Home » Chevy Should Be Embarrassed That Their Taillight Design Is So Bad It Needs Explanatory Stickers

Chevy Should Be Embarrassed That Their Taillight Design Is So Bad It Needs Explanatory Stickers

Bolt Taillightsticker Top
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You know if you have to explain a joke, that joke probably didn’t work? The same rule, unsurprisingly, also holds true in the equally dynamic and exciting world of taillights: if you have to explain how your taillights work, then your taillights don’t really work. And that’s exactly what we see going on here, in these pictures of a Chevy Bolt EUV, sent in by fellow taillight observer and Autopian reader William Samet. The pictures show a Bolt with a set of what appear to be custom stickers that are vainly attempting to fix a severe taillight design error on Chevy’s part. I’m sure they help, but it’s miserable they need to be there at all.

Stickers

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

As you can see, the stickers read BRAKE LIGHT and then point down to the low-set brake lamp. in the Bolt’s bumper, next to the equally unexpectedly low-set turn indicator. These bumper-lights are a known problem, not just for Chevy, but other automakers as well, as we have covered this mess in detail before.

It’s not just that the lights are set really low, which isn’t great but definitely can work, as we have seen on several cars before:

Lowlights

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Sure, the lights on those VW Type 4s and Chevy Malibus, for example, are really low and in close traffic may be hard to see, but at least there’s no confusion about where to look. The Bolt, on the other hand, with its upper set of red just-taillights, no brake lights, makes everything needlessly confusing.

Downhereuphere

The difference is huge: if you put a set of lights on the back of a car that look like they should be brake lights, based on decades and decades of precedent and innumerable other cars on the road, people will expect them to light up when you’re braking. If they don’t, then you have a recipe for needless and preventable rear-end wrecks.

It’s confusing and bad, and if you somehow didn’t think this is a big deal, just look up there and remember that someone actually went through the considerable time and effort and expense of designing and having custom stickers printed, and then stuck them on their relatively new car, just because they knew that the brake lights bestowed unto them by GM, charitably, suck.

Look at those stickers, lighting designers for the Bolt EUV. Feel the pain, a little bit, and then maybe see about making this right.

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They made stickers.

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121gwats
121gwats
1 year ago

Former Bolt owner here: Many of us just jumped the tail light to the brake light so all 4 light up. A bunch of Bolts got rear ended.

Greg
Greg
1 year ago
Reply to  121gwats

Looked damn good doing it!

121gwats
121gwats
1 year ago

The same can be said about the “fog light positioned headlight” trend that the Cherokee started. Headlights mounted that low really suck for throwing light down the road. I had them on a Blazer rental and couldn’t see shit.

Leif Hietala
Leif Hietala
1 year ago

I saw the headline for this in my news feed and thought, huh, that smacks of Torchinsky.

Lo and behold.

And yet the point has merit. Lights up high, directly in the sight line of other drivers, yet not tasked with communication? That greater purpose is shuffled off to smaller lights lower down? Nothing is ever perfect but this is actually vying for greater imperfection. Yes, this should be fixed.

Zipn Zipn
Zipn Zipn
1 year ago

Agree 100% Chevy messed up on this. We love our Bolts but this is a safety risk”

Adding an after-market blinker to the top tail light WILL get your attention if you’re behind a braking Bolt.

This one can be configured. 4 quick blinks that solid upon initial braking… solid light on any additional braking within x (30) seconds works great. After the initial attention-getting blink it won’t aggravate you if you’re behind the car in stop and go traffic.

Works great, and does add any additional load to the electronic brake circuit (A risk if you add on an extra LED red light strip across the back)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BN983DCS?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details

Hairy_baboon
Hairy_baboon
1 year ago
Reply to  Zipn Zipn

Blinking light upon any brake apply is a terrible thing. It gets too much attention for even light applies. Blinking draws awareness which should be for heavy applies because those are abnormal. Light applies should just illuminate. Besides, drive in Detroit long enough and you’ll get used to a 1/3 of lights working anyways.

But in reality, when one car keeps tapping the brakes but it flashes fast each time then it distracts me way more than is needed (I get that that has a 30s denounce, but even still, a light tap shouldn’t blink). Reserve the blink for hard decel.

JumboG
JumboG
1 year ago
Reply to  Hairy_baboon

I like to flash my high beams in unison with the blinking CHMSL when I encounter one in the wild. I’ve never seen one that stops the blinking on a quick press and release.

