Reasons Why High Beams Work but Low Beams Don't

Headlights are among the many things in our cars and SUVs that are easy to take for granted. But have you ever been driving along at night when everything in front of you goes dark because your headlights went out? If you do find yourself in this dangerous situation, try turning on your high beams, sometimes also called "brights." There's a good chance that they'll work and allow you to get to a safe spot off the road. Remember, it's not exactly safe to drive with your brights on in traffic, but it is safer than driving at night without any headlights. Below, our authorized Subaru service center in Salt Lake City looks at the four main reasons why your low beam headlights and your high beams do.

Driving with only your brights on can be blinding for other drivers 

4. Something Is Wrong With The Headlight Switch

Of these four reasons, this is the least common. However, it does happen. On some models, the headlights switch is a lever that sticks out and can get caught on a jacket sleeve or purse handle. In these cases, it's probably obvious that you have a problem with the switch. However, most modern VW models have a headlight switch on the dash. While there are still things that can go wrong with these switches, we've found them to be pretty reliable.

Even a small bit of exposed wire can cause a wide range of electrical problems in a car 

3. An Issue With The Wiring

This is another potential headlight problem that's not as common as #1 and #2 on this list, wiring issues happen more often than you might think. As 2020 saw many companies move to a work-from-home model, there have been a lot more cars just sitting in driveways and parking spots for days at a time. As a result, rodents are finding more parked cars to take refuge in. Unfortunately, this can also mean damage to your car's wiring that can affect headlights and much more. Whether it's from rodents or other damage to your vehicle's wiring system, the headlights are only one of the potential problems you might be faced with.


2. Headlight Relay Or Fuse May Be Bad

Today's modern cars are impressively complex works of engineering, especially Volkswagen models. When it comes to the electrical systems in your vehicle, like the headlights, everything is protected by at least one fuse. These clever little electrical parts will only allow a certain amperage through them. Too much juice, and the fuse will sever the connection to protect the rest of the electrical line and components. Sometimes, fuses fail for seemingly no reason at all, and simply replacing it solves your problem. If the fuse blows again, it's probably time to get a factory-trained expert to take a closer look.

A bad headlight relay is among the more common reasons we see for low beam headlights not working while the high beams do. You see, the low and high beams each have their own relay, which is essentially an electrical switch. Like fuses, sometimes relays go bad. Since the low beams are used far more frequently than the high beams, that's the relay that is more likely to go bad. Also like fuses, if everything works at first only for the relay to go bad again, you've probably got a more serious electrical problem on your hands.

Replacing HID headlights like these should be left to the experts 

1. Your Headlight Bulb Has Burned Out

As you may have guessed, many car headlight bulbs burn out just as the light bulbs in your dining room light will likely need replacing at some point. With the low beam headlights and well-lit city streets, it can be difficult to know if you already have one bulb out. So, when the other headlight bulb goes and you find yourself with no headlights at all, it may seem like they both went out at the same time. Regardless of what type of headlight is on your vehicle, there are important things to know about replacing the bulb. That's why we recommend leaving headlight replacement to the experts like those in our authorized service center at Nate Wade Subaru in Salt Lake City.

Nate Wade Subaru

1207 South Main St
Directions Salt Lake City, UT 84111

  • Sales: (801) 658-9379
  • Service: (801) 328-1327
  • Parts: (801) 328-0061