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To see and be seen: are your headlights working?

After one of the coldest and often ‘darkest’ winters in South Africa, drivers are leaving for work in the dark and often returning when it is dark as well. In rain, snow or overcast conditions, lights cannot be neglected, if you do not already always drive with them on. Even when summer returns, properly working lights are an essential.

If drivers were asked if they have checked if their lights are in good working order recently, how many would answer with 100% certainty that they are? The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says: “On a cold morning most drivers will quickly get in the car and start their commute relying on their lights to work properly. It is not second nature to check your lights but this may mean you are driving around without an essential aid to driver safety, for not just a day but sometimes weeks.

“Every driver has encountered another vehicle that does not have lights or whose lights are not working properly and can attest to the danger this creates for them or other drivers. In most instances, rectifying faulty lights is a fast and affordable task but often neglected as one may not think to check them,” says Herbert.

Ensure your lights are working:

  • When next in your car with low light conditions, check the wall in front of where you are parked or even the number plate of the vehicle ahead to see if you can see your lights reflecting back at you. If you are not 100% sure, check them as soon as possible.
  • This includes checking indicator, fog, reverse and brake lights.
  • If any lights are not working properly, MasterDrive recommends visiting a professional to fix these if you do not have experience with this.
  • If, however, you fix these yourself be selective with the replacement lights that you buy. Cheaper lights can often not be as good as OEM lights – bringing a new meaning to a cheap buy is an expensive buy.
  • When you have changed the bulbs, check that the alignment and aim of your lights is still correct.
  • Do not only be on the lookout for lights that do not work at all but also check that the illumination is correct.
  • Even if only one bulb is not working you need to replace the bulbs in pairs so there is no difference between the two.
  • Ensuring your lights are working correctly also includes checking that they are clean and that there is no yellowing or clouding of the plastic cover of the headlight.


While you may not think about them much, your headlights are one of your greatest safety assets on the road. “To help you see and ensuring you are seen by others, the importance of headlights shouldn’t be underestimated or their upkeep dismissed,” says Herbert.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa