What Is The Difference Between High Beam And Low Beam?

How can I tell if my headlights are on high beam or low beam?

A low beam and a high beam are two different headlight modes you can choose from. They are quite useful if you know what they mean.

Many users dismiss them as being simply two lighting modes. But they hold significance, and for some people, the driving experience can be greatly affected with the appropriate use.

So, in this article, we shall be discussing and comparing the low beam vs high beam symbol. The high beam light is useful, especially in scenarios and environments where the fog is thick.

You may need a light that can allow you to see what is in front of you easily. Low beams have been designed for the same scenario but when it is less intense.

So, without any further ado, let’s get straight into it.

Low Beam And High Beam – What Are They?

Unlike other articles, this one will not make you wait until the middle or even the end of the article to provide you with the answer you are looking for. We will start the article the right way and clarify the difference between both types of beams.

As the name suggests, with a low beam, it points towards the ground, as compared to a high beam that points straight, parallel to the vehicle.

If you have no idea what a high beam is, then you definitely may have experienced an oncoming vehicle whose lights blind you for a second. Yes, you guessed it that is a high beam.

In the case of a low beam, you can see the vehicle, but it will be visible at a much closer distance than when the high beam is on.

A low beam is pointed towards the ground, as I explained to you before. The difference between both of these light modes is night and day, and it is quite easy to differentiate between them.

The Low Beam Symbol

The low beam must be turned on at night. All vehicles must do so. If you want to turn it on and cannot locate it, it is usually located on a knob near the steering wheel. The symbol is light with beams that are pointing downwards.

When Are Low Beams Used?

This, right here, is an important question. Although low beams should always be turned on at night, there are some scenarios where they will be more useful than high beams.

Low beam headlights must be used in the following scenarios:

  • When you are on the highway
  • When there is traffic
  • When there is rain
  • When there is a light fog

Low beams must not be used in some scenarios. In places where there is dense fog or too much snow, they can hinder the viewing ability of the driver. So, you must differentiate between when a high beam and a low beam must be used. I will be talking more about that down below.

The High Beam Symbol

So, now you know what a low beam looks like. What about the high beam? Well, the signal is the same except for the rays. They point forwards. If you don’t have any eyesight issues, then you really should not have a problem differentiating between the two of them.

On the rare occasion that you are still confused, the only way to confirm is to turn on both beams, turn by turn. The one that illuminates the environment more is the high beam.

When Are High Beams Used?

Let’s talk about the low beam’s bigger brother, the high beam. It has been designed for use in extreme scenarios.

Some places where a high beam is used are:

  • When the rain is heavy
  • When the fog is too much

There are genuinely very few intense scenarios where a high beam must be used. You need a light that can cut through the intense layer of snow or rain, which allows you to see properly. A high beam is great and perfect for this scenario. It can illuminate up to 100 feet of road in front of you.

When Not To Use A High Beam

A high beam should not be used in scenarios that will cause issues and affect other drivers’ driving ability.

You may have been blinded several times due to some insane driver who refused to use the low beams and instead turns on the high beams. This is what you should avoid. It can be used on roads near rural areas and where there is less traffic.

Why Not High Beams In Less Intense Scenarios

Now, this is a question that many of you may be asking. When a high beam is turned on in places with light rain and snow, the high beam light may reflect and cause a glare.

This can cause visibility issues and could result in a collision because you will not look at the road properly. So, it is advised to use a low beam in scenarios like this.

High Beam Symbol Light Flashing

When you turn on the high beam, an indicator also turns on in the instrument panel. This tells you that the high beam has been turned on.

Some users complained that the high beam symbol on the vehicles started blinking. This indicates a problem with the high beam switch. To fix that, you need to do some disassembly.

It is better to let a mechanic do this, as closing the module up is tricky. You may find yourself in over your head when it is too late. So, it is recommended for a professional to complete the job for you.

The blinking also indicates an issue with the electrical system. There is either an incorrect connection, or there is a short somewhere. You should get the issue checked and fixed as soon as possible.

Other Uses Of The High Beam Light

Some of you may be new drivers, curious about how and when to use these lights. This is nothing to be ashamed of as all drivers have been through the same point as you. A high beam light can also be used as a flasher. The best example to give is when you are on the highway.

When you are in the overtaking lane, and the driver in front of you is slow, the high beam can be flashed to indicate that you are approaching. The rule of the highway is to move aside so that you can drive by easily.

I personally believe that this is better than using a horn. It is effective, and there will be no noise at all. All drivers know about this flashing, and if you did not, well, now you know.

My High Beam Works But The Low Beam Does Not

It is common for headlights to stop working. As they are used extensively, one can expect them to run out after a few years of usage. Many vehicle owners reported that their vehicles stopped illuminating the low beam while the high beam worked fine. There can be many reasons for this.

Let’s discuss the ones that have the highest chance of happening:

  1. The socket may have corroded. If you live in an area with a lot of moisture, you may experience this issue. The corrosion will prevent the light from shining properly.
    The only way to fix this is to open up the headlight and wipe away the corrosion. This should be done using a contact cleaner as water or a damp cloth may worsen.
  2. With normal wear and tear, and the high temperature of the vehicle, there is a chance that the wiring may stop working. There is also a chance of the headlight wiring shorting out or not working. In cases like these, all you need to do is insulate or replace the wiring altogether.
  3. Some users reported that the headlight switches became faulty. Of course, this has a low chance of occurrence, but it is better to exhaust all options until you find the culprit of the issue.
  4. As the headlights are connected to fuses, there is a chance that they can blow. As a result, the low beams may not work. In cases like these, all you need to do is locate the faulty fuse and replace it. After that, you should be good to go.
  5. Out of all of these reasons, the one with the highest chance of occurrence is that the low beam may have worn out completely. This is possible because they have not been designed to last forever.

