Headlights are one of those essentials that you don’t think about until they’re gone…or fading fast. When the road ahead becomes unclear, you can have more questions than answers. So, we’ll take a look at what you need to know when it comes to replacing your headlight.
Why you should replace headlights
There’s the obvious fact: dimming or burned out headlight bulbs mean you can’t see the road and other drivers can’t see you. It’s a recipe for danger. It can mean a costly ticket from your local authorities if you don’t get them fixed. Besides, there are plenty of options for improved visibility these days. Even changing out your old halogen headlights for newer models can provide 30 percent brighter light and up to 25 percent more down-road visibility. So why tolerate yellow, inadequate, or uneven lighting?
When to replace your headlights
Don’t wait until your bulbs are burned out, which is not only unsafe but also places you at risk for being pulled over. If you notice your bulbs are dim or flickering, it’s time to replace them. And, as a rule of thumb, if one bulb’s gone or fading, the other won’t be far behind. So at the same time. For many vehicles these days, one bulb serves for both high and low beams. In older models, however, two separate headlight bulbs were used on both sides. Either replace both bulbs or all four bulbs at the same time for a consistent field-of-vision down-road. Consult your owner’s manual for the specific needs for your vehicle.
Pro Tip: Replace both headlights at the same time for improved visibility. It’s also important to note when one headlight bulb fails, the other usually isn’t far behind.
What kinds of headlights are there?
Vehicles come standard with a specific type of headlight. Common types include halogen, Xenon (or HID), and LED on select new vehicles. Most vehicles come with halogen headlights, though. Here are some key differences between them:
- Halogen: Halogen headlights use a tungsten-halogen filament mixed with halogen gas to generate a much brighter light than conventional headlights.
- Xenon/HID: Xenon is one type of HID (high intensity discharge) bulb. Instead of using a heated filament, Xenon headlights use gas. Xenon lights are brighter, have a lower operating temperature, and last longer. Also keep in mind that HID bulbs can be a bit pricier and professional installation may be recommended.
- LED: LEDs (light emitting diodes) have an advantage over halogen in that they draw less power to operate, run cooler than halogen lights, and last longer. If your newer vehicle came equipped with LED headlights from the factory, you’re probably not even reading this article.