Do I Need Headlamp Converters in France?
So you are planning to drive in France and are wondering whether there is anything you need to do before you go. Well you’re probably not the only one to be thinking about this very important topic.
One thing you may be wondering is, do I need headlamp converters in France.
This is a simple answer, YES. Headlamp converters are compulsory and are a legal requirement in France, and the majority of other countries in Europe where you have to drive on the right. This even applies if you are only driving during daylight hours.
What Do Headlamp Converters Do?
There are lots of different makes and styles of headlamp converters. They are also known as headlight adaptors, headlamp deflectors and headlight beam deflectors, amongst many others.
Although they can look pretty different, they are very simple and have one job to do. UK vehicles and others that are designed or adapted for driving on the left-hand side of the road have one thing in common. Their headlights are adjusted so that they point to the near side of the road, ie the verge. When you then take that same vehicle and drive on the right-hand side of the road your lights will point directly at vehicles on the opposite carriageway.
This means when you use your vehicle in France and other countries where you drive on the right, if you didn’t have the converters you could dazzle oncoming drivers at night and when your lights are on a dipped beam.
The Penalties For Not Having Them On Your Vehicle.
If you fail to comply with this law in France you may be liable to a fine. Dazzling other drivers can be extremely dangerous and could lead to an accident. French police currently fine people on the spot for not having converters on your headlights. When compared to the relatively cheap cost, you’d be silly not to comply with this important regulation.
What Vehicles Need Headlight Deflectors?
All types of vehicles that are designed or converted to drive on the left need to use headlight deflectors. So whether you’re driving a car, motorhome, van, lorry or motorcycle you must ensure you have them fitted to your vehicle.
Headlamp converters will fit all types of cars. Each manufacturer provides instructions on where and how the converters should be fitted in order to ensure they work correctly.
How Do They Work
Headlight converters are a very simple piece of kit which does a very simple job. They are self-adhesive and stick to your headlight in a certain position depending upon the make and model of your vehicle. This subsequently diverts the light away from the oncoming drivers, therefore, preventing them from being dazzled.
Will They Work With All Types Of Lights
Headlight converters are available for all headlight types including standard, halogen, swivel, projector and Xenon/HID.
Standard headlights have a bulb set into the centre of the reflector which is located at the back of the headlight. Halogen headlights are of a similar nature to standard headlights. Swivel lights, turn to the left and right as you turn the steering wheel, Projector headlights are a spotlight that’s mounted at the back of the headlight unit behind clear glass. Finally, Xenon / HID headlights throw an intense white light rather than the usual off-white colour. Projector lights are extremely bright and you may have seen them on many new cars on the roads driving around.
How To Fit Headlamp Converters
If you are in any way shape or form worried about fitting your headlamp converters then hopefully we’ll be able to put your mind at ease.
Whenever we go to France we use the Eurolites make of headlamp converter. We’ve always found them really easy to fit and have also found the instructions fairly easy to read and understand.
Every manufacturer supplies instruction leaflets and many also feature videos which give you more in-depth fitting instructions. If you’d like to take a look at some fitting videos we suggest you take a look at some of the ones produced by Eurolites.
In order to fit the headlamp converters, you simply open the packaging and remove the card and instruction leaflet. On the Eurolites leaflet, there is a really easy to follow flow chart and as long as you follow the steps you won’t go far wrong.
You’ll also find a list of vehicle makes and models and some diagrams. If your vehicle is on the list then simply follow the diagram of how to fit your converters. If it’s not on the list then go onto the next stage of the flow chart its as simple as that. One thing we would recommend however is to look at the instructions prior to travelling if you have an unusual vehicle. For all relatively well-known vehicles, you can quite easily fit the headlamp converters whilst sat in the ferry queue, as we have done on more than one occasion in the past.
Warning – Black Masking Tape
On a number of occasions recently we’ve heard of people giving the advice that you can simply use black masking tape on your headlights instead of using headlamp converters. Now although this was once a common occurrence in years gone by, car headlights and the technology they use has changed somewhat in more recent times.
Subsequently, headlamp technology and the invention of Projector and other similar headlamps, has resulted in it being more difficult to deal with the conversion through more DIY methods.
Furthermore, you may find that the use of Black Masking Tape may not only be very hit and miss and leave you liable to a fine if you get it wrong but there may also be more serious implications as a result of you trying to take the cheaper option.
One major problem found with Black masking tape is that it has a tendency to absorb some of the light and convert it into heat. This would not only prevent your lights from giving you enough to see safely but may also cause damage to your vehicle, headlight and glass and should, therefore, be avoided at all costs.
How To Remove The Converters
Headlamp converters are fairly straightforward to remove, however, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible after returning from your trip to France or Europe.
Converters are fixed onto your headlight with adhesive and this obviously has to be strong enough to ensure they don’t just fall off with the weather, speed of driving or time you are away. This, therefore, does mean that you may need a little more elbow grease when removing them. The removal process can also be different depending upon how long you have had them on your vehicle and also how much driving you have done with your headlights on.
If your converters have only been on for a short amount of time you may find that they peel off fairly easily. Otherwise, just use soapy water or some screenwash to remove any adhesive. Under no circumstances should you use any form of abrasive material, meths, white spirit or other corrosive cleaning substance as this will damage your headlight and paintwork.
How Much Do They Cost
Headlight adapters are extremely cheap and good value for money, especially when you know how much you may have to pay should you get caught without them. The majority of headlamp converters are available for as little as £4.
Where Can I Buy My Headlamp Converters
You can buy your headlamp converters in a variety of places. Even shops such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Boots sell them nowadays which is fantastic as you can pick them up at any point prior to travelling. We always get ours from Amazon as there are plenty of different types available, the price is very reasonable and they deliver direct to your home. The only thing I would avoid doing is buying them on your day of travel at the ferry terminal or onboard your ferry to France. This is due to the cost and the fact you cannot find an alternative should you not be happy with the ones you purchase.
If you’d like to find out further information about the law and requirements when driving in France then take a look at our page.