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Thread: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

  1. #1
    Unenlightened
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    Default Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    I'm looking to learn a little bit about how automotive tail lights work. As an example, I'm looking at the newest Ford Mustangs. In the U.S., the tail lights are all red (running light, brake light, and nifty sequential turn signals). In Europe, however, they use a frosted clear lens where the outer segment is an amber turn signal and the two inner segments are running light and brake light. You can put the Euro tail lights on the American cars, but wiring it straight DOES NOT result in the same functioning as on the European model.

    https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/mZwAA...jpG/s-l300.jpg
    http://www.stormautoparts.com/upload...nqIPRaqFjW.jpg

    Likewise, I've been looking at the 2018 Buick Regal, which is sold in Europe as the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and in Asia as the Holden Commodore. In the European/Asian models, the running light and brake light are together and there is an inset amber turn signal. In the American car, the brake light is NOT incorporated into the running light. Instead, it is incorporated into the turn signal, which has a red lens.

    https://www.smithbuickgmc.com/assets...2745/ip/12.jpg
    https://images.honestjohn.co.uk/imag...n~2017~(9).JPG

    My question is not so much WHY American manufacturers do this, but how these European tail lights can be converted for American use. Is it more than just wiring? Is there a fundamental difference in the way the electronics are configured?

    Moderator Note: Hotlinking images is against Rule 3
    Alaric D
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 02-06-2018 at 08:08 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    how these European tail lights can be converted for American use. Is it more than just wiring? Is there a fundamental difference in the way the electronics are configured?
    That varies, car by car: all the way from being a direct drop-in swap with no changes required, to being an impossibility because there's just no way to add the needed wires, different body computer programming, etc. I can see why you'd ask, though; it's beyond ridiculous that red turn signals are still allowed in the States/Canada when virtually every other country stopped allowing them many years ago, for good reasons having to do with the basics of signal design (different signals conveying different messages should look different).

    Also keep in mind that it's not just a turn signal color difference. Europe/rest-of-the-world brake lights and turn signals are allowed to be much dimmer and smaller in lit area than US items, rest-of-the-world taillamps usually don't have side marker lights and reflectors as required in the US and Canada, etc. So that's the flipside to the disgust with red signals, is that it's equally as ridiculous to allow a signal, even if it's amber, that's practically way too dim during daylight.

    There's some more info in this article.

  3. #3
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    We also have red rear sidemarker lamps; UNECE signatories have amber ones (which doesn't make much sense, since it makes determining where the front of that other vehicle is, and if in motion you'll know it's going forward or backwards, which is extremely important information to have).

    If we ever harmonize global lighting regulations, it'll be very difficult task because there's so much from all sides that is done right, and so much done wrong. Give me separate amber turn signals. Give me red rear sidemarker lamps. Allow front sidemarkers to flash in either synchronous phase or alternate phase with the turn signals, but require one of those forms of flashing for the critical additional warning they give to other drivers at certain positions relative to the turning vehicle (flashing sidemarkers are not required anywhere, but UNECE regs require them to only flash synchronously if they do flash). Require rear fog lamps. Let's regulate front fog lamps at a federal level, even (oh, wouldn't that be nice?).

    (Oh, and if we could force a return to full-size spare tires, because those little donutty things are terrible and people are dumb enough to use them on the front wheels. But I digress.)
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 02-06-2018 at 04:20 PM. Reason: removed nonsensical parenthetical

  4. #4

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    We also have red rear sidemarker lamps; UNECE signatories have amber ones
    Oh, it's much more of a mess than that. US-Canada regs require all vehicles have to have sidemarker lights and reflectors, amber front and red rear. UNECE requires vehicles greater than 6m long to have sidemarker lights; vehicles shorter than 6m don't have to have them. In all cases they're amber front and rear except the rear sidemarker can be red if it's grouped/combined/reciprocally incorporated with a red rear lighting function, i.e stop, tail, or rear reflector. Which makes no sense at all, because after dark it's impossible to tell whether a vehicle's sidemarker is integral or separate, so why the hell should that determine which color it is?! This is thoughtless and dumb, and it's a great example of the falsehood in claiming that European lighting regs are superior to US regs. They are not! There's a list as long as either of the regs where one is better than the other on some point, vice versa on some other point, etc, all day long. In the case of sidemarkers, clearly the US specification (mandatory, lights and reflectors, front/rear differentiated by color) is superior to the UNECE specification.

