many north american fog lights are poorly designed... theres little DOT/NHTSA regulations for fog light design and use on this continent, hence why you see so many of them that are blinding when oncoming (GM cars are the worst offenders). There is also no education here for the proper use of lights, so even if we had good fog lights (both front AND rear), people wouldnt know when and why to use them. I see Audi's, Volvos and Olds Auroras driving around on perfectly clear nights with their rear fogs on all the time... so frustrating... :roll:
There's a slight difference, if you look just at the end of your hood, you'll see some color change. If you really want to see a difference, step outside the car with the fogs off, and then turn them on and step out again, a lot is brighted up, but you don't see it behind the wheel cause the hood gets in the way (ie, they're pretty close to useless I think).
Fogs lights are not about color, they are about seeing what's right in front of your car (for DOT purposes and daily driving - rally is different).
if it is dark around, turn them off and on - independent of the low beams. You should see a little bit just in front of the car, but you should also see a good deal more off to the sides of the front corners. That's because in THICK fog, you want to see where the lines are on the road. Remember - they are designed to be used under foggy conditions, which means slower speeds.
Also, the "fog lights" in the Mazda3 (and in most cars) are not, as someone pointed out above, actually fog lights. They're too white to serve any kind of purpose other than looking cool. They're really driving lights.
The whiter light that they use is way too harsh to really be any help in fog.
Alright, personally i find the fogs to be somewhat useless for reason of color and wiring. Fogs are meant to shoot under the fog, thats why they're generally low. Plus the lower height reduces glare reflected at the eyes. BUt more importantly, the color has a lot to do wth it. White/bright light reflects off of the water molecules and creates glare. That's why actual effective fog lights are yellow(softer color/light= less glare). My issue is that the fogs are not independant of the headlights and so the bright headlights create a glare that overpowers any advantage to the fogs. I don't believe they have any intended purpose of lighting lines, but moreso to reduce glare. Plus fogs tend to be more pencil beams and focused straight ahead where as driving lights are wide beamed.
The OEM fog lights on my '98 Accord worked really well because the regular low-beam only produced a bright spot about 2-lanes wide and 2-3 car-lengths forward. When the fog light was turned on, it filled in the dark gap between the low-beam and the front of the car. It also projected a lot more light to the side of the car, making it easier to see when you have to make a turn on a dark road at night.
For the Mazda3, the stock Xenon lights already project such a wide and bright beam pattern that the fog lights doesn't really do much of anything.
I guess the benefit would be that it will give me better lighting in foul weather where I would aim my xenon low-beam all the way down.
I don't find them all that useful, and usually keep them off. I do find that, especially for highway driving, I hate oncoming traffic with foglamps. It's an extra set of lights to ruin your night vision. Lots of people say, oh it won't be that much brighter, but I would disagree. Especially if it's an SUV with fog lights. On my last car, I used to drive with them on all the time, and would get brights flashed at me while highway driving. Now, I'll occasionally use them, if there is fog, but it doesn't do a lot.
That's because most people misuse the application of fog lights. They aim them way the hell up into the air and try to use them as an additional set of low beams (which, BTW, is actually illegal in most states, dunno about CAN).
I personally think that aftermarket fog lamps should be illegal, or pass some kind of emissions-type test each year to ensure they are aimed properly. Sure, it doesn't stop the owner from going out and re-adjusting them the other 364 days of the year, but I bet it would cut down on the piss-poor installs that exist.
And don't get me started on SUV drivers. I'm working on a document that demands a seperate class of license for a large vehicle, like and SUV. MiniVans are a toss up, because they generally don't do that much hard. But the large Lincoln Navigators and Expiditions and Tahoe sized vehicles - they are just too big, and often the people don't know how to drive them.
We have a seperate class for motorcycles, 18-wheelers, anything with 6 or more wheels, atvs..... Why not an SUV?
Because SUV's don't really drive any different? Especially modern ones. Tahoe class ones are a bit different, but theres far more large trucks (F150/250/350, Ram 2500's, Silverados, Z71's, etc) than there are Tahoe's out there, and no one really complains about those.
My pet hate is people driving with fog/driving lights on in normal night weather. They can be particularly blinding to oncoming traffic, especially subaru drivers with those big ogle eyed fogs. I reckon a lot of them put in 100w globes. Considering here is NSW, Australia it is illegal to drive with them on under normal conditions(which most people don't know), i wish the cops would pull more people up for them.
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