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Mercedes Has Parking Lights That Only Light Up One Side of the Car

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2017

Here's an incredibly small piece of automotive minutiae you may not have known about: Many Mercedes-Benz models have parking lights that only light up on one side of the car. You're probably thinking this is because something is broken in these cars, but you're wrong. It's intentional.

Allow me to explain. First, an overview of how they work. In older Mercedes-Benz models, if you leave one of the turn signals on when you park the car, the parking lights activate for whatever side of the car you've turned on the signal for. If you turn on the right signal, for instance, the right parking lights come on, though they don't blink like the turn signals -- they just stay on.

In newer Mercedes-Benz models, like mine above, the parking lights activate in a slightly different way; you must first turn the light switch to "P," for "parking," and then you can put on the turn signals to switch on whichever parking lights you want. But this feature still exists, it's still standard, and, well, does anyone use it?

At first glance, it seems like a weird idea: Why would you only want to turn on a parking light on one side of your car? And why would you want to turn on any light when your car is parked, potentially draining the battery?

To the first question, the answer is simple: The lights are there for you to park on one side of a narrow street, presumably in Europe where the cars are designed and built. The idea is you park on the narrow street and you're worried about your car getting clipped overnight by someone who can't quite see the edge of your vehicle -- so you turn on the parking lights for whatever side is in danger. It's actually quite a smart idea.

But, of course, that leads us to the second question: What about the battery? My answer to this is: I'm not sure. My presumption is that these lights are designed to wear down the battery evvvvver so slightly, so it doesn't cause a problem -- but, presumably, it would drain the battery eventually. So maybe the thinking is that you're turning on these parking lights in emergencies, on VERY narrow, dark streets, meaning you're more worried about the car than its battery.

Either way, it's a decent idea, though I'll probably never have the chance to use it. But I'm glad to know it's there. And now you do, too.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Mercedes Has Parking Lights That Only Light Up One Side of the Car - Autotrader