The High Beam Does Not Work While The Low Beam Is Fine

So, you are experiencing the exact issue like the one I described above, but it is the complete opposite of that. The reasons for the issue will be the same.

The only thing that is different about the high beam is that it works at significantly higher temperatures. So, you should get the issue resolved by replacing the bulb. It is a simple fix and should not cost you a lot.

Some people complained that the high beam of their vehicle stopped working after a replacement. There is only one reason for this issue.

You may have installed incompatible light bulbs or even possibly the wrong fuses. The incompatibility will lead to the lights not working at all. This is something you must keep in mind whenever you take on a task by yourself.

My Low Beam Lights Turn On Automatically While The High Beam Doesn’t

With the rapid development in technology, one thing that has evolved significantly is sensors. Nothing has put them to better use than vehicles.

A Tesla is one of the vehicles that use sensors to their maximum potential!

Many vehicles nowadays use sensors that turn on the lights automatically. So, as soon as it gets dark, the low beams will turn on automatically.

As using the high beam is an option for people, there is no system to turn it on automatically. If the high beam turned at sunset, it would cause issues for various drivers.

A system could be implemented in which the high beam would turn on if there is rain, but there is no point. All you need to do is turn a knob, and you should be good to go.

H1 Light Vs. A H7 Light

I don’t know why manufacturers make things complicated for consumers. They could simply refer to the two types of beams using their names. But they had to use H1 and H7 names.

Well, H1 means that the light is a high beam one while H7 means a low beam. One would expect the high beam to be associated with a larger number as it is brighter.

Regardless, you should not get confused between the two as incorrect installation will lead to them not working. On the off chance that they work, the low beam will blow immediately because it has not been designed to handle the voltage of a low beam.

Legal Color Of Headlights

Many people learn this the hard way that there is a specific color of headlight that must be used. You can choose from two options, whether amber or white light. Any other color, and you will be stopped by the first police officer that notices this.

Some high beam lights are blue in color. It is in your best interest to steer clear of them as you will be fined for using them. You should be extra clear when choosing new headlights.


Is Using A High Beam Illegal?

Yes and no. Now, some of you may be confused with this answer. Let me explain. A high beam has been included in a vehicle for a reason.

It is to be used in circumstances where visibility is at its bare minimum. But, if you use it unnecessarily, then there is a chance that you will be stopped by an officer in blue.

You will be warned, but there is a low risk of you getting fined because of that. You should take extra care in this regard.

How Can I Make My High Beams Brighter?

Making high beams brighter is an easy task. But the question arises, why do you even want to do that. As an avid car driver, I know how blinding it is when a high beam vehicle passes you.

Regardless, the process is simple and fairly straightforward. You should choose an LED instead of a halogen lamp. It is significantly brighter. (Here’s how you can install new LED headlights.)

Some other things you can do to make them brighter are:

  • Clean the headlights. As they are not protected from dust or dirt, they can easily settle on them. Plus, the headlights are the ones to experience the air first. So, the first thing you should do is to clean them up. It can make a significant difference in the light intensity.
  • Some headlights become so dirty that simple cleaning cannot work. In cases like those, all you need to do is to use a headlight restoration kit to get them back to perfect condition.
  • You could also buy premium halogen bulbs. They cost significantly more than LEDs but are worth it.

I would advise cleaning the headlights. Unless your vehicle is pretty old, there is a very low chance of the lights dimming to the point that it is affecting your driving ability.

Can 100W Bulbs Melt The Headlights?

No, they will not. The reason for this is that the plastic of the headlights has been designed to handle high temperatures. There will be a high heat output, but you should not run into any issues with melting or anything else.

Are 100W Light Bulbs Illegal?

No, they are now. 100 W light bulbs are not illegal at all. There are no laws that prohibit users from using any sort of bulb in their headlights. There is a minimum brightness threshold, but you can install a light that is as bright as you want it to be, and you should not run into any problems.

How Many Lumens Of Headlights Are Legal?

As I said before, there is a minimum that you must meet for the headlights. The light must be at least 20000 candelas bright. Anything lower than that, you can expect to pay a hefty fine for not following the rules and regulations.

Although newer lights do not go as low as this, the only way they can get to this limit is when they get weaker over time. You must get them replaced at the right time in order to avoid any issues with the authorities.


You definitely got more than what you bargained for when you clicked this article in the search for an answer to your question, low beam vs high beam symbol. In order to not waste any of your time, I made sure to answer the question in the introduction of this article.

For those who stayed to read through the rest of the article, there is a good chance that you may have learned something new from it.

Not everything is as simple as it seems. You should have proper knowledge of everything about a vehicle, so you can avoid any issues and choose what is best for you.

Written by Yusuke Kohara

Hi there! My name is Yusuke. I write about automotive topics for Car Proper. I love cars and have a passion for writing helpful articles on tools, car accessories, and how-to to help my readers solve their problems. In my spare time, I'm either working out, reading the book, or spending time with my family. I also work for a digital consulting agency.

Finding out the price range of replacing and fixing a bumper and learn some other tips

How Much Does It Cost To Repair And Replace A Bumper?