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What are dipped headlights and when should you use them?

Your dipped headlights are the ones that you should use the majority of the time while driving in the dark, and quite possibly the most important lights that your car has. Yet many people get confused about what they are, and when you should be using them.

In short; dipped headlights are the middle step between your car’s side lights and your full beam.

When should I use dipped headlights?

Legally, you are required to use your car’s sidelights when driving under 30mph in a well-lit area, any time between sunset and sunrise – though most motorists prefer to use their dipped headlights to improve visibility. Even if streetlights are illuminating the road ahead, you should still be using some sort of lights to help you see during the darker hours.

As well as this, you can also use your dipped headlights during the day when visibility is reduced due to heavy rain, snow or fog.

On particularly dark roads, you may want to use your full beam – but it is important to remember that these headlights are angled so to illuminate as much of the road directly ahead as is possible, and therefore cause significant dazzle to oncoming vehicles. Because of this, you must switch from full beam to dipped headlights as soon as you spot an oncoming vehicle, and you should only use dipped headlights when following a vehicle, as the full beam will cause dazzle in the vehicle in front’s mirrors.

If the roads are foggy, you should not use the main beam headlights, as fog generally reflects light back and could easily dazzle you. Instead, always use your dipped headlights along with fog lights, which are positioned to avoid dazzle and can be seen from a greater distance than sidelights.

Ensuring that your headlights are in full working order

Whilst it is always important to check that your headlights are working, it can be the difference between life and death when driving over the winter months when the days are shorter and weather conditions tend to deteriorate.

As well as giving your headlights a good clean every few weeks, as grit from the road can often dull the brightness, you should ask somebody to watch from outside the car as you check all of your lights one by one; headlights, indicators, brake lights and reverse lights. If any of these fail to work, it is crucial that you replace any bulbs immediately – as a broken bulb could mean that you fail to see other road users, or that they fail to see you.

All cars are different, so it is worth considering using genuine parts and accessories for your vehicle. At Hatfields, we only fit genuine parts and accessories in our workshops, and all prices include fitting and VAT. Find out more here.