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

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Regular headlight beams are really not useful

The head lights on the Santa Fe are high intensity display (HID) style lights and the bulb will dim over time instead of burning out. The dim bulbs indicate that they are going bad and it is time to replace...

Q: Switched to synthetic oil, now I smell burning oil, possibly engine running hotter

Hi, thanks for writing in. Synthetic oil is typically a little bit thinner than conventional oil. Often times when a vehicle is switch from conventional to synthetic this can cause oil leaks or burning oil. I would recommend changing your...

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

The high-beam on light is located on the instrument panel. When the high-beam on light is illuminated, it means that the high-beams are currently turned on. The high-beams should only be turned on when there are no other cars nearby....

Related articles

P0240 OBD-II Trouble Code: Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance
P0240 code definition Turbocharger Boost Sensor B Circuit Range/Performance What the P0240 code means P0240 is an OBD-II generic code triggered when the Engine Control Module (ECM) detects the intake boost...
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...
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.