Canada Is Tired Of Daytime Running Lights Confusing People Into Driving Without Taillights. These Neat New Switches Are The Solution

E30 Night Headlight Switch Head

How’s this for a universal experience?: You’re driving along after dusk, minding your own business, when suddenly you spot a ghost car — someone driving along with their gauges illuminated and daytime running lights on, completely oblivious to the fact that their taillights are off. Not only is this as infuriating as ordering a Whopper and getting some Burger King Foot Lettuce, it’s downright dangerous. So how could we fix this?

Hello from the land of Bob and Doug McKenzie! Yes, we Canadians founded the core concept behind most 56k modems, invented the g-suit for pilots, and made every song on Top 40 radio sound like Drake featuring Drake. It should come as no surprise that we’ve figured out a way to fix the ghost car issue — drivers thinking their headlights are on when it’s really just their daytime running lights, meaning their taillights are off — going forward. On Sept. 1, 2021, Transport Canada implemented a new set of rules to curb a lack of proper lamp use. The federal government even issued a press release in 2018 saying it’s going “ghostbusting.” Aren’t we fucking clever? As for the rules themselves, they’re pretty simple. Here we go, ripped directly and shamelessly from said press release to avoid any potential bungling:

The safety standard requires all new cars sold in Canada as of 2021 to be more visible in low-light conditions, and will require manufacturers to build vehicles that do one of the following:

  •  Have daytime running lights and tail lights come on when the vehicle instrument panel is illuminated and the vehicle is in operation;
  • Automatically turn on the headlights, tail lights, and side marker lights in low-light conditions; or
  • Keep the driver’s instrument panel dark so the driver knows to turn on all the lights.

Alright, so this sounds pretty simple. It’s hard to keep the instrument panel dark unless a manufacturer makes something like the Mitsubishi Mirage, so anything with a TFT screen in the cluster, a fully digital dashboard, or electroluminescent gauges will have to abide by either the first rule or the second rule. Anything without automatic headlights can just run daytime running lights front and rear, while cars with automatic headlights should be all good.

But wait, is there anything preventing manufacturers from having a hard off detent on switches for automatic lights? From the wording, it appears not, but most manufacturers actually seem to be taking this seriously. As such, this new set of lighting regulations helps facilitate the rise of three categories of switches. Let’s take a look at what they are, how they work, and what their benefits and drawbacks are.

The Spring-Back

First up, here’s something GM’s been doing for a few years, shown in the video on a Mazda 3 — the spring-back light switch, not to be confused with the snapback light switch. How does it work? Well, it’s simple and complicated all at once. You can still turn the headlights off by holding the switch towards the off position, but the switch will then spring back to the automatic setting and the lighting control module can automatically reactivate the automatic headlights based on vehicle speed or gear position, or upon the next ignition cycle.

As you can see in the image above, fixed detents for this switch include automatic headlights, side marker lights, and low-beam headlights work; turning the headlights off requires twisting the switch and holding, which compresses a spring and actuates an internal momentary switch. Because the spring-back function requires a spring and a momentary switch, it’s probably the most complex of this new breed of light switches. Nevertheless, it seems to be extremely common. Toyota, Mazda, Subaru, General Motors, and several other manufacturers have adopted these switches.

2022 Mazda Cx5 Headlight Switch
Screenshot: Mazda

While all current-generation Mazda 3s use a spring-back switch, not all CX-5s do. Taking a look at the 2022 CX-5’s owner’s manual (flip to page 4-73), Canadian models use a spring-back switch while American models don’t. Contrast that with the 2020 model’s owner’s manual (flip to page 4-76), and all North American models got a traditional stalk-mounted headlight switch with a detent for off.

2020 Mazda Cx5 Headlight Switch
Screenshot: Mazda

Also, can we please talk about how relentlessly thorough Mazda’s owner’s manuals are? They’ve got tables and footnotes and diagrams everywhere. While it would’ve been really easy to word instructions for ease of basic understanding, you can’t help but get the sense that Mazda actually cares about making cars. It’s also kind of neat how if the headlight switch is set to illuminate the side-marker lamps, the headlights are automatically turned on when in motion. That’s likely the powertrain control module interpreting the vehicle speed signal and telling the lighting control module to glow things up like the Vegas strip, a real show of how small, thoughtful decisions can make cars better.

