Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How Long Are Headlights Bulbs Supposed to Last

asked by on

How long are headlight bulbs supposed to last?

A: The lifespan of a headlight bulb in a vehic...

The lifespan of a headlight bulb in a vehicle is not possible to predict with much accuracy. There are just too many variables affecting how long your bulbs will last.

These factors include:

  • Wattage rating of the lights. Brighter, hotter lights usually have shorter lives.

  • Type of lights. HID lights can last several times longer than halogen bulbs.

  • Quality of manufacturing. Not all bulbs are created equal. Bulbs with superior design and build quality can be expected to outlast lower quality items.

  • How often they are turned on and off. Every time a lightbulb is turned on it heats up and expands. And, of course, when turned off it cools down and contracts. This is called thermal cycling and affects a component’s usable service life.

  • Vehicle electrical system stability. Variations in voltage from a vehicle’s charging system, especially when it goes too high, shortens bulb life.

  • Roughness in use. A vehicle that sees regular driving on rough pavement or washboard dirt roads can expect shorter bulb life than a comparable vehicle driven over smooth roads.

Manufacturer’s have a target in mind when they design and build a bulb. A certain average number in hundreds of hours of operation before failure. But with automotive light bulbs, they don’t always share that information with us. So my recommendation is to purchase the best quality bulbs you can locate. Use original equipment parts or a recognizable major name brand of lamps for your vehicle. A burned out bulb on your vehicle is more than an inconvenience; it’s also a safety hazard and can get you a ticket. If you run into any problems with your headlamps, a certified mechanic can inspect and replace your lights if necessary.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: How do I use the auto lights?

The auto light feature controls whether or not your headlights are turned on, based on the outside darkness. When the car detects that the headlights are needed for visibility and safety, the lights will turn on. When the lights are...

Q: Hi when switch my car on the dashboard lights is off and then the car dont start but after a few minutes the lights come on and th

When the lights on your dash are off, this indicates to me that you have lost power to most of the car. This means there is an intermittent bad connection somewhere in the main power system of your car. I...

Q: Brights and fog lights stopped working.

The fog lights would only work with the low beams. The high beams would be on with the indicator. The system may have a defective light switch causing the issue if you cannot switch to low beams by pulling the...

Related articles

How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...
P2103 OBD-II Trouble Code: Throttle Actuator Control Motor Circuit High
P2103 means there is a fault with the throttle actuator control motor circuit, likely due to a defective electrical component or part.