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June 29, 2009


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One of the many reasons I love my Subaru... lights on all the time. I turned them on when I bought the car and they are still on.

When the car is turned off, it turns off all lights, nice.


or do what Buick has been doing for decades: install light-senors so the headlights come on AUTOMATICALLY.

I had this rather convenient and surprising-to-import-lovers feature in my 95 Regal. It wasn't even a loaded model.

Brent Morton

Another factor is the increasing number of vehicles that have auto-on headlights - many drivers just leave the headlight switch in the "Auto" position and never touch it again, leaving it up to the car to decide when to run full lights. Hello?

Of course, sensitivity of these light sensors varies from vehicle to vehicle as well. My Mini is quick to turn on its lights, although it's really just illuminating the dash lights, since Mini DRLs are Jim-approved (all lights, all the time, non-defeatable). On the other hand, my wife's Toyota lets it get way too dark to suit us before it turns its lights on (fortunately, the dealer can adjust it).


My 2004 Volvo does the same, all lights on all the time. Only problem, you go through a few light bulbs, but Volvo even covers that under warranty!


I don't see my previous comment on this so I'm trying again. Sorry if it shows up twice...

My Mazda 3 has auto headlights and sometimes I wish they were less sensitive, or at least waited longer. Like when I drive under a bridge and the headlights suddenly flick on, sending the driver behind me into a bumper tag induced panic because they think I am suddenly braking.

Having said that I'm surprised by the number of people who drive with only DRLs even at night. I mean, wouldn't you think something is up when you can't see your gauges in the dark? Or don't you wonder why everyone is flashing their lights at you? (Unless they are warning you about a radar trap, *nudges Jim*)


Hi Brian:

Not sure I saw that other comment, so here it is now.

The answer to the Auto headlight problem is, of course - DON'T USE IT!

And I think some cars illuminate the dash lights when the DRLs come on, and there is enough illumination from the DRLs out the front to make the driver think the lights are in fact on.

Again, we should all learn not rely on the government (DRLs) or technology (Auto lights) to do such a simple job for us!

Just switch your headlights to 'on' when you fire up the car, and don't forget to switch them off when you turn the car off.

Problems solved...




There is an even better solution to the issue: drive a car that forces DRL, parking lights (side visibility), and taillights on, perpetually. While I always make sure to manually turn on my lights in any vehicle I operate, my car will force all of my lights on under all conditions, anyway. The car is a Lexus and is over 20 years old. Does it really take twenty years--and counting--for automakers to understand outward visibility?

Regarding longevity: despite being turned on at all times, only one tail light bulb (out of the 80s-style 'array' of 20 gajillion) and one front parking light have ever burned out, which goes to show that this really is a sustainable solution. So what gives?


Hi Dan:

Actually, several car makers (BMW was one) started complying with the DRL legislation by switching on all lights, all the time, partly, I have always presumed, because that was the simplest way to do it.

But many of those switched to the reduced-intensity high beams with no taillights, and bulb life was always the reason they gave me.

I agree; a lame excuse.

I have a Lexus in my driveway as I type (the new RX 450h Hybrid). I'll have to see if it has taillights on when the DRL are on - not that ever drive with DRL!

Just tonight, coming home from the airport in the driving rain, there was a new-generation Chrysler minivan trundling along the 401 with just his DRL, and no taillights - exceptionally dangerous in the poor visibility. I flicked and flashed and honked at the driver, but he just looked at me like I was nuts.

Then I noticed an all-too-familiar problem - his DRL switches on the dashboard lights. If that didn't happen, maybe people would notice more.

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