Zipn Zipn
Zipn Zipn
1 year ago
Reply to  Hairy_baboon

I rarely ‘tap’ the brakes – on the bolt it’s not uncommon to use the regen paddle to stop.

If it gets someone’s attention because it’s blinking, then it’s doing the job. The debounce keeps it from being annoying. I find the 4 quick blinks (then solid) isn’t bad – just lets you know brakes are coming on. The 4 blinks hit within a second or so then on solid until the next cycle.

JumboG
JumboG
1 year ago
Reply to  Zipn Zipn

The problem is in a normal stopping situation it draws too much attention to that one car to the detriment of everything else around. Also, when it turns off, it frequently makes me think they are removing their foot from the brake and are getting ready to go.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
1 year ago

This is a stupid design. However; I may be of above average intelligence but I start slowing down when I see red lights on the back of the car light up, regardless of location.

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
1 year ago

That’s what you (and I) do. Everyone else stares at their phone.

Mike S
Mike S
1 year ago

My daughter just yelled at me because I let out an involuntary “how f*cking stupid is that!?” 🙂

God there’s some fugly cars being made out there today

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
1 year ago

AHCTUALLY, in your example above, the pre-update Bolt on the left has at least the big lights as the brake lights, it’s the newer ones with the decoy lights do nothing but tail light. The bottom lights on the first bolts are always the turn signal, and only brake signals when the hatch is open.

But this has created a whole new industry! Tail to turn light adapter makers are a thing now! Just wire a sketchy box into your rear lights and boom semi-functional brake/turn signals where they should be what could possibly go wrong?

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

Chevy? Embarrassed? Thanks for the laugh.

On a related note, the trend toward front indicators being integrated amber bulbs in the headlight housing is pretty bad too. In too many ambient lighting conditions and angles they are really hard to see. Most often it looks like the driver isn’t signalling, which is already an issue in itself. Add to that older cars with fogging lenses. What’s the point of even having indicators?

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

Totally. I’ve noticed this too, and it seems to favor style over visibility. You’d think it would be against DOT regs to have something that lights up and has one function inside of something else that also lights up but has a different function.

Brandt S
Brandt S
1 year ago

This is such madness – fails of design for probably the most crucial safety feature in an automobile. I can’t even say it’s form over function because it simply makes no sense give that there are usually taillights right where you expect them to be – and they can be used as brake lights. Hyundai/Kia seem to be the worst offenders right now, but I think a secondary comment here would be the absolutely ludicrous size of brake lights (and I mean tiny size). Look at a Tesla Model 3. They have three tiny LED point lights for each brake light. WTF?

Mpphoto
Mpphoto
1 year ago
Reply to  Brandt S

The current RAV4 also has tiny brake lights. Lots of red plastic on the back, but I swear the actual brake lights are only the size of quarters. The first time I saw them, I was surprised they met the DOT requirements for brake light size.

Beached Wail
Beached Wail
1 year ago

This “feature” is a showstopper for me in considering a vehicle purchase. In this era of inattentive, disengaged drivers, anything that makes my actions less visible to following drivers in traffic is a hard no-go.

Even better, low-set lighting assemblies guarantee at least an extra $1K in repair costs for the simplest fender-bender since they have zero impact protection.

Eduardo Kaftanski
Eduardo Kaftanski
1 year ago

I guess its because US law states that lights must work even with the tailgate open.

Some cars (VW/Audi) have repeaters that activate when the tailgate is open…

Harmon20
Harmon20
1 year ago
  1. Develop the best brake light decoys possible.
  2. ?
  3. Profit.

I’m going to lose sleep trying to figure out #2.

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
1 year ago
Reply to  Harmon20

Owners of these cars will likely never need to replace rear bulbs, because the whole bumper will be replaced more often.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

or totalled.

2. Totalled – GM profits with new sale.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago
Reply to  Harmon20

2. Open a body shop specializing in rear-end damage.

M0L0TOV
M0L0TOV
1 year ago

Yeah, that’s like the newer Hyundai/Kia’s with their turn indicators being low in the bumper. I’m expecting to see it higher but alas, I was fooled. In bumper to bumper traffic, people aren’t going to see the turn signals. I’m surprised the D.O.T. hasn’t chimed in because it doesn’t seem very safe.

Leelze
Leelze
1 year ago
Reply to  M0L0TOV

Not just that, but you’re creating a bigger repair bill for a minor fender bender (or creating one that never would’ve existed).

