A Basic Understanding of your Vehicles Lights

We’ve all seen the random car driving down the road at dusk with one headlight glaring at us and the driver completely oblivious to the fact that they have a light out. How are they supposed to know it’s out if the interior signal doesn’t work or if they don’t have one? Here’s how to keep from being that person.

Knowing your Lights

Each new breed of car seems to come with another set of lights with its own purpose, making it sometimes confusing for vehicle owners to keep track of and maintain these vital components to night driving. Here’s an overview of the types of exterior lights that you may have on your vehicle.

  • High Beam – The high beam bulb is usually located closest to the center of the vehicle on the front. This light is for traffic less dark country roads that may not have any other light sources.
  • Low Beam – Low beam bulbs are for every day driving. These are the lamps that illuminate for day runners, as well as when driving at night.

  • Fog Lamps – Fog lamps are generally placed low to the ground in the front bumper. This type of bulb is positioned low so that it can provide light to the ground beneath fog and weather to provide better vision without reflecting back in the driver’s face.
  • Turn Signals – Although it seems that quite a few people have forgotten how to use these in the course of their day, this light is located on the outer corner of the bumper or fender on both the front and back of the vehicle. Newer model vehicles also have turn signals in the side view mirrors to make them more visible to someone who may be in the blind spot. These lights are to signal to

    those around you that you are intending to make a lane change or turn.

  • Break Lights – Brake lights vary in number and location depending on the age and style of the vehicle. Newer cars have additional break lights in the back window and on some vehicles on the side view mirrors. There should be break lights positioned at each corner of the vehicles fenders in the back, as well. When these bulbs are illuminated it means the car is breaking.
  • License Plate Light – This easy to miss gem is located in the bumper’s license plate frame and is intended for illuminating the license plate. Believe it or not, you can still receive a fix-it ticket in some places for this bulb being burned out.

Check Lights Regularly

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, here’s how to check if you have a bulb out. Most cars come with a signal and dash icon that lets you know you have a burned out bulb. This indicator could be a dash icon, or simply that hyperactive turn signal flash that leaves us bewildered as to what it is attempting to tell us. In addition to these indicators you should periodically turn on your lights when the car is in park and do a visual inspection of your vehicles exterior lights to see if there are excessively dim, or burned out lamps. You will need an assistant or strategically placed mirrors to check the break lights.