/ Motoring

Are both your car headlights working?

It’s still dark and dull outside, and so driving conditions aren’t all that great. Being visible on the road is not just important, it’s a legal requirement. So are both of your car headlights working?

On 27 January we reported that, according to government figures, nearly half of MOT failures last year would have been avoidable had the vehicle owner carried out a few basic visual checks in advance. And of those checks, simple lighting faults accounted for one in five of these cases.

While headlight failures may seem like just a minor inconvenience for some, it’s an irritation of mine. And based on the evidence I’ve seen while driving lately, it’s a problem that seems to be frequently slipping through the net. So I think it’s time to shine a light on the issue.

Under the spotlight

Now, you’d probably notice if both your car headlights were out, especially if you drive at night. But only losing one headlight might pass you by. Well-lit streets can hide the effect from the driver. Some may even be aware, but don’t see the issue as serious enough to deal with it straight away.

But vehicles with only one working light will appear to be considerably smaller than they actually are when viewed head-on and in mirrors by other drivers – you can end up believing that you have a motorbike in your vicinity, when in fact it’s a full-sized car or van.

In some cases the one working light will itself be obscured, leading the driver to assume there are no other vehicles around them at all, which could have serious consequences when it comes to turning, braking and changing lanes.

Not to mention the issues that could arise from any unfortunate collisions. If a headlight being out was the cause of the accident, how could you prove that the faulty headlight was broken before impact?

The fact is that driving without working headlights is an MOT failure, and it’s a failure for a reason – when visibility is poor it’s fundamentally dangerous for other drivers as well as pedestrians.

Here’s a bright idea

Now changing a car bulb can be an easy task on some car models, and a little trickier for others. A replacement bulb will usually cost you less than £5, and you may have to pay a further £5 to £10 if you require someone to fit it for you. But, all in all, I think it’s a pretty fair price to pay, that far outweighs the risk of not being seen on the road.

The number of vehicles I’ve spotted lately with partially or fully blown headlights on one side has been quite alarming, and I find it hard to believe that this problem could be localised (south London, for those wondering).

So, have you checked your headlights recently? And, have you, like me, noticed an increase in cars with their headlights out? Why do you think this is?


Round here too. I look for a side light but don’t assume anything. I believe one car needs major part removal to get at the lights and the bill is a lot more than a light bulb. Some cars have dash board warnings of bulb failure. (Happy memories of six volt glow worms on my Ford Pop). Yes this is dangerous and yes, one should check lights regularly. I admit to forgetting, but hope I’d notice if I lost a headlight. Modern lights are not cheap. Is this something that’s debatable? I haven’t said anything earth shattering above.

The problem is with most modern cars, my wife’s Fiat for example does not have side lights so the result is dipped beam on all the time and bulbs go on a regular basis and this results in a garage visit as it is a major operation to change a Headlight bulb also a rear bulb went on my car , I could not replace it as it needed a special tool to take off the side panels to change a bulb, the Manufacturers of vehicles are not at all concerned about the maintainance of their vehicles by the public but force us to use the main agents for the most mundane of tasks and their costs are astronomical hence the result is leaving faulty lights as long as possible.

The simplest thing to do is to check your car headlights’ reflection in the vehicle in front whilst sitting in traffic. It’s usually pretty easy to see whether both headlights are reflecting equally, or if one appears to be dimmed or not working at all. I’m sure most drivers are taught this when learning to drive – but perhaps it’s something that one forgets over time? I have definitely noticed lots of broken headlights in my local area over the past few months!

We shine our headlights on the garage door (a wall would do just as well) to check both lights are working properly and also to see if they need adjusting so they are not blinding on-coming traffic.

How about getting out of the car, once the lights are turned and making sure that the front AND back lights are working and at the same time put something heavy on the brake pedal; if there’s no one to help,; and make sure the brake lights work and then check the indicators, back and front. Or are we as a Nation so lazy that even walking that small distance is too much effort.
Of course if there were more police out and about, people might just think a bit more about there driving and the state of their vehicle.

I have noticed that a lot of people have an old mirror somewhere around their property. It could be placed behind the car in a suitable position and used to carry out the rear light tests [not forgetting the white light that illuminates the number plate].

I doubt many people check their lights, in particular their rear lights which are just as important. As it happens I have just changed my headlight bulbs on my 22 year old car, not because they had failed but it is years since they were replaced. I also checked the sidelights; one was a bit blackened so changed that as well. Easy to do.

But, as Vynor says, on modern cars it can be a nightmare to get at bulbs. If Which? wants a useful campaign, make it compulsory for all light bulbs to be easily changed by the owner. What is the point in making it illegal to drive with failed lights if, when they fail, you cannot immediately change them? And it should be compulsory to carry spare light bulbs.

I drive a Renault 2011 and to change the head light bulb the bumper and screen wash water bottle has to be removed at a cost of £73 not including the new bulb

And I think this may well be the reason so many cars are being driven with broken headlights. It’s not that the drivers are unaware of the problem: most cars today will display a warning light on the dashboard if any lightbulb has blown. It’s because you can’t change them easily. Most drivers are busy commuters and can’t take time off work to take the car to a mechanic just to have the bulb changed. The manufacturers are thus making cars more dangerous by making it so difficult to change the lightbulbs. Perhaps therefore this should be addressed by governments.

Paul Hancock says:
20 February 2016

Kwikfit will change light bulbs on a drop-in basis. Much easier than making an apoointment at a garage.

Good point by Malcolm R. Let’s have a Which campaign to make changing light bulbs easier; changing headlight bulbs on a VW Golf is a nightmare.

