When Should You Dim Your Headlights?
Unless you’re the host of the year-end parties, it’s pretty likely you’re going to take the road in the next few days. At this time, the best option is to flee the congestion and seek alternate schedules to get where you need, which means that it may be better to travel late at night — or before the Sun wakes up.
In the last few days walking through the highways of my region at these most convenient times, I noticed a lot of people with unregulated, burnt or worn headlights in the wrong way. So it seems like a good time to talk about the lights of the cars, how to use them correctly and how to ensure that everything is working.
For starters, let’s take a look at the basics, like the correct names and concepts of every light and lighthouse. Remember that some cars are not equipped with auxiliary lights, just headlights with a high and low torch. Annex I to the Brazilian transit code defines the lights of the vehicles as follows:
- High light – light of the vehicle intended to illuminate the pathway up to a large distance of the vehicle.
- Low light – light of the vehicle intended to illuminate the route in front of the vehicle, without causing unjustified obfuscation or nuisance to drivers and other users of the pathway that come in the opposite direction.
- Brake Light – vehicle light intended to indicate the other users of the road, which are behind the vehicle, which the driver is applying the service brake.
- Direction indicator light (blinker or arrow) – Light of the vehicle intended to indicate to other users of the pathway that the driver has the purpose of switching right or left direction.
- Backward light – the light of the vehicle intended to illuminate behind the vehicle and warn other users of the way that the vehicle is performing or to the point of conducting a reverse maneuver.
- Fog Light – vehicle light intended to increase the lighting of the pathway in case of fog, heavy rain or clouds of dust.
- Position Light (lantern or Pingo) – light of the vehicle intended to indicate the presence and width of the vehicle.
Low light is mandatory in the absence of sunlight or all the time if you are on highways. In practice, that means sunset at sunrise, but nothing prevents you from using during the day in the city or in rain. It is also a good idea to use it in closed parking lots of malls, supermarket, condominiums and suchlike.
The high light should be used only on where there is no lighting and when there is no vehicle ahead or in the opposite direction. The long-distance auxiliary headlamps, also called a mile marker, are included in this definition and should be used as a complement to the High lighthouse. Never use the lighthouses in sections where there is public lighting: In addition to being forbidden, obfuscate and confuse the other drivers.
Warning lights should only be used in emergencies, immobilizations, sudden stops or when signaling determines. Contrary to what many people imagine, the warning lights do not annul the transit law for the driver to park on corners, double line, etc.
The position lights (also called “Santana” or “Flashlight”), are theoretically mandatory for three situations: 1) when manoeuvring overnight – which means you must pass from low light to flashlight whenever you are doing a beacon, for example; 2) under rain at any time of the day; 3) When stopping the car for embarking or landing. If you park with the motor on it is also a good idea to turn off the low headlamp and use only the position lights to do not create an uncomfortable light spot on the edge of the runway.
These two types of auxiliary lighthouse tend to confuse even gearheads initiated. The headlights are differentiated from the fog headlights in two factors: width and range of the light. The lighthouses have narrow and long-range beams (so they are technically called “long-range headlamps”), and that is why they are recommended for high speeds (as long as there are no other drivers in sight) and, in Brazil, allowed only where there is no public lighting, nor drivers ahead or in the opposite direction.
The fog headlights have a broad beam, with coverage of 70 to 120 degrees with a flat and abrupt cut at the top par, and short range — usually immediately in front of the car. They are also installed in low position, usually between 40 and 60 cm height of the ground. This is why they are designed to illuminate the pathway beneath the fog, which forms a little more than 30 cm from the ground.
The fog lamps are auxiliary and should never replace the low headlamp — this may even yield a beautiful fine or, at least, a problem with transit agents. But if you do not alter the torch of these headlights and use them always combined to the low lighthouse, they may have other functions besides helping you in the fog. The wide beam can be used to illuminate curves in that winding town crier that you both enjoy or, as a low position, also helps to visualize irregularities and horizontal signage. With the original torch, you can use the fog headlights all the time without bothering anyone.
The fog light that really disturbs when used indiscriminately is fog taillight. Many drivers do not know or do not imagine that that orange icon in the panel indicates an independent light on the back and keeps it lit to show a number of lights that your car has or why they think it is the Lighthouse mile.
Only the back light of fog has the same intensity of the brake light (both use lamps of 21 or 27W) and therefore obfuscates and disturbs the driver who comes after. Never turn on that light without being under fog or heavy rain and when it lights, do not forget to erase after the rain or fog passes.
Maybe you want to know if it is permitted to use those yellow films in the fog headlights, something that has become fashionable a few years ago and is still quite used in customizations. The answer is yes and no: The transit code allows the use of white or yellow lights, but the application of films, adhesives or paint is prohibited. What you can do is use headlights with yellow lenses or yellow lamps. The yellowish tone in the front fog lights even helps to improve visibility under dense fog, as it is differentiated from the color of the water particles that form the fog.
Photographic tests use these lights on for aesthetic and demonstrative purposes, and even if it is tempting to rotate around like the car of the photos you see on the Internet, traffic is not a rehearsal. Being a good driver is, above all, knowing how to behave, respect the boundaries of the car and especially the other drivers.
How to check the lights?
Park your aft car, with the back close to some wall. Disengage the aft, take the foot off the brake and turn off the position lights. Then, step on the brake and use your exterior mirrors to see the lights hit the wall. If any lamp is burnt, logically one side will be darker than the other. Observe in the inner rearview mirror if the light is batted in a symmetric and uniform manner. The procedure is the same for the backlight: Turn off the car lights, mesh the aft and check the brightness. Just remember that some cars have light only on one side.
The position and direction lights (arrows) you could check by activating the control and going to the back to test, but it’s much faster and more practical to continue with the above method.
To test the position lights, turn off and then light the flashlight by repeating the observation procedure. First by exterior mirrors, then by the internal to also confer the uniformity of the “stain” formed by the light. Then you test the direction lights (arrows). Just erase all the lights from the car again and trigger the direction lights also by checking with the exterior mirrors.
By switching the car side by parking, you will never risk walking around with a torch or a burnt headlight. If you don’t have a garage, use the mall parking lot, ask the attendant to help, but don’t walk around with burnt lights, please.