A Complete Guide to Car Headlights

In each of our blogs, Annie – the UK’s leading Theory Test Expert, looks at every topic you need to know to successfully pass your theory test. We bring you the most up-to-date and detailed information there is. In easy-to-understand language, these blogs are written with everyone in mind. This week it’s a Complete Guide to Car Headlights.


car headlights


What are the types and use of the car lights

Dipped headlights are your normal car lights. They’re called dipped headlights because the light is angled or dipped towards the ground, so they don’t dazzle other road users. You will turn on your dipped headlights more than any other light in your car. You use them at night and during the day when it’s bad weather when visibility is low when you’re driving through tunnels or multi-storey car parks. Your dipped headlights are used so other road users can see you clearly. If you are driving in the rain during the day without lights on, it would be harder to see you and other vehicles may pull out in front of you.

Main beam lights are the brightest lights in your car. They are angled higher than dipped headlights and they will dazzle other road users. You will use main beam lights when it’s very dark on an unlit road. Because the lights are angled higher, they help you to see very far ahead. You must turn the main beam lights off when another road user is in front of you. If the car behind is overtaking, the best time to turn them off is as the vehicle is passing you. If you put them off too early, then neither of you can see the road ahead. If you turn them off when the road user has passed you, your lights can dazzle them through their interior mirror.

Fog lights are only to be used when it’s thick fog. They are designed to cut through thick fog and can either dazzle other road users or be mistaken for brake lights if they are kept on unnecessarily. You will turn fog lights on when visibility is reduced to 100 metres or less.

When you turn hazard warning lights on, all indicator lights will flash. They are to be used to warn other road users that your vehicle is causing a temporary obstruction. For example, if you have broken down or had an accident. You can also use hazard warning lights when you’re on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead. Only use the lights for long enough for the drivers behind to notice them, then turn them off again. Hazard warning lights should never be used as an excuse to park illegally.

Parking lights are also referred to as side lights. You must leave parking lights on when you are parked on a road or in a layby of a road that has a speed limit of more than 30 mph. On roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or under you don’t need to use parking lights. Parking lights are designed to be kept on for long periods of time without draining your battery.

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