Informational Guide

How To Turn On Car Headlights

Before you head out on the road at night, you need to know how to turn on the headlights. Not only that, but you must answer, when do you turn on your headlights?  

In this guide, we show you not only how to turn on your headlights but we also evaluate when to turn on headlights so that you can be better prepared.  

When should you turn your headlights on? The headlight laws vary by state, but many of them carry the same general guidelines. For the most part, you are required to have the headlights on thirty minutes after sunset, and they must stay on until the sunrise has been up for thirty minutes.  

Aside from during dark hours, when should headlights be turned on? You want to use them whenever visibility is diminished, such as during a snowstorm, in the rain or when driving through fog. If you are unable to see the vehicle in front of you, your headlights should be on.  

car headlights

How To Turn Your Car Headlights On (Detailed Guide) 

Every car model operates differently, which is why you might need help figuring out how to turn on headlights and tail lights. Your first step should always be to read the owner’s manual. There’s a lot of information included in this manual, such as what the headlight symbols mean and how to get them on. 

After reading the owner’s manual, follow these steps to learn simple procedures for operating the headlights. 

  1. 1
    Identify the headlight settings. Whether you want to know how to turn on low beam headlights or you are looking to learn how to turn on high beam headlights, you need to understand the symbols and settings.  
  2. 2
    Turn the headlights on. Rotate the switch or knob until it reaches the appropriate setting. If you want to know how to turn on fog lights without headlights, you simply need to rotate the switch to the right setting. Don’t forget to turn the lights off when they are not in use. 

So, how do I turn on my automatic headlights? If the vehicle is equipped with automatic lights, you don’t need to worry about what time to turn on the headlights. These lights have an AUTO setting found on the switch. If you opt for this setting, the lights should turn on when the sky begins to get dark. These lights might stay on for a little after shutting off the car but should eventually go off automatically. Even with automatic headlights, there should be a setting to turn them off when needed.  

car night headlights

Understanding The Different Headlight Symbols  

The headlight control can be found on either a control arm coming off of the steering wheel or a knob setting on the dashboard. On this control, you will find various symbols that indicate what setting the lights are on. If you aren’t sure where the control is, reference the owner’s manual. This booklet shows you where to find the control and outlines what each setting means. Here are a few of the most common settings you might have. 

Low Beam Headlamp 

This standard headlight setting is what most people use when driving at night or in low visibility situations. If you are driving with other traffic, this would be the setting that you would use. This icon shows slanted lines with a bulb picture.  

High Beam Headlamp 

This version is brighter than the standard headlights. It is pictured by straight lines with the bulb picture. To operate the high beams, you might need to push or pull the control arm, while turning them off would require the same function unless your car has automatic high beams.  

Fog Lights 

The fog light symbol resembles the low beams, except there is a line through the rays. This line indicates that the beam is cutting through the fog. The fog lights can often be used with or without the low beams. 

Side Light Indicator/Parking Lights 

This symbol looks like two bulbs shooting out rays from the side. You can use this to activate the parking lights and side lights without using the low beam headlights.  

Daytime Running Lights 

With a headlight picture showing circles of beams instead of lines, you can tell that this setting isn’t as bright as the low beams. It makes it easier for other cars to see you when driving during the day in cloudy or darker situations. 

Automatic Setting 

The automatic setting should simply say AUTO. In most cases, the lights will default to the daytime running lights. Once it gets dark, the low beams will automatically turn on. 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How do you turn on Kia Picanto headlights? 

The Kia Picanto has a control arm coming from the steering wheel. Turn on the low beams when it's time and push the lever away from you if you need the high beams.  

How do you turn on headlights in a Honda Civic? 

Unless your vehicle is equipped with automatic headlights, you will use the control arm that comes from the steering wheel. Turn the headlights to the ON setting when visibility is compromised.  

How do you turn headlights on a Buick Century? 

The Buick Century uses a standard control switch on an arm coming from the steering wheel. You will find the appropriate settings listed on the arm, so you can select the right one.  

How do you know if your car lights are automatic? 

The automatic headlight control has the words AUTO listed on it. While you can turn this off, most people prefer to leave it running, so the lights come on automatically when it begins to get dark outside. 


Knowing how to turn on car headlights is essential to your on-road safety. When do you turn your headlights on at night? You need to check local headlight laws, but the majority will confirm that the headlights should be on thirty minutes before sunset through thirty minutes after the sunrise.