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
1 year ago

Not an ideal location for sure, but how is this an actual safety problem? The brake lights are about 12” below the taillights. Assuming your eyes are not pressed up against the Bolt’s bumper and you don’t have tunnel-slit vision, how can you not see these light up when the car is braking? Plus, the center brake light should eliminate any confusion.

Edit: ok after thinking about it for a moment, I see how behind the hood of a lifted bro-dozer you can’t see much below the greenhouse of the car in front of you. I’d be curious about Bolt rear-end crash stats.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Isaac Falvey
Isaac Falvey
1 year ago

I think Jason’s point is that there are lights there and on almost every other vehicle, they would light up when the brake pedal is pushed. So people may accidentally rear end someone because they didn’t see the lights they think should light up. It’s also possible that a cop who doesn’t know any better pulls you over and says your brake lights are burnt out.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
1 year ago
Reply to  Isaac Falvey

Maybe. But, data?

Last edited 1 year ago by Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Isaac Falvey
Isaac Falvey
1 year ago

Time will tell! Not sure who would be able to gather and track this specific metric.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago

It’s really only a safety problem if you’re tailgating someone. In which case the location of the lights is not the safety problem you should be concerned about.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 year ago

I think in addition to the brodozer, in any car you would expect the red lights up in the normal-brake-light position to light up when someone breaks. So if they don’t … bang.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 year ago

Dumbassery at it’s finest.

Isaac Falvey
Isaac Falvey
1 year ago

Thanks for pointing this out. It’s the same on the regular Bolt EV, too. It was not this way on the 1st gen Bolt EV that you have in your graphic. Upper lights lit on 1st gen when braking and when the hatch was open, there were repeater lights built into the hatch opening. The 2nd gen Bolt EVs and Bolt EUVs are the ones where they moved everything except the night time taillights to the bumper, probably to save money. There are YouTube video were people are hacking the hatch wiring to have the taillamps lit when braking. But it only is effective during the day because once you turn the lights on, the upper taillamps are lit and they don’t have 2 levels of brightness on them. I think it a big safety issue. Especially now that most vehicles are SUVs and trucks.

Last edited 1 year ago by Isaac Falvey
LTDScott
LTDScott
1 year ago
Reply to  Isaac Falvey

Thanks for confirming, I swore at least *some* Bolts had normal brake lights, but didn’t realize that was only on Gen 1.

Harmanx
Harmanx
1 year ago
Reply to  Isaac Falvey

Right — the only issue with gen 1 Bolt’s brake lights is that they are ugly. I thought that was fixed with gen 2, but now know that those aren’t the brake lights anymore.

LTDScott
LTDScott
1 year ago
Reply to  Harmanx

Literally was behind a gen 1 Bolt at lunch and confirmed this. I’d post the photo I took if there was a way to do so.

10001010
10001010
1 year ago

I’m going to print some up with the arrow pointing up to place over these just for the chaos.

TheCrank
TheCrank
1 year ago

Now I want to do an entire livery with stickers/magnets that name all of the parts of the car.

Mpphoto
Mpphoto
1 year ago
Reply to  TheCrank

Check out the Kulula “Flying 101” plane. They labeled the parts of a 737.

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
1 year ago

The thing I don’t understand is, how did the regulations get so convoluted that the lights on the hatch are actively forbidden from being lighted? What, because .01% of vehicle miles might be done with the hatch up, we can’t have them light up at all? That seems to be the problem here – some ostensibly well-intentioned regulation. Yes, the drivers behind need to be able to tell if a vehicle is braking even when the hatch/trunk/etc is up. But that shouldn’t mean that you can’t put lights where a driver would expect to see them for the 99.9% of the time all of the apertures are closed.

I would much prefer to regulate against whatever the hell this is, and I am confused why especially Hyundai/Kia seem to have particularly fallen in love with it.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 year ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

NHTSA is being stupid and incompetent? I can’t believe it!

LTDScott
LTDScott
1 year ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

Are they actually forbidden though? I know the law is that you must have brake lights on a fixed part of the vehicle that are visible when the rear hatch/trunk is open, but does the law actually forbid there being redundant brake lights on the hatch/trunk too that operate like normal brake lights? I feel like I’ve seen Audi Q7s where the “normal” brake lights are on the hatch and there are redundant lights below that only operate when the hatch is open.

Isaac Falvey
Isaac Falvey
1 year ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Gen 1 Bolt EVs had these redundant lights. They got rid of them for Gen 2 EVs and EUVs probably to save money. The price did go down for the 2nd gen. Twice.