The Lockout

Sentra Headlight Switch
Screenshot: Nissan

While most manufacturers have chosen a spring-back switch, Nissan has wisely gone with the minimum viable solution — just remove the off position. Now the headlight switch labeling reads AUTO (which will activate the headlights and taillights when necessary), two jellyfish head-butting each other (side marker lights, which will activate the taillights), low-beam headlights. Honestly, I like this solution a lot. It’s dead simple, cheap, and absolutely idiotproof. Hey, in an era of ever-ballooning MSRPs and financing out the bunghole all the way to 144 months (do not do this), keeping costs down to provide consumers with affordable cars sounds like a dope idea.

Jeep Jl Headlight Switch
Screenshot: Jeep

Interestingly enough, Stellantis also seems to be a fan of the lockout-style switch devoid of an “off” option. Taking a look at JL Jeep Wrangler owner’s manuals, Canadian-market 2022 Jeep Wranglers won’t let owners turn the headlights off, while Canadian-market 2020 Wranglers did. Yes, Canadian-market Wranglers get an entirely different headlight switch from American models. How’s that for a market-specific quirk?

2020 Jeep Jl Headlight Switch
Screenshot: Jeep

Honestly, it’s mildly infuriating knowing that a switch is fully available at the Toledo plant that would stop US-market Jeep Wranglers from driving along with tail lights off, yet Jeep doesn’t equip US models with it. It’s just so stupidly simple that you’d think it would be a whole-line change. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure that a retrofit of the new Canadian headlight switch would be as simple as un-plugging the American switch and plugging in the Canadians switch. While it’s possible that Jeep just isn’t running the pins for headlights off on the Canadian switch, I’d need TIS access to know if lighting control module programming is required.

Software Shenanigans

Ford Explorer Headlight Switch
Photo credit: Thomas Hundal

Welcome to the category of others, where some manufacturers are doing neat things and other are re-inventing the wheel to run themselves over. These two headlight switches aren’t born from Canada’s new headlight laws, but the way they work ensures compliance. Let’s start with a manufacturer with a weird but cool headlight switch, Ford.

The headlight switches in new Fords don’t actually have fixed detents. What do I mean by that? You know how most headlight switches just stop at either end of their travel? Ford’s keeps going like a fidget spinner. So how does a lighting switch without hard positions work? Well instead of fixed detents that send constant current to the lighting control module, Ford’s switch is just telling the lighting control module to go onto the next programmed preset or previous programmed preset (low-beams, automatic, marker lights, etc.). Because there are no fixed detents, this switch lets the lighting control module default to automatic headlights every time the ignition cycles. Think spring-back in concept but without the spring. More importantly, the setting for automatic headlights is right next to the setting for low-beam headlights, so the headlights can stay on if you want to knock things back into automatic. It’s a strange way of doing things, but it’s hard to argue with the results.

Vw Id4 Headlight Switch
Photo credit: Volkswagen

What’s not quite so genius is whatever the hell Volkswagen’s doing lately. Look, I understand that capacitive touch controls can be cool for certain functions. The capacitive-touch panoramic moonroof sunshade switch streamlines the concept behind Volkswagen’s old sunroof dial, while the capacitive touch pads to access secret compartments on certain Cadillacs feel like a secret handshake. What do these things have in common? They have absolutely nothing to do with driving the damn car. Now, there are positives to Volkswagen’s touch-sensitive headlight control panels like the one pictured above. The default is always auto, and if you turn the headlights off, they’ll come back on above 6 mph (10 km/h) or if you drive around 100 meters (0.62 miles). There are also downsides, like having to cycle through modes to keep your headlights on if it’s rainy yet bright enough not to trip the automatic headlights. Repeated presses of the same button aren’t exactly muscle memory-friendly.

So there we are, the first big changes in automotive lighting switches in years. Hey, if it doesn’t cost much and makes the roads safer, it feels like a no-brainer. Having tested cars with all these styles of switches, I can see why the spring-back switch is so popular. Being able to kill the lights for photos or to not drain the battery is awesome, plus spring-back switches are easy to retrofit where normal switches go. It’s a design that offers more choice for edge cases than Nissan’s solution yet doesn’t reinvent the wheel like Ford and Volkswagen are doing. Let’s hope that America takes note of Canada’s latest headlight solution and codifies something similar into law.

