Longer Nights call for Better Lights: How to Keep your Cars Lights in Top Condition


This past weekend we set our clocks back an hour and got an additional, glorious hour of sleep.  For those who did not, you wondered why nobody else was out of bed yet, and why your favorite restaurant was still serving breakfast at 11am.  After the initial benefit (or shock) of that additional hour, the realization that shorter days are upon us.  Our once dusk/afternoon commute is now a pitch black drive home every evening.  Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, state you are over 3 times more likely to have a crash at night.  One of the main (and preventable) causes of these accidents are vehicle lights that are working improperly.  Now is the time to inspect your vehicle’s lights and make sure they are working effectively.

The proverbial deer in the headlights

Most people do not realize that their lights are normal wear and tear items, and often the first indication they are malfunctioning is a headlight out, or a police officer pulling you over telling you “your taillight is out”.  Besides the obvious risk of receiving a being pulled over, if your lights aren’t working properly they can cost you much more than a ticket.  If you have a darker colored car like gray or black, your car is much harder to spot at night and improperly working lights put you at additional risk of being rear-ended.  If you live in a rural area, this season you are at very high risk of hitting a deer.  Depending where you live, you can have up to a 1 in 39 chance of hitting a deer in your lifetime (according to State Farm Insurance Company).  Bad weather, especially snow, is just around the corner and properly working lights will make a considerable difference at increasing visibility.

Now that you know some of the risks, what can be done to prevent them?

Enlist the help of a friend, family member, or car care professional, to inspect your vehicle.  The simplest test is to have someone sit in your vehicle and turn the lights on.  Shuffle the lights from bright and all the other settings, and have the outside observer confirm they are working correctly.  Once this is done have them move to the back of the vehicle and hit the brakes to check your brake lights, tail lights, and flick your turn signals or hazard lights on to make sure they are working correctly as well.  This will ensure your lights are at the very least turning on and giving some light off.

Here are a few more tips to keeping your lights working and yourself and your family safe:

  1. Keep your Lights Clean
The difference between dirty and clean lights can be quite apparent.

A layer of dirt can dim your lights and make them harder to see.  This is especially true during the winter when salt, ice, and snow can cover your lights.  Be sure to give them a good cleaning if you have any doubts.

  1. Make sure your headlights are properly aimed

If your headlights are aimed too low, they will not illuminate enough area ahead of you.  Too high, and they risk blinding other drivers and creating additional hazards.  Lights can be adjusted yourself, or take them to a trusted car care professional to have them corrected.

  1. Upgrade your headlights
An HID conversion kit. Be sure to consult a car are professional before installing.

Many people have upgraded their vehicles lights to high-intensity discharge lamps (HID).  HID lamps are much brighter than traditional lights, but also run the risk of deteriorating faster and needing adjustment more frequently.  Ask a car care professional before installing them on your vehicle.

  1. Make sure your headlights are On

This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes we do forget to turn our lights on.  Many new vehicles are equipped with modes that allow the headlights to turn on when moisture hits the windshield, or outside conditions reach a certain level of darkness.  If you have an older vehicle, you only have yourself to rely on.  Remember, even if you have the best lights in the world they aren’t doing anything if they aren’t on.  Be sure to add turning lights on as part of your car starting “ritual”.  Create a routine like “Turn the key, buckle seatbelt, turn on lights, and turn on radio” or something similar to make sure you turn those lights on.  After awhile it will become a normal habit.

If you still have any doubts about your vehicle’s lights, be sure to have your vehicle inspected by professionals like our Certified Quick Lane Technicians.  Most routine inspections are completely free!  Schedule an appointment today by clicking HERE!

NHTSA Study on night driving vs day driving 

State Farm’s deer risk data 

Court Street Ford, located at 558 William Latham Drive, is a multi-year president’s award winning dealership. We have been serving the Kankakee, Bradley, Bourbonnais area for 30 years and counting! We are committed to exceptional customer service. Stop by or give us a call at (815) 939-9600, our knowledgeable sales team and service department will be happy to help and are dedicated to providing the best experience!

About the Author:
nateNathan Frank is an internet sales consultant and the man behind Court Street Ford news since January 2015.  He has been in the car industry for several years and has an extensive knowledge of Ford products and history.

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