Discover Mechanical

Vehicle headlights - the different kinds available

If the headlight bulbs on your vehicle are becoming dim, or are simply burnt out, they create a serious safety issue, which requires immediate attention.

Having good visibility and ensuring that other drivers can see you on the roads is fundamental to the safety of all road users. You shouldn’t ignore inadequate or uneven lighting. When you begin to notice that your vehicle’s headlight bulbs are becoming dim or that one is no longer working, it is time to replace them.

Vehicle manufacturers commonly use halogen bulbs as standard original equipment. Halogen bulb degradation happens over time. It may occur so slowly that you don’t notice the gradual change. It’s a good idea to check with the technicians at your local BestDrive store if you have any doubts about the effectiveness of your vehicle’s headlights.

It’s advisable to replace both bulbs at the same time. Whilst one may still be operating, it’s likely to have little life remaining. Given how central visibility is to driver safety, you want to ensure that both your vehicle’s headlights are functioning at their optimum best.

Nowadays, vehicle manufacturers are increasingly turning to alternatives to halogen bulbs, which may give you improved visibility, including LED and Xenon bulbs.

Before replacing any type of headlight bulb, you should consult your owner’s manual. This will tell you the exact type of replacement bulb that is suited to your vehicle. If you are unclear as to what bulbs are appropriate for your vehicle, then you can consult the experienced team at your local BestDrive store for assistance.
There are three types of headlights found on vehicles in the Australian marketplace.

Halogen
Halogen bulbs come standard on most vehicles and are the most common bulb in use today. They’re made of simple construction, are cost-effective and easy to replace when the time comes.

One key disadvantage of the halogen bulb is that it is considered energy wasting. They draw around 55 watts of power and much of this is wasted as it is converted into heat rather than light.

Xenon (High-Intensity Discharge)
When compared to halogen bulbs, Xenon bulbs have a longer lifetime, are considered to be more efficient (they use less power and create more light), and offer greater visibility for the driver.

The disadvantages associated with Xenon bulbs are that they take a few seconds to reach full brightness, are a more complex system than a halogen bulb and therefore come at a higher cost. Whilst visibility for the driver is good (Xenon bulbs are around two to three times brighter than halogen bulbs), their glare has the potential to cause annoyance to other road users. 

LED (Light Emitting Diodes)
LED bulbs were first introduced to the marketplace in 2004. Compared to Halogen and Xenon bulbs, they take just a fraction of the energy to operate.

Due to their very low energy consumption, LED bulbs have a much longer lifespan. They provide a clearer, warmer light and don’t generate the same intense heat as Halogen and Xenon bulbs.

Currently, a small number of new vehicles have LED bulbs as OE, with numbers increasing. They are predicted to become more commonplace in the near future.

Generally, it’s not considered road legal to change between different types of bulbs. For example, if your car came with halogen bulbs, it’s illegal for you to change them to LED.
Regardless of the kind of bulbs your vehicle’s headlights require, it’s important that you have them correctly adjusted to ensure optimum visibility. It’s also important to maintain clean lenses and windscreens to ensure that your visibility is at its best. Over time, grime naturally builds up, which has a significant impact on your headlight’s ability to perform as they should. Even the fanciest of headlight bulbs will fail to be effective if they are cloudy or dirty.

If your vehicle’s headlights aren’t performing at their best, a visual inspection will confirm if the bulbs require replacement. The experienced technicians at your local BestDrive store can assist you to find suitable replacements that will give you the best visibility and value for your needs, whilst adhering to the recommendations specified in your owner’s manual.

BestDrive. You drive, we care.

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