Lead photo credit: Thomas Hundal

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77 Responses

  1. As a next topic of discussion:
    Can we debate the usefulness of OFF switches in HVAC controls. — My 92, 00, and or 05 Accord didnt have an Off Switch. You got the car started and when you wanted cool air.. you turned the DIAL to BLUE (no, Im not pregnant) and you got cool air. In winter if you wanted hot air.. you turned it to RED.

    P.S
    You knew your motor was workin.. when she was pumpin out hot air….

  2. 2013 VW Jetta Sportwagen, so I assume this was found on many models of the same and previous generation Golf platform:

    Two settings:

    1) Off w/ DRL on – Every gauge, control and the radio is far too dim even before dusk to prevent you from turning the headlights…

    2) On – Everything gets illuminated – the road, the gauges, the radio. It’s incredible. Momma, I’m comin’ home.

    Additional lighting use case – Parking lamps illuminate when the parking brake is on (on a manual trans, at least) and the DRLs are off. When the parking brake is released, the DRLs illuminate and the parking lamps turn off. It’s bliss.

    I’m not convinced that anyone knows any longer when to use hi-beams, let alone parking lamps and fog lamps (if so equipped). These lighting settings are largely the tools of the ignorant, so perhaps we can sic some code monkey on this and leave most of these options up to sensors driving software? Also, why not add automatic turn signals to cars with lane deviation warning systems so the rest of us can at least pretend that some BMW driver had every good intention. Even if it’s wrong half the time, that’s better than getting nothing all of the time.

    Not you, though, Thomas. I know you use your turn signal.

    1. My 2017 Subaru is the same with an additional “running lights” setting (DRL, corner lights and taillights). Lights automatically shut off when key is removed so you can’t kill your battery. So many cars today are equipped with standard automatic headlights and I am convinced that maybe 5% of drivers actually utilize the functionality.

      Soooooo many brand new cars driving around at night with DRLs only and you can see the driver’s face in your rearview because the gauge cluster is a 1000 lumen LCD screen on daytime brightness.

    2. I loved that my 2010 Golf TDI had those two settings (“off” and “on”. So simple, so perfect). I also loved that in the rain when you had your windshield wipers on intermittent and were stopped, the intermittent interval automatically increased since you weren’t accumulating as much water on your windshield.

      1. My wife’s 2011 Grand Cmax just have the “on when engine is on” switch, and it’s the only logical solution – turn the ignition on – lights on, turn it off – lights off. You can of course switch manually parking lights. But no DRL bullshit here, just normal lights like the lighting gods intended.

  3. In a world where so few people can or bother to master a simple turn signal, should we really be over complicating lighting? Just turn everything on all the time and leave it at that, no switch to train the brain dead on.

  4. Count me amongst those baffled that people are allowed to control their own headlights. I live in the PNW and estimate 15% of drivers here don’t even bother with lights in the rain.

    Also in your VW section, the meters-to-miles conversion is off by a factor of ten (100m is approx 0.06mi; 1000m would be 0.62mi).

    1. I don’t get it either? Can an engineer explain why lights just aren’t on always? Is it really too much of a power drain?

      Maybe there’s a time you need to turn off your lights, but except for the random drug deals, sneaking home, and drive in movie with your new gal… I don’t see many reasons for it.

      1. Answer me why… my car has to do anything for me?

        I have done… some severely unspeakable things and I didnt want my headlights on. Highly illegal, extremely sketchy, very dangerous, very OCD, A.D.H.D, A.D.D. Besides the idea.. that when I want my lights on.. they will be on.

        AND when reality says:
        Its RAINING ITS FUCKING ASS OFF, Ive got visibility measured in FEETS, the WIND is involved in a PORNO, involving everyone being BLOWN AROUND… its pretty damn important to put your lights on with your wipers. Also on highways at high speed.. I flick into a OCD, A.D.H.D Tow Truck ASSHOLE MODE. If I cant see you.. I will light up every light IVE GOT and come up behind someone… instructing them to put lights on.

        But in this day and age… no one gives a fuck and everyone is on their devices, Im the only one who gives a fuck.

        Thats why this is the 5th Honda Ive had in X years.. and everytime Ive dealt with feets of water, I know what to do and how to do it.

      2. Having all lights on definitely does cause some additional unnecessary fuel consumption. Someone else on here posted a link to a study that concluded having lights on reduces fuel efficiency by about 1%. In a world where automakers are trying to squeeze every possible ounce of efficiency out of vehicles that does conceivably matter.

