Car Fog Lights: Everything You Need to Know

Car fog lights are not just another part of your vehicle, they are very useful in some specific situations and it is important to know when and where to use them. There are many misconceptions about the use of fog lights and most of us don't know the real advantages of using car fog lights at the proper time.

We have curated everything you need to know about car fog lights and we believe this article will help drivers around the world to stay safe and alert while driving in low visibility conditions.

What are car fog lights?

Car Fog ights

A front fog light is an automotive headlight that is small in size when you compare it to the main headlight unit. They are designed to produce light in a bar-shaped beam and this beam typically sports a sharp cut-off on top to avoid reflections from the fog.

A front fog lamp unit is usually mounted low and they are angled downward to produce maximum illumination on the road ahead. The regular placement of front fog lights in a car will be around 12 to 30 inches above the road surface.

The rear fog light unit is more of a safety measurement to make your car visible to other drivers on the road in low visibility conditions. This will prevent other drivers from hitting your car on the back under low visibility conditions.

Rear fog lights are red in most of the cars and the possibility of misunderstanding them with the brake lights is very high. Both the brake lights and the rear fog lights have almost the same intensity and applying the brakes will have a similar effect as turning on the fog lights.

To avoid this complication, carmakers are placing the rear fog lamps at a specific distance from the brake lights. In some cases, cars only use a single rear fog light instead of two to avoid confusion. Car fog lights are not just for you to see the road ahead, it's for others to see your car when the visibility is low.

Understanding this basic concept will make things easier and you will start using the fog lights more wisely. Now we have a general idea of what are car fog lights and it's time to check their working system.

How do fog lights work?

how fog lights work

To understand the working principle of car fog lights, we should learn how the fog occurs. Fog occurs regularly in most countries with the presence of winter and scientifically speaking, it is a visible aerosol consisting of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air near the surface of the earth.

The fog can act as a small cloud to block your view ahead and the tiny water droplets reflect the light beams from the headlights to make things even worse. All these conditions make driving through fog with the help of headlights a tough task.

Fog lights come with a practical solution for this issue, they are placed as low as possible on your car's front part, usually on the lower bumper cover. This near-to-surface positioning gives the fog lights the advantage over the fog because the fog typically doesn't touch the ground but floats about 18 inches over the surface.

Thus the low placed fog lights can reach the ground without facing the fog and they will brighten your way ahead. The sharp cut-off angle of the fog light system ensures the light beam is not reflected by the fog. The fog light beam is not as powerful as the headlights but it is enough for you to slowly hover to your destination without any troubles.

When should you use the fog lights?

When to use fog lights

It is important to know when to use the car fog lights and when to keep them off. The presence of slight mist or light rain is not the time to turn on your fog lights. Let's check when you should use the fog lights, and when they should stay off. The car fog lights are a useful backup tool when visibility is poor, in the event of low visibility conditions such as fog, snow, dust storm, or heavy rain you can rely on them to improve your visibility.

Always keep in mind that the fog lights are necessary only when your car's main headlights are not able to show the road ahead for you. According to highway rules, the driver should turn on the fog lights only when your visibility is reduced to 100 meters (328 feet) or less.

When should you NOT use the fog lights?

When not to use fog ights

You must turn off your car fog lights when the visibility improves or you will end up dazzling other road users. If you have started your journey on a foggy early morning, chances are that the fog diminishes as the sun rises, don't forget to turn off the fog lights in such situations. When you turn off your vehicle at a stop the fog lights will automatically turn off and they will be back only if you turn the switch on again.

Also, the rear fog lights are usually brighter than standard brake lights, so when you brake, other drivers may not be able to see your brake lights and that will cause big trouble for both of you.

Another situation to avoid fog lights is when the roads are wet, the brightness of fog lights is increased by their reflection off a wet road surface and it will be a distraction for other drivers. Always consider the weather and road conditions while using the fog lights.

When you can't see the road ahead clearly, calm down and slow down your vehicle and keep enough distance from the vehicle ahead of you and use the fog lights to make your way through the unknowns.

