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Why can’t I turn off my car’s headlights? Add to ...

My 2012 Ford Focus SE sedan is fantastic, but has one little flaw. I can’t turn off the exterior lights or the interior lights when the car is running. The light switch is turned off but everything is on.

I understand all about the daytime running lights but I’m referring to taillights, the license plate light and all the interior door lights. I’ve been to two different dealers, each of which failed to provide an answer, just that all 2012 Focus sedans operate in the same manner.

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If Ford wanted all the lights on when the car is running, then why install a switch that does nothing? I’ve researched and confirmed that all 2012s have this flaw.

Any feedback would be appreciated. – Marcus

There is nothing wrong with your Focus. My sources at Ford say “it is normal and not a defect.

This is the module configuration (European module settings) which the car uses.”

I prefer this to the way many car companies configure the daytime running lights so they work in conjunction with the interior (instrument) panel lights but not the taillights.

This results in a dangerous situation where drivers think their headlights, and by default taillights, are on when, in fact, there are no taillights to warn following motorists of their presence.

I have come upon these vehicles many times – motoring down the road, oblivious to the fact they are in danger of being struck from the rear because of poor visibility.

The setup on your Focus may not be perfect, but it is superior to most out there.

*****

Left-foot braking

Is it legal to brake with your left foot? (Assuming you are driving an automatic transmission.) – Mike

Yes. There is a great deal of debate on this topic, with proponents for both sides. Left-foot braking was a no-no in the old days when manual transmissions were more common, especially before synchronized gearboxes were in use.

But as automatics grew in popularity, some drivers began using their left foot to brake. Many professional race and rally drivers employ left-foot braking because it allows them to balance the vehicle by using both simultaneously in certain circumstances. Out in the real world, there is no need to “balance” the car while entering a corner at the limit of adhesion. There is no real reason to use your left foot.

However, many drivers fall into the habit of resting their left foot on the brake pedal. This results in extra business for service departments and brake shops, which benefit from the need to replace prematurely worn brake components.

On the other hand, dealerships have to handle complaints that brake wear is premature and should be handled under warranty.

But the biggest problem with left-foot braking and the tendency to rest your foot on that pedal is that trailing motorists have no warning when you are actually in the process of braking, instead having to face a constant flashing of the brake lights.

Used properly, with a foot on the pedal only when necessary, left-foot braking is perfectly acceptable – and legal.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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