        From my own experience, I know that turning the lights on on my 1968 Falcon does cause the engine’s idle to drop slightly. If the car is idling and I quickly turn on the headlights, wipers, radio, and heater fan the drop in idle speed from the additional load is quite noticeable. Obviously this 50+ year old car doesn’t have any control mechanisms to compensate for additional load at idle, which is why it is more noticeable than on new cars, though they also experience the same additional load. I’d imagine the efficiency of their led lights is somewhat canceled out by how many more lights there are on cars now.

      3. With halogens I suspect it’s because it would result in a lot more burned out bulbs. A standard halogen bulb only has a lifetime of about 500 hours, and the high intensity ones can be as short as 100 or 200, which would mean you’d have to replace bulbs pretty often.

        I don’t know if that applies to the newer types of headlights. I know HIDs _can_ burn out too and then they’re crazy expensive to replace. LEDs typically have a lifespan in the 10s of thousands of hours, so it might not even be a problem with them (which probably explains why all DRLs these days are LED).

        1. Most (if not all) halogen DRLs run at a lower wattage, extending their lifetime significantly. The ~500 hour ratings are when running them at full wattage, which is normally 55w. Just by slightly reducing the power, the bulb’s filament can last several times their factory hours. Vibration plays a big factor in how long they last too, and that doesn’t care whether they are off or on.

          As for @crustyjoe’s question, there’s research into how much more fuel a car consumes by keeping the headlights on constantly (at full wattage). Here’s an article with links to the actual studies: https://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/fuel-economy/drl-gas-consumption.htm

          In short, you end up using around 0.5% to 1% more fuel.

          1. Right, but I think his question was why we don’t just run the headlights at full power all the time. Once you introduce lower wattage DRLs you’re right back to the problem this legislation is addressing.

    2. Basically 10-15% headlights across the continent over in Massachusetts during light rain, too, and I assume that’s with most drivers setting and forgetting the lights to “auto.”

      I am not anti-liberty by any means, but I’d totally be fine with requiring all cars on the road to have their high beams and all accessory lights on all the time and with heavy enforcement pulling them over for it until people figured out how stupid the whole situation was and learned how to use their headlights properly.

  5. You must have aced the interview with Torch to get here.

    I’ve had automatic headlights on all my car’s since 1999. I can’t believe it’s taking a law in 2021 to make it standard, it’s such a no brainer.

    1. If I ever had auto headlights… on any car, I swear to all that is holy.. I would burn it down.

      I absolutely can not stand… auto anything. If I want something done, I will do it.
      I lock my doors with the big damn press-down thingy at the top of my door card.

      My wife… bought some lame ass hunk of shit from 13 and every. single. god. damn. time… that Ive had to drive that molten pile of shit.. anywhere, I bitch about the stupid auto headlight switch.. and the auto lock switch. Between the backup sensors.. and the auto headlights and the auto locking. Id trade that lump of shit for a Double Whopper with cheese… and a case of the shits.

      1. Im not generally a fan of auto-things, but auto-headlights are one thing that can be successfully automated. It’s very straightforward for the lights to come on when the surrounding lighting conditions get too low. I didn’t even realize it when I bought a car that had them, I drove into a tunnel during the daytime not long after I bought the car and they came on. After that I left them set to auto and literally never touched the switch again.

        Auto high beams are definitely a different story, they are absolute garbage.

      2. If you don’t like the auto locks just wait until you see what they are doing with parking brakes these days… I took my parents to the airport in their car and it took me like 5 minutes to figure out what the parking brake was doing. With them (who daily drive the car) in the car arguing about if the parking brake was on or if it automatically came off when you reverse or what… It was a 2021 Honda Accord, brake comes on automatically and I am still not sure if you can make it automatically release the brake, but i certainly hope not…

        The whole auto everything movement is definitely 2 steps forward 1 step back. I feel like this and lane assist (which is awesome) is making more and more new drivers pay much less attention thinking that the car will pick the slack up (which in many cases to their credit they do) which leads to a lot worse drivers.

        1. My friend… THAT is the problem:
          The vehicle picks up 1 function, then another.. then another. Before ya know it people are thinking… the Car can do it for itself. — WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT I DONT WANT.

          People shouldnt think at all, that the car should do it for itself. Thats when ya give up and do your device as you drive.

