Low Beams vs High Beams: Using Your Headlights

guide to headlights canada

Your vehicle’s headlights let you see and be seen.  But making sure your lights are on and working is only half the battle. Weather, location, brightness and time of day all have an effect on safety and visibility, and how you use your lights will greatly affect how effective they function.

In Canada, headlights come with three settings – daytime, low beam and high beam. Each mode offers its own set of pros and cons depending on environmental conditions, so knowing when to switch between them can help make your car ride safer.

When to Use Daytime Running Lights

Daytime running lights have been standard on vehicles in Canada since 1990. Meant for use during clear (sunny) daylight hours, daytime headlights improve safety by helping drivers to spot oncoming traffic.

It’s important to note that while many vehicles now have automatic DRLs, these lights do not activate tail lamps, which only illuminate when high beam and low beams are in use.

when to use low beams city

When to Use Low Beam Lights

Whether it’s rain, fog or snow, low beam lights should be switched on when visibility is less than 150 metres, regardless of the time of day. At night, low beams are best used when driving in traffic and in lit city areas where short-range breams are sufficient for lighting the road.

To improve visibility, wipe down your lights on a regular basis – especially during muddy fall and winter months.

When to Use High Beam Lights

High beams are meant for nighttime use in empty areas when no other vehicles or lighting is present. Because of their brightness, headlights should be switched to the low beam setting when an oncoming driver is within 150 metres.  If another driver is approaching you with high beams on or extra bright headlights, keep your eyes to the right hand side of your lane to avoid being blinded.

High beams should not never used during foggy conditions as their light will bounce off of cloud particles and reflect back at the driver.

when to use high beams night

Rural vs City Driving: Which Headlight to choose

Depending on where you do most of your nighttime driving, different bulbs will have different effects. Halogen headlights are the standard for modern vehicles.  Emitting a bright, non-blinding white light, they offer a longer lifespan than Xenon or LED bulbs and are less expensive and easier to replace.

At Searles, we have three kinds of halogen lights we recommend for drivers, each of which offers different advantages depending on where your vehicle is being driven.

NAPA LongLite: The LongLite provides an additional 120 feet of visibility over standard halogens, making it a great option for drivers who to do regular backroad and highway driving at night.

NAPA WhiteLite: Recommended for city driving, the eye-catching NAPA WhiteLite uses a cooler, white lite that reflects better off street signs without blinding other drivers.

NAPA SafetyLite: This premium headlight capsule is an excellent option for rural areas thanks to a 1600 lumen display that delivers a brighter and wider field of vision than other halogen bulbs. A unique tri-colour coating adds a non-glaring yellow light to ensure that oncoming drivers aren’t blinded.

Our expert mechanics are always here to help! You can also give us a call at 1-250-475-2000 or schedule an appointment online  for any of your car repair needs!


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