Chris Howell says:
20 February 2016

Thank you Malcolm-so obvious. Although Audi will change your headlamps for nothing if they fail, they are 25 miles away from where I live so meanwhile one has to drive partially lit. And carrying spare bulbs is a no brainer. Are they not compulsory in France?

I check my lights at the weekend, at the same time as I do the under-bonnet and tyre checks. I noticed that a neighbour had a faulty sidelight and could see that the other one and both rear lights were blackened, a good indicator that they could fail at any time. The faulty sidelight was easy to replace but the rear light clusters have to be removed, involving unscrewing a couple of retaining nuts. Despite having the failed sidelight bulb as an example, my neighbour came back from a motor factor with four stop/tail bulbs. 🙁 They did not look right but that’s what the computer had come up with from the car registration number.

Common sense dictates that it should be possible to replace failed essential bulbs at the roadside easily and without use of tools. Common sense is sometimes to much to expect, so we need legislation.

I followed a police car a couple of nights ago that had a failed off side rear light. I was tempted to pull him (or her) over but thought better of it. I now feel guilty.

The best thing to do if you see police with a failed light or doing anything wrong/strange is stay out of their way……………Even for those who caught things on video it didnt work……………..
You are playing with God as I found out years ago………..dont mess with the fuzz…………I’ll take my chances with miscalling Mr Ozzy and his policies any day but not the fuzz

I have spoken to a police man who I followed several about him not indicating when turning he was nice about it

Problem is the police tend to be a bit vindictive, so they take your number and then spread the word to their colleagues and the first thing you do wrong however minor, they’ll jump on you!

Indicating is not a legal requirement.

Years ago – and perhaps still today – advanced driving techniques taught to some police (and others…) expected drivers to “consider the need for an indication” and then act accordingly. I think the idea behind that is supposed to be based on “situational awareness” as opposed to “driving by rote”.

The respective merits of those two methods used to be an endless source of discussions for some “enthusiast” internet groups.

If, however, bishbut was obviously close behind Mr Plod, then “indications probably were needed…”

Years ago I read advice from Stirling Moss – if there is no one around then don’t indicate. It always struck me that with the best will in the world someone might suddenly be around that you had not expected, or you might have overlooked someone. So what is the point? Indicating is simple, becomes a habit, and has no downside.

Like Malcolm, I use my indicators even where there may be no one to see them. When sitting at traffic lights in the dark I often turn them off until the lights change to avoid annoying the person behind.

I think one obvious downside that was mentioned in the context of advanced instruction was that the use of the “consider an indication” method provides instructors with real time data of their trainees perception of the road environment around them.

A complicating factor may be the differences between normal driving and driving in “emergency response situations”.

Ordinary motorists – including members of the IAM – are not expected to be trained so that they can drive safely and quickly in the event of emergencies.

Others – not least ambulance drivers – may need to acquire those skills.

Hence, for ordinary drivers, it s reasonably to expect that driving safely at normal road speeds can be regarded as a “skill” – i.e. a task that can be carried out without much conscious attention. Under such conditions, “indicating by rote” is probably good behaviour.

If, however, you are driving an ambulance to reach someone who has just suffered a heart attack or a stroke, it probably won’t be the case that your driving would be a task that can be carried out “without much conscious attention”. Hence a different training regime may be appropriate – and not wasting time and effort on unnecessary actions might be better.

This is a little bit like police chases at high speed. What is the point in achieving an objective – reaching a patient or catching a miscreant – if you endanger the lives of others in the process. Indicating becomes second nature, there is time to do it, and it shows anyone around (who you may not see) what you are doing.

Malcolm,,,,,,Yes indicating is one of the most important things a driver does……..
Braking and indicating at the same time is not indicating to me………….It is infuriating……..especially while looking for the indicator to see if this person intends turning and that indicator is often a fraction of the size of the brake light and located in the middle of the brake light………
One should not have to look for what the driver in front is going to do…………The driver in front should indicate his intentions………….Just as the driver behind should not hound/tailgate the driver in front in some vane attempt to get them out the way…………..
This is not a race circuit………I’ve been there…….Most of the crashes there result from the same impatience and bad practice as on road crashes……..but this is not a circuit………..Our road cars have brake lights to show we are slowing but they are not much use if the driver uses them like and emergency stop every time……….
I like if I can to have had the indicator blink between 7 to 11 times before I brake or turn……..As I still drive a a reasonable speed and use my brakes that means that the indicator has blinked reasonably before I make any further moves…………….
On the other hand it is possible to overdo the indicators just as it is possible to be a danger by driving very slowly where it is not required…………..
Road use is about compromise and there are many out there who consider themselves so perfect everyone else is wrong
I never honk my horn at anyone who changes lane a little late……….I lift off the loud pedal a second
I have never in my life shaken my fist at anyone……..That is a threat………..
I try to ,,,,,drive around,,,,,slow down,,,,try to avoid problems and it appears to have worked……….as I have not ran into anyone or had anyone run into me to date anyhow……..
Another thing I dont like is cars stopping without warning to let another car cross their path…………Often this can cause and has caused crashes……….The drivers behind are or should be surveying the road in front and can see fairly well there was no obstacles to avoid but this car in front simply stops for no reason…………..Yes one should keep the 2 second rule but not everyone does………..

I deliberately left out police chases at high speed = “calling all cars, sweeney style cops & robbers” because those are rather different events. I have even heard that some foreign countries do not allow their police to take part in them, for public safety reasons (sounds too good to be true though…).

For most ordinary UK citizens, getting behind the wheel of a car will be one of the most dangerous activities that they do. Each time they do it, to a greater or lesser extend, they will be endangering their own lives and those of others around them. Hopefully, if they are driving responsibly, the actual risks will be small and worth taking, when considered against the benefits expected from their journey.

