Lights - Full beam on auto

  1. My model of MX-5 is: __ND2
  2. I’m based near: __London
  3. I’m looking for technical help or recommendations on: __ Whether or not my automatic lighting is working correctly.

Hello, fellow MX-5 enthusiasts,

I had my RF a few months before I needed to use its headlights. The auto switching works well but, on pushing the lighting selector forward to get the full beam, nothing happens (in auto). It works fine, if the manual option is selected.

This is not the case on my other car, or previous cars (neither of which are/were Mazdas).

Could you please advise if the full beam works for you (ND2 models, of course), when using the “auto” setting. Thank you!

I have an ND1, now 4 years old and would you believe I have never driven it in the dark ! However…
I also have a Hyundai Tucson which also has automatic headlights, when the light control is set on automatic the lights come on automatically, to use main beam you push the stalk forward once and a small icon lights on the dash, if the conditions are right - no street lights, not in a 30 mph limit and no other vehicle in site, the headlights will go to main beam, but dip as soon as it sees another vehicle, or if the road conditions change, including sharp bends, junctions etc.
To override the automatic operation push the stalk forward twice, to dip push it forward again, if you pull it back it will flash main beam but will also switch off the auto main beam, to work manually a double push forward is needed. If you want to dispense with auto lights - including auto switch on- turn the stalk control to headlight setting.
I have got used to it now, but my Wife hates it as she says it doesn’t put the main beam up fast enough after another vehicle has passed (it’s about .5 of a second!)
Hope this helps…


Hi Millstone,

Thank you for your input on this. It is possible that I was in a 30 mph area when I tried it but there is no mention of needing to be going faster for the full beam to work in auto.

It does seem odd that this does not appear to work on my ND2, or that it should be intended to function (or not) in this way …

It was 3 or 4 months before I was let out after dark!

Hi My ND2 works as you sort of describe on auto,it has the automatic lights which i am now used to,basically any other lights,cars,street ,lights etc it stays mainly on dip,once over about 25 m.p.h in the dark full beam comes on and they are amazing,they automatically dip if a car comes into sight at all,they also sort of shine to the side of the road more so as not to dazzle,they also if you are coming up on a car from the rear,turn off the central light are and leave the lights on more each side so as not to dazzle the car in front,yes took a bit of getting used to but i think overall they are amazing and very bright,they also steer a little as the car goes round a corner,cost a fortune if they go wrong.
All best Simon


Hi Simon,

This is really helpful. Thank you!

So maybe I need to be going faster to find out if they work on the auto setting? I guess I still need to push the stalk forward though?

I appreciate that the lights should dip automatically, if they are manually turned on and full beam is selected.



Hi X,
There are two systems at work.
The High Beam Control System (HBC) that dips and applies main beam automatically is not fitted to all modes. Mazda MX-5 Owner’s Manual
The ‘Auto’ position on the stalk senses the ambient light to decide whether the headlights should be on or off. Mazda MX-5 Owner’s Manual
The 30AE does have the Auto feature but does not have the HBC feature. It may be worth checking that your model has the HBC.
The attached links should help you to understand what should or shouldn’t be happening whatever the specification on your car.


The adaptive LED headlight technology on the ND2 is amazing. Strangely it’s one of the features I miss. Wish my NA had them! :grin:

From memory pushing the lever forwards activated the system, which only worked above 30mph. Switching away from Auto, the dip/main beam function worked in the traditional way. IIRC.

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Hi X100
Just one thought, my Tucson also reads speed limit signs and displays them on the dash (& central display) I think this is also linked to the auto dipping headlights so that’s why it doesn’t do high beam in a 30 limit.
it also has the cornering lights that come on if you turn the wheel slightly.
My ND is locked in the garage nice and warm at the moment, I’ll go and give the lights a try to see if they are Auto dipping, when I get a minute, but I don’t think they are.
Just as an addendum- checked my ND and it does not have HBC high beam control. It’s one of the first ND specials - an ‘Icon’ has leather, sat nav, all the bells and whistles, but no HBC!

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Thanks all for your help.

It seems that I need to take mine out for a run (above 30mph) in the dark, to see what the lights do.

I’ll do that in the next few days and let you know what happens.

Thanks again!


I believe only the Sport Nav or above has HBC high beam control.
Don’t confuse this with Auto lights, which just come on when it gets dark.

If your car has HBC, when you move the stalk for high beam there is a green headlight symbol with an A showing on the dash.

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The auto dipping headlights on my ND1 work amazingly well. There is a new large roundabout near us with many bright street lights and reflective road signs. On approach to the roundabout the lights remain on high beam despite the lights and sign reflections. As soon as a car approaches on the other side the lights dip. How it recognises the quite low light from the other car as such against the other stronger light sources I don’t know.

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Hello again,

I’ve just been for a “spin” in the car - roof down, of course. It was great!

My model is the GT Sport Tech, so it should have all of the gismos.

On reflection, as it seems likely that the full beam is speed and “other car”- dependent, I think I shall give the trial run a miss and wait until I have a reason to take the car out in the dark.

Thank you all for you thoughts and comments!

I had the same “problem” with my ND2. I must admit that I didn’t read the manual because I thought it would be the same as my ND1.
Took it into the dealer for a full investigation into the defective headlights. The car’s still under warranty so no problem expected. After checking the car the dealer said that the headlights were working correctly. I insisted that they were defective because when I drove the car at night down a very narrow country lane the main beams would only work if I pulled the headlight flasher, when I flicked the stalk onto main beam the warning light came on but no main beam. After a further check they wheeled out their expert who explained the problem.
The ND2 is fitted with adaptive headlights. In auto mode the adaptive headlights will stay on dipped beam below 30mph. Above 30mph the main beams come on and react to oncoming traffic and adapt so that they don’t dazzle. I went away with my tail between my legs and read the manual when I got home.
Went out at night, lights in auto and on main beam. Above 30mph on they came. When oncoming traffic appeared the headlights adapted to prevent them dazzling oncoming traffic. The headlights are absolutely brilliant. The best ever!
I’m sure there is a moral to this story somewhere.

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Hi Maccy,

Thank you for your detailed explanation.

I look forward to using the lights “in anger”!