2014 Mini Cooper: Auto-Headlights Tied to Wipers
January 29, 2015
The use of headlights is required either when it is raining or when the wipers are in "continuous use" in 23 U.S. states. A further 11 require headlight use during periods of "adverse weather," which to me implies rain, which in turn implies wipers. Do the math and we're talking about 34 of 50 states.
Wait, what are we talking about? The automatic headlights in our 2014 Mini Cooper are tied in to the windshield wiper switch. They're programmed to come on whenever the windshield wipers are on.
"What about the DRLs?" you may be asking.
They don't count. I asked. Daytime running lights are oftentimes weak. And when they're on the taillights and side marker lights are not. It's not about you, the driver, being able to see. It's about being seen, about not being rear-ended or T-boned when your car's outline gets lost in the spray.
It took me awhile to work this out. Last week I drove into a driving rain squall that cloaked the cars ahead in spray. With taillights off they were nearly invisible. Was I appearing the same to those behind? I couldn't tell, so I manually switched my headlights on to make sure.
Back home, the manual was no help. I couldn't find a reference that spelled out if the Mini had this feature or not. The on-screen settings menus made no mention of it, either.
A few minutes of hopping in and out of the car with various combinations of wiper and headlight switch position confirmed that, yes, the headlights and taillights do come on about 5 seconds after you switch the wipers on, just enough delay to avoid an unwanted flash if you tug the stalk for a single wipe.
It makes sense. It's a good feature to have, and the BMW and Mini headquarters are in New Jersey, one of the 23 states that require headlight use when the wipers are on.
Is your state one of them? Find out at the AAA Digest of Motor Laws webpage.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 6,865 miles