No one wants to be driving along at night and have their headlights go out. In many cases, the high beams will still work when the regular headlights stop, but it’s just not safe to drive around with your high beams potentially blinding other drivers.
In our authorized service center at Carr Chevrolet, we’ve helped a lot of customer with headlight issues, and this is one of the more common problems we’ve seen. Below, we share some of our experience with five things we think you should know about why your high beam headlights are working while the low beam headlights are not. If you’re having this problem, stop by our Chevrolet and GM service center at 15005 SW Tualatin Valley Highway, Beaverton, OR 97006. It shouldn’t take long to solve a headlight problem, and you can schedule an appointment easily online if you prefer.
5. Headlight Switch
Most vehicles have lever switches on the steering column that operate the high beams. This switch is designed to get used a lot, but it may eventually wear out. This isn’t a problem that we see too often, but it can happen. If the switch is the problem, you’ll likely notice that that it doesn’t feel right. Perhaps it doesn’t click into position the way it once did, or it just feels a little loose. If you’re not sure, stop by your local authorized dealer and have a factory-trained technician look at it.
4. Headlight Sockets
As you may know, the headlights on most vehicles consist of headlight bulbs plugged into sockets. Over time, these sockets can become corroded. This might be due to a bad ground or a variety of other issues, but the result is a compromised connection with the headlight bulb. On some vehicles, the headlights are wired so if one goes out, the other does as well. That means a bad connection from corrosion could cause the headlights to go out. Since the high beams are on a different circuit, they often work just fine even when the low beams stop working.
3. Headlight Wiring
As with virtually any electrical system, if the wiring isn’t right, then the system won’t work. This is true for the headlights on your vehicle. Whether rodents have gotten under the hood and chewed on the wires or a connection has come loose, you may find that the headlights stop working. If you’re familiar with a voltmeter, you can check for power at the headlight and determine if something is preventing the electricity from getting to the headlights.
2. Headlight Fuse or Relay
All the electrical systems in your car, including the headlights, are protected with fuses. These are designed to ‘blow’ and break the circuit if too much power comes through them. This protects all the components on the circuit. If a headlight fuse blows, it could cause the headlights to stop working.
Most headlight systems are also designed with a relay that switches the power between low beam and high beam headlights. If this relay goes bad, it could allow power to the high beams, but not the low beams.
1. Headlight Bulbs
This is the most common reason we see for why a car’s high beam headlights work but the low beams don’t. The normal headlights are on far more often than the high beams, so the low beams burn out more frequently. Some vehicles have entirely different bulbs for the high beams, and other models have headlights with two different filaments. Either way, if your low beams aren’t working but your high beams are, the first things we check are the bulbs.
If you’re thinking of replacing the headlight bulbs yourself, make sure you’re familiar with the correct installation procedure for the type of bulb you’re replacing. Knowing this is often the difference between a successful project and spending additional money on more headlight bulbs.