daytime running lights on classic cars
the LED lights upgrade article in the April 2014 issue of Safety Fast! (V8NOTE475),
Michael Bernhard (a Swiss V8 enthusiast) was in touch to send in a "note
I made recently due to the Swiss mandatory requirement to drive during daylight
with DRL (Daytime Runnig Lights) or equivalent lamps." (May
From January 2014 Swiss legislation on Daytime Running Lamps
(DRL) requires that all cars licensed after January 1970 are to be driven with
their front lights on. This applies also to foreign vehicles driven in Switzerland!
Failing to do so means a CHF
40.00 spot fine and the police are having a ball right now. Those cars not fitted
with specific DRL devices (mostly using LED technology) must be driven with their
front passing beam headlamps switched on - neither front fog lamps nor front position
lamps are tolerated. This also means that their rear position lights, license
plate illumination as well as that of dashboard are automatically on - a heavy
load on alternators and batteries resulting in an additional 2% fuel consumption.
the 1970 cut off date? Well that is when alternators replaced dynamos on new vehicles
and dynamos cope less well when using vehicle lighting for longer periods, so
vehicles from the earlier dynamo era are exempted.|
technical requirements (ECE and EU)for
DRL only cover front illumination on vehicles. Thus numerous and sometimes quite
fancy front illumination devices using LED technology are found on the latest
new models. Also many after-market DRL devices are available today for legal retrofitting
to older vehicles. Image
297 pixels wideWhen I considered
the necessary upgrade for my 1972 MGBGT, I preferred not to add extra LED DLRs
- a question of aesthetics and authenticity! Also as I was not prepared to drive
during the daytime with all the lights switched on, I decided to wire up just
the two passing beams to the ignition switch, and thus avoid the heavy load driving
during daytime with the front position lamps, dashboard illumination, rear position
lamps and rear license plate illumination all on.
how it was done: The two dipped beam lamp wire connections on the steering column
switch system (passing to high beam switch) were
to the ignition key device with two relays to protect the battery - that is one
relay (on/off) connected to the battery wiring and a second relay to the contact
key switch so that the lamps operate as follows:|
" When one turns the
ignition on, the two passing beams light up.
o When turning the key
to start the engine, the battery relay switches them off during the operation
of the starter motor.
o As soon as the engine fires and when the ignition
key no longer operates the starter motor, the second relay switches them on again.
Needless to say, the normal light switch on the dash board is totally
independent. So when the car is used during bad visibility conditions, at night
or when passing through tunnels, I can switch all the lights on as usual!
simple and efficient DRL solution whereby one never omits switching the "DRL"
lights off when leaving the car. Before making this modification to my car that
did happen several times, resulting in a very flat battery and a call for help!