How Do I Know If I Have Adaptive Headlights?

If you’re into cars, then you might have heard about adaptive headlights. But how do you know if your vehicle already has such a feature or not?

A lot of cars that have been manufactured in the 2010s and later have adaptive headlights; check the inside of the lens – adaptive headlights will feature a special icon. If your headlights automatically change their angle or brightness while you’re driving, then those are adaptive.

What are adaptive headlights anyway and are they, ultimately, worth it?

How Do I Know If I Have Adaptive Headlights?

Your car has adaptive headlights if:

  1. The inside of the headlight lens has an icon that notifies that user that the headlights are adaptive (check the headlights when they’re off)
  2. The car has been manufactured in the early 2010s or later (this is when adaptive headlights started becoming popular)
  3. When you go for a drive in the dark, the headlights change their brightness or angle without you telling them to do so

What Are Adaptive Headlights?

It would be easier to find out whether you have adaptive headlights or not if you know what these elements actually are.

The car’s headlights that are able to respond to the changing road conditions are called ‘adaptive’. The term, however, is quite broad and can refer to different types of adaptation:

  • Curve-adaptive headlights

The bulbs of such lights pivot toward the car’s direction of travel. The sensors detect either the turning of the steering wheel or directly the curvature in the road. Some are also able to adjust the angle when the vehicle’s speed changes.

  • Cornering lights

Curve-adaptive headlights are sometimes referred to as ‘cornering lights’, but the latter are actually auxiliary lights that are placed close to the main headlights.

Cornering lights aren’t able to physically pivot the bulb, instead, they simply get turned on the side to which the steering wheel gets turned. Those are an older version of adaptive headlights, but some vehicles still use cornering lights.

  • Automatic high beams

As the name suggests, such high beams get turned on and off automatically. A sensor monitors the lights of the nearby vehicles and adapts the brightness.

  • Adaptive driving beams (ADB)

This is the newest technology that involves not bulbs, but individual LED lights. When the sensor detects another car, it adapts only the LED lights that project onto the vehicle (the other lights maintain full brightness).

Basically, such lights illuminate what is ahead, while simultaneously keeping other vehicles in the ‘shadow’ to avoid dazzling the drivers.

How Do Adaptive Headlights Work?

Standard headlights are always focused straight ahead which is not convenient (or safe) when you’re approaching a curve. With regular lights, you’ll be left in the dark for a few moments while you’re making the turn.

Adaptive headlights (curve-adaptive ones specifically) will help make sure that what’s around the bend gets illuminated, not the side of the road.

The majority of adaptive headlights feature sensors that can monitor how far you have turned the steering wheel, the rotation around the vertical axis, your speed, and even the level of the surface. These sensors then communicate with the electronic control unit that, in its turn, passes the information further on, to the actual headlights.

What Car Manufacturers Have Adaptive Headlights?

Even though such headlights were introduced to the North American market only in 2003, these safety features have been rapidly gaining popularity.

The following manufacturers have car models with adaptive headlights: Chevrolet, Genesis, Porshe, Ford, Mazda, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Lexus, Lincoln, Volvo, BMW, Audi, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Buick, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Nissan.

Most of the high-end manufacturers and mainstream automakers either already include adaptive headlights or offer them. In some cases, you’ll be able to take advantage of such headlights even if you’re going for an entry-level car model.

Are Adaptive Headlights Worth It?

Adaptive headlights are already featured by default on a lot of car models, but some manufacturers do offer such lights as an optional feature. Should you request the add-on in such a case?

Pros of Adaptive Headlights

  • Adaptive headlights make your driving experience safer

These smart lights react to the steering radius, speed, and level of the surface to provide you with the best lighting conditions possible.

Adaptive headlights do increase the driver’s visibility when compared to regular headlights, but that will be an advantage only if the driver doesn’t get distracted.

  • Adaptive headlights benefit other drivers and pedestrians

The chances of dazzling someone with an adaptive headlight are minimal which is, of course, not only safer but also more respectful towards other road users.

Cons of Adaptive Headlights

  • You might not benefit from adaptive headlights

If you don’t tend to drive in the dark and on winding roads, then you simply might not need these smart headlights.

With that being said, adaptive headlights would be able to illuminate the road ahead a lot better in heavy fog, for example.

  • Adaptive headlights make the vehicle more expensive

At the moment, not all manufacturers think of adaptive headlights as essential safety features. In a lot of cases, such lights are treated as an extra and not all people are going to want to pay the additional cost.

If you buy the headlights aftermarket, for example, be prepared to pay around $1,000. Moreover, the repair costs of the ‘smart’ parts would be considerably higher than those of regular headlights.

The good news is that the price of adaptive headlights will be slowly dropping as the technology starts getting more and more widespread.


Now you know exactly what adaptive headlights are and how they work, so you should be able to tell whether your vehicle has such a feature or not.

When investing in a new car, headlights should definitely be something that you take into consideration as they are an important safety feature. Even if you won’t be driving at night and on winding roads every single day, going for adaptive headlights might still be a great decision as they are the future of the automotive industry.

If the adaptive headlights breaks its also often expensive to replace theme. That is something to consider at least if you are buying a used car.

Recent Posts