Driving Lights Buyer's Guide
- Driving lights are auxiliary lights that run alongside the stock headlights. Their beams reach further and cover a wider area than high-beam headlights.
- These lights complement conventional headlights when you operate the latter in high-beam mode at night.
- If you drive at high speeds at night or often drive on country roads and highways with little artificial light, you need driving lights on your car.
- You can select between halogen, LED, and HID/xenon arc driving lights. Each type comes with advantages and disadvantages.
- The price of an individual driving light can range from $15 to $338. Sets of two driving lights can cost anywhere between $40 and $629.
- Treat driving lights like high-beam headlights. Switch them on when needed, dim them to avoid inflicting glare on other drivers, and do not use them as fog lights or off-road lights.
Driving at night is tough, especially in the countryside with a sparsity of street lights. Sometimes, the country road can seem too dark for the stock headlights of your car, even if you switch to their high-beam mode. Activating the fog lights may feel tempting, but the weather isn’t bad enough to require the powerful beams.
While you can upgrade your vehicle’s headlights to more powerful models, what you may truly need are driving lights. These auxiliary lights work together with the headlights to lift the shroud of darkness from a wider swathe of the road.
What is a driving light?
Like fog lights and off-road lights, driving lights are auxiliary lights. They operate alongside the stock headlights and make it easier to see things on the road during specific conditions.
Many driving lights project a rectangular beam. Whatever the shape of the beam, its illumination reaches further and covers a wider area than the light emitted by high-beam headlights.
The driving lights get a dedicated control switch. You can switch them on and off as needed.
The role of driving lights on your car
These lamps do not replace conventional headlights. Rather, driving lights complement them when you operate the headlamps in high-beam mode at night.
High-beam headlights project a narrow beam over short ranges. While their straight beams illuminate the stretch of road immediately in front of the car, they neglect to shed light on the sides of the road. They also don’t reach that far ahead.
You will find it harder to spot things in the shadowed areas that lay outside the reach of the high-beam headlights. Given road signs usually sit on the roadside, you can miss important information like the direction and distance to your destination.
In comparison, the broader and longer-ranged beams of driving lights illuminate a larger portion of the road, including the sides lying outside the coverage of high beams.
Should you get driving lights for your car?
Not every car comes out of the factory with a set of driving lights. These auxiliary lights usually appear on high-performance vehicles, 4-wheel-drive vehicles, tractors, tractors, rescue vehicles, and large trucks.
If your vehicle lacks driving lights, you will need to look for a compatible set and install them on your car. The cost of purchase and installation may deter you from getting these useful lights.
To figure out if your car needs driving lights, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you often drive with your foot firmly pressed on the accelerator pedal?
Do you often drive on country roads or highways with few or no street lights?
If you answered yes to either question, driving lights are not only for you but critical to your safety at night. They team up with the car’s high-beam headlights to illuminate the road ahead at longer and wider ranges. You can spot dangers and obstacles at greater distances, giving you more time to take the right response.
Choosing between halogen, LED, and xenon driving lights
Many driving lights use conventional halogen bulbs to produce light. But increasing numbers of LED and xenon arc light bulbs make their way onto the shelves of car parts stores.
Halogen bulbs improve on the classic incandescent bulb. They use sturdy tungsten filaments to heat halogen until the excited gas gives off light.
You can find halogen driving lights in practically any auto parts shop. Whatever year, make, and model of vehicle you drive, you will have many compatible options to choose from.
Halogen lights suffer from brief service lives measured in the mere thousands of hours. They don’t shine as brightly as the other options. They can also run dangerously hot.
Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs generate light by passing a current through a solid chip of semiconductor material. These devices define energy efficiency for light bulbs as they produce bright light despite consuming less electricity.
Of the three light bulb types, LED bulbs come with the biggest initial price tags. They may also not meet road safety standards in your city or state because of their brightness.
However, LED lights outlast halogen bulbs by a huge margin. They consume much less power and produce far less heat. Finally, their solid-state construction makes them very sturdy.
High-intensity discharge (HID) light bulbs produce a brief but powerful electric arc to excite the xenon gas that supplies their other name. They emanate a bright white light that feels cool to the eyes.
Xenon bulbs outshine their halogen counterparts while giving off less heat. They can more or less match the output of LED lamps. They don’t cost as much as LEDs right off the bat, but they’re more expensive than halogen bulbs.
Cost of driving lights
Settled on getting a set of driving lights for your car? You can buy them individually or in a set of two, one for each side of the car. The price of an individual light can range from $15 to $338. Sets of two driving lights can cost anywhere between $40 and $629.