Getting on a motorcycle is even more dangerous – the average risk of a serious accident is about 40 times higher than if doing the same journey by car.

Many years ago, I attended a motorcycle race school day at Cadwell Park. As regards “indicating by rote” I did notice that one (but only one) of the riders in our group was unable to suppress an automatic instinct to indicate on his approach to the circuit’s hairpin.

Indicating when approaching a hairpin is courtesy to let those behind know that they are approaching a corner. I like the anecdote, Derek.

I was once followed by a police car with a faulty dipped beam. I presumed it had failed after he had checked it prior to setting off on duty?

I have not had cause to tell a policeman but did once tell a driving instructor.

Driving instructors are mere mortals………….Driving examiners are different
Not all are bad but so many people who into any position of power begin to abuse that power and you’ll find that they club together just like the smart a***s were at school

There are also a lot of cowboy instructors around. I ended up having “words” with one many years ago because he thought I’d carved him up on roundabout when in fact he’d got into the wrong lane and should’ve turned left; not tried to go straight on.

Don’t forget that the alignment of headlights should be checked if a bulb is replaced. Bulbs carrying an ‘E’ mark should be approximately right. At the very least, point the car at the garage door and check that the top of the beam is at the same level for both dipped lights.

I was a passenger in a car and saw that something was amiss. The bulb had been fitted upside-down. The beam was pointing upwards and could have annoyed the pilots of low-flying aircraft.

Wave,,,,,,,,,,,,,,In my years in business we seen so many headlight bulbs in every shape I couldn’t even estimate how many………………..People even fitted the wrong type of bulb just as long as they could get the wire/wires/plug on it and get the clip over it some way where the beam pattern was didnt matter
I have a cousin,,,,,,young man who said he had bad lights on a Vectra…………..His father and I decided to have a look a couple of night later……………..NO Headlights,,,,,,,,sidelights only and…….Unbelievable!!!!!!!!
Thank goodness for the MOT and I never thought I’d say that

Faulty bulbs remains a common reason for MOT failure. It’s unbelievable.


Thanks to this Convo, I decided to check what spare bulbs I have in the car. I remember being confused about which bulbs were needed for the main brake lights and the four tail lights. The pile of manuals that came with the car did not help and I decided to contact the dealer, but forgot to this day.

According to the Halfords website, the bulbs for the brake and tail lights on my 2012 VW Golf are W16W wedge-base bulbs, code 955. The previous cars I have owned have had 21W brake lights and 5 W tail lights or 21/5W twin-filament stop/tail bulbs. Maybe the 16W bulbs are under-run to avoid being too bright for tail lights and rather lacking in brightness for brake lights. Other websites indicate that both tail and brake lamps take the same 16W bulb.

Can anyone shed any light on why the same bulb is used in both tail and brake lamps?

A little thing called PWM pulse width modulation……………….Absolutely bonkers…………..There was nothing wrong with a 21/5w bulb………….They even managed to mess them up……………off set pins both on the radius as well as on the height………….indicator bulbs 21w done the same
Ordinary bulbs that everyone could change
Now there is all kinds of headlights and led lights etc…………….And on top getting bulbs changed is now sometimes a problem…………..
Cars in general are gone bonkers
My son spend all day friday learning how to replace tow handbrake cables on a 159 alfa…………Front seats out
Rear seat base out,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,lift rear carpet and then you get the cables undone………….What a load of rubbish…………What was wrong with having a lever with the cable connected immediately below the lever below a car,,,,,,,,,,,,now we have even dafter electric hadbrakes
All these things are made into selling points and people seem all to willing to buy into the novelties…………

Thanks DK. I am very familiar with PWM and presume that this is used in the canbus system in cars – something I have only heard of and must read up on.

I have solved this myself. One of the 16W bulb is in fact a stop/tail lamp and rather than having twin filaments it is used at high and low brightness. The second 16W lamp is just used at low brightness as a tail light. Removal and dismantling the rear light cluster was not easy so it seemed a good time to put in a new stop/tail light bulb.

” Can anyone shed any light on why the same bulb is used in both tail and brake lamps? ”

Yes it reduces the manufacturers inventory, eliminates the possibility of the wrong bulb being fitted and makes the owners life a little easier as you only have to carry one type of spare.

That makes sense Phil, but I wonder why they opted for 16W wedge-base bulbs, which are fairly uncommon, rather than use 21W sbc bulbs. These are very common and were in use since the sixties – possibly earlier.

Yes Wave,,,,,,,,,,,,,I’m all on for electronics but why over complicate things…………….The canbus system is very unlikely to see many years in use before the amount of failures cause the demise of the vehicle……….

Lights should be checked at the beginning of each and every journey.That comment was made by the Police to me when I was pulled over for a failed brake light. So no excuses, it is a plain and simple fact.

The statement that one should check ones lights each and every trip is another “we say you should do this” to keep themselves right………………….Follow the police car and see if they check their lights at the next service or chipshop,,,,whatever………………They dont……….Pot calling the kettle black I’d say……………..

Many lights will fail while they are switched on, and therefore the weakened filaments are hot. So while it is good advice, unlikely to be followed, it does not prevent you driving with a failed light. mrs r’s 1984 Honda did display when lights had failed and where. The best solution (if you can then change them yourself without dismantling the car).

If a bulb fails when it is switched on then the filament is likely to have been weakened. Indicator bulbs are constantly being switched on and they don’t fail as frequently as other compulsory lights.

I don’t understand why advice on checking lights usually fails to mention that blackening usually provides early warning that a bulb should be replaced. The exception is halogen bulbs used for headlights where tungsten evaporated from the filament is re-deposited there rather than inside the glass envelope, so no blackening.

