“Hey there, do you know if all your car’s lights are working properly? Checking your car’s lights is definitely easier with two people, but for this guide, I’ll show you how pro mechanics do it solo.
Step 1 Choose a Good Spot
Look for a reflective surface to park your car in front of and put the parking brake on. A large window or glazed doors works great. The best time to do this is on a dull day or in the evening shade when the light starts fading.
Step 2 Daytime Running Lights (DRL)
With the light switch set to off or Auto, turn the ignition “On” (pos 2). The daytime running lights should come on automatically. Go ahead and check the light’s reflection on the glazed surface; each side should be clearly visible.
Worth noting your DRL won’t come on if the sensor doesn’t pick up enough daylight.
Step 3 Parking Lights
Now turn the ignition switch off, and turn the light switch to the parking light setting; parking lights are also known as marker, corner, and side lights. Go ahead and check the light’s reflection on the glazed surface. All good? Great!
Step 4 Check Headlights
Now go ahead and start your vehicle, turn your light switch to the Headlights setting, and once again, check your reflection. Now flick your lights forward for full beams and check that both headlights shine brightly.
Step 5 Check Front Fog Lights
Engine still running, turn on your front fog light switch; the switch may be light switch integrated or located independently on the dashboard.
Step 6 Reposition Vehicle
Now we need to reverse your vehicle so that the rear now faces the glazed surface, don’t forget to set your parking brake.
Step 7 Check Brake Lights
With the engine running and the light switch off. Place your foot on the brakes and check both side-mounted and tailgate-mounted brake lights
Step 8 Check Tail Lights
With your light switch set to parking lights, check both rear tail lights and your license plate lights; there are usually two.
Step 9 Check Turn Signals
Turn on the left and right turn signal and check your reflection.
Step 10 Check Rear Fog Light
With the engine running, turn on the headlights and rear fog light. The rear fog light is independent of the front fog light but is usually located together.
Step 11 Check Reverse Light
Engine running, place your vehicle in R, and check your reflection.
Step 12 Interior Lights
Turn on the interior lights and check that they are working properly. This includes the dome light, map lights, and any other interior lights your car may have.
As a final step, shut your vehicle off and inspect the vehicle by walking around it. Turn on your hazard and side lights and ensure the mirror and side bumper lights work if installed. Also, look for any cracks or signs of water damage on the light lenses.
That’s it; you nailed it!
You may find the following pages helpful:
Beginner DIY car maintenance page
- About the Author
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.