There are many reasons drivers may want to upgrade their vehicles’ lighting. Some may be experiencing old, cloudy, or foggy light compartments, which can lead to decreased visibility. Other drivers may want to give their lighting a cooler or more aesthetically pleasing appearance. Whatever the reason for updating your lighting, it’s important to remember that safety and legality come first. Here is what to know about legally upgrading your truck’s lights.
Rules and Legal Restrictions for Lighting Upgrades
There are numerous laws and restrictions that cover vehicle lighting on the federal, state, and local levels. The following information contains some of the general legal restrictions for vehicle lighting across the country. However, it’s important to understand your local state and city rules regarding truck lighting before purchasing and installing any upgrades for your vehicle.
Legal Restrictions for Headlights
Lighting laws and regulations for vehicles largely pertain to lights that you can see from the front of the car, including headlights. The rules for headlights set many of the standards for the rest of your car’s lighting. According to federal regulations, headlight colors must be either white, soft white, or amber. Some headlight upgrades with high-intensity discharge may appear slightly blue, but this is because they are a pure white that appears cool and blue.
When it comes to brightness limits, these tend to change from state to state, or even on a community level. You never want your headlights to exceed brightness limits for both legal reasons and driving courtesy. Have you ever felt blinded by someone driving past who left their brights on? Headlights that are exceedingly bright can have the same effect.
Laws Regulating Taillights
All vehicles must have two taillights and two brake lights at the back. The color for taillights is usually a light red that illuminates when a driver engages the brakes. Any lighting at the rear of the vehicle should remain red or stay within the white-to-amber spectrum as defined by the rules for headlights. These regulations are meant to prevent drivers from confusing personal vehicles with automobiles that use emergency lights. Taillights can have custom shapes and sizes depending on the model and year of the vehicle. When upgrading these lights, purchasing DOT-approved taillights will ensure that your upgrades meet legal brightness, color, and sizing requirements.
Underglow Lighting Laws
Underglow lights are lighting accessories that attach to the underside of a vehicle to illuminate the tires and ground beneath. Some types of underglow lighting are also visible from the front of the car, which means headlight rules will apply. This is especially true for lifted vehicles where you can clearly see underlighting from all sides. Generally, colored lighting outside the traditional white, soft white, or amber is not allowed for underlighting. Some states also have rules regarding the brightness of underglow lighting, much like the rules for headlights.
If you’re interested in underglow lighting with a range of colors, don’t be discouraged. While you can’t drive on the road with a rainbow of LED lights, you can still display them at car shows and other private locations. Just remember to change your underlighting to white or amber before departing.
Laws Regarding Interior Lights
Many modern cars, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles feature all kinds of LED lighting, especially in luxury cars. There are many interior lighting upgrades you can make to your vehicle, including touch screens and monitors. Contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to drive with interior lights on in your car. However, when the interior lights are bright enough, it can lead to a glare on your windshield, making it harder to see the road. When your lights are on, it can also be a sign of distracted driving; don’t navigate your truck’s monitor or use interior lighting to locate objects inside your vehicle while driving. Following these tips will ensure you’re using your internal lights safely and won’t have to worry about distracted driving tickets.
Other Lighting Rules and Regulations
Another type of car lighting some enthusiasts will add to their vehicles is engine lighting. LED or standard lighting can be helpful for working on engine upgrades or repairs. Just like any other front-facing lighting, the colors should remain white or amber and within a set brightness. Although, because your engine is shut while driving, it’s best to turn these lights off anyway.
Any of the lighting rules and regulations mentioned above apply to all roads, highways, and other driving spaces that are open to the public. This means you can experiment with lighting changes on private property, in showrooms, and at car shows without risk of fines, as long as you don’t drive the vehicle onto public roadways with any upgraded lights still on.
Penalties for Unlawful Truck Lighting
It’s crucial for every driver to understand these legal requirements regarding vehicle lighting because there are strict penalties for not following them. Traffic violations in relation to restricted lighting can carry heavy fines depending on your state. Law enforcement will also require that you remove the lighting violations from your vehicle, which will result in a waste of money—that’s why it’s essential for you to do your research before upgrading any portion of your vehicle. If you fail to remove these accessories from your car or truck, it could result in increased penalties and fines, leading to potential registration revocation.
Where To Find Lights That Meet Regulations
When you decide to update your truck’s lighting, it’s important to shop for lights that are compliant with the laws and regulations outlined above. As you look for lighting upgrades, search for models that are DOT- and SAE-compliant. These ratings will help ensure that you can actually use the lights you purchase rather than confine them solely to use in your garage to avoid violations. When you’re ready for lights that meet these legal requirements, browse our selection of Toyota 4Runner parts here at Trail Grid Pro. We offer lights and other 4Runner accessories that you can use confidently and safely on the road.
Once you’re equipped with what you need to know about legally upgrading your truck’s lights, you can make your selection with confidence. Stick to lights that are DOT-certified to ensure you don’t have to rip your installations out right after you install them. You can find certified headlights, taillights, and more at Trail Grid Pro.