Fog lights: You see them on the fancy sports car stalled in front of you at a green light and on the tractor-trailer barreling down the highway. But what makes fog lights worth the money for luxury car owners, professional truck drivers, and amateur racers alike? And are they worth it for your vehicle?
What Are Fog Lights?
Fog lights are low-beam lights that are mounted low on the vehicle. They’re usually mounted on the front bumper or the fenders, but they can also be mounted inside or under the headlights. Fog lights give you more visibility when it’s foggy out there by illuminating areas that your headlights wouldn’t reach otherwise.
They’re ideal for driving in bad weather conditions, especially when visibility is already limited because of rain or snow, dust storms, and heavy mist (fog). In addition, they typically come with a yellowish or white color to help reflect light back into the fog and are often found on the front bumper or fenders of vehicles.
What does define a fog light?
Fog lights are high-intensity, low-beam lights mounted in the front of your vehicle. Since they are lower in power than headlamps, they are not as bright, and most often, they have a light-colored lens to reduce glare.
In addition, some fog lamps have a yellow-tinted lens to enhance contrast and help drivers see better in foggy conditions. However, many believe that all fog lights have yellow bulbs, yellow lenses, or both because some selectively emit yellow light.
Selective yellow has really been utilized on cars at different times throughout their history for both fog lights and conventional main beam headlights. Consequently, even though some fog lights do emit selective yellow light, many do so in white or amber (a more reddish version of yellow fog lamps).
Nevertheless, a fog lamp is distinguished from other lights by its bar-shaped light beam and its aim direction, not by its color.
Headlamps vs. Fog Lights
Fog lamps are supplementary automotive lighting, but fully functioning headlamps are mandatory: some drivers would say that their headlamps provide enough lighting during poor weather conditions, which may be true, but that doesn’t mean it is universally appliable. It all comes down to the quality of your headlamps, and the type of car one may own. For example, in case your car is only equipped with halogen reflector headlights, installing fog lamps may be a good option to increase visibility in some cases.
However, make sure that both your headlights and fog lights are mounted correctly (as specified in the legal requirements of your state of reference) and that they are aimed in a different direction while having different outputs.
Are fog lights a good idea for you?
Fog lights are a great way to see and be seen in less than ideal weather. They can help you see at night, during heavy rain, and even in heavy snow. If you’re not sure if fog lights are worth it for your vehicle, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I live in an area where the weather can be bad? Foggy? Rainy? Snowy? Windy?
- Do I need to drive at night frequently (or sometimes)?
- Do you want to increase the level of safety during inclement weather conditions?
From a legal perspective, in the United States, fog lights fall under the “auxiliary lights”, meaning you are not obliged by the law to mount fog lamps on your car. However, they were designed to compensate for the shortcomings created by headlamps which are mandatory equipment. Moreover, they cannot substitute regular headlights while driving.
Do Fog Lights Make A Difference?
In some scenarios, fog lights can turn out to be a crucial safety feature. Firstly, they help you see better and be seen better, so it makes sense to install them if you live in a place that experiences fog or snow regularly.
Secondly, fog lights can make it easier for others to notice you when visibility is low. They’re also useful during heavy rain when raindrops create glare that obscures the light from headlights or taillights on nearby vehicles. And since fog lights typically emit less wattage than regular headlights (no need for too much power), they won’t blind oncoming traffic either!
How to make your fog lights worth it?
Anyone who has ever driven through thick fog knows that it can be scary. Driving in a dark and cloudy environment with poor visibility is very dangerous. Fog lights are a great way to provide some extra light when driving at night, but what happens when your fog lights aren’t effective enough?
- Upgrade to HID or LED fog lights
As bulbs get brighter, they can illuminate a larger area — that’s great if you want to see more of what’s ahead at night but not so great if that area includes something like an oncoming vehicle or large animal coming towards your headlights. That’s where HID/LEDs shine: they produce less glare than halogens because they emit light directly forward instead of into a wide cone shape around them!
- Clean and polish your fog lights
A good way to increase the effectiveness of your fog lights is to clean and polish them regularly. Don’t know how? Check out our guide on how to clean your fog lights.
- Invest in projector fog lights
A standard fog light has a very narrow beam of light, which is great for visibility on the road but not so good when it comes to seeing obstacles or other vehicles in front of you. Projector fog lights have a wider beam that fills more space in front of the car, making it easier for drivers to see objects in their path.
- Make sure your fog lights are angled properly
First, make sure that your fog lights are aimed correctly. If they are not appropriately aligned, you will not be getting the full benefits of their use.
Second, the aim is an essential part of being able to see when driving in bad weather conditions. When your car’s headlights and fog lights are both aimed correctly, it helps drivers see better in low visibility conditions and allows them to see more clearly before an accident occurs.
Thirdly, if your car has factory-installed fog lights and these have not been checked recently by an auto technician or mechanic, then now would be a good time for them to do so as this can help save money on repairs down the road by preventing damage from occurring sooner rather than later!
Bear in mind that each state may bring different legal requirements when it comes to the mounting of your fog lights.
For example, in Florida, fog lamps are to be mounted at the height of 12 to 30 inches above the level surface on which the vehicle is placed, and they must be positioned so that, when the vehicle is unloaded, the high-intensity portion of the light to the left of the vehicle’s center does not project higher than 4 inches above the level of the lamp’s center at a distance of 25 feet.
Brighter Road Ahead
We’ve looked at the ins and outs of fog lights and answered the question: are they worth it? Fog lights are an often overlooked feature on cars. However, if you live in a place with bad weather or drive at night in urban areas, they can be a great investment.
Not only do fog lights help you see better – but they also help other people see you! If you care about your safety and the safety of others around you while driving, fog lights might just be worth it.