When fitting halogen bulbs the small bulb is quartz and can be damaged by oil from your skin, so handle them with a tissue. The same applies to halogen bulbs in your house lighting that don’t have an outer glass envelope .

Avoiding touching the bulb can be difficult but the ‘glass’ can be polished with a clean cloth or tissue to remove oils etc. A common recommendation is to moisten the cloth/tissue in alcohol but that is not essential.

The recommendation for quartz is to use alcohol ( meths is OK) to remove grease but using a tissue round the bulb is really quite easy when,very often, you are inserting the lamp into an accessible lamp connector. Grease can stain the quartz when hot and reduce light output.

Spectacle lens wipes containing alcohol would probably be a neat solution.

No, but it’s a good excuse to keep some handy. W.C. Fields said : “I always keep some brandy with me in case I see a snake. I also keep a snake.”

Many headlamps are anything but easy to replace and if you are doing the job at the roadside you might not have alcohol to hand, though there is probably a pack of tissues in the car. When replacing bulbs for others I may not know if they have been handled so they get polished. I have never seen staining develop and have checked a fair number of bulbs.

I have found that the running lights on my 108 are so bright that I have set off in dark thinking my headlights were on

I find some running lights are too bright

Hopefully we will see fewer cars with faulty headlights when LED lamps replace halogen bulbs.

I am not entirely happy with LED bulbs used for brake and rear indicator lamps because if poorly designed they can dazzle motorists, for example when in a queue at traffic lights. I don’t know why some motorists keep their foot on the brake anyway.

I have already seen quite a few led rear units with leds failed so as usual we are being given rubbish

Motorists may keep their foot on the brake to avoid using the electric handbrake, or autohold on an automatic/

From the Highway Code, Rule 114:
“In stationary queues of traffic, drivers should apply the parking brake and, once the following traffic has stopped, take their foot off the footbrake to deactivate the vehicle brake lights. This will minimise glare to road users behind until the traffic moves again.
Law RVLR reg 27”

Yes Wave but who knows about the highway code????
I cannot be bothered with the foot brake……………Handbrake s so easy why sit holding pressure on a pedal………I was once a mechanic who got to fix melted bulb holders……………I’m not about to do my own in………….
Go ask anyone how the white lines work in the middle of the road………….You know the short ones that mark the center line and the long ones that mean no overtaking and the endless ones that mean do not cross…………….
Ghost islands are just handy places for overtaking according to what I see……….
I was told the continues white lines at the side of the road was for marking the side of the road??????……………How did these people pass their driving tests
So when will we see plod book those for sitting with their foot on the brake never mind at the lights they do it in que’s for many minutes at the time
Not half of the highway code or laws are either payed attention of upheld by the law………….
Like many things one is considered unfortunate if one gets a ticket for anything………..
The same with paying tax and so forth
I’m actually a little amazed at the amount of posts on this subject and pleased but will anyone do anything about it
I know people who leave their car in each year for a service and MOT check and anything in between can and does wait…………….Just goes to show that this has became the norm for some and to become the norm must surely show that our authorities are not attempting to uphold the law……….
If our Gov is not seen to uphold the law the law should be scrapped as being unfair to the few…….

Agreed, but I seem to have taken us off-topic.

I am sorry, but I have the utmost respect for the Highway Code because it is there for my protection.

To boldly continue the off-topic thread, remember if the Highway Code uses the word “should” (instead of “must”) then it is only a guideline and not a legal requirement. I’ve even seen police drivers keep their foot on the brake at lights. I always use the handbrake and take my foot off the brake pedal at lights, but this makes me feel like an outsider because so few people follow this guideline nowadays.

Many of the rules of the Highway Code, including this one, have the backing of the law. In this case the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 prohibits lamps that are: “Used so as to cause undue dazzle or discomfort to other persons using the road.”

Thats hardly a guideline. I wish some people would follow Clint’s example and show a little consideration to fellow road users.

“Many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence. You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving. In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison. Such rules are identified by the use of the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’. In addition, the rule includes an abbreviated reference to the legislation which creates the offence. See an explanation of the abbreviations.

Although failure to comply with the other rules of the Code will not, in itself, cause a person to be prosecuted, The Highway Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts (see The road user and the law) to establish liability. This includes rules which use advisory wording such as ‘should/should not’ or ‘do/do not’.”

Agreed and you can also check if your brake lights are working as there is often a reflection from the car behind.

Wavechange: The law prohibits lights “used so as to cause undue dazzle”. This can be interpreted as meaning “used IN ORDER TO…” and the defendant can counter that by stating that dazzling was not the reason for keeping his brake lights on. But then as Derek rightly says, the Highway Code can be used in evidence if the brake lights caused dazzle which in turn caused an accident. But I don’t think you can be done just for keeping the brake lights on since that, by itself, is not an actual offence.

Des: “you can also check if your brake lights are working as there is often a reflection from the car behind.” Or just check them by seeing if the driver behind you is squinting! 😉

Maybe you are right about how this would be interpreted in law, Clint, but the I very much support what is in the Highway Code. With the introduction of LED brake lights it has become more unpleasant to wait at the lights behind a driver with their foot on the brake.

I think “so as to cause” was used in the Highway Code in order to avoid complicated legalese. I expect the intended construction was “with the result that they cause undue dazzle or discomfort to other persons using the road”. “Undue” is another civil-service type word that would keep the lawyers happy for hours. Note also “other persons using the road” – not just the driver behind then.

I would be delighted if the legal profession had to achieve the Crystal Mark standard for their communication.

Yes,,,,,,Lets bring back the 1960/70s news readers who spoke a non area specific English and everyone could understand them…………Richard Burton,,,I understand ever word and phrase of that man……………

I think you mean the excellent Richard Baker, DK – the film actor Richard Burton also spoke English very clearly but with a Welsh accent. In my opinion Corbet Woodall, also from the 1960’s, was the clearest-speaking BBC News reader with excellent enunciation and elocution – none of the diction of Dock Green heard nowadays.

