What causes headlights to flicker?

Written by mary strain
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What causes headlights to flicker?
Flickering headlights can have many causes. (headlight image by Gudellaphoto from Fotolia.com)

Flickering headlights can get you a ticket to the policeman's ball, but more importantly, they may indicate trouble inside your car. This problem can result from many potential causes, but whatever the reason, you must identify and address it before your lights go out altogether.

Battery Problems

If your car's battery is putting out insufficient voltage, the headlights may flicker because they're not getting enough power, which may result from loose or corroded battery cable connections. Cleaning the cables and the battery terminals with a wire brush may solve the problem. Check all the ground cables to ensure they are connected securely.

Loose or Faulty Wires

A short in the wiring, or a loose wiring connection around your headlights, can cause them to flicker. Inspect the wiring going to the bulb for damage, or a loose connection. Check to see that the headlight bulb isn't loose, and check the light switch on the dash.

Competing Power Draw

Sometimes another process in your car competes with the headlights for power and causes them to flicker or dim while it's running. For example, if you've installed a non-factory sound system that needs a lot of power, your lights may dim while you're running it because it's taking more than its share. Car owners have also reported their headlights dimming when they activate a power window or a sunroof.

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