What type of bulb should you buy for your car’s headlights? Should you stick to halogens or switch to LED or HID/ xenon bulbs? These are questions you have probably pondered on. And as you might expect, there is no universal answer.
When it comes to choosing bulbs for your car’s headlights, the choice you make will depend on several things. Let’s take a close look at the various headlight bulb options available and which is perfect for you.
What Headlight Bulb For My Car is Perfect: How Do I Know What Headlight Bulb I Need
For the most part, LED bulbs (such as 9012 led headlight bulbs or others) will be the best choice for most people. They are brighter than halogens but are not overly bright as HID. Also, they last for a very long time. However, if cost is an issue, halogens make more sense.
Halogen bulbs are the most common and are often the stock bulbs that come in most small cars from the factory. However, they do not last as long, and you may have to buy multiple bulbs, which may make the higher cost of LEDs more reasonable.
Checking Headlight Bulb Size
Different cars use headlight bulbs of varying sizes. You cannot use these bulbs interchangeably, and when searching for a replacement bulb, you need one of the exact sizes as the current bulb. Typically, most conventional bulbs will have a rating of H1, H3, H4, H7, H11, HB4, and Hb3.
So how do you know what headlight bulb your car needs?
The first option is to use the car’s owner’s manual. This manual will contain information on the type of fitting for each bulb. But if you do not have the owner’s manual or that information isn’t written, there are two other options.
First, you can inspect the stock bulbs. The base of the bulb will have information on its size.
Secondly, you can use online headlight bulb search platforms to know what bulb size your car model uses.
Checking What Type of Headlight Bulbs Do You Have and Need
For instance, when you want to replace your 2015 GMC Sierra headlight bulbs as we did on our truck or when you just need new headlight bulbs for your car/truck, it will be important to know what type of bulbs you currently have in your car’s headlight. However, there are several ways of checking.
Using The Beam Color
Turn on your headlights and see what color the beam is. If the beam color is yellow, then the bulbs in your headlights are most likely halogens. However, if the beam color is bright, bluish-white, and the headlights take about 7 seconds or so to light up, those are HID bulbs.
If you turn on your headlights and they light up immediately and produce a white light, chances are you have LED bulbs installed.
But if you are unusual in the beam color, you can remove the bulbs and do a physical check. Different bulb types have varying physical characteristics. Halogen bulbs have a tungsten filament inside.
So if the bulb has a filament, they are halogens. However, if there is no filament but has a wire running the length of the bulb to the base, those are HID bulbs. HID bulbs are also recognizable by the glass bubble inside.
Inspect The Headlight Assembly
In most vehicle models, you can tell what type of bulbs are being used by inspecting the headlight assembly itself. Headlight assembly for halogen bulbs tends to be plain without a lot of going on.
On the back of the assembly are usually two slots with two bulbs, which are easy to remove. LED bulbs’ headlight assembly tends to be more sophisticated. These assemblies also don’t have the kind of bulb openings you find on halogens, as the LEDs are integrated with the assembly.
HID assembly typically has a dust cover on the back; removing it will give you access to the bulbs.
The Different Types And Sizes of Headlight Bulbs
Headlight bulbs come in a variety of sizes and types. The main bulb types are halogens, Xenon /HID, and LED bulbs. When it comes to size, the most common sizes are H1, H3, H4, H7, H11, HB3, and HB4.
Halogen bulbs are the oldest of the four types and have been around for almost half a century now. They use a tungsten filament surrounded by halogen gas. The tungsten heats up and produces light, while the halogen gas helps the filament glow brighter.
These have the shortest lifespan of the three and will last up to 200o hours. When it comes to size, they come in H4, H17, H18, H9, H8, and H11. H4 are double filament bulbs mainly used in small vehicles.
H17 and H18 are smaller and offer more brightness, while H8, H9, and H11 are self-sealing bulbs. As such, they do not need a watertight headlight assembly. Because of this, they are typically used in fog lights.
HID or Xenon Lights
High-Intensity Discharge or Xenon bulbs use an arc between two electrodes. The inside of the bulb is filled with a combination of xenon gas and vaporized metals. These bulbs are noticeable by their bluish-white hue.
Xenon lights are extremely bright and can be costly as well. As such, they are commonly found in high-end vehicles. They offer a more excellent illumination range than halogens and even LED lights.
However, their extreme brightness can be a drawback. These lights tend to blind oncoming traffic and can make the driver difficult to park or switch lanes. Since they do not have a filament that can burn out like halogens, they can last up to 10,000 hours.
LED bulbs use two diodes to illuminate. Electric current passes through the diodes, causing them to produce light. These bulbs can be designed to produce any kind of color light. They are brighter than halogens and can illuminate father without blinding oncoming drivers.
One of the best things about LEDs is that they are energy efficient. In fact, they are the most energy-efficient of the three. Also, they have a long lifespan and can last up to 30,000 hours. However, they are pretty costly compared to halogens.
Can I Replace Halogens With LED bulbs?
Yes, you can easily swap out your car’s stock halogen bulbs for LEDs. LED bulbs will fit into the same socket as the stock halogens. Ensure they are of the same size, though. This you can do by checking what size the stock halogens are.
Last Updated on February 3, 2023 by Rifen