Bizarre headlight problem


I had a bizarre problem with my lights last night. I pulled into a parking spot, turned off the lights, took out the key, opened the door and the car started buzzing like I had left the lights on. I tried turning the headlights on and off again, but had the same result. Then I tried fiddling with all the light settings (parking lights, snow lights, brights, etc.) starting and stopping the engine etc., but the warning buzzer keep buzzing. Finally I gave up and decided that it was just something wrong with alarm. When I got out of the car, I noticed that even though I had turned off the headlights, one headlight and one rear light were on (both on the right side). Very bizarre. Finally after a lot of fiddling I discover that I had parked the car with the turn signal pushed to the right. Flipping it back to the center and the lights went out and the buzzer turned off. This is not normal behavior right?

The car is a 1999 Volkswagon Polo. I’ve only had it a few months and this could be the first time that I’ve parked it with the turn signal on which is maybe why I haven’t noticed this before. Occasionally the engine has been a little weak starting and I’ve been thinking to replace the battery to solve the problem. I don’t know how old the battery is (is there a way to tell?) and the terminal is a little corroded, but it doesn’t seem like a weak battery would cause the problem with the headlights.




Security systems, especially after market ones can be a real pain.

When you say head lamp and rear turn signal, do you really mean the head lamp or the front turn signal? Leaving the turn signals on is not a usual thing to do and that may have been what triggered it, I really don’t know.

As for the battery, I do recommend cleaning BOTH ends of each battery cable. Also most auto part stores will test the battery and charging system for free. That would not be a bad idea.

If it were mine, I would experiment with turning it off with the turn signals on, but if it did not repeat then or otherwise, I would not worry too much about it.

Good Luck


I have seen European cars where this is a feature, i.e. you have a light on in front & back (parking lights) so the car is more visible when parked. Check the owner’s manual to see if this is the case for your car.


It was definitely the headlight in the front and tail light in the rear, not the turn signals. Your idea about the security system is intriguing. I bought the car second-hand and the seller didn’t say anything about an alarm system, but there is a flashing light on the dash when the car is locked.


Weird. Why would this be a feature and why would it be tied to the state of your turn signal? The car does having parking lights, but even with the light switch turned off it was still lighting up the headlights and tail lights, but only on one side…


The first step would be to try to reproduce the problem. You may find out that leaving the turn signal on when you park does this - in which case the resolution is simple - don’t do that :slight_smile:

It is also possible (in theory) that a low battery could cause an alarm system to malfunction and act strangely although I doubt that is the issue here and I doubt it would result in the symptoms you describe.


By the way - I’d like to know what you ultimately find out on this one - it’s an interesting problem.


Ben, don’t even bother to regard any of the other suggestions. ALL European cars have (Must have) parking lights so that cars are more visible in the more dimly lit European streets (When I was in Europe we called this system “The drunk driver’s beacon.”). You have '99 VW Polo which is a pretty common car in Germany. When the manufacturer put the mandatory North American safety pakage on your car in order to sell in the States, they simply left the parking light feature in tact and added the lights-on warning buzzer. Of coarse your battery is going to be near dead a few hours after you have accidently engaged this European feature because you have left the lights on. Don’t try to spend any money to get it fixed. A dishonest mechanic will simply clip a wire to solve your problem amd likely create more problems.


You are right! I looked in the manual and this is actually a feature–I just didn’t know about it. I’m actually driving this car in Portugal so it should have all the European safety features. I’m still struggling to understand what the purpose of this feature is though. Why wouldn’t I just turn on my lights when I’m parking? I don’t understand how turning on the the headlights with the turn signal with the key out of the ignition does anything helpful…