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Faulty Lights

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 29 Feb 2016 | comments*Discuss
Internal Vehicle Lights Exterior Vehicle

To make sure that your car is safe on the road it’s very important that you make sure your lights are in full working condition. Not only are your internal lights one of the best indicators that tell you when something isn't working, but your external lights make sure that you can see clearly when you are driving at night or in extreme weather conditions. Just as importantly, they also make sure that you are seen by other drivers - it has been reported that in recent years, accidents in bad weather and darkness have grown by more than a massive 80%, and many drivers cite the fact that they didn't see the other vehicle as the reason they ended up in an accident in the first place.

Faulty lights are also one of the more common faults found by mechanics carrying out an MOT test. It is part of the Highway Code that you must make sure your lights are kept clean and also that they are adjusted properly so that they don't dazzle other road users. This often happens when the vehicle is full of people, or is transporting heavy items. There is usually a dial (or electronic setting in the case of more modern cars) on or around the dashboard that you need to set to the number of people in the car. This adjusts the headlights to the correct setting and ensures that your lights are in a safe position – illuminating the road sufficiently but not blinding other drivers.

Carrying out small tests can make sure that you don't end up falling foul of a spot check carried out by police, or being pulled over because the police officer driving behind you notices that your brake lights aren't working properly. If you are stopped and given a Fixed Penalty Notice, it will cost you a minimum of £30 – far more than the price of a car light bulb. It can also ensure that you are driving safely, and that you are not putting other road users in jeopardy.

How Do I Check My Exterior Lights?

Switch all your lights and indicators on and step outside the car and walk all around it, checking that each one is working correctly. If all is well, test the side light settings, your hazard lights, your high beam and your fog lamps along with any other exterior lights that your model of car has. Also make sure that any reflectors on your car are clear of any debris or dirt that might stop them from performing effectively.

Don't I Need Someone Else to Check my Brake and Reverse Lights?

It can be handy to have someone help you out, but if there is nobody around it doesn’t mean you can’t check it yourself - all you need to do is reverse close to the garage door or a wall and look in your rear view mirror to see whether or not the lights are reflecting off the surface as they should be. In some cars though, such as those that are positioned higher from the ground like 4x4’s, or people carries, it can be difficult to see that the lights are operating correctly, so you should double check this when you have someone who can help you with it.

How Often Should I Carry Out These Tests?

You should check your lights as part of your regular weekly checks, but you should always give your lights an extra check as part of your preparations for a long journey.

I’ve Done the Check, and One of My Headlights isn’t Working. What Should I Do?

If one of your lights isn't working, then don't immediately rush to the garage - fixing a faulty light is usually a simple case of replacing the bulb, which is usually quite easy to do. Check your owner’s manual and you should be able to find out what kind of bulb you need for your car. Head to your nearest car parts manufacturer and pick up the bulb and follow the instructions for fitting it. Alternatively if you don’t fancy doing it yourself, you can take the car to a garage where they can usually do it for a small fee - in many cases, while you wait.

Internal Car Lights

The internal lights on your car should be your early warning system – they tell you when you need to take action: be it filling something up or getting something checked out at your garage. Read your owner’s manual and familiarise yourself with what the different symbols mean. Ignore them at your peril – not filling up your oil when the light comes on could mean a whole replacement engine. Not filling up your brake fluid could have consequences that you probably don’t even want to imagine!

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My company are saying a fast flashing indicator and no horn is perfectly legal to drive. Is this true?
Dan - 29-Feb-16 @ 11:32 PM
I have been pulled over and fined £30 for having no brake lights. The two main brake lights were not working but the strip above the door was. I was rather upset because I had these replaced at my garage 8 weeks ago. When a fellow motorist told me one light was out. I told the officer that I was just around the corner from my garage and that I would go straight there. So he said he would just give me the fine instead of the fine and the points. I went to the garage and it seemed that one bulb was working again! It transpires the bulb hadn't been replaced properly and would come on and off intermittently. The other bulb had blown. Why could he not have sent me straight to my garage with a flee in my ear. Should I really have been given a fine? Thought it was a little harsh. The car is not loved but otherwise well maintained.
Catie - 12-Apr-11 @ 8:38 AM
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