    If we ever harmonize global lighting regulations, it'll be very difficult task because there's so much from all sides that is done right, and so much done wrong.
    It wouldn't be technically difficult: get together a small group of the world's experts -- no more than five of them -- and they could easily pick out the good requirements from each standard, leave out the bad ones, and state the right compromise for things like turn signal intensity range.

    But it would be politically very difficult, because of inertia and the tendency to believe that your own way of doing it is superior.

    Give me red rear sidemarker lamps (unless they are reciprocally incorporated with a required lamp that must be red)
    Huh? Either way you've got red rear sidemarker lamps. This sentence basically reads "Give me red rear sidemarker lamps (or else give me red rear sidemarker lamps)".

    Allow front sidemarkers to flash in either synchronous phase or alternate phase with the turn signals, but require one of those forms of flashing for the critical additional warning they give to other drivers
    Nah. Front turn signals + side turn signal repeaters get this job done adequately. Flashing sidemarkers are better than nothing, but side repeaters are better. "Both" might be best of all, but as far as I know there's no data. Alternate-phase flashing is OK if (but only if) there's adequate separation between the front turn signal and the sidemarker, in many US cases there isn't.

    Require rear fog lamps
    ...and require them to be wired up so that if the vehicle speed exceeds some appropriate speed, or the high beam headlamps are lit for more than brief flashing/signaling, or the headlamps are switched off, or the ignition is switched off, the rear fog switches off automatically and must be manually reactivated by the driver once conditions once again warrant. Same for front fog lamps.

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    It wouldn't be technically difficult: get together a small group of the world's experts -- no more than five of them -- and they could easily pick out the good requirements from each standard, leave out the bad ones, and state the right compromise for things like turn signal intensity range.
    Five experts plus me just to say I was there when they finally made sense of it all

    But it would be politically very difficult, because of inertia and the tendency to believe that your own way of doing it is superior.
    'Merica!

    Huh? Either way you've got red rear sidemarker lamps. This sentence basically reads "Give me red rear sidemarker lamps (or else give me red rear sidemarker lamps)".
    Oops, yeah.

    Nah. Front turn signals + side turn signal repeaters get this job done adequately. Flashing sidemarkers are better than nothing, but side repeaters are better. "Both" might be best of all, but as far as I know there's no data. Alternate-phase flashing is OK if (but only if) there's adequate separation between the front turn signal and the sidemarker, in many US cases there isn't.
    True, on some cars there is scarce little distance between such lamps.


    ...and require them to be wired up so that if the vehicle speed exceeds some appropriate speed, or the high beam headlamps are lit for more than brief flashing/signaling, or the headlamps are switched off, or the ignition is switched off, the rear fog switches off automatically and must be manually reactivated by the driver once conditions once again warrant. Same for front fog lamps.
    Front fog lamps should be automatically disabled by the body computer at speeds over 34mph. Even the scarcest nudge to 34.1mph should turn them off and leave them off until you go below 10mph, just to punish you for driving too fast in the fog or using them when not needed.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Hi! I have been reading almost all posts on CPF for a while now, and finally decided to join. (I am happy to see that I am not alone in being an auto lighting fanatic.)