Yes John near all the news readers were good back then……….
I would be of the opinion that if that had continued across the board our common spoken and written language would have gotten better
I do like Burton though and always did and perhaps because he was Welsh but made a very “nice” effort as such………
I wasn’t referring to him as a news reader though………..Perhaps I needed to start a new paragraph there……….and that is where the little problems come in I suppose……Where I am we would presume others to assume Burton to be an actor as we do whereas where you are may have assumed by the manner I wrote that I had made a mistake…..
So are we correct in correcting everyone if we dont see it like they do………I dont……..
Now dont get me wrong John,,,,I am not getting at you,,,far from it,,,I mostly enjoy your writings and I mostly understand them pretty well if the truth be told
Yes Burton was Welsh and had a very slight accent but was very clear and very nice in almost every role he played unlike many who seemed to me to bring their accent with them and then some………
English as in the English speaking English is often full of local accents and far from perfect either just as over here has a very strong local dialects although for our size we are beyond belief for dialects……
Personally if there was one thing I’d change I would like everyone to go back to pronouncing their R’s and A’s instead of mixing them up…………….Mark=Maak ,,,Rather=Ratha and Donna=Donnr type
thing…………That would be nice
I see nothing wrong with dialects,,I would be the last to suggest doing away with them but they do present problems so perhaps instead of getting as I see it increasingly stronger a little effort might help……………
I do not write anything like how I speak so my mind knows or remembers pretty much how to do it but my mouth has learned a load of bad habits if that is a way to out without offending anyone………
I dont consider those like myself with a local dialect to be any lessor a person then those who consider themselves to speak proper which may be propa but is far from proper
The “I was Stood not standing” is to me an English thing as is falling on the floor outside instead of the ground,,,,,,,,,,,There is mostly no floor outside as floor is inside………….But to write that shows that one has not learned English but is writing as one speaks……………….So how have so many got an English O Level………..
We are now importing our dialects into written language and the next thing we’ll be expected because some dude says so to write in Ulster Scots and let alone some having difficulty understanding our speech there wouldnt be a snowballs chance in h*** of some understanding our written word either because we use words a few of you guys simply do not know anything of…………..
I see Malcolm has referenced the Americans and their accents but for the most part near everyone can understand a Yank,,,,,most of them anyhow ,,,,whilst that cannot be said for those who “think” they speak the Queens English……..The problem is not about accents/dialects its about using words that are only common to an area and pronouncing words in a manner only common to an area……….and using phrases only common to an area………….It’s about the majority clubbing together to “put” their version of English on others when they themselves are possibly far from perfect…………….
One of the most shocking things many with any dialect find is to record themselves…………That include the posh because they immediately say “oh I sound so posh” so even they are in reality beyond where they thought they were……..They are fitting in with their peer group and they just realised that while they sound normal from the inside to a stranger they are overly posh…….
It’s about communicating and if we are to continue down the route we are on we are not going to make our written or spoken word any better………….
Once we strived to teach our children too write proper English even in areas with strong dialects……..The reasoning behind this as I saw it was so that we could communicate using the common language………
If some are going to write “I was stood there” which although completely wrong is understandable as such and to be avoided whilst others are going to look up the definition of individual words and use the definitions to change the meaning of a sentence as a matter of point but often misuse the one and same written or spoken language themselves we are getting into problems……………
We must try and understand each other but we also must try and encourage better…………not simply use push and shove tactics
Yes someone should have checked the heading and got the stood/standing made right just as many as I’m sure Wave is referring to in the legal circles talk quite posh and consider themselves to be correct when they are not perhaps nearly as right as they think they are……..Many have problems understanding those with mouths full of marbles for one…..
I’m pretty sure there are others here who also make every effort to write here in a manner to be understood but who talk very differently but I would not like to see someone correct every little grammar quirk or use it to twist as such………Perhaps if we heard that person who likes to correct others speak they cannot begin to pronounce the letter R which we and the Scots and most of the US are pretty good at…….
I do like to see proper written English being used especially by those who are employed to use it as such……..here in the headings,,,,,,,in the press and so forth
I will not be correcting anyone here because I would not be so presumptuous of myself as to think “I’m perfect”
But to John and Wave,,,,,,Thanks you make good points……….Sorry if a ramble,,,,,,that’s my nature

Usually it’s because they’re driving an automatic.

Probably, but I thought automatics had handbrakes or modern alternatives.

30 years ago we were replacing the bulb units of tail lights because people were sitting with their foot on the brake…………That was near the beginning of the plastic units…………..
People have no notion of using a handbrake……………Automatics want to to forward sligtly so they need a light brake to keep them at peace
Today we have brakes that hold for a short time automatically in order to let you do an easy hill start……….Not much encouragement to use the handbrake is there…………..

They often have autohold which will apply the brake automatically. Useful in stop start traffic for example. They have a parking brake of course, often electric with a setting button.

JohnS says:
20 February 2016

Automatic parking brake on my 2015 520 also applies the brake lights! So you are stationary, with the equivalent of the handbrake applied, brake lights on! As an aside, my mate was quoted over £800 to replace a sidelight bulb (parking light bulb) on a 2011 520 – sealed unit. Crackers. I do sometimes wonder what possessed me to buy an “ultimate driving machine.”

A couple of years ago, someone mentioned this in another Convo and I quoted the relevant bit from the Highway Code. I wonder if there are other manufacturers that do the same. I can see an advantage if you have to stop on a main road but hopefully most people realise that it’s worth putting their foot on the brake to warn other drivers. How on earth do daft features get approved?

