Victoria Car & Vehicle Maintenance - Lighting - Headlights & Brakelights
An important safety concern is visibility: your ability to see objects and people around you while driving.. More traffic accidents occur at night than during the day, and a US study showed that approximately 2,300 pedestrians are killed each year because drivers' couldn't see them at night.
In Saskatchewan and several other Canadian provinces, car headlights must be kept on whenever a car is driven (it helps improve car visibility on dusty side roads). It's also a proven safety measure and already is the law for two wheeled vehicles to automatically turn on lights with the ignition switch.
Maintaining your car's headlights can make nighttime driving safer. Ideally, your headlights should be:
- Clean - Give them a quick scrub when you wash your windows at the gas station.
- Aimed properly - Headlight aim can often be knocked out of position by driving off-road or over potholes, which may contribute to unsafe nighttime driving conditions.
- Free of road chips, condensation and surface scratches - These reduce visibility and increase glare
Your brake lights are important signals to other drivers about your intention to stop, so it's important to ensure they are working properly. Surprisingly, there's better than a 55% chance they're NOT, according to one American survey by an auto club, and was the most prevalent mechanical discrepancy found. The typical problem was just a burned out bulb.
The best way to check your lighting systems is to have one person turn on the headlights, the emergency flashers and turn signals and apply the brakes while someone else walks around the vehicle to see that everything is working.
It's also a good habit during every gas fill-up to walk-around check for dirt (and in winter, ice) on all lenses, front and rear. To help maintain cleanliness you can apply a water-resistant glass treatment which can help repel rain, sleet, and snow.
You should replace your headlights before they burn out can be a good idea. When a headlight burns out, visibility is reduced and the safety of driver, passengers, pedestrians, and other cars is affected. Some drivers even keep spare bulbs in their glove compartment or trunk..
You can enhance night-time visibility by installing high performance replacement headlight bulbs. Halogen bulbs burn significantly whiter and brighter than traditional bulbs.
Another common lighting problem is found on vehicles with separate lighting units for the high and low beams. Because the high beam lamps are replaced less often, the lenses suffer from years of damage from pebbles and road debris. Eventually hairline cracks develop and moisture leaks inside, corroding the reflector, significantly reducing the effective brightness of the high beams.