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

The Traveler’s Guide to Driving in Malaysia
CraigBurrows / Shutterstock.com Malaysia is a popular destination for many tourists today. The country has amazing sights and attractions that you will want to explore....
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...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...


Related questions

Q: How do I check the aim of the headlights?

While your headlights shouldn’t need to be adjusted for a very long time, it’s possible that carrying heavy loads or even minor impacts could affect their aim. This has obvious implications for driving at night or during other times when...

Q: Stereo system wiring

Hi! If the reflector is broken it would be best to have a technician inspect it to see exactly which part is broken. Usually a broken tail light will have to be replaced but at times they can be repaired....

Q: How do I adjust the aim of the headlights?

Your headlights can be adjusted to ensure that the beam strikes the road correctly for good nighttime illumination. While the headlights were adjusted correctly when you bought the car, there are things that can throw off the aim, including: ...