There are many brands and models of driving lights on the market. However, not all of them enjoy full compatibility with your vehicle.
The filter bar can help you find a set of driving lights guaranteed to fit your vehicle. Enter its year, make, and model in the filter bar.
Getting the most out of your car’s driving lights
Treat your car’s driving lights as if they were high-beam headlights. Switch them on whenever you need to see further down the road or check the sides. Once you don’t need them running anymore, switch them off.
Dim the driving lights if you catch sight of traffic going your way. While they’re not as blindingly bright as fog lights, driving lights can still prove glaring to other drivers.
Do not use driving lights as makeshift fog lights or off-road lights. They lack the immense lumen output of dedicated fog lamps that can pierce through bad weather. They also sit too low on your vehicle to shine over rough terrain, whereas proper off-road lights go on top of the cabin’s roof to get the best elevation and angle.
Driving Light: What to Consider When Buying One
Adding new driving lights to your vehicle is sure to add to its versatility. These outstanding lights are designed to improve night vision on dimly-lit roads. These auto add-ons produce a bright beam of light, which illuminated the lower region of the road. This, in turn, allows you to see a few more feet ahead as compared to ordinary headlights. Aside from boosting road safety, driving lights also give vehicles a distinct style upgrade. So whether you're going for the rugged or sporty look, these aftermarket lights are a surefire hit. However, before you go buying the first driving lights you see on the web, be sure to take a few things into consideration.
Things to consider before buying
To save yourself a few steps, it's important that you buy driving lights that already come with their own bulbs. You must also see to it that the lights you're getting consist of the bulb type you prefer. Halogen bulbs are most commonly used for driving lights because of their durability and long-lasting burn. However, for even more effective lighting, you should go for HID driving lights. These components provide a brighter light and last longer than your average incandescent light.
Size and shape
Before buying a driving light, decide on where to place it on your vehicle. Then measure the specific spot where you want to install your light. Base the size and shape of your driving light you'll buy on this particular spot. Make sure it fits and that it won't obstruct any other vehicular functions.
Driving lights come in various colors and finishes. Your options include clear, red, and even blue lenses. These colors are purely decorative and provide no other benefit outside of being stylish. Nevertheless, factor in lens color before making your purchase.
Make sure that your driving lights come with the needed mounting hardware. A light bracket and bolts are all you basically need. In addition to that, you should opt for brackets that are adjustable, allowing you to angle the driving lights however you may please.
If your driving lights come with halogen bulbs, then do not replace the bulbs with HID bulbs. The reflectors and lenses of driving lights are specifically designed for their given light bulbs. If you place an HID bulb inside a driving light in place of a halogen bulb, then the light it produces will be too glaring. This can make driving very dangerous as your lights may blind the drivers in on-coming traffic.
How to Install Driving Lights
Installing driving lights on to your vehicle can greatly improve road vision at night. These lights produce a brighter beam of light, which is used to illuminate the lower region of the road. This added driving visibility also helps motorists react quicker to debris and other obstacles on the road. In addition to that, these babies also give your ride a sportier look. Hooking up quality driving lights requires minimal wiring and can be done in under an hour. So follow the easy steps listed below and your lights will be all set in no time.
Difficulty level: Easy
What you'll need:
- Protective gloves
- Socket set
- Electrical tape
Step 1: First decide where exactly you want to place your driving lights. Some vehicles come with pre-existing holes for lighting fixtures in their air dams. You may opt to place the lights in those positions.
Step 2: Put on some safety gloves before doing the actual work.
Step 3: Drill small screw holes into the front bumper in a clockwise direction. These holes are where you will fasten the mounting brackets. Driving light brackets are typically designed to allow for adjustment after installation.
Step 4: Connect the driving lights to the brackets using the nuts and bolts provided. Make sure not to over-tighten these bolts.
Step 5: Wire the lights into a single switch. Connect the light's positive wire leads together and splice them into a long wire that connects to the switch's output terminal. The light's negative leads should be affixed together and grounded to the car's frame. Wrap all spliced wires with electrical tape.
Step 6: Test the light's operation by turning the switch on and off. Sometime you may need to start your ignition to turn on the lights.
Step 7: Aim the beams in the angle that you prefer.
- You may mount the lights behind the grille to provide it with extra protection. However, this may lower the brightness of your lights.
- Some local laws restrict the placement of lights behind the grille. Double check to make sure your driving light placement is legal in your area.