearance instead of the dimmer red light when your car is in motion. Since tail lights are critical for the safety of yourself and your vehicle, it’s important to replace them as soon as they burn out to help prevent accidents as you navigate the streets of Chicago.

What You Should Know About Tail Lights

Tail lights are located on the back of your Caliber and face the cars traveling behind you. Depending on the type of tail lights you have on your vehicle, some may contain a reflective material inside of them to help amplify the light and thus appear larger and brighter. Most U.S. states restrict tail light colors to only red. Tail lights are wired right to the battery and work on a relay. This means that they automatically turn on whenever you turn on your headlights. This is convenient for all drivers since you never have to worry about forgetting to turn them on. Instead, tail lights are wired to the same switch that is responsible for turning on the headlights. If your Caliber is equipped with automatic lights that detect darkness or low-light weather conditions, the tail lights will turn on when your car is on. Similarly, if you manually turn on your vehicle’s lights, the tail lights will also illuminate once your headlights are on. In more recent years, light emitting diode (LED) lights have become a popular choice for tail lights. LED lights last longer than traditional tail lights and use a smaller amount of energy. Most cars, however, come with halogen lights as standard. Xenon lights are bright, strong, more intense than others types of tail lights and use an electrical arc instead of a traditional filament. Tail lights provide a measure of safety for yourself and your passengers. They illuminate the rear edge of your Caliber to allow other motorists and pedestrians to appropriately gauge the shape and size of your vehicle. In addition, they allow other drivers to see your car in inclement weather such as snow or rain. If one or both of your tail lights have burned out, it’s important to replace the bulbs as soon as possible as you may get pulled over and/or ticketed by law enforcement for having a broken tail light.

Tail Lights vs. Brake Lights

When some people refer to lighting on cars, they may make the mistake of using the terms “tail light” and “brake light” interchangeably. However, these parts are actually two different types of rear lighting that serve separate functions, yet both are important to the safety of you, your passengers and your vehicle. Knowing the difference between tail lights and brake lights is helpful when discussing damage and repairs with mechanics and insurance companies. Let’s take a look at the two different types of lights.

Tail Lights

As we’ve discussed, tail lights are the red lights on the rear of your car that activate when you turn on your headlights. Because of this, you typically don’t use them during daylight hours. They are less bright than brake lights since they’re only designed to be active in dim conditions such as heavy rain or nighttime. These lights exist to let other drivers know you’re on the road when visibility is poor or impaired. Common issues that require service include cracked lenses and broken bulb filaments. Quick, cheap and easy to fix, there’s really no reason why you should ignore tail light problems.

Brake Lights

On the other hand, brake lights are designed to automatically light up whenever you press the brake pedal. It goes without saying that working brake lights are critical to safe driving conditions since they give other motorists a distinguishing warning when you’re about to change your speed. Driving behind someone with malfunctioning or broken brake lights is both dangerous and frustrating. There’s an extended delay between the driver’s change in maneuvering and your comprehension of this change, which means that there’s always a greater chance of an accident. Several things can affect the effectiveness of your brake lights, including faulty wiring, dim bulbs and dirty lenses. These, among others, may prevent others from being able to quickly register your braking. Like any other car part, you will need to either repair or replace your brake lights at some point. However, routine inspections and regularly scheduled maintenance will give you plenty of time to predict and address any brake light problems and help you avoid accidents.

What About That “Third Light”?

Many drivers often wonder if there’s any point to a third light, mainly because two other lights already do the same thing. Located higher and in between the right and left rear brake lights, these center high mount stop lights are meant to help other motorists to see when you’re braking if the bottom right and left lights are obscured. Whether they are obscured by seating position, another vehicle or another factor, third brake lights have been shown to reduce the likelihood of an accident and are extremely affordable, making them standard on many modern cars.


There’s little more dangerous than driving around Chicago with no lights to signal when you’re braking or to help illuminate your vehicle in dim conditions. Not only do malfunctioning brake lights increase the risk of an accident or collision, but you may also get pulled over and get a ticket for failing to have working tail lights. For this reason, it’s critical to check and make sure every exterior light is working from time to time. The easiest way to do this is to have a family member or friend stand outside of your Caliber while you turn on the lights and check both the tail lights and the brake lights. Fortunately, tail lights are pretty cheap and easy to replace, and you can do the repair yourself in the comfort of your own garage or driveway.