Should You Change Your Headlight Bulbs to LED?

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Headlight technology has evolved a lot over the last couple of decades. Once upon a time, cars had sealed headlights (you had to replace the housing too whenever a bulb blew). Then came permanent lenses and replaceable small bulbs – halogen bulbs are the most common of these, but there are several others out there, including xenon bulbs. Now there are LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs, but is it necessary to change bulbs?

What you should know

LEDs offer a lot of benefits, but are they really right for you? Some of the benefits of using LEDs include the following:

  • Reduced power draw on your system: This may or may not be a selling point for you, because your car was designed to run well with the draw from the stock headlight bulbs.

  • Increased lifespan: LED bulbs can last a very long time; much longer than halogen bulbs, xenon bulbs or anything else on the market.

Those are the primary benefits. Some people claim that LED bulbs offer better illumination, but this is only true for certain types. LEDs actually produce very bright light, but because of their small size, you need more bulbs to equate to the same light output of a standard halogen bulb.

Then there’s the question of directionality. In a halogen headlight bulb, a reflector directs and amplifies the light (the bulbs are omnidirectional and the reflector bounces light forward). If the LED bulbs you choose don’t have a reflector system or another means of directing the light where you need it, you might not get the best illumination.

You’ll also have to contend with additional equipment. With a standard halogen or xenon bulb, the bulb connects directly to the wiring harness and then screws into the back of the headlight lens. LEDs are different. There’s an additional component (a heat sink) that must be accommodated somewhere under the hood.

Is changing out to LED bulbs the right move for you? It could be but you’ll have to balance the cost of a quality replacement with the difficulty of installing them, as well as the light emission (and reach) of the LEDs you choose over conventional headlight bulbs.


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Kenneth

19 years of experience
512 reviews
Kenneth
19 years of experience
Toyota Sequoia - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Newport Beach, California
Kenneth is so awesome. He walks you through everything and let's you know the truth, of what you really need to maintain and service your ride. Thanks Kenneth.
Toyota Sequoia - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Newport Beach, California
Kenneth did a great job and very knowledgeable. He has a great attitude and I will for sure be using him again.

Steffon

10 years of experience
19 reviews
Steffon
10 years of experience
Kia Sedona - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Hunt Valley, Maryland
Steffon did a great job for me. He was on time, professional and quick. He kept me up to date and gave me some advice on what to expect. I would definitely use him again and recommend him to anyone.
Hyundai Veracruz - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Owings Mills, Maryland
Punctual. Very knowledgeable. Removed unnecessary and pricey services other untrustworthy mechanics said were required. Completed work faster than original estimate and for a great price. Would definitely request Steffon next time!

Ralph

37 years of experience
128 reviews
Ralph
37 years of experience
Nissan Frontier - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Spanaway, Washington
Great mechanic! Efficient, knowledgeable, etc. Would definitely recommend to anyone and would book again for future appointments.
Nissan Sentra - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Spanaway, Washington
Ralph competed installation of drum brakes on my Nissan Sentra. Ralph was very personable and knowledgeable about my car. He did an excellent job! I will be hiring him again. Thanks Ralph!!

Michael

15 years of experience
518 reviews
Michael
15 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz GL450 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Atlanta, Georgia
Micheal was punctual and friendly. Work was completed within promised time. Will definitely use again.
Volvo S80 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Roswell, Georgia
Michael was SUPER QUICK with doing my brake and rotors. Great communication throughout the whole process. Will always recommend

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