Headlight Cover Laws

by Amber Arguijo
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Headlight covers are a popular way to protect your cars headlights from damage and grime while driving. Usually made from strong acrylic material, headlight covers come in many different colors. However, while they may look good and help protect your headlights, they are not always legal.

Specific Laws Regarding Headlight Covers

In general, headlight covers are acceptable during daylight hours but must be removed at night. Most state laws have regulations on what color of light can come out of the front of a vehicle and how far that light must project. White is the most common color required for headlights, but amber is also accepted in some states. Since most headlight covers are tinted, they do not meet this standard. However, most states also restrict clear headlight covers because of the projection requirement. As a general rule, check with your state's motor vehicle code before purchasing headlight covers.

How Far Must My Headlights Project?

In most states, the low-beam setting on headlights must project 100 feet in front of the vehicle and the high-beam setting must project 350 feet in front of the vehicle. Texas and Arizona law state this differently, saying only that the headlight beam must be visible from 1,000 feet away, not that it must project a path 1,000 feet away.

When Are Headlights Legally Required to be On?

For most states, headlights are required to be on between sunset and sunrise. In addition, though the distance requirement varies among states, headlights must be on when conditions prevent the driver from seeing 500 to 1,000 feet in front of the vehicle.

Legal Alternatives

If you're primarily worried about keeping your headlights clean, invest in a headlight cleaning kit and use it every few months. The kits usually include sandpaper or a buffer and plastic polish. Gently scrub away the grime and clouding and then clean the light with the plastic polish. When you're finished, apply a coat of wax to help keep your headlights clean. It's a safer alternative than headlight covers, and while it may be a hassle to clean your headlights every few months, it saves you the trouble of having to remember to remove your covers every night.

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