(800) 821-3520 - Customer Support


    Connect With Us

    Get the latest news from Austin Hardware

    Contact Us

    Trailer Lighting vs. Car and Truck Lighting: Key Differences and Requirements.

    Posted by Austin Hardware on Jun 13, 2024 11:30:00 AM

    Trailer Lighting Blog Banner

    Proper lighting and trailer lighting compliance are essential for the safe use of trailers on the road. This post will discuss the similarities and differences between trailer lighting requirements and those for cars and trucks.

    Trailers have specific lighting requirements that are similar to, but distinct from, those for cars and trucks. Both vehicles and trailers require the following:

    • - Red taillights on the rear
    • - Red brake lights on the rear that illuminate when the brakes are applied
    • - Turn signal lights that are either red or amber and placed on the front and rear cornersLED lighting (1)
    • - A white light to illuminate the license plate at the rear


    There are several trailer lighting requirements that do not apply to cars and trucks.

    Trailers under 80 inches wide must have amber side marker lights at the front and red side marker lights at the rear, along with corresponding reflectors, which cars and trucks do not need unless they are commercial or larger.

    Clearance or identification lights are also a requirement for trailers, which cars and trucks do not need. Trailers over 80 inches in width must have front and rear clearance lights and a set of three red rear identification lights. Front clearance lights must be amber and mounted on the front upper corners, and rear clearance lights are required to be red and mounted on the rear upper corners.

    Another type of light required for trailers, but not non-commercial cars and trucks, is midpoint side marker lights and reflectors. Trailers over 30 feet long require additional side marker lights and reflectors at the midpoint of each side.

    Additionally, trailers require red reflectors at the rear and amber reflectors at the front and sides. Cars and trucks also have reflectors but typically do not have to adhere to the same placement and color requirements.

    LED lighting

    Finally, trailers over 80 inches wide require front and rear clearance lights (amber front, red rear) and a cluster of three rear red identification lights positioned horizontally and centered on the trailer.

    Specific lighting requirements for trailers are designed to help reduce accidents. Trailer owners who do not comply may be subject to legal penalties. It’s important to always adhere to local, state, and federal regulations regarding trailer lighting.

    It’s also essential to use DOT-approved lights and reflectors on your trailer and be sure the lights are visible from specified distances. Typical requirements are 500 feet for brake lights and 1000 feet for reflectors.

    Austin Hardware has a large selection of lighting solutions for your trailer. We invite you to review all of the available options by visiting the Lighting section of our website or contact your Austin Hardware sales representative or your nearest Austin Hardware location for more information on how we can help you.



    Topics: Trailers, lighting