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Automatic Headlights

I have a 2010 Toyota Corolla. It has both daytime running lights (DRL) and automatic headlights.

Is there any way to override the system and turn the lights off when so desired? The option is not given (at least not obviously).

I don’t plan to go driving around in the darkenss without headlights, but would like to have the option to control them. Turning on the headlights manually is not all that much of a burden.


Finding specific info in a Toyota Owner’s Manual is difficult due to the sheer size of it (+500 pages for my wife’s O6). I suggest registering at the Toyota Owner’s site.

I signed up to get access to the soft copy of the Owner’s Manual in PDF format. This way I can search the manual for keywords or phrase without having to slog through the hard copy. Somewhere in the Corolla manual there should be instructions on how to override the auto headlights.

Ed B.

Just curious, why? Headlights, even in daylgiht, are a great safety feature.

I am not the OP but there are lots of situations when I want my headlights off. Most of those have to do with being polite.

  • If you ever have to leave a drive-in early (ok there aren’t many left but there is still one near me and I have been in this situation).
  • Anytime it is dark and you are parked facing people - like at a big store front window or something. Its nice to be able to leave the lights off until you’re not shining them directly at people.
  • I recall a post from a long time ago where someone wanted to drive thru an outdoor Christmas display where the specific request was made for people to kill their headlights.

On a more general note, I just hate machines that want to do the thinking for me. Having automatic things is nice. But give me overrides.

It’s not so much that I want them off, but rather that I want to be able to shut them off. I prefer being able to have control when I want it - and I just don’t particularly like my car thinking for me. Maybe I’m a bit of a control freak, I accept that. If the option is there, I’m fine with that - like cruise control. It came with the car and I have it if I ever want to use it (rare unless I’m essentially playing with it).

As for the safety aspects, I feel that parking lights are sufficient (EDIT: In place of the DRL system). The purpose is not to see, but to be seen. All it has to do is emit some light, not illuminate anything. Maybe my eyes are overly sensitive, but I find oncoming headlights (even low-beams) to be a nuisance. Or maybe our collective ‘more is better’ mentality has led to brighter (and more blinding) headlights.

I disagree with one point there. Parking lights do not make your car anywhere near as visible as headlights. In fact, it seems to me that I can see cars with no lights at about the same time as those with parking lights. However, I can see oncoming headlights at quite some distance. This applies to both fog and dusk conditions. In total darkness, parking lights might be a little better than no lights at all, but still nothing like headlights.

My cars have automatic headlights, and I like and use the feature all the time. They also have an easy override switch so that I can turn them off when driving through Christmas light displays. (I think that is the only time I have ever turned them off.) However, there are some other drivers who should be compelled to have auto headlights with no way to turn them off. They drive with no lights or just parking lights in situations where headlights are needed.

But can you see the cars with parking lights well enough? Sure, you can see the headlights much farther out, but does this provide any significant benefit?

It’s that easy override switch that I’m missing.

Those who drive around with their headlights off in the darkness shouldn’t be made to drive with auto headlights, they should just not be driving. Just like the ones who don’t turn their lights on when their windshield wipers are on (at least in states where that is a law…is it universal?). In the latter case, DRLs are only half the battle, as tail lights are important - again, not to see, but to be seen.

Only parked cars should use parking lights. Here’s an example of a near disaster.

Two lane, two way country road. Go to pass a slow car and then when its almost too late realize that some idiot is heading straight towards you with only parking lights on. With headlights on, you never would have started to pass the other car.

Maybe you have better eyes than me, but that won’t be much consolation if I hit you because I couldn’t see you. How much do you think you are saving by not using the headlights. BTW, it’s illegal to drive in situations that require headlights, with the headlights off. Having parking lights on doesn’t change that. My state also require the headlights to be on when the wipers are on. As it happens, both of my cars do this anyway.

I have never found DRL’s from oncoming cars a problem…perhaps you are noticing those that have their high beams on during the day. I concur that DRL’s make oncoming cars much more obvious and that parking lights wouldn’t.

“Two lane, two way country road. Go to pass a slow car and then when its almost too late realize that some idiot is heading straight towards you with only parking lights on. With headlights on, you never would have started to pass the other car.”

Is it dark out? Or are people who drive without headlights on all the time idiots? If the only way to realize a car is coming is by its headlights, we might have a different problem. Parking lights aren’t a replacement for headlights (which illuminate the roadway so the driver can see). They are to make the vehicle visible to other drivers. I’ve never actually seen anyone use parking lights when parked, so maybe the name is a throwback to the old days.

When it is dark out, DRLs won’t do too much good either. Generally, they only are headlights, not tail lights - which make the car visible from behind. But I’m not saying to use parking lights instead of headlights. I just think they are sufficient to make the car visible from the front (keep in mind that they are not required - a vehicle should be recognized without them). I hope we are not losing our ability to recognize an oncoming vehicle without some sort of light on it.

I’m not going to change your mind. You’re not going to change mine.

I have to side with the OP. DRL’s that utilize the headlamps are becoming so ubiquitous that I find myself not even noticing them anymore. But I do notice the GM cars that use the extra bright parking lights as DRL’s.

It was dark out. Of course I can see cars in the daylight. I suppose that you consider laws requiring headlight use at night to be invalid.

I am not talking about daytime DRL use, I am talking about night time headlight use.

Now you’re putting words in my mouth (keyboard). I never said to use parking lights in place of headlights at night - or any other time they are required, such as in construction zones and when wipers are being used.

Okay, I guess your auto headlights don’t work like mine. Mine only come on at night, or when the wipers are on. I foolishly assumed that all automatic headlights would be similar. I never said anything about the DRLs, and you asked how to disable the automatic headlights, not the DRLs, two different things.

Gotcha. Looking up on the page I see I seem to have missed the transition - really only meant as an aside. My bad. Kinda thought that our points were being missed.

Oftentimes, they are controlled by the same module. In the case of the 2010 Corolla, disabling one disables the other, but that requires cutting wires, which I’d rather not do.

My lights go from DRL to headlights when the car decides its time. I always thought that the lights should be turned on in the same action as the wipers (not vice a versa) - with all the technology in cars these days it baffles me as to why they don’t.

I notice a lot of cars with DRLs on when it’s raining but not tail-lights. The low-voltage hi-beam would be fine in my opinion for a headlight in that situation - but the tail lights are missing.

None of my lights come on if I turn it to auto and it’s daytime, my mom’s Cobalt has the parking lamps lit. It’s not much of a problem with me though as I almost always turn my headlights on as soon as I start the car

Some models of some cars use the highbeams as DRLs, some apparently without dimming them. But for the most part I believe DRLs really do prevent accidents.

Parking lights actually have an advantage. In very poor visability conditions, including the dark heavy rains we’ve had this past week in NH, it would be very easy to hit another vehicle from the rear or side in some situations. Parking lights have the advantage of making the car visable from the rear and sides as well as the front. Driving up the Everett turnpike in those conditions, or in a blizzard, trying to concentrate on the lanes it would be very easy to not see someone without their lights on in a rain covered rearview mirror through a rain covered side window and change lanes right into them.

Personally I believe they should just connect the lights to the ignition switch such that anytime the engine is running the headlights, taillights, and sidelights are all on. DRLs are not enough.

In Maine you are supposed to turn on “real” headlights when wipers are being used. Obviously many don’t do that and they use the DRL’s when they aren’t “safe”.