With one big exception, you can check all of your car’s lights by simply walking around the vehicle. But your brake lights are a different story altogether. You’ll need an assistant who can pass along the good news when you press the brake pedal: The light comes on. Or, to become precise, all three come on. Just a few old cars do not have a third high-mounted brake light. Unfortunately, not all modern models come with a bulb-out indicator that lights up on the dashboard.

But what should assiduous car drivers do if they do not happen to have someone to help them do the inspection? Sure, they can drive the car in reverse in front of a wall and check the red reflection. Perhaps, they will be able to draw distinction among three lights. But they will hardly be able to recognize burned-out lamps or LEDs in the third brake light.

When a beer crate hits the brakes

Some drivers may come up with another idea: They’ll simply apply some object to the brake pedal. They will then walk to the back of the vehicle and see whether the red trinity is glowing. These drivers may think that a cooking spoon jammed between the seat and pedal will do the trip. Others may think a beer crate might serve as a nice replacement for the foot. But both devices aren’t always on hand. It is different story for another device that is a constant companion for most people: the smartphone. It can help you check your brake lights, and it does not need any sort of special app to get the job done.

Brake lights on YouTube?

How does it work? Simply place the telephone on a wall, chair or any other location from which it can observe the entire rear of the vehicle. You then hit the video recording button. The smartphone will then record the brake lights when you step on the pedal. The result is something like a brake light selfie.

You can do one other thing that might not be so important for the inspection itself but that is still interesting: make a slow-motion recording. If the car has two brake lights that use incandescent lamps and a third light that uses LEDs, the video will show the different reaction times of the lights. The LEDs will light up immediately. But the incandescent lamps will need about 0.25 second to reach peak brightness.

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