I rent cars for her road trips in Canada's backcountry (like Newfoundland), where I drive:

  1. only on paved roads (no off-roading),

  2. never after sunset,

  3. at 20-40 KPH (much slower than the speed limit), if I must drive in the evening.

Even on high beam, rental cars' standard headlights are too dim and fail to spotlight animals and debris at dusk, which I had to dodge dangerously at the last minute.

As rental car companies don't offer cars with brighter lighting, especially ones rented from locations in the boondocks, how can I add removeable lighting at the front?

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    If you are failing to spot animals in the road at dusk in Newfoundland it is not because your headlights are too dim. It's because you are driving too fast. Deer and moose can enter the road unexpectedly, and no headlight is going to save you if they do it in front of you. – DJClayworth Jun 3 '18 at 20:54
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    Do check the rental agreement carefully. They may prohibit even temporary modifications like that. – user16259 Jun 3 '18 at 21:19
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    Dusk is the most difficult time for visibility. If you add a bright lamp such as a battery powered LED lamp with a magnetic mount, that will only blind you to the side vision and you will be even more at risk from animals in your peripheral vision. Drive slowly, very slowly. What experience are you after? A gentle cruise through the woods, or getting home quickly? Is it because you don't want to drive after dark that makes you hurry? If so, plan the journey better. – Weather Vane Jun 3 '18 at 21:45
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    Such lights might be illegal. Newfoundland, like many jurisdictions, has rather specific regulations on motor vehicle equipment. One of them is that a car may be equipped with either one or two headlamps per side. If the car already has two per side (high and low beams?) then you can't legally add any more. – Nate Eldredge Jun 3 '18 at 23:15
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    You can ask if the vehicle has fog lights. These are much lower down than regular headlights and work well in fog and snow. I turn mine on at dusk if I am worried about deer. Several makes of car come with fog lights as factory equipment; perhaps some research could give you confidence about what model to ask for? (A comment, not an answer, because this doesn't answer the question but may help with the underlying problem.) – Kate Gregory Jun 4 '18 at 21:32

I don't think there is going to be an answer to this. Adding headlights is a significant modification, involving changes to the vehicle wiring. No rental company is going to allow it.

Possible solutions might be renting a higher end vehicle with better lights, buying higher powered bulbs for headlights and replacing the rented ones (unlikely to be practical in these days of sealed units), and having a friend shine a high powered spotlight out of the front of the car (possibly illegal and possibly dangerous). I'm not recommending any of these except the first.

I would reiterate that if you cannot see debris or animals in the road ahead you are driving too fast - even if you are doing 20kph. I drove round Newfoundland for a few weeks without ever encountering this problem. I frequently drove the speed limit at night on major roads and 50-60kph on back roads, but I also drove on roads where 30kph was the safe limit at night. That's the way it is.

If you are unable to see significant debris in full beams on a wide straight road at 40kph you might consider getting your vision tested. There are conditions which affect night vision before daytime vision.

(It should be said that the problem is not with the rental companies but the manufacturers, and possibly road traffic rules. I do not know enough about Newfoundland regulations to repeat what was said in comments by Nate Eldridge, but I find it easy to believe.)

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    To add to the “get your vision tested” part of this answer: if OP regularly has near misses with debris on the road at dusk driving 20 km/h on a road that is designed for 90 km/h with standard headlights, then they should recognize that this is abnormal and OP should ask themselves if they are medically fit to drive. – Jacob Horbulyk Jun 5 '18 at 20:39

There is no difference between cars available from rental car agencies than those available to people in general. Rental car companies buy a variety of cars from the same manufacturers available locally to people who live in the area.

What you must therefore do is select the type of vehicle according to your needs. If you rent a 4x4 or vehicle suitable for off-road driving, as is available in rental locations close to where people engage in such activities, you will get better features such as higher beams, anti-fog lights and high-clearance to handle better these conditions.

Larger vehicles will usually cost more to rent, but that is typical anywhere. You can choose to save and rent a Toyota Yaris for your trip if you like, but do not expect it to be as suited as a Range Rover to your trip.

It will generally be not be feasible or legal for you or the agency to change headlights. After all, high beams may cause much more safety issue when considering other vehicles on the road.

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