Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Hot Do Headlight and Taillight Bulbs Get?

hot headlights

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.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in New Mexico
The state of New Mexico offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch...
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed Related Trouble Codes: P2441: EVAP Vent Valve Stuck Open EVAP trouble...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...


Related questions

Q: Interior and headlights flashing and charging 14.7 or so.

If the lights are flashing constantly, then there is a short between the flasher unit and the turn signal and highbeam circuit that is causing the issue. If the lights are flashing a little and looking like a flicker, then...

Q: Tail light that comes on after the lens cover is tapped

This sounds like you either have bulbs that are going bad, or the more likely cause is a poor connection inside on the bulb socket. Have the light that is tapped removed and check each connection for loose pins or...

Q: What does the high-beam on light mean?

The high-beam on light is located on your instnrument panel. When the light is illuminated, the high-beams are currently on. The light will disappear when the high-beams are turned off.