Vehicle Lighting Systems: Common Issues and Ways to Combat Them


Since the automobile was invented, exterior lighting was essential and necessary so that drivers could see where they were going in the dark. While it’s not usually considered a high-priority subsystem, it is essential for those who drive at night. The exterior lighting is crucial for driver/passenger safety, enjoyment, comfort, and vehicle styling. Of course, the technology used in the lights has increased and improved throughout the years, making the lighting more responsive, automated, efficient, visible, durable, safe, and aesthetically pleasing.

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The lighting system of your vehicle includes the signaling devices and any lights on the vehicle. These can include on the rear, sides, front, and top. The lighting system can consist of headlamps with low/high beams, parking lights, fog lights, daytime running lights, side marker lights, signal lights, tail lights, cab lights, center-mount brake lights, rear brake lights, hazard flashing lights, and reverse lights.

These lights are designed to illuminate the road for drivers, increase the visibility of your vehicle regardless of position, and allow pedestrians and drivers to see your position, presence, size, travel direction, and intentions based on speed, direction, and signals. It is best to have the exterior lighting system inspected whenever you have an oil change to ensure that it is working correctly and that you are safe and help keep others safe.

Common Issues and How to Fix Them

The most common issue with your external lights is likely to be burned out bulbs. If a light in the circuit doesn’t work when others do, the problem is probably a faulty bulb. However, if all the lights on that circuit do not work, the problem could be in the wiring, switches, fuse, or another factor that affects the circuit. Bad bulbs and turn signal flashers can cause turn signal issues. If a turn signal on one side flashes when the other does not, it could be caused by a bad bulb on the non-flashing side. However, if both sides do not flash, both bulbs could be burned out. If they appear fine, the turn signal flasher could be faulty.

If you notice any defective bulbs, it is essential that you replace them as soon as you can. You should always use the same bulb type when you do replace them. Along with such, you should not touch the bulb with your fingers; the skin’s oils can cause premature failure of the bulb. It is best to wear nitrile or latex mechanic’s gloves when you replace the bulbs. Along with such, you should ask that your mechanic or an auto repair retail store employee wear gloves if they are going to help with the replacement.

It’s important to understand that the exterior lights see daily wear and tear. They should be inspected and maintained periodically. If you notice bulbs that are dim, burned out, or blinking, replace them immediately and inspect the electrical sockets for damage or corrosion. You should also check the glass or plastic coverings periodically because bugs, grit, road debris, and rocks can hit the coverings and cause wear and tear. Element exposure such as rain and sunshine can also cause fading, discoloration, cracking, deterioration and other issues on the covering. To prevent deterioration and other problems, it is important to clean the front/rear lights periodically. When you wash your car (which you should do once a month to remove debris that could damage the paint and undercarriage), make sure you wash the exterior light covers. You can also perform your light inspection at this time. It might be helpful to ask someone to help so that they can help you test the brake and reverse lights.

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Vehicle Lighting Systems: Common Issues and Ways to Combat Them

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