    I agree strongly that rear turn signals should be amber. I have noticed that even from a long distance it is much more obvious that a vehicle is signaling a turn and what direction it is, when the car has amber turn signals. Bright red brake lights obscure red signals much more at night. I also think that LED turn signals are somewhat more noticeable, due to how fast they go light/dark.
    And why do some cars have the turn signals located in between the headlights/taillights? A directional light should be placed as close to the corresponding corner of the car as possible. And a little separation between turn signals and other lights doesn't hurt.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    And, amber turn signals have a higher crash avoidance percentage than center high mounted third brake light which is required.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Quote Originally Posted by fastgun View Post
    And, amber turn signals have a higher crash avoidance percentage than center high mounted third brake light which is required.
    But of them all I'd be willing to bet that the rear mounted red fog light (compulsory in Europe) is the most useful, that is of course unless the car in front of you forgets to turn it off when out of the fog, in which case it's extremely annoying.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Quote Originally Posted by CeeBee View Post
    But of them all I'd be willing to bet that the rear mounted red fog light (compulsory in Europe) is the most useful, that is of course unless the car in front of you forgets to turn it off when out of the fog, in which case it's extremely annoying.
    There are far more people here in the US who would benefit from amber turn signals than those who would benefit from rear foglights. There are plenty of areas maybe even whole states that very rarely have enough fog wherein a rear foglight would be of any significant benefit. In these same areas/states though people are using their turn signal thousands/millions of times daily.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Rear fog lamps should really be thought of as foul weather lamps....I have used mine not only in dense fog,but also in very heavy down pours,and even recently in blizzard conditions.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Front fog lamps should be automatically disabled by the body computer at speeds over 34mph. Even the scarcest nudge to 34.1mph should turn them off and leave them off until you go below 10mph, just to punish you for driving too fast in the fog or using them when not needed.
    This

    Quote Originally Posted by Qship1996 View Post
    Rear fog lamps should really be thought of as foul weather lamps....I have used mine not only in dense fog,but also in very heavy down pours,and even recently in blizzard conditions.
    This

    Quote Originally Posted by Magio View Post
    There are far more people here in the US who would benefit from amber turn signals than those who would benefit from rear foglights. There are plenty of areas maybe even whole states that very rarely have enough fog wherein a rear foglight would be of any significant benefit. In these same areas/states though people are using their turn signal thousands/millions of times daily.
    We get all weather extremes here in oklahoma. From 0 visibility fog or blizzard conditions to perfect sunny days anything would help
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 02-08-2018 at 08:26 AM. Reason: Combined posts

  12. #12

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonOk View Post
    We get all weather extremes here in oklahoma. From 0 visibility fog or blizzard conditions to perfect sunny days anything would help
    Agreed its best to have them. I was simply making the point that amber turn signals would have a much greater impact on safety than rear foglights would though.
    Last edited by Magio; 02-07-2018 at 10:13 PM.

  13. #13
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonOk View Post
    We get all weather extremes here in oklahoma. From 0 visibility fog or blizzard conditions to perfect sunny days anything would help
    ??? Not exactly sure what you mean by that.

    I'm with Magio that separate amber rear turn signals are better than rear fog lamps, because they work better than separate red or optically-combined red rear turn signals in every road condition. Rear fog lamps do have a very limited use. Are they useful? Sure. (Certainly more useful than front ones.) But as far as cost/benefit, the separate amber rear turn signals come out way ahead of rear fog lamps. Day or night, rain, fog, snow, high visibility, low visibility, turn signals are a crucial lighting function. And as hazard lights, too, the separate amber ones are more useful and don't break or ambiguate the stop lamp function.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    I must have miss read magio's post because i completely agree with amber turn signals. My appologies magio

  15. #15
    *Flashaholic* StarHalo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Replying to OP's question: Current Mustangs still have the sequential rear turn signals that light the three bars from one side to the other, don't they? That would mean a light fixture with a single turn signal bulb wouldn't work..

    Last edited by StarHalo; 02-12-2018 at 09:15 PM.

  16. #16
    Flashaholic irsa76's Avatar
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    Default Re: Amber turn signals vs. red turn signals

    Quote Originally Posted by StarHalo View Post
    Replying to OP's question: Current Mustangs still have the sequential rear turn signals that light the three bars from one side to the other, don't they? That would mean a light fixture with a single turn signal bulb wouldn't work..
    ROW Mustangs use an amber turn signal in the outer most segment.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 02-19-2018 at 08:27 AM. Reason: No need to quote the image from the post above
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