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Headlight bulbs are encased in a carefully designed housing that illuminates the roadways and makes your car visible to other drivers and pedestrians. They rely on the vehicle’s electrical system for power. There are many types of headlight bulbs in use today including sealed beams, halogen plug-in bulbs, LED (light emitting diode), and HID (high intensity discharge) bulbs. Some car models are sold with headlight options and a mechanic may rely on your car’s VIN to determine the type of headlight system in your vehicle.
All headlamps rely on reflectors in the lamp housing to focus the headlight bulbs. This allows the most useful pattern of light to be cast onto the roadway. Halogen bulbs have a gas that allows for additional light. HID bulbs use two electrodes within the bulb that charge the gas to produce the light. LED bulbs operate at a lower temperature and the light shown on the road tends to be lower than HID bulbs. All headlights are designed to provide a well lit driving path when natural sunlight is not enough.
Headlights must always be fully functional after dusk to drive safely. Should your car have a failed headlight and is driven only when there is adequate daylight, you can put off the repair until it is convenient. Working headlights are required by law in throughout the U.S. whenever the car is used on public roads from sunset to sunrise and in many other specified conditions as well, such as when it is raining or when visibility is reduced due to smoke, fog, or other factors.