Steps How To Find A Reverse Light Wire?

How to Find a Reverse Light Wire

“How to find a reverse light wire” is a question most people don’t see themselves asking until that very moment when it stops working. When that happens, you would wish you knew how to find it because if you can’t find it, you can’t fix it. And without it, you have no one watching your back while you’re driving. 

So how do you find the reverse light wire?

The first thing you do is put the transmission in reverse and ensure the parking brake is on. At this point, the reverse light will be on. Now, move to the back of the car and remove the tail light by unscrewing. The reverse light wire becomes apparent as you can easily trace it to the active light.

However, we intend to take you through a well-detailed description of how to find this wire for various purposes, what color it is, why it might be three in some cars, and why it might not work in specific instances.

Steps To Find the Reverse Light Wire

You have to turn on the ignition, put the gear in reverse, and turn on the parking brake. Doing this will ensure only the backup light is activated at the tail light. Unscrew the indicator light panel and trace the wires of the activated light.

It is worth noting that this process requires two people; to avoid sudden movement of the car if you forget to turn on the parking brake. The second person’s assistance will help you turn on the ignition and put the car in reverse. Your job is to stay at the back and see which light comes on among the group. Your assistant can also handle the vehicle in case of a sudden movement. However, If you’re alone, you can just follow the option stated above.

Locating the activated backup light would mean you have successfully traced the wires linked to it, so the job is done. Usually, the wires are always two for most vehicles; black and white. The black is usually the negative wire, and if you wish, you can get test screwdrivers to ascertain each position and function.

Here’s a detailed video outlining these steps.


Once you have successfully located the backup light wires, you can do other things like checking their functionality, replacing the bulbs, or attaching a rear camera.

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What is a Reverse Light Wire?

The reverse or backup light is an indicator at the back of your vehicle that notifies other cars and people around you that you’re about to move your car backward. It is a mandatory component of every vehicle in most parts of the world as it has legal and safety implications.

Most vehicles have white reverse lights, which makes them very obvious even when they are not activated. The light ensures that anybody behind you takes proper precautions to avoid unnecessary accidents and lawsuits. Anyone about to overtake you will also get on the side of caution to prevent an unintended collision.

You must ensure that your backup lights remain functional at all times because a non-functional backup light can lead to accidents, and you might get pulled over by traffic authorities.

Apart from its safety benefit, the backup light can also help you see better whenever you intend to move backward. You will find this very useful, especially at night when you need all the light you can get.

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What color is a Reverse light?

The reverse or backup light is usually white, which is mandatory in every part of the world. The wisdom behind this color might lie in the fact that it is easier to distinguish it from other components of the tail light. It also illuminates brighter, especially at night.
How to Find a Reverse Light Wire

The color of your backup light matches the color of its positive wire. As we said earlier, the backup light wire come in two: the positive and negative wire. The white is usually the positive, and the black; the negative.

Why does my Reverse Light have Three wires?

Typically, the backup light wire is two, but rarely, you might find three. The reason for this is because the wires are linked to a dual intensity light. A dual intensity light needs three wires in contrast to a single intensity light that uses two.

You must bear in mind that the two-wire design is only compatible with single intensity lights, which we see in most vehicles. The single intensity light is not as bright as its dual counterpart, so it needs an extra wire to function. You must also note that using dual intensity lights is not the norm for backup lights. As such, if you wish to replace the bulbs, you should take note of the wiring requirement based on the intensity of the light you want to use.

Why does my Reverse Light not Work?

It might be because the bulbs are burned out if you’ve ensured the transmission is in reverse. It could also be due to a faulty circuit as the backup light is a typical electrical circuit. A blown-fuse could also be the culprit in this regard.

How to Find a Reverse Light Wire
Before you can diagnose why your backup lights are not working, you must ensure the ignition is on, and the gear is placed in reverse. You can replace the bulbs which you’ve confirmed a burned-out one. Commonly, a wire break could be responsible for your faulty reverse lights. You can trace the wiring up to the switch to confirm your diagnosis.

You should also not forget a faulty switch as a cause of your non-functional lights. The switch is usually connected to the gear selector mechanism for most vehicles.

No matter the reason for your faulty lights, it’s essential you fix them as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary charges, lawsuits, and accidents.


Car manufacturers follow international safety codes and standards during their manufacturing process, and that’s why reverse lights exist in most vehicles. Driving around without one is reckless and would leave you open to the unfortunate risks of accidents.  Fixing your backup lights is crucial for your safety. As we stated above, you can trace its wires with the methods outlined above to make necessary repairs, installation, or servicing.

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