Checking Your Brakelamps

March 16, 2009

Our Tip of the Week concerns the importance of checking the function of your brake lamps and a simple way to do it yourself without an assistant. The other day, I was in heavy traffic on a multi-lane highway and noticed a vehicle just ahead of me in one lane over that had only a single brake light functioning. One side was completely burned out. Now, it just so happened that, as well as that problem the driver was in the habit of pumping the brakes every time they stopped. So when they pumped the brakes, because they only had one brake light working and no third brake lamp, it looked like a turn signal was being given.

Later on, when the traffic started to flow better, I noticed a close call between the car with the burned out brake light and another vehicle one lane over to the right. And what happened was, because they approached the turn and pumped the brakes several times, it looked like they were giving a left-turn signal when, in fact, they were slowing down and trying to turn right. Now, the same filament on many cars is used for the turn signal function and the brake light. So this vehicle that had the burned-out brake lamp also had no turn signal on that side. And there was a near-miss between these two drivers. They exchanged unpleasant looks and went on.

Here's a simple way that you can check your car out, and here's the tip: take your snow brush, which should never be too far away on a Canadian vehicle, and, in most cases, you'll find that it can be wedged quite easily between the leading edge of the seat or the steering wheel and the brake pedal. You can move the seat back and then run it forward and use the snow brush to push on the brake pedal. Once it's trapped in there, come around to the back of your vehicle and make sure that all your brake lamps are properly illuminated. And if you have a high mount or third brake light, make sure that that's functioning too. If all your brake lights are functioning, you'll avoid in many cases a rear-end collision or a close call like the one I witnessed.

That's your Tip of the Week!

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