Throwing Light on Your Car's Headlights and Tail Lights

As a driver, your first consideration is your safety and those of others who are riding with you. Integral to your car's safety measure is its lighting system, which consist of light bulbs and lamps located at the front, rear, and both sides of your car. The lighting system illuminates the roadway and signals your position relative to other vehicles, enhancing your safety, being it in daylight, darkness, or inclement weather that reduces visibility. Headlights and tail lights are beacons that alert other drivers of your presence on the road, and display information that other drivers will be using in directing their own course, relative to the one you are taking.

Consider headlights as extensions of your own eyes: they throw light on what's ahead so you can see and drive better. At night, they also warn the driver. There are two types of headlight construction. In older cars, the headlight and the inner light bulb are in one piece, mounted by a thin metal band held down by screws. You have to replace the entire headlight when one of the components fails. In most cars, the headlight and the bulb inside are built separately, and you can replace either one when it breaks down. To produce the headlight's forward illumination, most cars today employ halogen or tungsten-halogen light bulbs. The light bulb's tungsten filaments are enclosed in a disc of halogen gas like iodine and bromine to make it glow brighter and last longer. Another source of light are xenon headlights. These high-intensity discharge lamps use metal halide instead of tungsten and give off a bluish tint. Light emitting diodes or LEDs, which are increasingly used in signal lights, are being developed as headlights for cars and will debut on the 2007 Lexus LS 600h / LS 600h L. Replacing a malfunctioning headlight is easy but be careful: wear goggles and makes sure the headlight has cooled down before touching it.

Tail lights, also known as tail lamps, are mounted on either side of your car's rear. Tail lights can be either stand-alone or combined in a frame together with several conspicuous devices like turn lights and brake lights. Your car's tail lights provide rear illumination at night as a safety precaution and are required by law to emit only red light. When combined with other rear lights, the tail lights are designed to be dimmer than the brake lights so as not to confuse other drivers. There is also the signal light or turn light that blinks yellow when you are turning left or right, while putting your car in reverse lights up the reverse lamp. Another part of the rear lighting system is the parking light. Originally intended to warn other drivers on the road when a car is at rest, parking lights are now used to augment the car's lighting system, making it safer to drive at night.

Take the time to check if all your car's lighting system are working and replace bulbs that have become dimmed or broken. Do this not only because the law requires it, but because you value your safety and those of other drivers on the road.