Car Light Types : Everything You Should Know

Visualization is an integral part of driving, and car lights play a vital role in this aspect. In your automotive repair and maintenance practice, you need to know the different car light types and their role in the car.

The lights play various roles, and each must be functioning for the car to be deemed roadworthy. Aside from visibility, they are also essential indicators, especially those found at the back, and they help with the safety of other motorists on the road.

If you want to know more about car lights, you are in the right place as we will show you the different types and the role they play in the car.

Car Light Types, Names with pictures



In the car lighting system, the headlights are the most famous and equally important to the motorist. They come as a pair, located in the car’s frontal area, though in other vehicle models, they may be four and serve cosmetic purposes or brand signature. The headlights play a vital role in illumination, especially in dark conditions, allowing the driver to see the road ahead.

Read Also: How to Clean Inside Headlights on Your Car

There are two types of car headlights; low beam and high beam lights. The low beam lights give sufficient lateral and forward lighting. On the other hand, high beam lights provide centered light distribution with no control of glare and are ideal for roads with no visible traffic.



As their name hints, tail lights are at the back of the car and produce a red light. They work in tandem with the headlight, such that when the headlight is on, they are also on. Their primary purpose is to let motorists know that there is a car ahead of them and how far it is.

Fog Lights

Fog Lights

Fog lights help the driver see in foggy conditions. You find this type of light below the headlights, and it emits a wide beam of light, with a sharp cutoff preventing the light from refracting off the fog and glaring back to the driver. They usually come into play when the headlights are not so effective, especially when there is too much fog.

Daytime Running Lamp

Daytime Running Lamp

The daytime running lights are present in both the front and the rear of the vehicle, and they automatically turn on when the car is on a drive or when the handbrake is down. Their main purpose is to help other road users notice the vehicle, though they may be distractive. Some car models have the option of turning them off.

Signal Lights

Signal Lights

The signal lights are critical in driving and can go by turn signals or blinkers. You will find them at both the front and the rear of the car by the side of the headlights and tail lights. You activate these lights to signal other drivers that you are taking a turn, indicating the direction you are taking. They play a significant role in communicating with other drivers when on the road.

Brake Lights

Brake Lights

On the car’s rear, to the side of the taillights, are the brake lights. As their name hints, they turn on when you turn on the brake, and they signal other drivers that you are slowing down. While they are not prone to misuse, you should maintain them properly to prevent the occasional burnout.

Hazard Lights

Hazard Lights

The hazard lights are flashing lights in the front and the rear of the car, which you have to manually turn on in case of distress. You press the hazard button on the dashboard to alert other motorists that your car is not in the best driving shape, such as if you have alternator problems.

Parking Lights

Parking Lights

Parking lights are also on the front and back of the car. On the front, they have either a white or amber appearance, while on the back, they are red. They should be visible for 500 feet, and you use them when parking. In most states, it is illegal to drive with the parking lights on.

Interior Lights

Interior Lights

Interior lights are the ones found inside the car and help brighten the inside. You should not use them for long, especially when driving, as they can affect your judgment.

Other Types of Lights

The lights come from bulbs, and there are different types of car light bulbs, the common ones being LED, halogen, and xenon lights. Let us have a look at these types.

LED Lights

LED lights are standard in modern vehicles or those with aftermarket tuning. The LED lights’ primary purpose is cosmetic, primarily on the headlight area, where they give the car’s front part a sharper look. They are energy efficient in addition to being less prone to heating up. This makes them long-lasting and easy to maintain.
Some care will feature this type of car light on the body or even wheels to make the car stand out.

Halogen Lights

Halogen lights are the standard lights in most vehicles and use a combination of gases such as nitrogen and argon inside a tube with a tungsten filament, which heats up to produce light. They are cheap and easy to care for, though they have the issue of overheating.


The xenon lights also go by high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. They work in an almost similar manner to halogen lights by heating gases and metals to produce lights. The main difference is that they use rare metals to light up.

They produce much light compared to halogen lights of the same wattage. They are not common due to the high cost of the rare metals and their uncontrolled glare.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q: What Are The Lights In Front Of The Car Called?

There are several lights in the front of the car, but the most prominent ones are the headlights and the fog lights. The headlights illuminate the road ahead in dark conditions, while the fog lights come in handy during foggy conditions when the headlights cannot light the area well.

Q: What Are Sidelights?

The sidelights are also known as parking lights, located in the headlight unit or the frontal corner in some vehicle models. These lights are either white or amber, and you use them when parking to help other drivers notice you and avoid you, especially at night.

Q: What Are The Small Lights Under The Headlight Called?

Below the headlight are a smaller set of lights, which are fog lights. They help light up the way in foggy conditions, where their straight beam will not reflect the glare to the driver.

Q: What Does Taillight Mean?

Taillights are the car lights at the rear of the vehicle. They turn on when the headlights are on and help other motorists know that there is a vehicle ahead of them, giving them vital attributes such as distance, inclination, and car size.

Q: Are Headlights And The Taillights The Same?

No, the headlights and the taillights are not the same as the former is on the front while the latter is on the rear part of the car. However, they turn on at the same time when in dark conditions, with the headlight lighting the way ahead, while the taillights alert other road users that there is a car before them.

Q: Are The Taillight And The Brake Light The Same?

The taillight and brake light are not the same, though they are in the same area, the rear part of the car. When the headlights are on, the taillight will turn on to notify other road users of your presence on the road. On the other hand, the brake light will turn on immediately after you press on the brakes and are also brighter than the taillights.

Q: How Do I Check Brake Lights By Myself?

If you want to check your brake lights, start by turning the car ignition on and ensure that the car is not in gear. Put some weights such as a broom on the brake pedal, pushing it down until you engage it. You can now go round the car and see the brake lights turning on.


The car lighting system is essential to both the driver and other road users. Above are some of the different car lights that you need to know as a mechanic to help you out in your practice. One thing you should notice is that the lights have different colors. For example, the frontal lights are clear to light the way ahead, while the rear lights are red for indication purposes.

The lights should not be on when the car is on idle, as it may lead to a dead battery. Additionally, know how to clean the car headlights and other lights, which is an essential part of maintaining them.

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Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

3 thoughts on “Car Light Types : Everything You Should Know

  1. Right away I am going to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast coming over again to read more news.|

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