How Frequently Do Headlight Bulbs Burn Out?

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Headlights aren’t just convenience accessories – they’re required for driving at night. They’re also important for safety, which is why so many modern cars come with daytime running lights as a standard feature. Of course, light bulbs have a finite lifespan, and this should be listed on the package of the bulb you purchase as you’ll eventually need to change them. If you’re finding that you have to replace your headlight bulbs very frequently, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong.

Possible reasons for frequent bulb burnout

There are several potential issues that might be resulting in shorter than usual light bulb lifespans on your car. However, bear in mind that the more frequently your lights are used, the faster they’ll burn out. If your car has auto daytime running lights (that is, more than just the parking lights), or you do a great deal of nighttime driving, you’ll definitely go through bulbs faster than other drivers. There are other possible issues:

  • Skin Contact: If you replace your own headlight bulbs and you touch the bulb’s surface with your bare skin, you’re shortening the lifespan automatically. Contact leaves oil from your skin on the bulb, which creates hotspots and shortens the bulb’s life. Wear latex gloves when changing your lights.

  • Bouncing: If the mounting location of your bulbs isn’t secure, there’s a chance that they could bounce. Excessive vibration can break the filament (the part that heats up, creating light) inside the bulb. If there’s play in the bulb after installing it in the housing, you may need a new lens.

  • Incorrect Installation: Light bulbs need to be installed smoothly, and without any jerking, prying, or other stress. It’s possible that an incorrect installation procedure is damaging the bulb.

  • Incorrect Voltage: Headlights are designed to operate with a specific voltage. If your alternator is beginning to fail, it’s possible that it’s creating voltage fluctuations. This can lead to early bulb burnout (and you’ll need to replace your alternator, as well).

  • Condensation: The interior of your headlight lens should be clean and dry. If there’s moisture inside, then this will collect on the surface of the light bulb, eventually making it blow.

These are just a few of the problems that could be causing your bulbs to fail early. The best advice would be to have the problem diagnosed and repaired by a professional mechanic.


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4,977
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Andrew

14 years of experience
241 reviews
Andrew
14 years of experience
Volkswagen Jetta - Alternator Repair - Gresham, Oregon
Super fast, friendly, and got the alternator replaced without any issues. Would definitely use again in the future! Thanks for your time.
Lexus GX470 - Alternator - Beaverton, Oregon
Great service done quickly and looking under the hood I couldn’t tell he was there. The new Alternator is working fine.

Jason

14 years of experience
48 reviews
Jason
14 years of experience
Nissan Rogue - Alternator - Elmhurst, New York
Jason is 100% professional. He walked me through everything about what was wrong with my vehicle. He also checked many other components of my truck to assure me that everything else was in top condition. If I owned a mechanic shop I would want this man as my manager I highly recommended Jason
Dodge Dakota - Alternator - Wantagh, New York
Showed up earlier than expected and was finished fast! Awesome to deal with, would definitely use him again in the future.

Bobby

26 years of experience
50 reviews
Bobby
26 years of experience
Chevrolet Tahoe - Alternator - Pineville, North Carolina
Bobby was very professional and polite. He changed my alternator quickly and the experience was very smooth and easy.
Hyundai Sonata - Alternator - Charlotte, North Carolina
Bobby was quick and to the point. Would definitely recommend and will probably schedule him again in the future.

Pierre

8 years of experience
46 reviews
Pierre
8 years of experience
Kia Sorento - Alternator Repair - Quincy, Massachusetts
Pierre is professional, Knowledgeable, and personable. He is detail-oriented and very thorough in his work. One can tell he takes pride in the work he performs. More importantly he takes time to explain everything in detail and in a way anyone can understand. He explains exactly what he is doing and why. Pierre came out to replace the alternator and serpentine belt on my 2012 kia sorento. He was unable to complete the job during the first visit due to the location of the alternator, which in most cases, involves putting the vehicle up on a lift, jacking up the engine, and lowering the subframe (generally means taking the car to a repair shop). However, Pierre returned two days later, determined and undaunted by the difficulty of the job. The work was completed without the availability of a car lift, the ability to lower the subframe, or the comforts of a repair shop. What he accomplished without the items listed above is simply amazing. He made an almost impossible job possible. I Cannot express my level of gratitude and how appreciative I am nearly enough!

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