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Headlight Bulb Replacement

Is It Important To Maintain The Headlights?

Having a working set of headlights is, of course, a fundamental safety requirement.

Take a trip at night without them and not only won’t you be able to see where you’re going, but other road users are going to have a hell of a time seeing you.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

So, working headlights – on both the passenger and driver’s side of the car – are a must.


What Type Of Light Bulbs Are Used?

Back in the day, car headlight bulbs were all filament bulbs, working in the same way as household bulbs – electricity passes through a filament that heats up and emits light.

Today, lighting technology has moved on and there are three main types of bulb used in vehicles.

  • Halogen/filament bulbs are filled with halogen gas which enables the bulb to run hotter, which means they will be brighter.
  • HID (High Intensity Discharge) bulbs don’t have a filament. Instead, there are two electrodes that form an arc of electricity that charges Xenon gas within the bulb.
  • LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) are semiconductor-based light sources. They are long-lasting and have the advantage of low power usage.

Whichever technology is used in your car, all bulbs are placed within cleverly designed housing that incorporates reflectors and lenses that focus the light on the road ahead in the most effective way.

Symptoms That Your Headlight Bulb Needs Replacing

Let’s be honest, knowing your headlight is on its way out is probably the simplest diagnostic task you’ll ever have as a car owner, but here are the obvious signs:

  • The light is dim. Headlight bulbs will wear out over time and a noticeable dimming of the light they cast is a sign they need replacing.
  • Flickering. The light emitted from your headlights should be strong and constant. Flickering is an indication that there is fault. While this is likely due to the bulb, it also may point to an electrical connection issue.
  • Headlight is out. Doesn’t get more obvious than this. If the bulb doesn’t light up, then there is most definitely something amiss! While the bulb itself is, obviously, a likely candidate for the failure, an electrical issue could also be the problem.

It is worth noting that if one headlight bulb is dimming and faded then it probably won’t be all that long before the other headlight fails too.

Headlight Bulb Replacement

How Is The Bulb Replaced?

Headlight bulbs are often accessible from inside the engine compartment and the replacement procedure can be relatively simple.

However, space is at a premium and, on some vehicle models, changing the bulb may require the removal of other components to gain clear access to the rear of the headlight assembly.

Also, remember that the bulb is part of the wider vehicle electrical system and when a bulb needs changing is the perfect time for the wiring, sockets and connections to be checked to ensure they are in good order.

Tips To Remember

When one headlight burns out, particularly in the case of filament bulbs, both the driver and passenger side headlight bulbs should be replaced.

When one goes, the other will probably not be far behind.

Headlight lenses can become cloudy and scratched through general wear and tear.

This will have a negative effect on the light emitted from the bulb.

A bulb replacement is a good time to get the wiring, fuses and connections professionally checked.

These should be maintained so that more, and more frequent, headlight issues can be avoided.

Why Maintaining The Headlight Is Important

There could hardly be a clearer safety issue than a headlight failure.

Legally, you can’t drive at night without them and if you do - or if you only have only one working headlight - then you put everyone on the road around you, including yourself, at risk.

There’s also the potential, should you be involved in an accident in these circumstances, of any insurance claim being refused. No one wants that.

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