There are strict rules applied to what the lighting system is supposed to look like – and this is just as well. Nevertheless, the car industry and the legislator were able to agree on certain innovations, making the car safer, more comfortable and at the same time more creative. Read in the below text a few details for the enthusiast DIY’er to upgrade the light system with additional lighting features.
Don’t be fooled by Hollywood
Films like “The Fast and the Furious” make car fans drool. Cars pimped up to the limits of what is feasible roaring with ultra-high-performance engines, showing flashy paintwork and extraordinarily creative car lighting. Whatever appears to be effective in the film does not have anything to do with reality – at least not on the British Isles. Imagine the chaos on the road if every driver would compose the lights on his car to his own liking.
The front car lighting: compliance and certification
The front of the car has at least headlights and turn signals. The headlights are nowadays equipped with Bilux lamps, which can be switched from dipped to high beam.
For scores of years, the headlight was constructed as a simple circular or square lamp. Since the 1980ies, this component has gradually become more complex. Simultaneously, the accessory trade discovered this car part and now offers spare parts for many models, differing from the standard component.
CAUTION: without the mark of approval nothing goes!
If the lighting component does not have the required quality mark embossed, the car is not allowed on the road. This even applies to the smallest additional side turn signal.
And there is a reason for it: tuners often adapt turn signals or their lenses to match the car exterior. After all: who wants yellow lenses on a black car?
The accessory trade offers matching lenses painted black. Yet, the lighting power and lense transparency must be adequately effective to guarantee the turn signal function.
Curve lights and daytime running lights are innovations in the field of car lighting. For both additional lighting solutions, retrofit kits are available. These are made to match the car model and therefore seamlessly fit in the recesses on the front bumper. In most cars, the wiring is simpler than expected. Plugs, as well as wiring harnesses for both lights and switches, are likely to be available in the car interior.
The car front can, therefore, be additionally equipped with the following lights:
– fog light
– curve lights
– daytime running lights.
As long as the used lamps have certification, a quality number and are correctly installed, the MOT has no objections.
Recently, installing an additional set of main beams on the car front became possible. For family cars this is useless. For vans and pick-up trucks, regularly driven on country roads this can be an additional safety feature.
However, be sure to check the reference number which is embossed on every frontal car light lens. The sum of all numbers should not exceed 75.
The side car lighting: few, though useful options
Limited options are available for upgrading the side of the car in the light-technical sense.
Many cars have a turn signal on the fender. Integrating an additional indicator in the side mirror is possible, but that is as far as it goes. Adding reflective strips on the side is prohibited. Side reflectors are exclusively reserved for rescue, fire brigade, and police vehicles. Fun features such as luminescent wheel rims are not allowed either.
The rear car lighting: little space for anything more
As a rule, cars are equipped with a complete rear lighting set ex-works, leaving no wish unfulfilled. Only a few years ago a third brake light was a popular tuning element. Nowadays it is standard on all cars.
Additional brake lights
available up from £16,43
Retrofitting additional brake lights became fashionable in the 1980ies for a short period of time. Therefore they are still allowed, though hardly ever used as they were all but supplanted by the third brake light on the rear spoiler or tailgate. Only the retrofitting the rear fog light is allowed as before if it isn’t installed already.
An interesting feature for additional rear lighting also makes MOT inspectors smile: the illuminated number plate. This accessory consists of a flat lightbox with a transparent plastic cover.
The plastic cover is, in fact, the registration plate, evenly lit by LED lamps from within the lightbox, considerably improving the number plate’s distance effect and legibility and adding an attractive element to the rear lighting.
There is good cause for hope. The automotive industry continues to find new possibilities for further development of shaping the rear lighting. AUDI now has replaced its traditional turn signal by a dynamic version.
It is only a matter of time until the accessory trade offers this new possibility as a retrofit option for turn indicators.
Car lighting: Mind the bulbs!
Unfortunately, the question of whether something is allowed or prohibited does not end with the components as such. It also concerns the lamps inside turn signals and rear lighting components. Principally, it makes sense to replace all filament light bulbs to LEDs which are considerably more economic.
- Their principal asset, however, is their long life
- They can last a car’s life span.
- Yet, not all LED lamps are alike.
- They strongly vary in construction and lighting power. Therefore be certain only to use approved lamps in your car.
What is blacklisted
Explicitly prohibited are:
– all signaling lights
– Underbody illumination (even on a stationary car)
– Light strips on the side.
as well as all other additional lightings without any function. Lamps shining from the inside out are also frowned upon. This can even apply to the small dashboard X-mass tree.
The thin line called car lighting
Even if it is tempting to equip the car with fireworks, be sure to move within legal boundaries. There are plenty of possibilities for external individualisation of your car. What use is being disqualified from operating the car, ultimately making yourself punishable? Within the limits of what is allowed, there is a world of colourful and attractive options awaiting the enthusiastic DIY tuner, with which he can adapt his car to his personal taste.
Foto: ParabolStudio, rorem, otomobil, Daniel2528, TrotzOlga, Artemiy_U, Andrii A, Africa Studio, MaddyZ, AAphotograph, i viewfinder / shutterstock.com