Headlights are one of those essential car parts you don't pay attention to until they're gone or fading. When the road ahead appears dim, you may have more questions than answers. To answer your questions, here are some things you should know about checking and replacing your headlights.
Obviously, if you can't see the road at night, it's time to change your headlights. Make sure to change your bulbs as soon as you notice a decrease in their brightness. This is a huge safety concern for you and other drivers on the road. If you fail to fix your headlights, authorities will most likely hand you a ticket reprimanding you for breaking the law.
Usually if one bulb's gone or fading, the other isn't very far behind. Always make sure to replace both bulbs at the same time. For many vehicles, one bulb is used for both high and low beams. In older models, two separate headlight bulbs are used for high and low beams. Depending on your vehicle, either replace both bulbs or, all four bulbs at the same time for a consistent field-of-vision down-road. Consult your owner's manual for the specific needs of your vehicle.
What kinds of headlights are available
- Halogen: Halogen headlights use a filament mixed with halogen gas to generate a much brighter light than conventional headlights.
- LED: LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) have an advantage over halogen in that they draw less power to operate, run cooler than halogen lights, and last longer. That said, they will cost you more.
- Xenon: Xenon lights only use gas. Xenon lights are brighter, have a lower operating temperature, and last longer. But replacing these headlights will set you back a pretty penny compared to other options and may require professional installation.
How to change headlights
Changing out your headlight bulbs is easier than it looks, and you don't always have to consult a mechanic. Store-bought bulbs are usually a better-quality product and it doesn't charge you for labor! If you're interested in saving money, we provided a step-by-step guide on how to replace your headlights. Side-note: if you aren't interested in changing the lightbulbs yourself, it's still better to buy the bulbs at a store and have a mechanic replace them for you.
- If your vehicle has removable headlight bulbs, remove the protective shield from the headlight assembly (if there is one), then turn and loosen the plastic harness containing the bulb.
- Slide the plastic harness and headlight bulb from the headlight assembly's back.
- Remove the clip that holds the bulb in the headlight assembly, and carefully remove the headlight from the harness.
- Wearing a cotton glove, carefully insert the new bulb into the harness.
- Reinstall the clip that secures the bulb in the harness and push the harness into the back of the headlight. Twist it into place so it locks.
- Turn on the headlights to make sure they're working.
Another thing to watch out for is dirt. If your headlight lenses are cloudy or dirty, even the best headlight bulbs won't be able to shine through the grime and natural build-up accumulating on your headlights. You can use a headlight restoration kit or a few home remedies to remove the dirt and build-up. Either way, cleaning your headlights shouldn't take more than an hour or two and could save you from hazardous nighttime driving. Changing out your headlights is an easy and inexpensive way to ensure a safer driving experience.