The only time many drivers think about headlights is when an approaching car is blinding you with its brights. But what about your own headlights? Keeping them in good condition will help you see the road ahead and help other drivers see you — which could prevent accidents and auto insurance claims.
If headlights are broken or burned out, drivers often will get friendly reminders from their local police. But other kinds of headlight maintenance, though mainly elective, also can have a huge effect on safety.
According to Allstate, drivers should keep the following headlight maintenance tips in mind:
- Watch for excessive wear. Over time, headlights can wear out and transmit less light. Off-color or faded lights should be changed or repaired. Make a point to check headlights when you get your car’s oil changed.
- Keep lights well-adjusted. Headlights can become poorly adjusted over time. Whether twisted in the fittings or angled poorly, the light will not act the way it should. Drivers should periodically have their lights checked to make sure they’re focused properly on the road ahead.
- Prevent dirt buildup. According to the Car Care Council, dirt and debris can make your lights less visible to other drivers. This is even more important for off-roaders, work trucks or other vehicles likely to get bombarded with dirt and grime.
The same problems that affect headlights also apply to brake lights, taillights and other safety lights on a vehicle. All of these can substantially affect road safety. These lights make sure your vehicle is seen by others in the dark or in bad weather. Compromised lights can put everyone at risk, whether it’s on the freeway or on dimly lit back roads.
Replacing your headlights
What if your lights are burned out and need to be replaced? Edmunds.com has good news for do-it-yourself drivers — replacing headlights and taillights doesn’t require a lot of tools or complicated techniques. Unlike changing serpentine belts or checking radiator hoses, light replacement is something that most drivers can do easily with a few minutes and a screwdriver.
For instructions on changing your car’s headlight bulbs, check your vehicle’s instruction manual. You’ll generally have to access the headlight bulb from under your car’s hood, according to Edmunds.com. In newer models, you’ll usually just have to twist off the plastic cover — no tools required.
Drivers who put off light replacements are putting themselves and others needlessly in harm’s way. For most vehicle owners, it’s a much better idea to learn how to fix lights quickly when they fail. Making it easier to see and be seen on the road could mean a cleaner driving record and a lower auto insurance premium