Where is the rear fog light?

I’ve read a few posts recently, in which people are asking “where is the rear fog light?” or alternatively “where is the rear fog light switch?” This is my response to reading those posts, and it may turn into a small rant but I hope it is useful all the same. It may also help answer the question I see being asked many times: “what is this extra switch for on my dashboard?”

In most cases, when importing a car over 10 years old from Japan, the only thing that has to be done before taking it for its first MOT is to fit a rear fog light. For readers outside the UK, the MOT test is an inspection that the vast majority of vehicles on UK roads have to pass every year, once they are 3 years old. You can read more about MOT testing here.

Some people seem to have bought fresh imports from UK dealers, that have a MOT but don’t have a rear fog light. How did they do that? Well, I think you know the answer. Some ‘creative’ MOT testing has occurred. And by ‘creative’ I mean fraudulent.

Having set the scene, let’s move on to considering how this might affect you and what you can do about it.

What to do about this if you’re in the market for a Japanese import?

When you go to look at a vehicle with a view to buying it, ask to see the MOT certificate or check the MOT history online. If the vehicle has a current MOT, look for the rear fog light. Can’t find it? Ask the seller to show you. If the vehicle has a MOT but doesn’t have a fog light, it has had a dodgy MOT. If this turns out to be the case, WALK AWAY. I don’t care how shiny the car is or how much you like it or how cheap it is. If the lack of a rear fog light has been ‘overlooked’ by the MOT tester, what else do you think they might have overlooked? Binding brakes? Perished tyres? Engine warning light bulb removed or taped over?

There is a possibility that the first MOT will show a failure for lack of rear fog light. Some people deliberately take their car for a MOT before doing any work on it, to make sure nothing else needs doing before they start getting it ready for the road. Others use a pre-booked MOT test as a means of getting the car from the port to wherever they need it to go, via the MOT test station. In this case the car will/should fail, because it won’t have a rear fog light fitted. Obviously you’ll need to see a subsequent passed MOT before handing over any money.

How to find the rear fog light switch

Just in case you’re struggling to find the rear fog light switch or the rear fog lights themselves, I thought I’d go through some common installation options for both.

Hopefully it goes without saying that the fog light switch should be on the dashboard!

It must be secure and be able to be operated from the normal driving position. It should have a ‘tell tale’ i.e. a light that comes on when the fog lights are on, to remind the driver of this fact. Most of the time, the light is built into the switch. This means the switch can’t be hidden out of sight.

In UK market cars with rear fog lights factory fitted from new, the rear fog light should only be able to be switched on when the side lights or head lights are on. There are similar stipulations for imported vehicles going through the IVA test. However the same requirement is not mentioned in the MOT test manual. I still think it makes sense to wire them up so they can only be switched on when the other lights are on (and that is how I do it).

How to find the rear fog light(s)

OK, I’ll start simple – go to the back of the car! There may be one fog light or two. If there is one, it should be in the centre or on the offside (right hand side). It should be red. There are a number of options for the type of light:

  • Dangler. I’m not a fan, but it is a legitimate option for adding a rear fog light. You won’t miss it.
  • Recessed / cut into bumper.
  • Converted reversing light on offside. I.e. a red bulb in the offside reversing light, with modified wiring to suit.
  • Rear reflector replacement in bumper.
  • Dual filament bulb used for side lights, with the brighter filament used as a fog light. This can sometimes be done where the vehicle has multiple stop/tail lights at the back, e.g. 2 sets per side.

So go ahead, turn on the side lights then switch the fog light switch on and see if any bright red lights appear at the back of the vehicle. I hope you see some!

What to do if you’ve bought a Japanese import and it hasn’t got a rear fog light

Earlier on in this article I suggested you walk away if your prospective Japanese import vehicle has a MOT but no rear fog light. But what if it’s a bit late for that, because you’ve already bought it?

One option would be to go back to the dealer and ask them to fit the fog light that the car should always have had. However there is the argument that if they’re the type of person to sell a car that doesn’t meet MOT standards, their fog light fitting might not be up to scratch. You might prefer to ask them to pay for it to be fitted elsewhere, but it would be up to them whether they agreed to that. Finally you could just fit one yourself if you’re so inclined, or find a competent auto electrician to do it for you.

The other thing you could consider doing is reporting the MOT tester to the DVSA, who will be able to find the details from the MOT certificate number.

In summary: check for the rear fog light before you buy!

That’s it! I hope this article has been helpful. If you’re going to look at a Japanese import vehicle, check for the rear fog light. A small item that may not get used very often, but nonetheless an important piece of safety equipment and a good indicator of whether the car has had a dodgy MOT.

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