If you’ve ever driven a car before, you’ll know that the lighting system is a crucial component. It’s not only useful in helping to light your way across dark roads, but also to let other road users know what you’re doing, and where you’re going.
But what else is your car’s lighting system useful for? How does it all work? If you’re new to car lights in general, read on for the full lowdown. We all have to start somewhere!
Car Lighting Basics
Vehicle lighting can be very complex. That’s because there needs to be a system which can easily light the front and rear of your car, as well as which can power your signalling and hazard lights. You’ll even find some lights on the sides of your car, too.
Car lighting is an essential safety feature. You use it to light your way on busy or darkened roads. You use it to let people know when you’re turning off, and when you’re braking. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure you have working vehicle lights at all times!
How Car Lighting Works
Most car lights work through halogen bulbs. These are anti-glare and are built into plastic casings. This allows them to easily reflect out so that you can see the way ahead of you, and so that other road users can see what you are doing.
However, some cars also use xenon lighting, or High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs. HID bulbs are popular because they are higher voltage and provide up to 300% more light than average vehicle lights. They use xenon gas, too, which works by igniting at a powerful 20,000 volts! As such, they tend to last much longer than everyday halogen bulbs.
What Does Car Lighting Do?
There are different lights on your vehicle for different purposes. Firstly, your headlights, naturally, sit at the front of your car. They fit just above the bumper and work through your car’s battery and power supply. You can control them through your dashboard while driving. Working on a simple circuit, you send a signal for the battery to switch the lights on and – as if by magic – they power up!
You also have indicator lights. This lighting is crucial for keeping safe on the roads, as they tell other people when you are turning off. These fit on the rear of your car, and also work in tandem with indicator lights on the sides of your vehicle. Therefore, anyone on the road from any angle can see where you intend to go. Similarly to headlights, these power up through your central battery.
Brake lights, of course, are crucial safety features. On the rear of the car, these will light up to tell drivers behind you that you are braking. If you don’t warn other road users you are doing this, you could cause a serious accident. This allows them to take their time to take appropriate action.
You’ll also have spotlights or fog lights. These high beam lights are useful, of course, for cutting through thick fog. However, they’re generally useful when there is little to no visibility on the road. This might be when there is heavy weather for example, such as during a blizzard. As high beam lights, they are very intense. Therefore, you should only ever use them when necessary. Otherwise, you may end up dazzling other road users! Again, this could cause an accident, so be very careful.
There’s also interior lighting in all vehicles. These are smaller lights on your dashboard, which are just as crucial to your car’s safety. They let you know when you are low on fuel, when there is a problem with your car, and help you check your mileage and speed.
What Happens if My Car Lighting Breaks Down?
Don’t panic. Your car lighting is essential, which means that as soon as you notice a problem, you should pull in if you are on the road. What’s more, you will fail an MOT instantly if you have lights which work incorrectly or which are broken.
The first thing you should do if you think your lighting is faulty is to check your bulbs. Sometimes, light bulbs will fail simply because it’s time to change them. However, if you are using HID lights, or if the problem doesn’t go away after changing, there may be an electrical fault. You can fix these on your own, but it is never recommended. Make sure you contact a service centre as soon as possible.
Don’t worry if you have faulty car lighting! The best thing you can do right now is to check the bulbs and to approach and expert as a priority. Otherwise, you could end up facing bigger problems in the long run.