Ask the Mechanic: How can I improve my driving visibility at night?

I drive a Honda Stream. Lately I cannot see anything while driving at night especially when it rains. It gets worse on an unmarked road. The car has HID head lights with D2S bulbs (4300k) which should be bright. How can I improve the brightness?

Evans

Hello Evans, it can be dangerous and unnerving to drive at night with poor visibility, particularly on rainy nights or foggy mornings. Changing your light bulbs to stronger ones may offer some sort of reprieve, but may not solve your problem unless you address some issues. Lately, motorists are in the habit of fitting High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs, which ideally should be used on open highways and on lonely countryside roads.

These lights pose danger to oncoming traffic and yourself since their strong blue light causes a glare, which blinds oncoming motorists and can cause a head-on collision. HIDs impose a high energy demand which can cause electric circuit failure or melting of the headlight bulb socket or housing because they were designed for bulbs with less wattage. To resolve your current poor visibility:

Inspect your current lights to confirm whether the headlight electrical circuits and recommended bulbs work. Inspect the headlight lenses and headlight covers for fading and a yellowish haze, which reduces the effectiveness of the headlight beam. A yellow haze on your headlights can be cleaned with head light restoration polishes.

Dim your cabin and instrument clustre lights to limit reflection to the windscreen at night. This can help to improve night vision. Headlight alignment is usually a forgotten but important safety check. This can be done at a garage or wheel alignment centre with the right equipment. Often, your headlight beams are pointing to low or too high, especially if you have had to remove the headlights for any sort of repair or adjustment. Misaligned headlights also beams reduce visibility.

Get your eyes checked. Your night driving vision may have deteriorated over time and needs corrective glasses. You may also need to observe night driving safety tips such as:

 •Cleaning the windscreen to avoid glare. Dirty or smudged windscreens cause glare which reduces visibility when oncoming traffic flash their lights at you.

•Avoid driving at night when suffering from fatigue. This tends to impair your concentration and reaction time. When you encounter oncoming traffic with full beams, the glare will blind you and if you are fatigued you may not be able to employ counter measures in time to avert an accident.

• Learn to avoid glare from oncoming traffic. Do not look directly into oncoming lights. Focus your eyes on the left edge of your lane and use peripheral vision to observe oncoming traffic.

• When driving at night during hazardous conditions such as rain or fog, reduce speed or slow down. Most headlight beams can reach 350ft ahead. If you drive fast, your reaction time may not be able to avoid a collision or crash from a vehicle emerging around a corner or a wild animal or person who suddenly steps onto the highway.

WHY IS THE D LIGHT BLINKING ON MY HONDA STREAM?

Hello Paul, I have an irritating issue with my Honda Stream and I need advice. During start up in the morning or after several hours of rest, the D light on the dashboard blinks and the engine produces a whirring sound. The car jerks and does not drive smoothly as if the hand brake is engaged. Switching of the car and restarting stops the light blinking for a short time before it resumes. Resetting the software as suggested by my mechanic and servicing transmission oil has not helped. What could be the issue?

John

Hello John, the blinking D (Drive) light on your Honda Stream dashboard during a cold start and the jerking as you drive are signs of a faulty automatic transmission. When the D light flashes, it means the transmission computer has registered a fault in the transmission electronics. This kind of fault may be caused by the transmission oil quality or quantity.

Transmission oil ages and can damage mechanical parts such as the filter, clutches and gears or electronic components crucial for smooth shifting such as solenoids and pressure switches.

A transmission oil change without rectifying what is faulty may not resolve the problem.

You need a computer diagnosis and a good technician to read the faults and decide appropriate action.

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