          I want to go backwards….
          Buy a older something Van.. with a stick and just drive as I want.

          My wife mentioned a new vehicle.. and I asked her.. how is the new one any better than the last? What does it do for you better than the last? Answer… nothing. Its worse.

          This is going to sound.. quite a bit retarded:
          My 05 Element is known for a solinoid problem in the 1-2, 2-3 shift. I have figured out a way around it. The problem is it wants to shift at or above 3000rpm. It also usually stays ion the 3-4k shift area at speeds from 50-110mph.

          Now, I have a tach, rpm, fuel, temp guage among doors open. I can make my Car shift from 2200- 2900rpms. Simply by modulating my gas pedal. (Its still cable actuated.) I can keep her from shifting over 3000rpms.. and under 3000 by just backing off the gas. Once she gets past 3 and goes into 4th… totally fine.

          BUT thats a function of my ability to listen, pay attention and modulate what I want my car to do. Sure shes an old 4spd auto… but its hehe the quirkiest of an auto trans.

    2. I was going to say, Auto headlights are the way to go. That is one of requirements on any car I buy for daily use.

      Classics may not have them, but then again it is pretty obvious as you usually have to turn on the lights to get the dash to light up.

  6. Used to be no lights turned on, no gauge lights. But our new swanky electroluminescent gauges makes that a thing of the past.

    Dunno. I’m kinda sick of electronics that make our life better, except that they don’t. So more electronics are needed.

    All to make our cars hoser-proof…

    1. I’m with you…re the gauges at least, it’s a solution to no problem in most cases.

      Like my electroluminescent rearview mirror on my Focus. My other cars have the old-school low-tech but damn ingenious dual-thickness mirror with the flip switch. And it does the job wonderfully and likely won’t ever break.

      But, it’s novelty and “features” that we’ve become accustomed to demanding I guess.

      1. I really like the auto-dimming ones. The manual one in my mom’s 2011 Explorer makes things too dark at night which reduces the awareness of cars behind me. But I get the appeal of having things simpler.

        1. Yup. My BMW has auto-dimming and it’s amazing. The fact that I don’t even have to remember it’s there is a testament of how great it works. My other cars have that dual-angle mirror with a manual switch and I hate it. It’s either too dark or too bright and sometimes you adjust it with the switch in the wrong position and you mess everything up.

        2. You make a worthy point, esp. with an Explorer of that vintage – they have the darkened rear glass already, so you almost need an infinitely variable dimming solution rather than the off-on.

          What I don’t like about mine is that it takes a fairly long time to dim/undim (not a word, but hey). I’ll be at a stoplight, and it’ll be hard to see out back until it switches back.

  7. My daily driver has auto on in low light headlights. They wouldn’t turn off unless you put the e-brake on and turned the ignition off. I had to do some rewireing to delete them. There are circumstances Where you need to be able to manually turn off what lights you don’t want on.
    Some examples:
    1. So you aren’t illuminating your ground floor apartment neighbors living room every time you park.
    2. So you can sneak your brothers car out at night.
    3. For poorly lit toll roads/red light cameras (hmmm a license plate light switch?)
    4. “Drive by!”
    (#1 is legit)

    1. I was going to mention the drive in theater as well! Sure it is not often I’d want to override the auto lights, but it is enough that I’ve been looking onto rewiring the switch on my truck to control them manually.

  8. My step-mom had a 1990 Jetta and the solution to Canadas (at the time very recent) daytime running light regulations was that there was no light switch. Turn on the car? Full lights on. Only light control was for high beams. Simple solution that worked.

  9. I think the VW solution would be good if the default was “car is ready to drive = lights on.” Then you could override it with an “Off” command for stopped/low speeds.

    I’ve never, not once, in my 35 years of driving intentionally used the “parking” lights, and I just can’t fathom why they exist.

    1. When parking on the side of a very narrow and/or busy road. I certainly don’t use them often but I appreciate having them for those rare occasions. My BMW E39 is even better since it allows you to choose which side of the parking lights to turn on (left or right).

      I also have used them when leaving a friend/relative’s house very late at night if I’m parked facing the house and I run the risk of waking someone up with my headlights.

  10. This is one of the few areas you will find me rooting for the future. All cars should have automatic lights, and tied into the wipers. And, after yesterday, where random lab animals punching buttons would have done a better job clearing my windshield, rain sensing wipers too. In my perfect world that car would be available with hand crank windows and manual transmission. I’ll embrace the technology when it damn well solves a problem.

