Auto Service World
News   June 22, 2017   by Adam Malik

Most SUVs have unsafe headlights, tests show

Only two out of 37 tested SUVs received a rating of ‘good’ for its headlights. Eleven rated as ‘poor.’

More than half of the midsize SUVs tested by an insurance industry group were found to have unsafe headlights that did not light up the road far enough or caused glare for oncoming drivers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said Tuesday that it tested 37 midsize SUVs and only two received a “good” rating: the 2017 Volvo XC60 and 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe. Twelve were rated “acceptable,” 12 others were rated “marginal” and 11 were rated “poor.” IIHS recommends buying vehicles with headlights rated “good” or “acceptable.”

“We continue to see headlights that compromise safety because they only provide a short view down the road at night,” said Matt Brumbelow, a senior research engineer at IIHS.

The 2017 Kia Sorento, which received a “poor” rating, had the worst visibility. IIHS says the Sorento lit up 148 feet down the road, compared with 315 feet for the top-rated Volvo XC60.

Other 2017 vehicle models with “poor” ratings include the Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Journey and the Ford Edge and Explorer.

And while the Hyundai Santa Fe received a “good” rating, the sport version of the SUV received a “poor” rating. IIHS said the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport uses different headlights that caused too much glare for oncoming drivers.

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8 Comments » for Most SUVs have unsafe headlights, tests show
  1. Bob Ward says:

    I was under the impression that lighting had to meet certain standards. With the availability of LED conversions it makes it worse. The poor focusing qualities on lamps is simply amplified with LED making the glare effect much worse. The lamps were not designed for LED. My question is why are they allowed to be sold in Canada?

  2. Agree. If headlamps aren’t passing standard tests, why are they being sold as something that is safe? What else is going under the radar for safety related items regulated to meet standards?

    Matt.Morrone Lisenced tech and MVI inspector.

  3. I have been in this industry as a mechanic for 45 years, headlights on today’s vehicles are either so bright that you blind on coming traffic or so poor you can’t see any distance at all. It is not just SUVs, light trucks are as bad or worse. Manufacturers should be held accountable for these headlight issues and maybe more pressure needs to be applied

  4. Conal D says:

    Another bad design on the part of manufacturers in terms of lighting is the fact that the all lights (parking lights included) should come on when the car is in motion. Most new cars I see driving down the road at night don’t have any lights on at all except the daytime running lights. The dashes are all lit up nicely for the driver, as they are blissfully unaware that they have no rear driving lights on.
    And so you try to signal them that they have no lights, but they are oblivious until someone rams them from behind. Why this design? Are they trying to save energy or the bulb life? Although many cars have an auto light mode, many are switched off out of habit. Put a giant light on the dash to tell the driver that your lights are out.

    • Cars of years before had the tail lights and ,marker lights connected with the dash lights. If the dash lights are not on , the driver also knew the tail and marker lights were not on. Same if the tail light fuse was blown. Drivers knew they had a problem.
      The newer Dodge pick ups have no brake lights unless the key is in the run position, another great idea!
      What over trained engineer has designed these unsafe and dangerous features into the newer generation vehicles.

  5. George S says:

    This is a controversial topic at best. I’ve driven a lot of different vehicles (import and domestic) at night and have to say that compared to the cars and trucks I drove when I entered the trade, they are ALL a vast improvement. Take one of my antique cars or pickups and drive them down the road in the evening and you’ve almost got to strike a match to see the road. But give it a little time to get your eyes adjusted and you can navigate the road quite well. Three things: 1/ People drive faster than they used to. If you going a buck-fifty at night, you’re not going to see anything until you’re ten feet away from hitting it; then you just hit it. Why don’t you leave a little earlier and drive a little slower? 2/ I question people’s night vision; do they have night blindness? If you want to fly an airplane at night, you have to have a night rating. Anyone driving a car should have the same qualifications. I’ve seen people who are legally blind at night yet they can drive, because no one tests for that–yet. Combine that with the ultra high speeds everyone drives and I don’t care HOW safe the lighting systems are, those people are still dangerous. 3/ Modern lights. I noticed when halogen lights first came out that there was a VAST difference between high beam and low beam. Now I may be wrong but that had to be done because the newer lights were much brighter, even on low beam. Back in the 80s I focused and re-focused a lot of lights because everyone’s low beams were blinding oncoming traffic. I often think we would be better off going back to the old sealed beams and just slowing down….

    • Bob Ward says:

      You bring up valid points. Yes many other things have effects on night vision. The quality of sealed beams did focus the light on the road. Things were different then. Now the quality of the lenses is an issue. Many are effected by UV light which deteriorates the lens and reduces the light beam dramatically. As well motorists can put in a replacement bulb the lamp was not designed to use which alters the light beam dramatically. Car manufacturers are all about the dollar which is why the advent of plastics has migrated into the vehicle assembly process. Sealed beam lamps are a thing of the past. The idea of making lighting tamper proof and fall under design guidelines for safety would go a long way to improving safety.

      • Conal D says:

        I’d say engineers are working on that by having to remove a whole bumper to replace a headlight bulb…that would make things pretty tamper proof….not to mention unsafe for the driver of that car when they can’t afford to replace a bulb….because bulbs NEVER burn out 😉

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