In modern cars many a lighting function is controlled only by software. And this software can also be used to activate and deactivate quite a few things. To your own personal taste – but only to a certain extent.

Daytime running lights with dark rear lights. Dimming cornering lights. Parking lights that come on automatically when unlocking the car with the remote – these are only a few of the features with which car manufacturers have made their customers happy over the past few years. Most drivers will have liked it. But what if they didn’t? Then software flashing may help.

Of course when it comes to car lights lots of things are prescribed and you won’t be able to change them. For example, it’s obvious that brake lights need to come on when you step on the brake. But fog lights aren’t prescribed anywhere, and certainly not the combinations that briefly light up when turning and then slowly dim down. Some hate this feature, particularly because the quality of light is rather negligible in some cars. In some but by no means all vehicle models a mechanic can remove this function by flashing the software. The option of using it as a fog light remains unchanged. That may not come cheap, but will probably cost less than in the reverse case when you have new features added.

Car manufacturers don’t supply all markets with the same functions, also because of statutory regulations that may apply. That’s why you can do quite a lot using the software in the controllers. How much manufacturers will let you do is a different story, but it’s definitely worth asking at your garage.

A nice example of upgrades which goes beyond the limits of personal taste is daytime running lights. A few years ago it was hip among manufacturers to leave the rear lights off during the day. Regulations allow it but the majority of lighting experts have been critical. Meanwhile, car companies have responded and now leave the rear lights on again. And in many cases this can be upgraded in old “dark models” by flashing the software. Just ask if you’re interested.

The same applies if you don’t like what the light sensor is doing, for example switching on and particularly switching off dipped beam too often. The switching thresholds can often be changed. There are even cars where drivers can do it themselves. The manual will tell you where you can find the right setting deep down in the menu. In other cases, a mechanic would need to do it using new software.

What is possible largely depends on the manufacturer and model – and on the garage. You probably have to be insistent because often not everyone there will know all the options.

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