Car Headlights and Side Lights Explained

Car Exterior Lights Explained: Are My Headlights and Side Lights Correctly Adjusted?

Car Headlights and Side Lights Explained

On a recent cross country journey from Salisbury back to Leicester, I was amazed at how many cars had headlights and side lights which were either faulty or poorly adjusted.

Some had only one side light or headlight working. Others had one dim headlight and one bright one. Then there were the badly adjusted headlights, with on one pointing skywards and the other one normal. I saw rear high intensity fog lights switched on in clear conditions.

I saw dual filament side and brake light bulbs fitted incorrectly. You’ll spot this very quickly where one side light is brighter than the other. Dual filament lights are low intensity when switched on as side lights, and become brighter when the brake is applied. If yours are fitted incorrectly, the brighter intensity light will be on as side lights which means they won’t activate when you hit the brakes. And you definitely want drivers behind you to know you’re braking!

Your vehicle’s exterior lights are a crucial safety feature in low light. Any of these issues is distracting and potentially dangerous for both oncoming and following vehicles, as well as you and your passengers.

What To Do Before You Drive

Have you ever checked your car’s exterior lights before you set off driving in low light? A quick check can let you know in a minute if there are any issues with your headlights and side lights.

First, switch on all your lights and have a walk around the vehicle before you set off and ask yourself:

  1. Do both headlights look equal?
  2. Is the luminosity of your headlights the same brightness?
  3. Are the beams pointing the the same direction?
  4. Is the luminosity of your side lights equal?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then your headlights or side lights will need adjusting for safe driving.

Check Your Headlight Adjuster

Are My Headlights and Side Lights Correctly Adjusted?
This is an example of what the headlight tilt adjuster might look like on your dashboard.

The headlight adjuster is a small wheel which you will generally find on the right of the dashboard. With a light load, this should be set to 0.

However, if the car is heavy at the back, perhaps you have a full back seat or a boot-full of luggage, this will weigh the rear of the car down and tip the front up causing your headlights to shine upwards. You should adjust the lights until they hit the road rather than dazzle oncoming traffic or the driver in front of you.

What To Do While Driving

Make Sure Your Headlights are Dipped for Normal Driving

If you can see the rear lights of the car in front, or an oncoming vehicle, your own headlights should be dipped so that you don’t dazzle and blind the driver in front.

This is especially important if you have a modern car with high power LED headlights.

Check Your Fog Light Status

Know where your fog light indicator is on the dashboard and check this is only lit in foggy conditions.

Something Wrong With Your Car’s Head Lights or Side Lights?

In next month’s blog, we will cover how to change the bulbs for your car’s headlights and side lights correctly.

If you’ve spotted an issue with your headlights and side lights, don’t know what to do, and want this problem fixed before the next blog, then come and see us and we can sort out your car lighting issues. You can get in touch via the contact form or give us a call on either of these numbers: 0116 3190 118 or mobile 07850 881 911.

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