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High Beam Lights

on January 21, 2019
High Beam Symbol, High Beam Light, High Beam Symbol

High Beam Lights

on January 21, 2019

Vehicles are equipped with high beam lights that are meant for extremely dark driving environments.  It is hard to miss a vehicle’s high beam headlights, especially when they’re behind you on the road.  Everyone knows how frustrating it can be to drive down the road and have someone flash their blinding high beams into your eyes. 

When engaged, the high beam indicator will also engage. It is important to understand and be able to identify this indicator, as some drivers may accidentally engage their high beam lights without realizing it.  Leaving your high beams on when they shouldn’t be on can be extremely dangerous fellow drivers on the road.

The High Beam Symbol

high beam light indicator symbol - High Beam Lights

The high beam symbol is a blue symbol with five horizontal lines vertically stacked to the left of a shape that resembles a headlight.  This will engage on the dashboard to notify you that your high beam lights are active.  Once the high beams have been turned off, this symbol will turn off as well.

What If the High Beam Indicator Won’t Turn Off?

If you find that your high beam indicator remains on despite that your high beams are not engaged, there are several reasons that could be contributing to the error. Most high beam indicator light problems can be traced back to the following issues:

  1. The high beam switch/turn signal switch is malfunctioning – The high beam indicator gets power directly from the wire that connects the high beam switch to the daytime lights module.  A temporary solution to this is to turn the high beams on and off quickly several times, which could clean the contacts in the switch.
  2. The high beam bulbs are not properly connected – Check to see the actual light bulbs in your vehicle and verify whether they shine properly or not.  If you find that they are not shining, it could potentially trigger a false high beam indicator symbol.

What If the High Beam Symbol Light Is Flashing?

A blinking or flashing high beam indicator light can indicate that there is an issue with the high beam switch not being properly connected to the assembly in your vehicle.  The best solution for this issue is to take your car to a mechanic, as it requires disassembly to reach the switch modules within your car. 

A mechanic will be able to properly diagnose the issue and decide whether disassembly is necessary or not.  Sometimes these modules are found to only be dirty, and by cleaning the connectors and other contacts within the switch, many will be able to restore the switch to its original operating condition. 

However, there is a chance that your car’s modules have suffered an electrical short.  If this is the case, cleaning will not be enough to solve the issue, and you will need to have the entire module replaced.

What If the High Beams lights Are Not Working?

If you find that your high beams are not working, there are several common reasons for this to happen:

  • Blown Bulb – A blown bulb is the most common reason for your high beams to stop working.  Like any bulb, the headlights in your car will eventually fail and must be physically replaced.  As each car may require a different type or size of bulb, consult your vehicle’s manual to determine which type of bulb you will need to buy for your car.  Additionally, your manual should also outline the steps required to replace the bulb.
  • Blown Fuse – A blown fuse is also common, as fuses are designed to protect the electrical circuits in your car from shorting or overloading.  Fuses handle a lot of electricity with each use, and it is possible that the electricity shorted it out.  If you find that fuses are blowing in your vehicle, it is likely that there is a more serious electrical issue that will need to be diagnosed by a certified mechanic.
  • Faulty Wiring – All electrical components within your vehicle rely on wiring to properly connect them to a power source.  If the wiring in your vehicle is going bad, you may find that several electrical components in your car are malfunctioning, not just your high beams.
  • Malfunctioning High Beam Relay – The high beam relay is an electromagnetic switch operated by a small electric current that can turn a larger electrical current on or off.  If the relay is going bad, the electrical current responsible for powering your high beams will not be able to reach them properly; thus, the high beams will not work properly.

If your car is experiencing any of these issues that go beyond a blown bulb, you should take your car to a mechanic who will be able to properly diagnose and correct the issue.  Most drivers will not have the tools required to replace wiring or fuses that have gone bad. 

High Beam vs. Low Beam

In the past, high beam and low beam light bulbs were completely separate bulbs.  Today, most cars utilize a single bulb that can change brightness levels between “high” and “low,” with the use of two filaments.  A filament is a conducting wire in a bulb that “shines.”  Some luxury and military vehicles still use two separate bulbs.

Low beam lights allow you to see up to 200 feet in front in front of you, while high beams typically allow you to see up to 350-400 feet in front of you.  Low beam lights are aimed lower, toward the road surface, while high beams are aimed straight ahead. 

High beam lights do not have a particular control of glare and are more intense than low beam lights.  Light distributed from high beams is more center-weighted than low beam lights.  

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When Do You Use Your High Beams?

It is not uncommon for drivers to feel uncertain about whether to use high beams or not.  In any situation when you cannot properly see the road in front of you, you should use your high beam lights.  As stated above, low beam lights allow you to see about 200 feet in front of you, while high beam lights allow you to see up to 350-400 feet in front of you while driving. 

As long as there are no other vehicles around you, you should always use high beams on roads outside of cities and in rural areas.  If there’s an oncoming vehicle, dim your lights until the vehicle has passed.  You should also dim your lights if you are approaching a vehicle from behind.

You must dim your high beam lights in all situations where there is a risk of blinding other drivers with your lights.  Obstructing the view of another driver with high beams is extremely easy and can be dangerous to everyone on the road.  It is against the law to leave your high beams engaged when approaching other vehicles on the road. 

When Should You Not Use Your High Beams?

The situations when you should not use your high beams go beyond when you’re driving around others on the road.   If you find yourself driving in these following conditions, you should disengage your high beams:

  • Heavy Fog – If the road ahead of you is hidden under heavy fog, your high beams will actually make it harder for you to see.  The light from your high beams will not pass through and will be reflected.  This reflected light will create a glare that will make it harder for you to see the road ahead of you.
  • Heavy Rain – Like fog, the light from your high beams will not be able to pass through the heavy rain and will likely reflect and cause glare.
  • Snow – Light will easily reflect off of snow in virtually all snowy environments.  Your high beams will reflect off of snow and will cause a heavy glare. 

Some vehicles may have fog lights built in that work alongside low beam lights.  They illuminate the road edges and pavement markings, making it easier to stay in the lane.  Your fog lights should only be used in heavy fog, rain or snow.  Leaving your fog lamps on all the time may cause them to burn out and not be available when you need them the most.

Always Ensure Your High Beams Are Functioning

If you’re like most Americans, you rely on your vehicle to keep you moving every day.  There will be times when you will find yourself on a dark road, and ensuring that both your high beams and your high beams indicator are functioning properly is important. 

Your high beams will make it much easier for you to see the road ahead of you, while your high beams indicator will remind you that your high beams are on.  It is against the law to approach a vehicle with your high beams engaged, as they shine so bright and essentially blind those directly exposed to them.

Since most vehicles utilize the turn signal or windshield wiper switch to engage the high beams, it is easy to push or pull on them accidentally and leave the high beams on throughout the journey.  Always pay attention and disengage your high beams when around others or driving in extreme weather conditions.  

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