Modern cars still have a two settings for exterior lights: headlights and parking lights. (My CR-V, with automatic headlights, also has settings for manually turning on the headlights or just the parking lights.)

Why? What purpose do parking lights serve in this day and age?

I get, back in the "old days", they were a way to make your car more visible if pulled over to the side of the road, but now we have hazard flashers for that.

I also get where they might have been useful in twilight hours to make your car more visible and you didn't need your full headlights to see, but nowadays there are daytime running lights and the advice is to put the headlights on anyway. Now that most headlight bulbs last for thousands of hours, bulb life expectancy isn't a consideration either.

So I just can't figure why auto manufacturers are still making cars with a parking lights setting. What am I missing?

(If it matters, I'm asking from the United States. Answers for cars in other countries won't be useful to me, but may for others.)

  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is no maintenance or repair issue here. Parking lights are mandated by law / Highway Code. If you are having a specific issue with your parking lights, please add details.
    – DizzyFool
    Feb 23, 2017 at 15:36
  • I still use them if I'm parked on the side of the road so I don't shine my headlights into oncoming traffic. But it is a good question. In Pennsylvania, there is no law regarding parking lights. You either need your lights on (dusk/fog/rain) or you don't.
    – Spivonious
    Feb 23, 2017 at 15:36
  • You have your facts wrong. Daytime running lights only make you visible from the front, not the rear, and hazards flashers, as the name implies, are to warn other drivers of a hazard, such as being parked on the shoulder of a major highway. If I'm parked on a residential street, I wouldn't use hazard lights after dark, that will simply attract attention from people inside their home.
    – tlhIngan
    Feb 24, 2017 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


The "parking lights" or side lights exist to show the extremities of the vehicle - especially note those vehicles with abnormal loads that have extra lights fitted so people can see them. So, from the spacing of the lights, you have an idea of the size of the approaching vehicle, as long as they have all the lights working... The red ones to the side and rear especially help.

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