Stryker_T
Stryker_T
1 year ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

I dont think its really forbidden though, and it only doesn’t happen because of the pennies of extra cost and engineering it would take to have both of them light for braking.

bean counters gonna count.

Last edited 1 year ago by Stryker_T
Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

The thing I don’t understand is, how did the regulations get so convoluted that the lights on the hatch are actively forbidden from being lighted? 

That’s…not true? Have you seen any number of Audis or other CUVs with clamshell tailgates? They use the standard-mount taillights 90% of the time, then if the trunk is open they switch to the bumper-mount units. I think Chevy is just being dumb or cheap, it should be nothing more than a few lines of software to make it switch back and forth.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
1 year ago

Given the rising illiteracy rate in this country, they better hope someone doesn’t mistake this sticker as a command to ‘break’ the light.

Last edited 1 year ago by Canopysaurus
Rafael
Rafael
1 year ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Or to apply brakes, lightly 🙂

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
1 year ago

Seems like the different-for-different sake approach to headlights is migrating.

And just like with headlights, it seems to provide something for which no one asked and few really like.

A downside to our era of “any shape you can imagine” car parts seems to be more misses, compared to the earlier days of fewer choices but choices that were developed and/or evolved precisely because they were overall pleasing/useful hits.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago

Wow, that is terrible design. Have all the lights light up as brake lights if you must use the low-mounts. No reason not to use the expected ones.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago

“considerable time and effort and expense of designing and having custom stickers printed,”

I hope that’s sarcasm. Because I just read about some tweets from a guy that finds pumping gas difficult.

Live2ski
Live2ski
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

hopefully they are magnets and not stickers.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
1 year ago
Reply to  Live2ski

He probably spent more time and effort picking out the font than in any other part of the process.

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
1 year ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta
ADDvanced
ADDvanced
1 year ago

I was behind one of those hyundai things the other day and almost hit it, because I didn’t see his brake lights. It was stop and go traffic in the city, and my hood was covering or close to (visibly) his bumper, I was expecting brake lights up top. Why you would LOWER the most important lamp on a vehicle is beyond me, but it’s really fucking dumb and I’m surprised we don’t have government requirements against it.

Ben Novak
Ben Novak
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Yes, same here. Perhaps NHTSA will make those “Brake Lights below” stickers mandatory, or at least until car designers wise up to the fact this is a dangerous design.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Novak

The easy solution is to ban any red housings that don’t contain a functional brake light. They can keep the lowers as a backup to meet regulations about keeping lights visible when the tailgate is up, but they’ll have to spend the 50 cents to install a switch in the tailgate that turns on the bottoms when it’s open. To keep indicators consistent as well, they could mandate that they can be no more than 8″ above or below the X-axis of the brake lights.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

“If you can’t read this sticker on my bumper, you’re to F’ing close”

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Am I the only one that was taught that the closest acceptable distance to pull up behind someone else is to the point where you can still see the bottoms of their rear tires? Even in stop and go traffic.

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
1 year ago

That used to work a lot better when the majority of vehicles were broadly the same height.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
1 year ago

No, lots of people were taught that, the main issue being that that advice was always hogwash.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 year ago

So a new Silverado would have to stop 20 yards behind my Corvair. I’m ok with that.

Chance Senger
Chance Senger
1 year ago

I was taught this, but I don’t follow it to the letter any more. Rather, I feel the intent of this rule is to leave yourself room to navigate around the car in front of you if it stalls and you need to change lanes, and that distance also provides a buffer for your car to move into if you’re rear-ended at a low speed.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
1 year ago
Reply to  Chance Senger

Always leave yourself an out.
It also applies as a self defense tactic if goons try to box you in.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

“I was behind one of those hyundai things the other day and almost hit it, because I didn’t see his brake lights. It was stop and go traffic in the city, and my hood was covering or close to (visibly) his bumper, I was expecting brake lights up top”

By law every US market Hyundai since 1986 has a brake light up top. Pretty sure yours had one too.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Also I don’t think any have the brake lights in the bumper. The turn signals, yes – across the Hyundai/Kia lines, Santa Fe, Tucson, Carnival, Forte, some Telluride trims all have turn signals in the bumper.

LTDScott
LTDScott
1 year ago

This is the opposite of a “my eyes are up here” shirt.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  LTDScott

“This is the opposite of a “my eyes are up here” shirt.”

If you don’t want people to look at your shirt don’t write out a message on it.

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Yes. I’ve been given withering stares from reading a women’s shirt. It’s the equivalent of the “made you look” hand sign in elementary school.

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