How Hot Do Headlight and Taillight Bulbs Get?

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All light bulbs get hot when in use – it’s the nature of how they work. With the exception of LEDs and fluorescent bulbs, light bulbs work on the principle of resistance. Electric current is directed through the bulb. The filament is designed to resist the flow of electrons. This resistance creates heat, and the filament glows. Different types of filaments (and different gases in the bulb itself) glow more brightly than others. How hot do your headlight and taillight bulbs get?

The question of type

There’s no single answer here. It greatly depends on the type of bulb you’re using. A standard halogen headlight bulb can reach several hundred degrees during operation, and the headlight lens itself might be over 100 degrees. HID lights can reach very, very high temperatures (far in excess of what a halogen can achieve). Xenon plasma bulbs also reach immensely high temperatures.

Taillight bulbs are a bit different from headlights. The lights don’t need to be as bright, and the red lens helps brighten the light produced by the filament. The bulbs work on the same principle, but different wattages, filaments and gasses are used here. However, taillight bulbs can still get quite warm during operation. They can be uncomfortable to touch after being used, but they don’t reach the 100 – 300 degree temperature range common for even low-end headlights.

Caution

If you’ll be replacing your headlight or taillight bulbs, exercise caution. If the lights have been in use, let them cool completely before attempting to replace the bulb, or a serious burn could result.


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Pardeep

20 years of experience
652 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Fremont, California
Again 5 star service. And already scheduling him for my next appointment. Highly recommend Pardeep for your car needs.
Chevrolet Camaro - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Jose, California
Great knowledgeable mechanic and fast great work. I will use Pardeep and your services again. Thank you

Theodore

15 years of experience
1137 reviews
Theodore
15 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Everett, Washington
Theodore arrived on time, he did a great job replacing my brakes on my Camry, I will definitely work with him again.
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Renton, Washington
We have had previous work done by Theodore. Really appreciate his thoroughness and professionalism!

Matthew

32 years of experience
734 reviews
Matthew
32 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Yorktown, Virginia
We've been using Your Mechanic services for a few years, for a few reasons. The convenience of having an expert mechanic "on-call," the great pricing and transparency for services (saving 10% - 25% at times), most of all Matt is our go-to guy who is highly qualified, knowledgeable in the work and knows how to explain it to us in detail.
Ford F-150 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Newport News, Virginia
Matt's technical knowledge of his profession is incredible! He is prompt, thorough, friendly, professional, engaging, and completes the job to 100% perfection! Thank you, Matt for the most outstanding auto repair service in all my many years!!!

Jason

31 years of experience
162 reviews
Jason
31 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Mateo, California
Jason was very professional and friendly. He provided extremely honest and helpful advice on issues with my Altima that would require proactive future maintenance.

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