  11. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jeep was a simple plastic tab locking the switch out the off position. In my 2005 Magnum, removing a plastic tab behind the headlight knob unlocked the unlabeled “Auto” option to the left of “off”. All the wiring was in the car from the factory, and the software option to enable automatic headlights with wipers was a hidden setting enabled at the dealer.

  12. I’ve been moaning about this exact issue for years.

    One critical element is that the front and rear lights also need to be tied to the WINDSHIELD WIPERS.

    the ghost car on a highway at night is bad with good visibility, but ghost cars in traffic with poor conditions and visibility is the worst as it’s usually during heavier trafficked hours

  13. This entire issue arises because DRL’s are mostly cosmetic flourishes. My ’16 Ram 1500 does it correctly. No DRL’s. Auto headlights/taillights come on come on in lower-light situations. Head and taillights also come on when wipers are turned on. Lighted streets are also to blame as the hapless driver doesn’t say “hey, I can’t see, I better turn on my lights.”

  14. As long as a vehicle has auto headlights and they default on, then the only further step that I think needs to be taken is to have them automatically come on when the windshield wipers are active. Aside from that, leave me with an off-switch, please. There are situations where you may want to override the auto lights and creep around in the dark, like turning into a driveway and not blinding (or alerting) those inside the house.

  15. 07 mk5 rabbit, two positions, DRL and full lights.
    No off position, no problem!
    no dash lights without full lights
    to turn the DRLs off you apply the parking brake,
    I’d like to know how to reprogram it to have the taillights light up with the DRLs, but I probably wouldn’t bother to do it, just file it under”good to know”. But … I bet it requires a VAG control thingy

    1. You used to be able to just buy a Euro switch to be able to do all the fancy lighting things like fogs with city lights, but now that it’s probably got a ‘lighting controller’, you’d need the switch AND to code the option in.

  16. “[Automatic headlights] considered harmful.” Most — including this article, by and large — still get this wrong.

    1. Automatic headlights provably fail in corner cases. E.g., parking garages and tunnels (please turn on your headlights here), fog and other “weather” (high ambient light but low visibility). These situations can easily be predicted by humans, but not by the simple ambient light sensor used by most such systems. The built-in hystersis to avoid flashing the headlights on and off in alternating light and shadow makes them naturally slow to react. As designed, they cannot work in all situations.

    2. There are times when one must turn off one’s headlights and DRLs: military bases, stargazing gatherings, campgrounds, when you’re parking facing into that glass-walled restaurant/bar/store/home/whatever. This is especially bad on an upslope. Don’t be that nimrod. Many automatic headlight solutions have an off function but…#3.

    3. Automatic headlights teach us to behave stupidly. It’s another way auto manufacturers automate away important controls, teaching us they can be ignored. Most humans tend to ignore things they don’t normally have to think about, like headlights in this instance. Though less of a problem as time goes on, the opportunity for mistakes abounds when switching between cars with automatic headlights and manual. This is why people drive around at night without tail lights or in the rain without any lights, etc.

    4. DRLs make sense in low ambient light locales like Canada, Sweden, etc. They make cars more visible in dappled sunlight too. In bright locales, however, they just hide motorcycles (which have had DRLs far longer because they are less visible to others), cars without DRLs, animals, etc. in the bright visual clutter. (Old style DRLs pointing up into the eyes of oncoming drivers — even dimmed — are downright dangerous.)

    A good driver can recognize these situations and fix the issue by manually intervening and turning their headlights on or off at appropriate times. I’m not concerned about good drivers. It’s the folks who put little thought or effort into piloting large vehicles. It’s the majority with whom I’m concerned.

    I haven’t used one, but as described, the spinny Ford headlight switch seems pretty dumb. Don’t make me look at a panel indicator light down low on the dashboard to figure out what my car is doing. An indicator that’s probably invisible in daylight. And, FWIW, all headlight switches send signals to the body control module. None of them have carried relay or headlight current themselves in a long while.

    VW. Please stop “helping.”

  17. Came here to say the the BK foot lettuce happened at the one on the corner of my street. I have always hated lettuce on anything (because I am not a rabbit) and have used it as an excuse ever since to ask for food without it.

