Fog lights are probably more effective as a marketing tool (especially on SUVs) than as a true benefit that improves visibility. When a manufacturer positions an SUV as an all-weather vehicle that can handle anything that Mother Nature generates, it makes sense to add fog lights as another feature that can help keep you securely on your way. Besides, they look cool!
However, fog lights do not have magical qualities. They are mounted low on vehicles and cast a wide, low pattern for a short distance (instead of way down the road) so the light illuminates the road instead of increasing glare from fog, snow or rain. If you’ve ever turned on your bright headlights in those conditions, you probably noticed that the higher, longer beam only made your visibility worse. Fog lights are designed to stay “under” fog, snow and rain.
How much benefit do they provide? Well, how foggy is it, or how heavily is it snowing? The best we can say is that in some situations, they provide some benefit. Just don’t expect miracles, and please don’t speed up in foul weather because your vehicle has fog lights. Slow down, and match your speed to the weather and road conditions. Rear fog lights (which are red) may provide more benefit because they are brighter than taillights and make it easier for drivers behind to see your vehicle in low-visibility situations.
Adding a few hundred dollars to the cost of a $30,000 vehicle for front fog lights isn’t a big deal, but because they are mounted low, they are vulnerable to being broken by stones, parking-lot barriers and other hazards.
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