Many cars seen have 1 headlight out, occasionally headlight and side-light out, look like a motor-cycle. All my cars have had easily changeable headlights, rear bulbs often hard. Difficult to check brake-lights when solo.
Sometimes when coming up to stationary vehicles is difficult to decide whether are parked or in queue or moving slowly. i flash my brake-lights to avoid being rear-ended, wish others would.

To check brake lights either use reflections as suggested by Natalie or make a wooden stick of a suitable length to push down the brake pedal and be held in place by the driver’s seat.

I am another one who flashes my brake lights if I’m worried about a car driving into mine.

If you drive in Europe, you have to carry a spare set of lights by law.

But changing them is a nightmare. Why do car manufacturers make them so difficult to get at?

It used to be well known that motorists had to carry spare bulbs when heading to France, but that seems to be history, probably because some manufacturers have made it difficult to change them at the roadside. According to the AA: “On some cars it is inadvisable or impossible for anyone other than a qualified technician to change a headlamp bulb unit e.g. high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and carrying spares is not an option. However, it is recommended that spare bulbs are carried for any lights that may be easily and/or safely replaced by the owner/driver. Spare bulbs are compulsory for Croatia.”

Regarding HID headlamps, where high voltage is the hazard, the manufacturers could make them safe to change if the put their minds to it.

When car manufacturers have done a fantastic job in improving the reliability, fuel economy and most aspects of safety, why have they gone wrong with some things – including making it easy to change bulbs.

Wave,,,,you do post some pretty to the point facts

This lack of excess has I think caused in effect a change in the law not by a proper Gov method but by default or whatever it’s called…………….If it has not caused a change then who is to blame in say France if one cannot change a headlight bulb……………

All of this is as a result of the lack of proper controls in near anything
Wave you have referred to sidelights and their locations and no one in their right mind would ever have dreamt of moving sidelights from the outer or near outer edge of a vehicle yet today we see countless cars with two side lights almost as close to each other as they are to the side of the car………….If that car is parked in an unlit area with these sidelights on how can we be sure where the side of the actual car is……………and of course there are those who drive with sidelights only to contend with………….
I remember clearly learning all the reasoning behind lighting laws and everything was reasoned and considered………..You would not have stood a snowballs chance in h*** of changing the then UK laws on lighting…………….So what happened??

I assume that motor manufacturers have put style above other considerations, DK. I would love to see the current standards for external vehicle lighting. I assume that the rules are harmonised across Europe with the exception of which side the driver’s seat is positioned.

It would be great if someone working in car design would post here. 🙂

I checked years ago………….The law was changed to suit the inward movement of sidelights and I would maintain after the fact in other words “to suit”…………It’s not so long ago I quoted the measurements for such on here somewhere and they are not hard to find on line
Because I was made to remember and be examined on these things I have a soft spot for them and as best I remember all cars had sidelights at the side up to later years………….I’d agree style above function again…………..I dont remember even European cars having very inboard lights…………..And why should a rule be changed to suit something as daft anyhow………….

Do you know that those fancy whatsits headlights are all supposed to have an automatic leveling system and not a little thingy in the dash because they can be very blinding………………..Our local MOT men who here all work for the DVA some of whom I done my C&G alongside tell me that although they had to accept that Range Rovers and the likes with self leveling suspension will in effect level their lights by remaining level as a whole the actual original rules did not allow for that vehicle leveling function……………So there you are…………The advent of a product or system by a manufacturer resulted in the understanding of a law being changed……..

I live in the country and have to put up with tractors with loads of lights everywhere being driven with all the working light on……………….One has to be cautious when meeting them…………………When are the police to do something with these dudes

A lot of drivers of specialist vehicles do not seem to know that the yellow beacons should not be left on while the vehicle is in motion, and loads of drivers do not seem to know when the hazard warning lights should and should not be used.

Tractors with more or less anything on them should have their beacons operational
Beacons can only be used below 25 mph
The max tractor speed was raised from 20mph to 25mph 40kph 9th March 2015
The max weight of a tractor/tractor combination was raised from 24 tonnes to 31 tonnes 9th March 2015

You do not need and HGV licence to drive an agricultural tractor

Now there is a quandary in there because tractor sales have been dominated by 40k boxes for years which means like cars the vehicle could exceed the speed limit for that vehicle long before 3/2015……….
Worse still is the fact that many tractors are well capable of exceeding the 25 mph 40K barrier and do
There are a few fast tractors but these have suspension etc and are legal……………….Cab suspension is not suspension………
So should a tractor be doing over 25mph…………Not unless its a JCB Fastrac or similar…………
There are a load of requirements that are simple too long to go into but involve steering, brakes, suspension etc
The long and short of it is that near all modern tractors can be seen operating well above their legal speed limit………..
Now whether one considers this bad or good is up to you………………It easier waiting behind at 35 mph than it is at 20mph thats for sure
The weights even the new weights are also regularly broken and/or ignored……………..Your thoughts are your thoughts………….
As to upholding the law???? Sorry it aint being done……….It’s that simple……..So why change a law to higher/greater when it wont be upheld?????

Fog lights or driving lamps are they are often sold as can only be used in adverse condition where visibility is less than 100 mtrs………The use in normal conditions is an offence either front or rear
A car/vehicle can only operate 2 forward facing headlights except for fog etc…………………
So just because you have two additional lights does mean you should operate them……………many fog lights turn off with the head light switch so their operation today is mostly deliberate…………………..They are not driving lamps………….Driving lamps may only operate on high beam…………………

Tractors are no exception and should only have 2 headlights on the dip……………They actually do have dipped beam it may surprise some…………….
They should not have rows of working lamps shining in almost all directions and never mind the legalities it is dangerous and arrogant to do so……………………
Some are kinda terrorists of the roads……………..There is no point in flashing your lights at them……………They are way too high for that to have any effect…………………..Truck drivers are much better HGV drivers than tractor drivers and are taught from the outset to show consideration or that’s the theory anyhow…………….I find most truckers pretty good at their jobs…………………..

