Vehicle Lights

The Lights on Your Car and How to Use Them

In order to pass your Drivers License you need to be able to identify the vehicles lights as well as the function and use of each. This supposedly ensure road safety, but unfortunately many drivers forget these mandatory skills after they have taken their test, putting all road users in harms way.

Vehicle Lights

Different types of lights:

Daylight running lights

Not to be confused with the low beams, daytime running lights are designed to make you more visible to other drivers. They usually consist of lights at the front and rear of your car which can turn on automatically when you start the engine. Local legislation may be different, but in general a modern car is configured to meet the local requirements.

Low beam headlights / dipped headlights

Unlike full beams (see next section), low beams (or dipped headlights) give enough light to show you where you are going without excessive glare that could dazzle oncoming drivers. Low beams are essential when driving at night, but they have also been proved to improve visibility and safety when used during the day, for example during adverse weather (rain, snow, sleet or fog), just after sunrise and just before sunset or when you are overtaking another vehicle. This is because during these times it can be more difficult to see other vehicles.

Full beam headlights

Just like the low beam headlights, full beam headlights help the driver to see the road in the dark. It also signals to other drivers where you are. Full beam headlights give an intense, centre-weighted distribution of light with a lot of glare. For this reason, they should only be used when it is difficult to see and there are no other cars visible in any direction, or you are at least 150m from oncoming traffic and need the full beams to see the road.

It is important to turn your full beams off in certain situations to avoid the risk of blinding or distracting oncoming traffic. This includes when cars are approaching you, even if they are on the other side of the motorway divider; in fog as light reflection can make it difficult for you to see; and on curves, on hills and at junctions as you have no way of telling if another car is coming towards you.

Fog lights

Fog limits drivers visibility so it is important to know how and when to use fog lights. Fog lights with their unique flat and wide beam shape, are usually placed low on the front of the car, near the front bumper. The beam’s shape cuts through the fog to light up the surface of the road, while the position avoids light being reflected back and dazzling the driver. Cars also have at least one rear fog light to help other drivers spot your car. As fog lights are so strong they can distract other drivers, so they should only be used during fog or snow (but not in the rain) when normal headlights are ineffective.


Taillights are the red lights on the rear of your car that turn on automatically whenever your headlights are on. They let drivers coming up behind you know that you’re there and how far ahead you are.

Signal lights / indicators

Signal lights, also known as turn signals, indicators or blinkers, are located at the front and back of the car. Signal lights can also be found on your side mirrors. They are used to let other drivers know you are planning to turn and will probably need to slow down to turn.

Brake lights

Your brake lights tell other drivers that you’re slowing down or stopping. It’s not uncommon to see a car with one brake light out but as you’re usually the one driving your car, it’s not surprising that it can take weeks or even months before you realize that a brake light needs replacing! It is wise to ask someone to help you check your brake lights are working by standing behind your car while you apply the brakes. You should do this preferably once a week.

A faulty brake light is dangerous so it is important to replace a faulty bulb straight away because it’s vital that the cars driving behind you can tell when you’re slowing down, especially if you have to stop suddenly, but because they only turn on when you apply the brakes, you don’t need to worry about when to use them.

Hazard lights

Your signal lights are also used as hazard lights, also known as flashers or hazard warning lights. When the hazard lights are turned on, they flash to warn other drivers of distress or traffic problems or when you are driving on a motorway or dual carriage way. For example, to warn other drivers of a hazard on the road ahead, when you have stopped and are causing a temporary obstruction or have broken down. They should not be used when you temporarily park or if your car is being towed.

Interior lights

Also known as driving lamps, these lights are useful for checking a map or directions or to find something in the dark. They shouldn’t be used when driving as they can distract the driver.

How to know when there is fault with your lights:

It’s crucial to receive regular maintenance on your electrical and lighting system to keep your vehicle in working order and stay safe on the road. Reasons for electric system fails include improper fitting pins, broken switches, loose wiring, and problematic connections. Wires can jolt loose during a rough drive, or during impact of an accident. Your vehicle wiring could already be loose if you’ve purchased a car second hand, and the electrical system wasn’t properly maintained or diagnosed before the sale. There’s also the regular wear and tear that a vehicle takes over time, which is why your wiring should checked annually. 

There are many signs that your electrical and lighting system needs repair. Flickering headlights, lights that are uneven and more dim on one side, unresponsive dash lights, trouble getting started, and low fuel economy are all warnings that it’s time to make an appointment with your Auto Repair Specialist. 

It’s important to seek help as soon as possible when you encounter an apparent problem. The longer an electrical issue is left to fester, the more damage it can cause to your vehicle. Long term electrical damage can short many sections of your vehicle’s wiring, requiring a costlier fix in the end.

All lights depend on the electrical and lightning system of your vehicle. When things star working irregularly or stops working it is time to have an Auto Repair Specialist run diagnostics. Find professional service providers 24/7 in the Auto Repair Directory


Posted on Sep 23, 2020 by Auto Repair Directory

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