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posted: 1/29/2012 12:01 AM

Doug McAllister/Under the Hood: HID headlights

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Q. I read your column weekly in the Daily Herald and have learned some interesting information about automobiles, but I have a question on headlights. I was wondering if there is an industry standard for brightness of automobile headlights?

I have noticed lately that some of the headlights are so bright that I am blinded by them. It used to be they were just normal brightness and it did not interfere with your driving ability but sometimes I have to squint to stay on course. Any thoughts on this?

A. Thanks for your question. It could be that the lights that appear extra bright to you are actually the bright lights that someone inadvertently left on or maladjusted headlights. If a headlight is adjusted too high it will appear very bright to an oncoming driver.

I suspect however that you are referring to HID (high-intensity discharge) lights that are more and more common on cars today. It used to be they were reserved for the expensive luxury import market but now they are becoming very commonplace on many car models.

HID is a different way of producing light that uses less power and produces less heat and it tends to be a brighter light. They do give you much better visibility when you are the driver of the car but they are a little brighter when they are coming at you.

You can find out more about HID and learn how it works on Wikipedia.

• Douglas Automotive is at 312 S. Hager Ave., Barrington, (847) 381-0454, and 123 Virginia Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 356-0440. For information, visit douglasautomotive.com. Send questions to underthehood@dailyherald.com.

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