What Are Automatic Headlights? (All You Need To Know)

Headlights are safety features that all vehicles need. Unfortunately, for most vehicles, they need to be activated manually for them to become an active safety feature at night. And sometimes, drivers with busy or forgetful minds can forget to turn them on.

However, the good news is that new technology has given drivers a way to forget to turn their headlights on and still stay safe through an automatic headlight function. So, what exactly are automatic headlights, and how do they work? Keep reading to learn more!

What Are Automatic Headlights?

Automatic headlights are hooked up to a sensor system that can detect when it’s dawn, dusk, or dark outside, and turn on the headlights for the driver when the key is turned on. Most automatic headlights can be turned off manually by the driver if they don’t want the headlights on while performing certain tasks. 

Automatic headlights are almost a necessary safety feature in this day and age, but how do you know if you have them or how to work them? Read on for answers to these commonly asked questions!

Is It Okay to Leave Headlights on Auto?

It’s actually more preferable that someone leave their headlights on automatic.

The automatic headlights are there as a safety function, and the more you depend on them, the more likely you will become used to not turning them on.

Unless you have a specific reason for turning them off, which some people do, it’s best that you leave the automatic headlight function on.

Are Automatic Headlights the Same as Daytime Running Lights?

Are Automatic Headlights the Same as Daytime Running Lights?

Daytime running lights are automatic, but they automatically turn on when you put your vehicle in gear and start to move, day or night.

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Automatic headlights will only turn on when the automatic headlight sensors recognize that there is not enough light.

Technically, your automatic headlights might kick on in a rainstorm, during heavy fog, or possibly in a parking garage while it’s daytime.

However, this is usually only on rare occasions.

Can You Turn Automatic Headlights Off?

Very few vehicles don’t give the driver the option to turn off the automatic headlight function.

Usually, off to the left-hand side of the steering, rather on the dashboard or on the steering column, all of your lighting options will be there.

Do Auto Lights Drain Your Battery?

Leaving your headlights on when your vehicle is not running will drain your battery. This is another great perk of the automatic headlight function.

As long as they’re turned on, they will also turn off for you when you turn your vehicle off.

Do Auto Lights Turn on Your Taillights?

Do Auto Lights Turn on Your Taillights?

Automatic headlights work with your whole driving light system, so not only will your headlights and parking lights come on, but so will your tail lights.

Do All New Cars Have Automatic Headlights?

Most well-optioned expensive vehicles will have automatic headlights as a standard, but base models will have to have them ordered for certain makes.

Automatic headlights are not required by law, so companies will often save money by making them an add-on option for lower-priced vehicles.

Can You Add Automatic Headlights to Your Car?

If you think this feature would be very useful to you, and you are sure your vehicle doesn’t have them, then there are kits that can be installed pretty easily that will give your vehicle automatic headlights.

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If you have some patience and some automotive mechanical skills, you can install them yourself.

As well, any reputable stereo shop or glass repair shop will be able to do the installation for you.

How Long Do Automatic Headlights Stay On?

How Long Do Automatic Headlights Stay On?

The timer for automatic headlights is set by the manufacturer.

However, if you are dissatisfied with how long the lights stay on, you can always take your vehicle to the dealer and have them adjust the timer to longer or shorter.

To know more, you can also read our posts on when to use high beam headlights, how long do headlights last, and why do headlights turn yellow.


Automatic headlights are a great safety feature to have, as they turn your lights on at night time by the use of sensors, and turn them off for you when the sunlight comes back out.

Another great feature they can offer you is that, as long as you have the function turned on, you don’t have to worry about draining your battery from accidentally forgetting to turn off your headlights.

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