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10 Different Types of Lights on a Car (with Pictures)

Car headlights

If you own a car, you know there are several types of lights that you may need to change if they burn out. So, it can be helpful to learn about the different types beforehand so you can be ready if you need one. If this sounds like your situation, keep reading as we look at all of the different types of lights that you will find in your vehicle.

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The 10 Types of Lights on a Car

1. Headlights

Car headlight
Image Credit: Car headlight by wilkernet, Pixabay
  • Uses: Seeing oncoming traffic

Headlights enable the driver to see in front of the car at night, with high beams and low beams. High beams are bright and positioned high so you can see far into the distance. Low beams have a low position that enables you to see in front of you without blinding any oncoming traffic. You typically use high beams in rural areas, where there is no oncoming traffic, to help spot deer and other dangers from farther away. Low beams are for city driving and oncoming traffic. Headlights must operate properly at all times, or the police can fine you.

2. Taillights

mazda 3 taillight
Image Credit: ulleo, Pixabay
  • Uses: Signaling traffic

Taillights are the red lights that turn on anytime you turn on the headlights. They do not help you see better, but they alert any traffic behind you of the existence of your vehicle, and drivers can gauge your speed and distance more accurately.

3. Daytime Running Lights

Daytime Running Lights - 2012 Audi A4 Quattro (7590861064)
Daytime Running Lights – 2012 Audi A4 Quattro (7590861064) (Image Credit: Michael Sheehan. Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)
  • Uses: Signaling traffic and pedestrians

Daytime running lights are lights on your car that do not help you see better, but they alert others to your presence. These lights turn on automatically in many cars, but others enable you to adjust them manually. These are controversial lights that some oncoming drivers find distracting. But law enforcement and other agencies recommend them so you can be more visible in construction sites and other dangerous areas. They can also help prevent you from getting surprised by sudden darkness, like entering a tunnel or a heavy rainstorm.

4. Fog Lights

Front fog lights of Ford Focus Mk I
Front fog lights of Ford Focus Mk I (Image Credit: Frettie, Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 Unported)
  • Uses: Driving in fog

Fog lights are not standard and not all cars have them. However, they are a good choice for many people, especially if you live in an area that frequently experiences heavy fog. These lights have a special design and are mounted low, so the light doesn’t reflect off the fog into your eyes. These lights can help you see better in heavy fog than standard lights, but they are not effective headlights in good weather, so drivers usually shut them off when they don’t need them.

5. Blinkers

  • Uses: Signaling traffic

Blinkers are essential lights located in the front and back of the car that alert traffic in all directions of your intentions to turn one way or another. It’s the law in most states to use these blinkers when making a turn, so they must work properly at all times. Luckily, these lights are usually inexpensive and easy to change.

6. Brake Lights

brake light
Image Credit: ArtisticOperations, Pixabay
  • Uses: Signaling traffic

Brake lights are an important pair of lights that you can find in the same place as your taillights, though some cars have an additional brake light in the back window. These lights only illuminate when you press the brake pedal, which alerts drivers behind you that your car is slowing down. Brake lights must operate properly at all times to keep the car legal.

7. Hazard Lights

Hazard warning flasher button
Hazard warning flasher button (Image Credit: Santeri Viinamäki, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
  • Uses: Signaling traffic

Hazard lights aren’t a unique set of lights. Instead, hazard lights make use of the car’s blinkers. It flashes all four at the same time to signal traffic in all directions that your car is not functioning properly and you might make sudden turns or stops. Hazard lights can also indicate dangerous driving conditions or an accident ahead. You usually turn your hazard lights on using a separate control on the dashboard.

8. Driving Lamps

  • Uses: Internal lighting

Driving lamps and lights are found inside the vehicle. Traditionally, the driving lamp was the dome light that turns on when you open the door or need to read a map. However, modern vehicles have driving lamps in the doors and other places in the vehicle that help make it easier to enter and exit.

9. Interior Utility

  • Uses: trunk, glovebox, and console storage lighting

Interior utility lights are those in the glove box, which can help you find anything you keep in there, such as your license and registration. They align with the lighting in your trunk and any other compartmental lighting. They are similar to driving lamps and might be interchangeable in some car models.

10. Dash Lighting

Dash Lighting
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay
  • Uses: Dash lighting and display

Dash lighting is in the dashboard itself, and you access it through the engine or from below. We recommend hiring a qualified technician to fix this type of lighting unless you have experience. Older cars used simple lights to illuminate a mechanical speedometer, but modern vehicles rely heavily on computer technology.

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Which Vehicle Lights Are Mandatory?

The vehicle lights that the law requires you to have are your headlights, brake lights, taillights, and blinkers. Many states also have laws governing the use of lights, requiring you to use headlights from sundown to sunrise, during rainstorms, etc.

What Lights Are Elective?

Fog lights are elective lights and are not standard on most vehicles. Daytime running lights are also elective, though many laws require you to use headlights during the day. Driving lights will keep you compliant and eliminate the guesswork. You are not required by law to keep your interior lights working, though they are quite helpful in many situations.

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Your car uses many different types of lights for many different functions, and almost all of them are essential. For example, to keep the car on the road without getting pulled over, you’ll need to keep your headlights, taillights, blinkers, and brake lights operating correctly. The other lights may not be mandatory, but they will increase your safety and make traveling more comfortable.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

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