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Bad lighting?

I just bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT and it is my first new car. I drived it at night for the first time and noticed that the headlights were only illuminating the bottom half of my field of vision. In fact, as I drove up to the garage, there was a distinct line of top half dark, bottom half(or maybe a third) light.
Is this part of a newer design of a car? A flaw? Just new car jitters and is something to get used to? It made me very uncomfortable because I wasn’t able to see as much as I am used to.

Newer headlight standards in The European Union require a sharp “cut-off” at the top of the range of illumination for the headlights, and on some cars, this is more noticeable and more annoying than on others.
It does take some getting used-to on many new cars.

+1 to VDC’s post.
If it bothers you, you can always consider having “driving lights” installed. Talk to the dealer.

+1 for the same mountainbike and +2 for VDCdriver. I agree with the OP as well. Those headlights are beyond annoying to me.

I’ve never seen them before or heard of this (thanks for the heads up VDC) - but if you think it’s that bad, the next time you get an oil change (or something like that), ask to have the headlight adjustment checked.

Headlight adjustment may not matter. Our Cobalts have the same issue. It seems that there is a baffle that blocks light above a certain level. All re-aiming the lights does is reduce the light at a lower level.

Admittedly, I have no direct experience with these. But it sounds to me like proper adjustment is even more crucial. I don’t understand what was meant by this: "All re-aiming the lights does is reduce the light at a lower level. " I am also not assuming that they are out of adjustment.

It’s not broken, it’s a feature. Pull any late model car up to a garage door or wall and you should notice the same thing. Technology has improved enough that we can now direct light exactly where we want and need it instead of just illuminating every thing in our field of vision. Your high beams should still illuminate things further out.

I’m glad for the new design. Just as it’s important for you to see where you’re going, it’s also important that you not blind me while doing it. The trend for brighter, farther-reaching lights over the last dozen years has been incredibly annoying.

Yes, high beams do illuminate things farther away, but we need to use them any time we go over 25 MPH. It doesn’t seem like a safe feature to me. We have so many deer around us that you have to use the high beams almost all the time at night.

They are illuminating the road not the trees so just get used to it.

I can’t get used to illuminating too little of the road. Why should I get used to that?

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That cutoff is why the headlights seem to be flashing in your rear view mirror. The car hits a bump and the lights seem to flash. It was OK in the old days when we could all see without everything flashing on and off. Oncoming headlights are very bright without the annoyance. The bright white fog lights are another lousy feature.

We have an Elantra GT also and haven’t noticed this as a problem. The European standards are very specific. They can illuminate higher to the right, so you can see signs, but require that low cutoff on the left, where it would be in the eyes of approaching drivers. In a few years we’ll probably have a whole bunch of LEDs pointing in slightly different directions and sensors that determine the kind of road and watch for other cars, both ahead of you in your lane and oncoming traffic and dim lights in the appropriate pattern. No need to switch on high beams as it will know you’re on a dark road and there is no one to blind. The feature I like available in some countries is a camera that reads speed limit signs and alerts you to changes. They’re working on it here but our speed limit signs vary and aren’t distinctive. Still, it won’t be too long, and people who’ve used it says it’s great for school zones and speed traps. It can read signs far enough way that you have time to respond.

Oh, and besides the headlights are you having any problems, @lexicat. We’re very happy with ours. We’ve done several longish trips and I’ve loved the seats. I have serious leg and foot pain and some cars are unbearable. We’ve also had passengers in the rear seat for long trips and they were quite impressed by the space and comfort. We often have guests so an adequate rear seat was important to us, but so was keeping the car small for city parking. We almost bought a Mazda3, but that was the old one. The cabin materials were not as nice, it was short a few features, was noisier, and the rear seat was not as roomy or comfortable. This year’s Mazda3 looks nicer, inside and out. It always drove better and had better gas mileage. I could still go either way on that decision. Other cars were considered and rejected for various reasons.

It’s nice to finally have an attractive set of compact hatchbacks to choose from, though I wish some of the Japanese companies sold more than just very small, cheap hatches. The Honda Fit is roomy and nice enough to compete with bigger cars, but I’d still like a Civic or Corolla HB (maybe not a Sentra). Subaru and Mazda give us attractive compacts, maybe because they’re smaller companies. I haven’t seen numbers, but around here the Mazda3 hatch is far more common than the sedan. Subaru doesn’t sell many cars in mild coastal California.


I live in deer country. The only reason any of my cars still have front ends and windshields and bumpers and stuff is that the headlights illuminate the trees. Those bright spots of reflected light bouncing around near the road are exactly what keeps me in the know when one is nearby.

Of course, as I said, I’ve never driven with the new style before so I don’t know how well they do about that.

I think they’d illuminate deer OK. If you have giraffe problems, maybe not well enough.

@MarkM: It would be okay if they fitted the giraffe’s legs with reflectors, kind of like bicycle pedals.

Get an opinion about your car’s lights at night from a trusted more experienced driver. It is possible that the headlight aim is not right.

Thanks for all the responses (as I look at this 2 years later!). We love the car otherwise: very comfortable, heated seats rock, and we had the headlamps adjusted. We are in the market again to replace the other car and it is driving me crazy that all cars seem to have ECE low beams. Some models may not be as obnoxious as others, but since I first posted this, I’ve heard people admit they are using their high beams more than they used to. So if you all are wondering if the car in back of you in blinding you with his brights, he probably is. Glad we switched to ECE, cause they sure are making driving at night safer.