Do the headlights in your car go on and off when you drive? Headlight flickering is a noticeable and serious issue that needs fixing right away. You should not be on the road in the evenings with flickering headlights.
What’s the best way to fix flickering headlights? There’s no simple answer here. Read below to learn more about the causes of flickering headlights and possible fixes you can easily get done at home:
What Causes Your Headlights to Flicker
There are many reasons why your headlights might flicker. Usually, the problem occurs because of electrical system failures.
The rate at which headlights flicker can sometimes pinpoint the reason. For example, do the headlights flicker at random, or do they go on and off at regular intervals? The former is typically caused by a loose connector, while the latter indicates a wiring problem.
The headlight flickering would happen when you are driving. They should not be going on and off while the car is parked or otherwise turned off.
Let’s look at some of the most common issues that cause headlight flickering:
Headlight bulbs, like household bulbs, have a lifecycle. When the bulbs get too old, they may not work properly. Physical damage to the headlamps may sometimes cause flickering. Therefore, it’s worthwhile to remove the bulbs and inspect them for problems.
The car battery powers the headlights. If the battery is at the end of its lifecycle, the headlights may not receive the right amount of power to function normally. Other battery problems, too, could cause headlight flickering. Therefore, do check the car battery if you notice your headlights flickering.
Car alternators have voltage regulators inside to keep electrical current outputs consistent. However, this voltage regulator doesn’t last forever. Failing is gradual, and when the process begins, the headlights may receive inconsistent electrical signals. When this happens, flickering occurs.
Loose Connectors or Fuses
If the headlight bulbs are not connected properly to the wiring system, flickering is inevitable. This is not hard to spot if the flickering is irregular. For example, do the headlights flicker when you are driving on a rough road that might make the car shake? If so, loose connectors or even fuses might be to blame.
Incorrectly placed wires or excess stress on wires that connect the headlights can cause flickering too. Wires can get stressed because of heating from the engines, excess current, or kinks. Bad wiring causes incoming voltages issues for headlight bulbs. If they don’t flicker, they might stop working.
Headlight flickering is primarily a current flow problem. It can happen when the car’s internal system doesn’t communicate with the headlights properly. If your car has accessories that draw in massive amounts of power, essential components, like headlights, may not get enough. Tire pressure monitoring systems, for example, can alter how the current system is distributed in your car. Massive stereo systems can do that do. Keep an eye out for similar accessories.
There are other reasons why headlights may flicker, but the above are the most common.
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How to Diagnose the Cause of Flickering Headlights
To fix any problem, you need to first diagnose the cause. As there are many reasons why headlights flicker, as mentioned above, it could be tricky to diagnose the issue.
Some things are easy to check. For example, you can physically remove the headlight covers to inspect the bulbs for damage. Checking for wiring problems, or electrical system failures may require a bit more skill.
If you are familiar with your car’s engine and internal parts, checking the system for the cause of flickering lights will not be a problem. If not, it’s best to take your vehicle to a mechanic for a proper diagnosis.
Can You Fix Flickering Headlights at Home?
It will really depend on the problem. Some problems are easy to fix at home. For example, if your headlamps have dying bulbs, it’s easy enough to replace the old ones with a new pair. But if the wires are overstressed, you may need to work some more.
Fixing flickering headlights also involve prevention. Some problems, like inconsistent current distribution, can recur if you don’t safeguard against the problem. You can buy certain accessories to help with issues like this. They are discussed below.
You can have several possible fixed for common headlight flickering issues. Take note that it doesn’t list all fixes and doesn’t include fixes for rare or unusual problems. Here it goes:
Replace the Bulbs
Perhaps the easiest way to fix flickering headlights is to replace the bulbs and see if this solves the issue. Remove the headlight protection cover to inspect the bulbs. Unscrew and check for possible damage or discolouration.
Gently touch the bulbs to see if they wobble. The bulbs should not be loosely attached. If they are, that’s definitely what’s causing the flickering.
Inspect the Wire Fusing Panel
To check for wiring issues, you need to check under the hood of the car. Locate the wires that attach to the headlights. Visually inspect these wires for breakage and kinking. Additionally, check the wires of the fuse panel behind the steering wheel column on the driver’s side. Inspect these wires for damage as well.
If you notice frayed or broken wires in either place, take the vehicle to a mechanic for fixing. Messing with wires at home is not advisable.
Check the Alternator
You should check the alternator belt for any signs of fraying. When you start the engine, check the battery light. If it lights up, then the alternator is failing. Get the alternator replaced or fixed at a mechanic to fix the flickering lights issue.
Check Car Battery
A battery low on juice may cause flickering lights. Therefore, check the car battery health. If the battery’s not looking so good, get it replaced. You can do this at home or at a mechanic’s.
Take Note of Electrical Accessories in the Car
Assess all the electrical accessories in your car that the battery powers. Unplug these and drive with the headlights on. Does that fix the flickering? If so, then the accessories are definitely to blame. You may need to find an alternate power source so that these gadgets don’t draw excessive amounts of power from essential components.
Stabilize Engine Communication Issues
You need to go to a car mechanic to check if the engine is failing to communicate properly with the headlights. Unplugging accessories may also help. There’s an alternative route you can take: use a device to correct power distribution inconsistencies.
There aren’t many products to this regard. One great option is a Canbus error correction gadget. It essentially ensures that your headlights always get the power they require, even when you have something like a tire pressure monitoring system installed. Anti-flickering gadgets like this may help.
Some drivers find flickering headlights a nuisance, and others see it as a serious sign of car trouble. In any case, you shouldn’t drive with problem headlamps. First, you need to diagnose the problem. Use the tips given above to do so.
Once you know what’s wrong, apply the appropriate fix. You can do this at home depending on your skill level. It’s recommended to get your headlights fixed at a reliable auto mechanic shop.
Lastly, there are certain things you can do to safeguard against headlight flickering. Use an anti-flickering device like a Canbus to prevent issues and save money. However, such devices won’t fix all issues that lead to flickering, such as bad wiring or failing alternators.
Checking your car’s systems once in a while would help you diagnose problems early and prevent flickering. Maintain your car well, as it would certainly help.
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