Car fog lights. How to properly use them and problems that can occur

No matter how good you are as a driver, it is difficult for anyone to drive in foggy conditions. Visibility is reduced, sometimes significantly, which means that you have less time to react to the actions of other drivers, to unexpected occurrences of various road obstacles, and even simple turns.

Headlights are not very helpful in this situation. The drops of water that make up the fog are very reflective. The lights are reflected in the fog, thus reducing visibility even more. Using the high beam makes things even worse.

In this situation, the fog lights appear. Although it does not solve the problem 100%, they are part of the equipment of your car for a reason. Below we will explain how they work, how we can drive in foggy conditions, and what are the solutions if the fog lights stop working.

Read the instructions in the manual

learn how to use the fog lights

Identify on the car the on / off buttons of the headlights/fog lights and test how they work. Usually, on the car, there are two fog lights in the lower area of ​​the front bumper and a (rarely two) fog light located in the rear optical block or in the lower area of ​​the rear bumper.

If in the beginning, cars came equipped with 2 fog lights in the rear, this was forbidden later on, due to the high power of the bulbs, which blinded those in the back. New vehicles have a single rear fog light located on the left, for vehicles with the steering wheel on the left or on the right in countries where the traffic is on the left.

Learn how to turn the fog lights on and off

Precisely to prevent misuse, headlights and fog lights are used only under certain conditions. Thus, the fog lights power buttons do not have any effect if the low beam is not turned on and they always have a light icon on the dashboard.

In the case of fog lights, the indicator is similar to that of the headlights, always green, with the beam interrupted by a vertical curved line. The functioning of the rear fog light is signaled by a similar indicator, of orange color. The indicator is present in both cases and on the power buttons.

front fog lights symbol dashboard 1
rear fog symbol dashboard 1

Usually, there are two types of fog lights power buttons: separate buttons on the car dashboard for each function (usually on the left side of the board, but there are exceptions) or a rotating ring placed on the headlight ignition lever.

Headlights vs fog lights

They are mounted low, usually, under headlights, the location is well thought out, as the fog closest to the ground is less dense, so it is easier to see through it.

These lights have been created with a special model, as opposed to headlights that are taller, wider, stronger, the fog lights produce a wide, low light, pointed straight on the road in front of your vehicle.

The unique model illuminates the road edges and road markings to help you see things better. It also reduces the amount of glare reflected from the fog itself.

Fog lights can also help you in the dust, rain, or snow conditions, remember that fog lights work best at low speeds when the most important thing is to see the road ahead.

Tips for driving in foggy conditions

driving in fog conditions

1. Slow down

Low visibility is dangerous. The thicker the fog, the slower you should drive, keeping the legal distance from the driver in front of you.

2. Use wipers and defrosting

Mist means moisture and moisture on the windscreen will keep you from seeing. Use wipers and defrost to keep the windscreen clean at all times.

3. Guide yourself by the traffic lane markings

If the visibility is very low, guide yourself by the painted markings on your right and those on the left might help, but looking in that direction would mean blaming all the headlights on cars coming in the opposite direction, which could affect your short-term vision.

4. Don’t stop on the road

If the road is impossible to see, you might be tempted to stop. If you do this, make sure you stop as far away from the road as possible and turn off all the lights. If the lights are on, a car in the back might think you’re on the road and will come in your direction.

5. Do not use high beam during fog

Above I said, the low beam does not help you enough when it is foggy, however, if you use a high beam the reflected light will be even more annoying for the driver making it practically impossible to see the road. The low beam must be turned on for the driver to be seen.

Rear fog lights

car rear fog light

Many cars nowadays come equipped with fog lights on the rear. Most are found in factories in Europe, where they are mandatory. Their purpose is to be seen by other traffic participants.

These intense red lights are made to prevent other people from hitting you in the back. By making your vehicle more visible, the rear fog lights provide greater safety under fog conditions.

If your car has this, remember to turn them off when the fog disappears, they are very bright and will limit the ability of the driver behind you to see clearly.

Solutions for fog lights that do not work

Except for a few newer vehicles that are equipped with LEDs for fog lights, most use a conventional bulb that can burn after a certain period of time.

If you notice that one of the fog lights does not work or appears to be blinking, it most likely means that the bulb needs to be replaced. If you do not feel confident in solving this problem, ask your mechanic for help.

Check the fuse

If both bulbs from the fog lights stopped working at the same time, the problem could be very good and from a bad fuse. Look in the car’s manual after the location of the fuse box and the fuse that deals with the fog lights.

With the car stopped, remove the fuse and check it. If it seems okay, put it back in place. If it is burnt – the thin metal part inside it broke- then you will need to replace it with one of the same types.

Now start the engine and try to turn on the fog lights. If it works, that’s all. If it doesn’t work or burn again, go to a mechanic and check the problem.

Replacing the bulb

Removing a burnt-out bulb and replacing it with a new one may seem easy – but not every time. Usually, this involves physically removing the bulb, disconnecting it from its base, and then doing the reverse process with the new bulb.

But it all depends on how accessible are the fog lights from your car. Some cars have easy access, while in others, you will have to look deeper under the hood or even unmount the fog lights to replace the bulb inside.

Consult the car’s instruction manual for how to perform the change process, and then look at your vehicle to see if you can handle it on your own.

If you think you can remember not to touch, under any circumstances, a bulb with bare hands, as it can cause the bulb to break when heated, instead, use a clean, dry cloth.

If the process seems difficult to you, visit a workshop.

Know the legislation of the country in which you travel

Not all countries allow the use of fog lights or there are restrictions that you must consider. It is worth remembering that, usually, the use of fog lights is only allowed in adverse weather conditions – namely fog, snow or heavy rain – which drastically restricts the visibility. Fines are stingy in most if you do not follow the rules of each country.

For not respecting traffic regulation there are several fines – in some countries, you could even go to prison, in case of repeating the same thing- the correct use of fog lights is relatively easy to learn. The basic rules are basic.

I don’t think I’m the only one bothered by the fact that there are still people who don’t know how to use the fog lights. They exist with a purpose on cars, not to blind us in the middle of the day or in the clear nights. The worst thing about this situation is the ignorance of some who, not only do they not know how to respect the traffic rules, but they do not have the good sense to read the manual of the car they drive.

It is not a great thing to know the dashboard instruments and their functions, in order to be able to behave correctly and civilized in traffic. And we all think that we were often annoyed seeing the traffic participants practically defying us, keeping the fog lights on when not the case.

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