DRL Off Meaning: Something to be Concerned About?

Modern vehicles come with a plethora of features, and most of them are expressed in short forms, so most drivers don’t even know what they mean. One of these is DRL, which means Daylight Running Lights. 

It can help improve the visibility of your vehicle but can not improve the visibility of the road 

Now, it’s natural to ask the meaning of DRL off. It essentially points out that the DRL lights are disabled. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what DRL is, how it helps, and whether it should be disabled or not. 

DRL Off Meaning
DRL Off Meaning

What are Daytime Running Lights?

You may be wondering why would someone require lights that would remain on even in the daytime. 

Initially, DRLs became a thing in countries where the daytimes are rather gloomy and dim, for example, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, etc. 

As the daytimes are dimmer, the visibility is considerably lower in those regions. To counterbalance that, vehicle manufacturers initially started equipping their luxury vehicles with DRLs. 

However, seeing how it benefitted drivers and passersby alike, companies started equipping most modern vehicles with DRL lights. 

DRLs are essentially low-beam headlights and if the DRL lights aren’t inactive, these lights remain on throughout the day, whenever your vehicle is turned on. 

One of the major differences between daytime running lights and regular headlights is that these low-beam lights only improve the visibility of your vehicle. That being said, they can’t improve the visibility of the road ahead. 

This means while they will help other vehicles and passersby notice you, they won’t help you as much in navigation. 

However, DRLs are better than headlights in terms of energy consumption. As these are low-beam lights, they’re way more energy efficient. 

Essentially, DRLs are a cluster of low-powered LED lights. They can also come in the form of specialized external lighting or LED fog lights. 

Another major difference between DRLs and regular vehicle lights is that, as these are used for enhancing the visibility of the car only, they aren’t installed on the rear. 

Although these aren’t mandated to be a necessity, most modern vehicles come equipped with daytime running lights. 

How Do DRLs Work?

It’s important to know the mechanism of DRLs first for understanding what it means for them to be off. 

The DRL system is automated, and these come with built-in light sensors. When there’s sufficient sunlight and the headlights are turned off, the DRLs activate automatically. 

As these are automated, you won’t even bother about them eventually. However, when the DRLs will activate varies from one car manufacturer to another. In regular cases, these lights are activated as soon as you turn the ignition on. 

However, this is a bit inconvenient as sometimes people spend time in the car while it’s parked, but they turn the ignition on just so they can enjoy the AC. In these cases, having the DRLs on can be uncomfortable. 

To work a way around it, some manufacturers program the DRLs so they’re triggered when you shift the gear out of the park. This is considered more convenient and energy efficient. 

DRLs Off Meaning

In certain cases, you may find the DRLs are off. Vehicles equipped with DRL come with an indicator on the dashboard that signifies if the DRL is on or not. There might be different reasons why the DRL is off. 

Why Is My DRL Off?

If the DRLs are off, it’s either they’ve been turned off manually, or there’s some malfunction that’s preventing them from turning on. In the following, we’ll discuss the latter possibility.

Faulty Ambient Light Sensor

As discussed previously, the DRLs rely heavily on the ambient light sensor. The vehicle needs to understand that it’s daytime through these sensors. So, if the sensor malfunctions and provides false readings, or fails to provide any reading at all, the computer won’t trigger the DRLs. 

In most cases, the sensor isn’t actually broken, but rather covered by something that’s blocking the light. Look for the sensor on the dash inside the vehicle. It usually comes in a half-dome shape. 

If something is blocking the sensor, removing it might solve the issue for you. 

Check Under Different Gears

The DRL isn’t supposed to work under all gear settings. In certain cases, DRLs are supposed to work when the vehicle is parked. 

So, you’ll need someone to assist you with this. Tell someone to wait outside the vehicle while you put it on different gears. If the DRLs turn on when the gear is in reverse, drive, or neutral. 

If the DRLs don’t turn on in these gear settings, then you’ll need to do further troubleshooting. 

Check the DRL Components

In certain cases, it’s found that while one DRL is working, the other isn’t. This can occur if one of the bulbs, switches, or sockets gets burned out. 

This is caused because DRLs remain active most of the time. They may heat up considerably and cause the socket or switch to melt. In certain cases, the filament of the bulb gets blown as well. 

To fix this, you’ll need to replace the damaged component with the help of a professional. 

Check the Wiring 

If none of the DRLs are working even when all the components are in good shape, you may be dealing with a blown fuse or bad wiring. 

This problem is the hardest to deal with as you’ll need to check the entire wiring of your system. 

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

Can You Turn DRL Off Manually?

While it would require a change in the wiring settings of your vehicle, it’s possible to turn the DRL off manually. 

Do DRLs Drain the Battery?

DRLs are automated, so you don’t have to worry about using them more than necessary. Also, they use a very low-powered LED, so they’re very energy-efficient and don’t drain much battery. 

Do DRLs Turn Off at Night?

Yes, DRLs turn off when the ambient sensor doesn’t detect sunlight. They can also be turned off by turning the headlight on. 


DRLs are highly beneficial for vehicles as they improve vehicle safety. So, if your vehicle’s DRLs aren’t turning on, you better see to it. 

In certain cases, the DRLs are just manually deactivated through changes in wiring. 

You can reactivate them with the help of a professional. If that doesn’t seem to be the case, you can follow the mentioned troubleshooting guide to identify and fix the damaged component.

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