Have you ever wondered how your headlights work? They turn on and off and change from high beams to low beams with the flip of a switch. However, we tend to take headlights for granted. They are always here when we need them until they stop working. If you are driving at night and your headlights give you problems, it’s a dangerous situation. You need to get them fixed right away before your next night out in the car.
While there may be other causes, one common reason why your headlight may not work is your headlight relay. Your headlight relay switches are components that disrupt the regulation of electrical flow between conductors to turn on your headlights and toggle between high and low beams.
How do you know if it’s your relay switch that is the problem? Let’s learn about how to check and fix bad car headlights:
Switch headlight modes
When you want to change your headlights from low to high, you change them with a switch in the vehicle. This initiates the headlight relay. If your lights don’t change or remain stuck in one position, your relay may be worn out. Besides being stuck, they may also turn off and on by themselves intermittently. This can be very dangerous for you and other drivers on the road.
Check for high beam issues
When you are driving at night, there are times when you need to use high beams to see clearly. Mist and fog or unlit streets make driving conditions unsafe without high beams, so you need to rely on them. If you turn them on but nothing happens, this may be because of a broken relay switch. Another issue is once you have them on, they disengage. The switch doesn’t hold its position and pops loose, resulting in the high beams turning off.
Replace the lights
Driving at night without headlights is like driving with your eyes closed. If you turn your lights on and nothing happens, your relay switch may be completely failing. If you cannot get any mode working, you need to get the headlights or taillights replaced right away. This is a vehicle that is unsafe to drive.
Try turning your lights on
If you suspect your headlight relay is not working, you can test it by turning them on. This is a pretty easy way to test the relay. If both lights illuminate, you are good to go. If only one light comes on, your relay is working because it operates both lights. It is probably a burned-out bulb or loose wiring. If they both don’t come on, it is likely your relay.
Hear the click
When you turn on the lights, there will be a clicking sound from the relay. The relay is inside your fuse box either under the hood or in the cab of the vehicle. If there is no sound, the relay is bad. Replace it with a new one or swap another common relay from the panel and try the lights again to hear the click.
Use a multimeter/ohmmeter
If you have a multimeter, you can check the relay to see if it is ok. Take it out of the fuse box and hook it up to the ohmmeter. You can also take it to a mechanic that has one to check the voltage. You have to know how to set it up for a proper reading, so it’s best to have a professional do it.
Check for bad relay closure
There are also headlight closure relays to operate headlight doors in vehicles that have them. Common symptoms of a bad relay closure are:
- If your headlight doors don’t open when you turn on the lights, there is insufficient power from the relay. The lights may come on but are shielded from by the door.
- You will be able to use your headlights, but the door does not close. It’s the opposite of the first problem, but you can utilize the headlights to drive at night. This indicates a bad relay and should be looked at right away. This failure may lead to other issues.
- Sometimes, the headlight doors may open and close on their own. It’s not a problem during the day. If you are driving when it is dark and the doors close, you won’t have any lights to see your way.
We all expect our vehicles to deliver great performances and safety when we drive them. Unfortunately, everything wears out, and ongoing maintenance is required. This goes for your headlights and the relay switches that operate them. If you notice symptoms of a bad headlight relay, get it repaired or replaced right away. Not having headlights when you need them can make driving dangerous if they fail while you are on the road.