Volvo Cars Tampa- Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)


What is a Bulb Failure Position Light?

You have joined the ranks of other Volvo owners who came looking for answers to the quizzical bulb failure position light message displayed on your instrument cluster. A bulb failure position light message on your dash usually indicates a faulty position light on the exterior of your vehicle. By the end of this article, you will understand what this message means, what you can do about it, and how to advise the repair professional if your vehicle is serviced elsewhere. Like any useful article, we will provide you a little bit of background, theory, and practical strategies that just about anyone can implement*. Regardless of your model, whether it's an S60, S80, XC70, XC90, V70, or anything in between, this guide has you covered.

What Is A Car Position Light?

Simply put, a position light marks a position (or portion) of a vehicle in such a manner as to alert another party of its presence. Ships have them. Planes have them. Tall buildings have them. Lightning towers and large antennas have them. Usually these position lights mark the outer extremities of an object, vessel or vehicle so that others may see them. As automotive lighting has evolved, so has the definition of a position light because the lights themselves have become more complicated in design and functionality. To thicken the plot, you may have also heard of position lights referred to as driving lights, fog lights, day-time running lights, ghost lights, follow lights, repeaters, side markers, illuminators, and identification lights (among others). No matter what you call them or where they are located on a vehicle or vessel, a position light is a safety feature designed to enhance the visibility of your vehicle to an on-looker.

Why Does A Bulb Failure Position Light Come On?

Here's the part where you proudly gain the knowledge of an electrical engineer. Or at least enough information to wow your friends later at dinner. The Bulb Failure Position Light message will come on when one or more of these position lights have failed due to a blown bulb, connection issue, wiring issue, or computer issue. Basically, when you turn on your vehicle's lights, much like any light in your home, electrical current flows from a source, through wiring, through the switch (which completes the circuit) to the device (in this case the bulb) and in general, to the end of the circuit (commonly called a ground). When your vehicle detects a break in the flow of this current, your Bulb Failure Position light comes on.


How To Perform A Visual Inspection And Resolve Faulty Position Lights

When you are in a safe location, with an unobstructed view of your vehicle, you can begin. You may wish to perform the following steps in a low-light area such as a garage, but it is not 100% necessary as position lights are meant to be seen during the day.

  • Step 1: With your vehicle in "accessory" mode, the power-position right before your engine runs, you are ready to perform an exterior inspection. If your Volvo has a physical key, accessory mode is ignition position 2. If your Volvo has a smartkey and push-button start, place the smartkey in the center console and without your foot on the brake, push the push-button start. Neither of these positions will start the car, but will turn it on as to power accessories such as the radio, windows, and lights.
  • Step 2: Walk around your vehicle. Take careful note of your front fenders, bumper corners, headlights, tail lights, fog lights, license plate lights or door handle lights (if equipped). Your car is symmetrical; lights are located on the same area on both sides of the car. So if you notice a light that is on, on one side only, you can return to the other side to easily identify the faulty bulb.
  • Step 3: If you have a hand-held OBDII scanner, even a basic one, it may actually tell you the physical location of the faulty light when you plug it into your vehicle's OBDII port (usually found on the driver's side footwell area).
  • Step 4: Remove faulty bulb. Inspect sockets and wiring for integrity. Depending which bulb is at fault, you may be able to get it by hand, or with basic tools. Some bulbs, embedded in fenders with no apparent access, are best left to the professional. In general, if one side is bad, the other side is going. Change BOTH. When you install new bulbs, it is always best to touch a dab of automotive di-electric grease to the contacts. It offers all-weather protection and is anti-corrosive.

At this point, with bulbs changed, turn your vehicle off, and then back on to accessory mode. The Bulb Failure Position Light message will clear on its own. If it is no longer present, you can consider it a job well-done. But wait. Gasp. Horror. The message is still there. No worries, here's what to do:

  • Step 6: Repeating Step 1, make sure you didn't miss any bulbs, that the bulbs were installed correctly, and that you used the correct bulbs. If this resolves the issue, nice work! If not….
  • Step 7: If you are absolutely certain that the repair has been carried out correctly and the Bulb Failure Position light is still on, you can investigate a connector issue. This means that the socket itself is bad, or the wires leading into it. If you are comfortable with electrical repairs, you might be able to resolve this. If you have made it this far into the inspection, the issue should be obvious. A broken contact point, a frayed wire, a burnt socket, or loose wiring.

If you have carried out the correct repair procedure for all of the above and the problem still persists, it's time to pay a visit to your authorized Volvo service center. With you having done your due diligence, call ahead for an appointment and let us know how far you made it! Often-times, with an appointment, this can be an in-and-out service. We hope you have found this article useful and look forward to enhancing your Volvo ownership experience!

If you're struggling to locate or change a position light on on your Volvo, find the owners manual specific to your vehicle on the Volvo website.

*This is for information only. Please consult your owners manual and seek the guidance of a trained professional. We recommend that you visit your local Volvo Cars dealer's Service Department.