Why do GM backup lights turn on when the car unlocks?
Cooley On Cars
Hey folks, Cooley here again with another one of your emails about high tech cars and modern driving.
And this one comes in from McKenzie, he's in Jacksonville, Florida.
And he says why is on GM vehicles, when you lock or unlock the doors, the backup lights come on?
I can't tell you how infuriating it is when I'm in a parking lot waiting for a spot and I see reverse lights come one I think they're about to leave, but they're actually not.
How did this get past federal regulation he asks.
This is interesting.
I'll be honest.
I've never noticed this before, for what ever reasons, so I dug into the federal regulations about how and when back up lights can come on, Mackenzie.
Here is, basically, all of the federal regulations, the federal motor vehicle safety standard Have to say about this.
Number one, back up lights have to be steady burning.
They can't flash, or flicker, or do anything like that.
Number two, they have to come on when the car's on and it's in reverse gear.
That's the most obvious thing of all.
Number three is the converse of that.
They can never come on when the car is going forward, though you'll occasionally see cars doing that cuz they've got some kind of short or other weird thing going on.
And, finally, you only need one of them.
You almost always see two, unless you're behind certain Minis.
But you shouldn't expect anything normal when you're following a mini.
And then there's a number of sub-statutes about lamp brightness and stuff, but this is kind of the body of text on what a reverse light can do.
So there's nothing in here that says General Motors can't do what they're doing.
I had never seen this.
So we went and rented this 18 Impala over here to try it out.
Turns out, you're right.
Now it is defeatable or configurable under settings, vehicle, lighting.
And then you've got this exit light menu and I went ahead and chose 60 seconds.
And what do you know?
The reverse lights come on for an easier ingress, egress lighting tool for people to not trip on stuff or miss puddles.
That's GM's rationale behind it and nothing in the regulation says that they are running afoul of the rules.
In fact, the federal text describes a backup lamp as a lamp or lamps Which illuminate the road to the rear of a vehicle, and provide a warning signal to pedestrians and other drivers when the vehicle is backing up or is about to back up.
And it doesn't say that that's all it can do.
So there in lies the umbrella under which General Motors lives with this new feature, which I'm pretty sure their attorneys checked out thoroughly before they ever implemented it, apparently, a number of years ago.
As I mentioned earlier, I'd never actually noticed this, but thanks to you I'm probably gonna see it every single time I'm in a parking lot now.
And it's probably gonna drive me nuts, so thank you for that.
Keep those emails coming, I'm here to answer your questions about high tech cars and modern driving, it's firstname.lastname@example.org.
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