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A Breakdown of Your Car’s Lights: Part 2

car lights in traffic

If we asked you where your fog lights were on your dashboard, are you confident you’d be able to find them? We know it may seem silly to question because everyone should know where their car lights are, right?

Although it’s easy to assume that most people know the many different types of car lights there are (and equally important, when to use them), not everyone is fully aware of where and how to use the right lights at the right time.

To ensure the safety of yourself and others, it’s essential to know about each of your lights, how to use them properly, and how to maintain them. So, we are here today bringing you part 2 of our lights topic at Novus! You can go back and read part one here, where we cover all things dashboard lights related!

Let us drive you through the many different car lights there are, where to find them, and when to use them!

The Many Different Car Lights

1. Low Beam Headlights

There are two types of headlights; low beam and high beam.

These white lights allow us to see the roadway in the dark while also signalling to other motorists that we are present on the road. Low beam lights are used to show others we’re on the road without excessive glare and help us navigate our way along the road in the dark.

Not only are low beam headlights used when driving in the dark, but they can also be used while driving through the rain to help you see in front of you and to signal to other drivers that you are on the road.


2. Tail Lights

Tail lights are required to produce only red lights at the rear of the vehicle and are wired to illuminate whenever the headlights are on.

These lights are used as indicators to help other drivers estimate where you are in relation to the road and the distance between you and other drivers. Without them, you’d be invisible on the road, especially through harsh weather conditions with fog, heavy rain, and even darkness.

3. Daytime Running Lights

Did you know that there are cars with lights that are used even during the day time? Found at the front and rear of the car, these lights turn on automatically when the car is switched on. In most cars, although they turn on automatically, most lights need to be manually turned off when the car is turned off.

Designed to make drivers more visible, they can contribute to road safety. However, some drivers may find them distracting in oncoming cars. These are more typical in newer models.

4. Fog Lights

The infamous fog lights. We’ve all heard of them, but how many of us know where they are?

If you take a close look at the lights at the front of your car, you’ll see that the fog lights are placed low, so the light shining onto the fog doesn’t reflect and glare back towards you while you are driving.

When Should They Be Used?

Fog lights should only be used during fog when your regular headlights aren’t effective.

If you are driving through fog and you can’t see further than 100m with your regular headlights, it’s a sign that you should turn your fog lights on.

5. Signal Lights

Known as indicators or blinkers, signal lights let the cars around you know where you intend to go, either turning right or left at a stop sign or round-a-bout, and are located on the same switch.

Mounted at both the front and back of the car, these orange lights indicate to other drivers that you will be turning soon.

Signal lights are always needed, and if they are faulty or don’t work, it could cause an accident because the drivers in front of you or behind you may not know that you’re turning and can cause an accident. So, if you notice that one or both of your signal lights aren’t working, get them fixed immediately.

Novus signal light

6. Brake Lights

Found next to your rear lights, the red brake lights are used to indicate to other drivers that you’re slowing down or coming to a stop.

Brake lights help communicate with the drivers travelling behind you. Without them, it’s far more difficult to anticipate and spot the car in front, slowing down or preparing to stop at a moment’s notice.

Essentially, our brake lights are our little guardian angels that help prevent rear-end collisions.

Since they’re only activated when you use the brakes, you don’t need to worry about misusing them. But make sure you properly maintain them so they do not burn out. Like your signal lights, if your brake lights aren’t working, other drivers won’t know when you intend to slow down or stop, and it can cause an accident.

7. Hazard Lights

Hazard lights are easy to spot on your dash as it looks like one red triangle in a bigger red triangle. When you activate the hazard lights, both the front and back lights of the vehicle flash.

When hazard lights are turned on, they admit a flashing signal to warn other drivers that they’re experiencing a problem, are in distress, or warning of immediate danger (rocks on the road, slow funeral procession etc.).

When Should They Be Used?

When it comes to hazard lights, you have to use them appropriately. Only use them when you are warning other drivers of traffic problems or distress.

You can also use hazard lights when your car has come to a complete stop because you’ve been in an accident, are broken down, or have been forced to stop.

Do not use hazard lights when you stop for a period of time waiting to pick someone up or when you’re trying to park illegally.

8. Interior Car Lights

Interior car lights are located where you’d guess, inside the car and can be used for a range of purposes.

Interior car lights are used to brighten the interior of the vehicle in the circumstances such as checking directions on a map or finding an item in the dark. They can come in handy, especially when you are in a dark area with no street lights.

When Should They Be Used?

You can use your driving lamps whenever you need some assistance in seeing the surroundings in your car. We suggest you do this while you’re stationary, as fiddling with maps, the glove box, or your sat nav while driving is a safety risk.

If a passenger requires to temporarily use the driving lamps while you are driving, they should never be used for long periods as it’s distracting not only to your driver and makes it difficult to drive at night, but it’s also distracting for other drivers on the road.

9. High Beam Headlights

Unlike low beam headlights, high beams are extremely bright and are only to be used at night time when you can’t see further than 100m, ensuring you turn them off when another car is approaching.

Not only are high beams brighter than low beams, but they are also placed to face inwards to help you navigate the road better, whereas low beam lights face outwards to help you see your surroundings too.

high beam lights car

When Should They Be Used?

As mentioned above, high beams should only be used when driving at night on unlit roads and when there are no oncoming cars. As soon as you see the lights from an oncoming car, turn your high beams off to avoid blinding them. As soon as the car has driven past, then you can turn your high beams back on.

Which Lights Should You Use In Different Weather Conditions?

Which Lights Should You Use In the Fog?

Explicitly designed to help drivers during foggy weather, fog lights are recommended to be used in these circumstances.

When it comes to driving in fog, it can be hard to adjust. So if you’re struggling to see in front of you, be sure to turn on your fog lights for your safety as well as other drivers.

Which Lights Should You Use In The Rain?

Which lights you use in the rain all depends on your visibility.

If it’s easy for you to see more than 100m ahead of you even in the rain, it’s recommended that you have your low beam headlights on to signal to other drivers where you are on the road, but it’s not compulsory.

However, if the rain is so torrential that you can’t see 100m in front of you, then you need to turn on your low beam headlights so drivers can see you and so you can see the road.

If visibility is very poor, you can also turn on your fog lights, but remember to turn them off as visibility improves as you can blind oncoming drivers.

As you can see, many different types of car lights are used for various purposes, time of day, and visibility/weather conditions.

Did you recognise all of these lights? Or did our guide help you brush up on the descriptions to match the purpose with the name of the lights?

At Novus, we pride ourselves on knowing all there is to know about car lights and are happy to help you learn which lights are best suited for different circumstances and environments.

If you’d like to learn more about car lights, don’t hesitate to talk to the team today.

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