Headlights vs Fog Lights: When should each be used?

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Work, school, shopping, events, and duties exist in today’s culture. Car owners may be so tired towards the day end that they face problem concentrating on the small things, like which lights to switch on for different weather or traffic conditions. An advanced knowledge about the kinds of lights found on most automobiles can help drivers avoid making lighting mistakes.

If you have ever wondered the difference between headlights, and the fog lights lower down on the front of your car, this article is for you!

Fog lights are beneficial in extreme weather conditions or the dark, or can even be used as driving lights if your car isn’t equipped. Headlights on the other hand are meant for long distance lighting down the road, as your primary lighting source!

What is a Fog Light

Headlights may refract the fog, ice, or dust, generating glare and making it difficult for users to see the street.

Fog lights are created for use in dense fog. These can be utilized in other situations where visibility is restricted.

Fog lights should not be confused with headlights. If you have ever been driving down the road, and you lost complete visibility due to fog, you probably were in need of these lights.

Why they are different, really comes down to the fact they are lower down on the vehicle. This gets the light source closer to the road, and away from the fog. So essentially you are trying to avoid the fog itself with this light source.

Limitations on the fog light

The fog light is so powerful that most places prohibit their usage unless there is dense fog and other extreme weather. You should definitely check out your local laws before using fog lights outside of foggy, or rainy situations.

When should fog lights be used?

The primary use of fog lights is when visibility is less than 100 meters, and in the fog or rain. To put things in context, that’s around the width of a sports field. If the view is better, it’s best not to use the fog lights for their primary purpose.

What are Headlights

The primary lights of the automobile are the headlights. These lights are present in higher up, and generally closer to center of any vehicle. These lights are designed to display a wide area of the highway and car ahead.

As a reminder: Fog lights are secondary lights situated underneath the bumper that illuminate the road directly in front of the vehicle. In foggy situations, fog lights are critical for driving safety.

Headlight Restrictions

Headlights can be dangerous due to how bright they are at night, this is why you should have two different brightnesses of your headlights that should be changed as on-coming cars make their way towards you. This is not only the law, but also common curtesy, as your brights are just that, extremely bright.

Is Driving With Fog Lights On Wrong?

Driving with a fog light on is not unlawful. The only stipulation is that they should be switched on if there is a need and should not disturb other motorists. It is usually recommended that they be utilized only when additional lighting is required.

Should you Use Fog Light If It’s Raining Hard?

The fog light is ideal for usage when it’s raining heavily. It should offer the driver adequate supplementary illumination. Using them solely when it’s raining hard will also assist reduce visibility for other motorists? Using these lights in a drizzle could cause other drivers to become visually impaired.

Can Fog Lights Be Used As Headlights?

Although fog lights can often be used in combination with headlights, they must not be used as a substitute for headlights.

It may be feasible to use fog light as a substitute for headlights in a crisis, including an electrical breakdown of the car’s regular headlights, but this should only be done temporarily to move the vehicle properly somewhere so the headlights can be repaired.

Are fog lights and headlights the same?

While headlights and fog lights may look similar in some situations, they are very different, and meant for different purposes.

The fog light is configured in tandem with the car’s low beam lights to improve visibility in low-light, or obstructed weather situations.

Turning on the headlights in foggy, and low visibility scenarios will not benefit the user and may create sight impairment for other users due to the headlights’ structure, which has a potential to diffract lights.

If you have ever been in a weather situation like fog, snow, or rain and found yourself having to change up your lights in different ways, the fog lights is what you should have been utilizing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use fog light bulbs as headlights?

This really depends on the vehicle itself, my 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 actually utilizes headlight bulbs as fog lights, however many vehicles use specialized bulbs, and even LED bulbs as their fog lights. So this will really take you comparing the two types of bulbs for your cars. Never use a non-recommended bulb.

Are low beam and fog lights the same?

These are two very different types of lights, low beams are going to be one of the two types of headlights you use for normal driving. Meanwhile fog lights are going to be physically separate, and lower down on the car than your low beams.

Can fog lights be used as daytime running lights?

Many people do use their fog lights as driving lights, to give them more visibility on the road for other drivers. In more recent times, driving lights (DRLs) have replaced the need for this. Make sure to check your local laws on if you can use fog lights in this situation.

Can you install fog lights on a car that doesn’t have them?

One of the most awesome things about cars, is the fact you can modify them. Adding fog lights to a car aftermarket not only makes them safer, but can also be used to make your car look that much cooler. For the most part, you should be able to install some yourself, however it is also recommended to consult someone that does automotive lighting.


Unlike in the past, when cars had only headlights, modern cars have different lights. All provide crucial safety features and are designed for diverse reasons.

However, it might be difficult for the driver to understand what every light means. These lights have different functions and must be turned on only if required.

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