When you’re driving at night, the darkness creates a disadvantage. Older drivers and those with vision problems can have an especially difficult time picking out distant shapes in the dark or adjusting to sudden changes in lighting. While there may not be much you can do about your eyesight, you can make sure your headlights help you as much as possible.
You Have to Clean Them
You have to keep your headlights clean to keep them shining brightly. When they get coated with dirt or bugs, it’s just like putting a lampshade on an indoor lamp.
Just running your car through a car wash or rinsing it off usually isn’t enough. You need to give the outside of your headlight covers a good scrub to keep them free from dirt, and you may need to take them off to clean the inside because dirt can get in through the cracks.
You Have to Aim Them
Your headlights are more like a flashlight than a lamp for a room. You have to point them in a specific direction. If you screw them in, they could be too high and blind other drivers. Or, they could be too low and not give you the range you need.
If you park a couple of car lengths back from a wall, your headlights should both point at the same spot on the wall. Look up exactly what distance and height to use for your car as it will vary by make and model.
Replace Them Both at the Same Time
If one headlight dims or loses brightness, the other one will be close behind. That’s because they were both made at the same time and have the same amount of use.
You don’t want to be caught on the road at night with no headlights, so if one goes out, replace both immediately. Don’t drive around using one hoping not to get a ticket until you “find time” to go to the auto parts store.
Buy White Bulbs
Depending on where you shop, not all the headlights sold may be good for your car. Some shops sell novelty colors for people who are more worried about their car’s look than for safety or for special events like parades. White lights give you the best brightness and range. In addition, colored bulbs may be illegal especially if they have a red or blue tint that could be mistaken as emergency lights.
High Beams Might Be a Second Bulb
Some high beams work by adjusting the brightness and/or angle of the main bulb. Others have a second bulb that turns on and off to provide extended range.
Know which type you have so you can make sure yours are working properly. If you have the kind with two bulbs, follow the same guidelines for replacing them as you would for your main bulbs.
By keeping your headlights in good shape, you’ll increase your nighttime visibility and reduce your risk of getting into an accident.