This is a re-post of the only entry that was worth saving from a failed side-blog I had tried some time ago. This entry was originally, posted on Oct 12, 2005 - over a year ago. The car I speak of here has since been totaled and sent off to the scrap yard after a deer jumped in front of me. Perhaps someday I’ll carry out my ideas here on another vehicle.

This morning while driving to the office, I was thinking about some differences between my Maxima and my previous car, a 1995 SAAB 9000 CS Turbo (yes, that was quite a change). Specifically daytime running lights. I know there are many differing opinions out there regarding them, but there are also different ways that they can be implemented.

I like the idea of my lights being on all the time, more than anything else, because of the area in which I live. Here in western New York State (about an hour south of Buffalo) the weather blows in off of Lake Erie after passing over most of the other Great Lakes. Needless to say, it is overcast more than not. In fact, I seem to remember learning at one point, that prior to the present day smog problems WNY was listed among the top ‘most cloudy’ places in the country. That being the case, it is allot easier to see oncoming traffic when there headlights are on, regardless of the time of day. Over the years I have noticed a definite difference in the number of other drivers who see me on the road depending on whether my light are on or not.

The 1991 Honda Accord I had before the SAAB did not have daytime running lights. It was around that time that New York State passed the law requiring all cars to have there lights on when the windshield wipers are on. Of course, there are times when it is not raining and everyone should have there lights on, but this was a start. The problem was that I would not always remember to turn my lights on, so I purchased a basic relay that turned my headlights on whenever the ignition was in the ‘ON’ position. Unfortunately, I would have had to add two more to have the parking lights and taillights come on as well. Not the ideal solution.

My SAAB, on the other hand, had full featured daytime running lights. When the car was on (ignition in the ‘ON’ position), the headlights, taillights and parking lights (I think) were all on, albeit not at full brightness. In the event I didn’t what them on, for whatever reason (Say, I was working on the car and didn’t want the battery to run down), I could just pull the fuse for the daytime running lights, and the lights still worked as normal with the switch. The problem was that I would forget about them at night and wonder why I couldn’t see very well. That is until I tried to turn my high beams on and couldn’t. After a quick flip of the light switch, the high beams would them work. I soon discovered an easy solution. The lights only had power regardless of the daytime running lights when the ignition was in the ‘ON’ position. In other words, if the ignition was off (or even at ‘Acc’ or ‘Start’) the lights would be off. That being the case, I just left the light switch on all the time. The only time I had to think about my lights was when I turned my high beams on or off.

And finally to the point. My Maxima does not have daytime running lights so I’m back to square one. I don’t really want to have the same situation as I did with my old Accord so I started running a few ideas through my head for a workable solution. This is what I came up with:

The light switch triggers various relays to turn on the lights throughout the car. What if I intercepted the power line coming from the switch before it reaches any of the relays. Place a relay in line at that point that is triggered by the ignition switch. Use a relay that needs a constant power source from the trigger to stay on. That way, whenever the ignition is in the ‘ON’ position the circuit would be closed and the lights would work as normal. However, when the ignition is off (or in ‘Start’ or ‘Acc’), the lights would be off regardless of the light switch. That way, I could just leave the light switch on all the time and the lights would turn off with the ignition. And if I wanted to override the system and force the lights off, I could just turn the light switch off. Total control, with little to no effort on my part. Now to work out the details and figure out where to put the relay, assuming I can find a suitable one.