Blue lights of any shade can only be fitted to emergency vehicles and only used when required
Green lights of any shade can only be used on medical practitioners vehicles when required
Red lights must not face forward
Clear lights must not face rearward
The use of coloured lights below above or inside a vehicle if they can be seen from outside all fall under the transport lighting laws

Back to beacons…………………In theory a tractor should not be doing more than 25 mph and as most have some very large implement attached they should have their beacons on…………….It is an offence to not have them on………………….Even if they are over 25mph……………..Thats simply because 2 wrongs do not make a right………..

Smoking in a tractor cab is smoking in the workplace

That should be food for thought or a rumpus one or other

Dee – I wasn’t thinking of tractors when I mentioned beacons. I was thinking of all those quasi municipal and “motorway-maintenance” trucks that seem to drive around with their beacons flashing all the time just because they carry out the occasional bin-emptying or road repair function.

Oversized tractors driven at excessive speed [with beacons flashing and a tipper of sugar beet in tow] are destroying all the country lanes near us and the continuous white side-lines are now two-feet in from the edge!

I believe that the flashing beacons are used to alert people to look out for people working in the area. That does not account for the free range tractors.

Rule 225

Vehicles with flashing amber beacons. These warn of a slow-moving or stationary vehicle (such as a Traffic Officer vehicle, salt spreader, snow plough or recovery vehicle) or abnormal loads, so approach with caution. On unrestricted dual carriageways, motor vehicles first used on or after 1 January 1947 with a maximum speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) or less (such as tractors) MUST use a flashing amber beacon (also see Rule 220 above). Law RVLR 1989 , reg 17

We have the same vans and trucks around here…………..Beacons on all day every day
They simply conveniently forget I think………….If they forget to put them on its an offence but if they just leave them on they’re not doing any wrong
A bit like the road works signs and traffic control signs that sit around for weeks…..sometimes months and not a sinner to be seen………..I have no less than 8 men with shovels signs from nearby that were never put away and eventually got toppled over……………..

In our case around here and I own 30 acres which is rented out (very different arrangements to England the rent is s**t) we are the same except the DOE roads service does not maintain the verges so the muck/dirt gets squished all over the road and its a right mess…………..We’re mucky here,,,,,,,Your in arable lands…….I been there not so long ago lifting several kw of solar panels…………….Near everything around here is dairy so its all big silage trailers followed by big slurry tankers…………..3 times per year…………..
The cars pick up the muck and it falls off in the yard………………There is literally no way to stop the mess and I’m not house proud but I dont like it nevertheless……
Our lane is being pushed into a stream and I dont know who’ll pay for it when it finally falls in……………
The machinery is way too big for our country and your area is way roomier than here. Our by roads are simply filled by the machines and big is never big enough……………There is not a gate left on the wee farm as all were too narrow at 10feet and got pushed down more or less……………I have saved a few but they were bent although I drove our littler tractor over them to straighten them and reused them in and around the yards……………..
It looks nice to the outsider but one has to be pretty agreeable to live in the midst of it all………………….

At night, my car turns on the headlights and tail lights when I press the button on the key fob, as well as flashing the indicators when the doors are locked and unlocked. This seems a very useful feature to check that the lights are working but I still have to test the brake lights – the hardest ones to check.

My (new) car apparently displays any light that has failed on the dashboard display. I have not seen this happen yet! Hopefully I wont but, if I do, many require “technical service” to replace them – Xenon and LEDs. Such is the price of progress, but in fairness they should last ages. My 11 year old Espace still has the original Xenon headlight bulbs. My 22 year old Espace has all filament bulbs, all easy to replace, but the headlights do not compare with Xenon.

I have not seen failed xenon or LED lamps on cars so far, so hopefully you will be lucky. With xenon lamps, there is both the lamp and separate ballast to produce a high voltage, the latter being given as the reason for not replacing them yourself.

It is also not necessarily obvious if the ballast or lamp is faulty, and they are both very expensive. Son number 1 replaced his on a BMW; the lamps had both started to go pink, a sure sign of impending lamp failure. He bought two Osram replacements (do buy a well known make) for around £50 each and replaced them successfully. About half the price of some suppliers so it is worth looking around the net.

Progress is the better light and much longer life so on the whole we do benefit. I just continue with the plea to make replacement more straightforward and not forget that most people with common sense and a basic tool kit can do such jobs.

The way to check whether the lamp or ballast is at fault is to switch the lamps or ballasts, whichever is easier. I appreciate that the ballast generates a high voltage but there is no reason why the owner should not be able to carry out replacements without danger. I’ve been told that they retain a high voltage when switched off but I am not sure if this is true.

Every month summer and winter I make a point of doing a visual check of my car to include lights, plus tyre pressures, engine oil, screen wash, brake fluid and engine coolant.

Another problem I’m noticing on some modern cars like VW and a few others is since using led lights for rear lamps, they strobe on and of rapidly giving a flickering effect which can be distracting and possibly dangerous. I think all these vehicles should be recalled and have better quality control circuits put in to control the brightness

I have noticed this also…………………We had to follow something for manys miles earlier last year and it was near to driving us nuts………….

Is this an effect that you notice or do others see the same problem, John?

I’m interested because I know that some people including myself are affected by flickering that others don’t notice.

John, I notice this not on cars (well not consciously up till now, but I’ll look!) but on LED amber warning lights round road works. I’m not normally susceptible to flicker, but it is more pronounced out of the corner of my eye. This may be pulsed dc circuits controlling the LED output?

