Headlights on the car: seven tips for driving in the dark

Im Drive to work in the dark – and come home in the dark: If you don’t work from home in autumn and winter, you as a driver almost automatically reach for the light switch several times a day.

With these tricks and tips, drivers can get through the dark season well.

1. Properly handle cars with a light sensor

The handle on the switch also applies to cars with a light sensor. Although this automatically switches on the low beam in the dark, it often has problems with difficult lighting conditions.

“Especially in autumn when there is fog, the automatic light system reacts with a delay or not at all because the sensitive light sensor is irritated by the brightly reflecting drops,” says technical expert Marcel Mühlich from Auto Club Europa (ACE). “That’s why drivers should switch the automatic system off and switch the lights on manually.”

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In addition, some do not know that daytime running lights only light up at the front, but the taillights are switched off. “In cloudy and dim lighting conditions, it is therefore better to switch on the dipped headlights early so that traffic behind you can see the vehicle.” The headlights are also better able to shine continuously when driving through wooded areas with rapidly changing light conditions.

When traveling abroad, other rules often apply. In Denmark, Norway, Latvia and Bulgaria, for example, the dipped headlights must also be switched on during the day.

2. Use fog lights sensibly

Fog lights on the car are not mandatory, but helpful. “However, they can only be used in poor weather conditions such as rain, fog or snowfall,” says Mühlich.

In addition, it is best to switch on the parking lights and not the low beam or high beam. Since the fog lights tend to spread their light broadly and are usually deep, the fine water droplets dazzle the driver less. However, they do not shine far, so the speed should be greatly reduced.

If the fog visibility is less than 50 meters, a maximum speed of 50 applies. Only then may the rear fog light be switched on. If it is already active when visibility is better, there is a risk of a fine of at least 20 euros. The delineator posts on the edge of roads and motorways, which are usually 50 meters apart, serve as a guide.

3. Strict requirements for auxiliary lights

Not all headlights and lights are approved for use on cars. According to the law, the lighting equipment of a car – i.e. lamps, lights, headlights, spotlights, indicators and taillights – must have a type approval for the respective vehicle and must also be used in accordance with the type approval, explains Thorsten Rechtien from Tüv Rheinland.

A headlight must therefore not simply be retrofitted or converted, the lamps must fit into the respective headlight and have an E-mark.

There are strict requirements for auxiliary lights. In addition to the two permitted main headlights, for example, four – instead of two – high beam headlights may be installed, but only in pairs and symmetrically to the vehicle’s longitudinal axis. At the rear, owners of older vehicles can also install daytime running lights.

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Conduct in traffic

Bright work lights on the roof of a car, like some off-road vehicles or SUVs, are not subject to type approval, but different rules.

According to law, so-called work lights for illuminating work equipment and workplaces must not be able to be used while driving: “Certain switching regulations must prevent this. Unless the journey is part of the work process. ”Underfloor lamps or other light-emitting diodes on the vehicle are also prohibited.

4. It is better not to screw in any other lamps

In the case of conversion kits that convert from conventional H7 headlights to LED headlights, Rechtien warns to be careful: “If these retro-fits do not have a type approval for the respective vehicle type and headlight, they must not be used because the vehicle’s operating license is no longer valid.”

At a police check you have to expect a report, at the main inspection the cars fail the inspection with significant defects.

5. Use the free light test

Michael Neuburger, as a master mechanic and press spokesman for the Gifhorn motor vehicle guild, advises having the lighting system checked in autumn. “Modern headlamp systems with their electronic components can no longer simply be adjusted mechanically, but are adjusted electronically,” says Neuburger. “Only specialist vehicle workshops or testing organizations can do that.”

Let there be light: Tips for driving in the dark season

So that drivers arrive safely in the dark season, they should have the lighting system checked regularly

Source: dpa-tmn / Nicolas Armer

Since 1956 there has been the campaign light test in October in workshops nationwide. It shows defects and incorrect settings on the lighting system quickly and free of charge. The mechanics then also find defects in around a quarter of the vehicles examined.

6. Care for the lights – but the right one

Headlights and taillights do not require any special care. It is sufficient if they are cleaned with a regular vehicle wash. Depending on the outside temperature, headlights can fog up from the inside.

This often happens due to large temperature differences, a defective ventilation system or incorrectly installed light sources, says Neuburger. He then advises simply switching on the headlights so that the moisture can escape due to the heat build-up.

Let there be light: Tips for driving in the dark season

Headlights do not need special care, but in winter it may be necessary to clean them and the rear lights more often

Source: dpa-tmn / Christin Klose

Blind reflectors inside the headlamp should be replaced by the workshop, as should matt and milky glasses. Tüv expert Rechtien, on the other hand, considers other means that are available against dull or blind headlights to be dangerous: “On the one hand, they change the surface of the glass so that the type approval expires. On the other hand, the effect does not last long. “

7. Pay attention to the correct lighting when buying a new one

When buying a new car, the ACE expert Mühlich recommends LED headlights with a matrix function. The cars drive permanently with high beam, but individual segments of the LED matrix are temporarily darkened when there is oncoming traffic so that they are not dazzling.

“The Matrix LED systems are more expensive than normal LED headlights, but they illuminate the road optimally without dazzling oncoming traffic,” says Mühlich. So the dark time is at least a little bit bright.



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