Safety is a big selling point for cars. Besides making a solid frame to absorb impact or installing bigger brakes, auto makers have been improving car headlights to help you see better at night. Along with brighter bulbs, the headlights on certain cars can swivel left and right as you go around corners. This will help illuminate the road ahead even as your car turns so you can still see what’s ahead.

These systems aren’t exactly new and original as they’ve been around for 40+ years in various forms. However, since computers and electronics are much cheaper and more reliable these days, most new cars have some form of adaptive lighting. In most cases, the computer will be able to sense when it’s getting dark outside and will turn the headlights on automatically. Headlights that can change direction are mostly found on high end vehicles.

What the adaptive warning light means

Depending on the type of adaptive lighting in your car, this warning light could mean a few things. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific information on your vehicle’s lighting systems.

Headlights that turn on automatically or those that can adjust brightness use light sensors typically mounted in the windshield. Dirt and debris can prevent these sensors from detecting light properly, so clean the windshield if the system doesn’t seem to be working properly. Direction changing headlights use yaw and pitch sensors to determine the position of the vehicle and then adjusts the headlights using motors. A malfunctioning sensor or any issues with the motors functioning can cause this warning indicator to turn on.

With either lighting system, the light will cause a code to be saved in the car’s memory to help you diagnose the issue. Have the car scanned by a qualified technician and have any necessary repairs performed at the earliest.

Is it safe to drive with the adaptive warning light on?

While adaptive lighting is useful and convenient, it is not essential for you to drive safely at night. You should always be able to manually turn your headlights on using the dial. As long as the headlights are working, you can continue to use the car normally.

If your adaptive lighting system or headlight system isn’t working properly, our certified technicians can help you by inspecting and diagnosing it.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as What Does the Adaptive Lighting Indicator Warning Light Mean? and was authored by Spencer Cates.


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