  18. We still need a way to turn off all exterior lights for drive-thru Christmas lights! There is nothing worse than the guy behind running RDL’s while cruising thru the synchronized lights.

  19. Does no one here ever do drivethrough Christmas light displays? You can’t leave your headlights on at one of those or you blind everyone else, and to some extent yourself. The “defaults to on, but can be shut off at low speeds” seems like the right solution here. Just removing the off position is the lazy and cheap option.

  20. “Keep the driver’s instrument panel dark so the driver knows to turn on all the lights.”

    Some time in the 2000s, automakers started doing this stupid shit of illuminating the dash even when the lights were off. My 2008 Honda Fit does that and I think it’s stupid.

    But I can tell you that even before companies started doing this or even before daytime running lights were a thing, there were plenty of idiots still driving without their lights on at night.

    I recall this happening even back in the 1970s and my dad flashing somone who forgot to turn on their lights.

  21. Oh how’s she goin’ eh? Official Hoser correspondent here!
    We’re sorry that this caused a whole change to light switches for us. We’ll try to keep all Hoser specific changes to our Asuna’s, Pontiac Fireflies, and Beaumonts.
    Sorry.

  22. It doesn’t help that I have seen articles about people *modifying their switches* so that they can permanently turn their auto lights off.

    I still don’t have a clue as to why. Their reasoning made zero sense. Something about being “in control”.

    The *only* vehicle in our fleet of four vehicles without auto lights is my ’81 Z28 – and there is ZERO benefit of that.

    1. I can think of a few reasons – keep in mind they are infrequent cases. I don’t have a problem with the auto lights normally, but when I don’t want them to come on it is REALLY annoying they are stuck on:

      – turning your key to the on position while at a drive-in theater and not wanting to blind everyone
      – wanting to drive through a campground with just the parking lights on (obviously at slow speed, just wanting to be courteous when it is dark)
      – not wanting to shine neighbors if it is dark out when working on something

      I think those are just a couple reasonable examples, and sure it could be simplified about wanting to be “in control”, which could be taken in a derogatory or condescending tone, though I’d argue that I’m smart enough to know there are fringe cases where I know the lights do not have to be on and I’m just trying to be polite.

      1. Aren’t all those switches without a real OFF position still retaining the parking lights only mode? In all of your examples I think it’d be fine to use parking lights without low beams.

        I’m genuinely asking because my two 00’s cars have automatic headlights but the switch has a full off position.

  23. As I’m sure people (not in North America) know, Scandinavian countries have had this “tail lights ON with DRLs” mandated for over 30 years. You can implement it on any VW-Audi in NA with simple coding.

    So no, not a canadian invention.

    1. I rented a HRV about 4mo ago with auto headlights, the spring back bullshit.. and a signal changing indicator that came on THE SHORTBOAT FROM HELL!!!!

      I SPENT 4 DAYS WITH THAT PILE OF SHIT.. AND EVEN THOUGH MY BOY WAS IN THE CAR WITH ME… I SPENT ALL MY TIME CONTEMPLATING… just how fast could I drive this HUNK OF SHIT into a tree and still get him out of the car….

      The entire car was maddening.
      Changing lanes….
      Using the cup holder…
      Pressing on the “fake gas pedal”
      The shitty elec power steering
      The auto lights and wipers…

      I WANTED TO BURN IT TO THE GROUND.. AND SHIT DOWN ITS FUCKING THROAT!!!!

        1. The Silverado I also received as a Rental after that Pile of shit, was also worse for wear. It had damage on the Torque Tube.. and could only do a One-Wheel-Peel. While it was harder to park than the 1908 Mauretania, the O-W-Peel made everything… just a little bit better.

          Even though It was a GM vehicle.. and I thought I was going to go to hell, burned at the stake, JUST for sitting in it.

  24. Most US military bases require you to turn OFF your headlights as you approach the gate so you don’t blind the guards. I suspect there may be other use cars where headlights must be off. So not having an OFF switch could be a problem for some folks. The springback sounds like a good solution.

    1. Washington State Ferries also requires headlights to be off during loading and unloading, regardless of time of day, for the sake of the crew directing traffic. The ferry decks and docks are well illuminated, so headlights aren’t needed even in conditions of otherwise poor visibility.

    2. I have zero familiarity with entering military bases, but wouldn’t the parking lights be accepted in such case? All of the examples above keep their parking lights with no low beams option.

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