Who needs car fog lights?

fog lights need

Fog lights certainly do have their good uses but it is not convenient for all of us. If you live in tropical regions where fog and winter is a rare occurrence, fog lights are of little use to you. The main purpose of car fog lights is to cut down on glare in very poor visibility and allow you to slowly move to your target.

Using the fog lights to see right in front of your car while driving very slowly is very useful in low visibility conditions but leaving them on at normal driving speeds, and in normal driving conditions, can be dangerous for you and other drivers on the road.

You need the help of car fog lights only in some specific driving conditions and even if you turn on them the vehicle speed should be as low as possible to avoid any accidents. Check out our other blog post regarding car LED vs. Halogen headlights here.

How to turn the fog lights on?

how to turn on fog lights

By the motor laws, all cars built since 1986 should have at least one rear fog light. Front fog lights are not a mandatory addition and carmakers are providing them as an optional feature in most of their cars. You can control the car fog lights using a switch placed along with the headlight switched or on the dashboard.

The fog light switch usually comes with a semi-circle symbol with three wavy lines. When you turn on the fog lights, the vehicle will indicate the same with a warning light in the cluster meter. Use your car fog lights wisely for a safe and secure journey for you and your fellow passengers.

During the colder winter months, you should always check your fog lights are working before starting your journey. You can learn how to do that here.

What is the difference between a driving light and a fog light?

driving light s fog light

Driving lights or low beam lights are designed to strengthen the high beam headlights and to help you drive in normal conditions. The design and placement of driving lights allow them to help the driver see at least 150 to 200 feet into the distance. When it comes to fog lights, the angle of placement is more downwards and the range is very short.

The main purpose of the car fog light is to illuminate the ground just in front of the vehicle. Driving lights comes as standard in all cars but fog lights are considered as an additional lamp and you have the option to purchase it or not. These are the main differences between a driving light and a fog light.

By the way, check out our other blog post where you can choose between the best car night lights here.

The fog light symbols

fog light symbols

The front and rear fog lights have specific symbols and the below images will help you to identify them easily. You can usually find the fog light switches on a button on the dashboard, on a steering wheel stalk, or next to the dial you use to control your normal headlights.

Front fog light

The front fog light symbol is a lamp pointing to the left and with lines pointing diagonally down through the vertical wavy line. The downward lines indicate the angle of light flow of the car fog light and the wavy line represents the objects disturbing your visibility while driving. Check out these ones:

Rear fog lights

The rear fog light symbol looks towards the right side with lines pointing horizontally straight through the wavy line. We can understand that the straight lines represent the more horizontal placement of rear fog lights to aid the drivers behind the vehicle. Check out these ones:

Tips for using fog lights

fog light tips

When you decide to drive through adverse conditions, make sure all the main headlights, brake lights, and fog lights of your vehicle are functioning well. Before entering into a foggy area, check the rear-view mirrors and slow down your car. Once you are inside the fog zone, turn on the fog lights and keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you.

Use your car vipers to keep the windscreen clear and the view uninterrupted. If you notice a fog symbol on the traffic signal but the view is clear, get ready for a sudden drifting fog to block your view. Do not use the high beam headlights in foggy conditions as it will reduce the visibility further and cause trouble for you.

Amature drivers try to navigate ahead using the tail light of the vehicle ahead of them but it is a dangerous move. The tail lamp of the vehicle ahead can give you a false sense of security and always follow the fog light illumination of your car while driving in such conditions. In the conditions where visibility is low even after turning on the fog lights, open the side mirrors slightly to listen out for the nearby vehicles, this is not a safe method but you can try it in very adverse situations.

If you really can not see the road ahead and you lack the confidence to move ahead, it is always better to stop the journey until it is safe to drive again.

Bottom line

Car fog lights are an essential addition from a safety point of view but if you have no idea how and when to use them, things can get real messy. You should use car fog lights at the appropriate time to overcome reduced visibility and by doing so, the driver can keep the road safe for himself and other vehicles on the road also.

We believe that after going through this article you must have got a basic idea about the use and purpose of car fog lights. Follow the tips and obey the traffic rules to keep our roads a safe place for every citizen.

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