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What You Need to Know About Vehicle Lighting Laws in California

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

How to Keep Your Vehicle Street Legal

There are so many options when it comes to car customizations and upgrades. You can elevate your ride’s look and style with custom wheels and rims, a one-of-kind custom paint job, or something as simple as a deep window tint. The beauty of owning a vehicle is that you can amend it to suit your personal style and taste, making it more a reflection of your personality as opposed to what the manufacturer had in mind. However, some upgrades serve the dual purpose of both fashion AND function. We’re talking, of course, about vehicle lighting, which has become one of the go-to upgrades for those looking to see as well as be seen.

Some of the most common lighting upgrades include HID headlights, LED headlights, and truck light bars. Here’s a brief overview of lighting upgrades.

HID headlights: High-intensity discharge lights – or HID headlights for short – are incredibly bright versions of the standard bulb that attempt to mimic the look of sunlight. They’re perfect if you do a ton of driving at night. HID headlights have moving parts and/or filaments, which means they’re not designed for off-roading or bumpy roads. Although HID headlights burn insanely bright, they burn on a relatively short lifespan at ~5,000 hours.

LED headlights: LED headlights don’t burn as bright as HID headlights; however, they last for much longer at an estimated 25,000 hours. They also have no moving parts, which makes them more durable for things like off-roading and trekking through uneven terrain. LED headlights are also far more compatible with several different makes and models of vehicles, especially older model cars. Go with an LED headlight if you want something good and reliable that you won’t have to replace too often.

Truck light bars: Typically installed on the roof of the vehicle right above the windshield, truck light bars provide a ton of bright LED light that won’t drain your battery. Another bonus is that they stay relatively cool during operation, even over extended periods of time. LED truck light bars are perfect for low light or pitch-black situations when street lamps are scarce and you need a lot of illumination.

California Light Laws

No matter what type of vehicle you have, truck lighting and Jeep lighting are relatively easy to come by and install. In fact, many manufacturers have made things easy with truck lighting kits and Jeep lighting kits so that consumers can perform the install process themselves. But before you dive deep into the world of LED truck lights and HID headlight kits, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind, and that’s the California light laws. These statutes define which lights are legal and which ones will get you pulled over and potentially fined.

When it comes to lighting, here are the main rules you need to be following

· Red lights that are visible from the front or rear of the vehicle are prohibited

· Flashing lights are permitted, however, it’s best to keep those to turn signals only

· Underglow cannot emit more than .05 candela per square inch

· Aftermarket lights must be at least 12 inches from your car’s factory lights

· Do not use colors that are being used by emergency vehicles (red, blue, green)

For a full breakdown of California light laws, check out the vehicle code as it pertains to lighting. If things are still unclear, don’t be afraid to ask your local police department if the lighting upgrade you intend to make is legal. You can also ask an associate at Stereo Depot. We do a ton of LED and HID Jeep and truck lighting upgrades in addition to underglow packages, so we’re pretty well versed in what you can legally get installed.

Visit Stereo Depot Today for Lighting Upgrades

Whether you need HID or LED truck or Jeep lights, we’ve got you covered. We can also help out with any truck light bars you want to get installed. The best way to upgrade your truck or Jeep lights is to visit us in person at Stereo Depot. We can evaluate your truck or Jeep and then make some recommendations on lighting upgrades.

Our locations are conveniently located in San Diego and El Cajon. Feel free to contact us via our website with any lighting-related questions you may have.

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