It has been reported that CanBus might be responsible for car light flicker; sending a low voltage group of pulses to check circuit continuity which will superimpose a small flicker on the normal output. Any thoughts as to whether this might be possible?

Malcolm – From what I have read, the main problem is where owners have replaced incandescent bulbs with LEDs. The lower load can cause flickering.

Flickering is most obvious in peripheral vision, but some are more affected much more than others. CRT computer monitors set to the default 60 Hz refresh rate are very obvious to me even if the user is unaware of the flicker. Fluorescent tubes often develop a flicker days before failing.

Driving past LED signs can produce a strange pattern where the LEDs are driven by pulses.

Flicker I agree does not effect everyone…………..Wave is correct about 60hz but 50hz also has a place in this as does the various fluorescents………

No matter how many tubes I have in my workshop I find myself with either a hand held or head mount LED to see littler things…………..Even changing resistors on a pcb requires the dc light……….Before LEDs I worked with various 12v handlamps right back into my 20s
The near to invisible flicker does not drive me nuts or consciously annoy me as such but seeing details with it is near to impossible………….I dont know what other people see I just know I cannot see as well as I know I can see………
My former workmate who works at electronics has always used dc lighting and his bench light mag glass is fitted with a filament and PSU instead of ac…….

Perhaps this is the cause of my love of being outside…………..
I always say that if I had the money I’d have a nice flat place and a lift outside for the summertime………….
Now this thought has never occurred to me to right now
Could it be that it’s not the outside that I like so much as the inside with ac lighting that I dont like so much………………Bear in mind that I am one of of a very few this generation that was brought up away from ac lighting and ac circuits……………..All our lighting was dc as was the Uncles place because it was powered from a redundant mill waterwheel………….Was I not conditioned to run on hz early enough???……………Or do I simply know I can see better with dc lighting………………

I am not into the technological aspects of vehicles and their lighting systems but yesterday I happened to be driving around in a very rainy dark and cloudy 4 degree temperature with very restricted visibility and whilst most motorists had their headlights switched on, I was amazed at the number of vehicles, (the majority were cars) had not. Don’t some drivers realise that although they may have bionic vision and can see in the dark, other drivers are unable to see them!

I think flickering is more likely to affect people suffering with epilepsy but presumably they would not be allowed behind a steering wheel anyway.

I agree. I don’t have a great deal of time for daytime running lights, especially the cars where have decorative strings of LEDs that look as if they have been designed by a child of four. Nevertheless DRLs cannot be turned off in recent cars, so are helping to tackle the problem of drivers not using their lights when they should.

Your Japanese lady has gone awol again Beryl.

Wave,,,,,,,,,,,I liked the child of four bit…………………..Do you not realise that many car buyers are around 4 and still play with their toys!!!!!

I didnt mind and in fact liked the Volvo 21w running/daylight lamps but these strings of led’s are very white and annoying…………………
The 21w lamps were about enough to overcome idiot in the near dark with as Beryl puts it bionic eyes……………

I’m not sure what the legal limitations are today but once 5w was the max sidelight value………..
I dont know what the daylight running lights were supposed to be
Dim dip was less than the Volvo 21w as some cars used the two bulb elements in series to enable dim dip………….

Have a look at the similarity of the ‘cockpit’ of modern cars to a child’s push-chair – all the toys within easy reach. 🙂

No doubt many will have seen cars with indicators consisting of rows of LEDs, where the light appears to move from left to right or vice versa. The manufacturers have much more up their sleeves.

I would like to see legislation to standardise lighting on cars. It’s fairly obvious that headlights, DRLs, indicators and tail lights should all give an indication of the width of the vehicle, but many models fail miserably. Brake lights should not be combined with tail lights because seeing a brake light come on is more conspicuous than seeing a lamp become brighter. Rear fog lights should be fitted on both sides of the vehicle. There is no reason why these cannot be combined with tail lights, but that is not often done. Tail lights should be duplicated in case of failure. That may not be necessary when LED lights take over, but since George posted this Convo I have seen three cars with a faulty tail light.

Good man Wave
What about the tiny rear indicators located in the middle/surrounded by a bright and larger brake light,,,,,,,then combine that with the drivers who brake before they indicate makes it needing looked for as such
Not so many years ago we had big rear lights with indicators separated to one side and near all my older cars had dual taillight bulbs…………….
Front side lights were expected to “mark” the side of the vehicle but everything seems yet again to be a styling exercise

I agree DK. Absolutely daft. Decorative lighting is for Christmas, not cars.

If there are indicator switches for on/off left/right turning and also for fog lights, why can’t mfrs introduce indicators on the electronic operations panel to reveal a faulty bulb somewhere in the system that needs investigating, or maybe warning signals similar to that I receive when forgetting to turn my lights off before opening my door.

As long as modern motoring technological advancement doesn’t reach the stage where we have to yell “doors to manual” before alighting………………. after all we already have driverless cars which drive themselves 🙂

There appears to be an intermittent problem when posting on my iPad but not on my laptop. Not sure why but I have to repeatedly sign in before each posting on my iPad.

Quite bizarre to say the least!

Hello she’s back again. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Thanks for letting me know this problem is on your iPad Beryl… that might be the thing to investigate. I’ll let our developer know. If you ever have any website problems, please share them here: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/welcome-to-the-new-which-conversation/#comments Thanks

Thanks Patrick. I have tried various remedies such as re registering but I always receive a notification to say my name already exists. Signing in seems to be the only way to post a comment using my iPad.

As you know I have previously reported this problem online but thanks for forwarding the correct website to contact.

Apologies for breaking up the car headlight thread.