Car Bulbs

Car Headlight Upgrade Guide: Everything You Need to Know in 2022

In order for a car headlight to optimally illuminate the road in the dark, a number of factors must be right. In addition to the cleanliness of the reflector and plexiglass hood on the headlight. This also includes the ideal illuminant and the firm fixation, as well as the tightening of the headlight setting. 

A headlight that is not adjusted correctly can dazzle oncoming traffic or beam past the road. Both can lead to dangerous situations when driving in the dark. Read this guide to learn how easy it is to upgrade your car headlights.

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How to upgrade the headlights yourself

The headlights are subject to fashion, just like any other design element on the car such as the tail fins and the pop-up headlights coming and going. We are currently living in the era of the plexicanopy headlights. These plastic covers for the car headlights, however, offer worse luminosity compared to hard diffuser glass headlights previously used. 

If your headlights or the hood become scratched and cloudy until they are no longer classified as permissible by the test authorities, it's time for a replacement.  If the clear glass hood is cloudy and damaged, the entire car headlight has to be replaced. Since a car has two of these, the continued turnover of the spare parts industry is guaranteed.

Before you upgrade: Try polishing the headlights first

There are special polishing sets for reconditioning headlights. With a little practice, even heavily scratched and clouded headlights can be completely polished back to a clear shine. This is a bit tedious, but worth it in any case, given the costs. Home remedies, such as toothpaste, usually do not achieve the desired result. 

Only when this rescue attempt has failed, in the case of cracked or broken glass or a fogged and corroded reflector, the entire headlight has to be replaced.  

Upgrading your car headlights

Even older vehicles without particularly bright xenon headlights can be upgraded in terms of performance by using more modern light sources. More and better light always means safer driving and improved visibility for other road users. 

If not available, retrofitting a vehicle with daytime running lights is also a very sensible measure. Replacing the old filament bulbs for the rear lights and the front and side turn signals with modern LED bulbs round off the upgrading and adjustment of the lighting system on the vehicle.

The well-known lamp manufacturers offer so-called upgrade lamps that bring noticeably more light to the important parts of the road. Although these lights do not have a higher electrical output, they are technically optimized.

The electrical output of a headlight bulb does not say everything about its light output. Physical variables such as luminous flux in lumens and luminance are decisive for this. Luminous flux is limited by legal regulations. An improvement can only be achieved via luminance. However, there is no longer any light on the road, but it is brought more precisely to the important places. 

Tip: Be careful with halogen lamps that advertise with promises like xenon or laser. The high light output of xenon light cannot be achieved with incandescent lamps.

When it’s time to upgrade headlights

If the light is weaker in an older car, this does not necessarily have to be due to the lamps. Over the years, contact resistance often occurs in switches, relays, cables, or plugs. These lead to a voltage drop, which in turn costs light output.

Motor vehicle workshops not only check the resistances but also whether reflectors or cover lenses of the headlight are worn. In the case of blind reflectors, the entire headlight has to be upgraded.

Types of headlight upgrade bulbs

The difference lies in the structures of the various lamp types and systems. An H4 bulb has two filaments, one for the low beam and the other for the high beam. The disadvantage of H4 bulbs is that the close-range illumination suffers when the high beam is switched on. The H7 system is divided into two bulbs for low beam and high beam, which is why the cars also have dual headlights.

Experts recommend branded products for headlight upgrades. In a recent test of H4 and H7 lamps, only the products from well-known manufacturers such as Bosch, General Electric, Osram, and Philips were able to convince in terms of range, illumination, and luminosity.

Gas discharge lamps, better known as xenon headlights, have been illuminating the road since 1991. These offer a brighter light than halogen headlights, use less energy, and are more durable.

However, they are also more expensive and require a headlight cleaning system and automatic level control for approval. Therefore, they are hardly suitable for retrofitting older vehicles.

Manufacturers have been tinkering with LED headlights since 2008, which are intended to achieve even higher light output with less power consumption. Progress is also being made on laser light. Here, laser diodes generate a blue laser beam, which is converted into daylight white light by a phosphor layer.

A word of caution about headlight upgrade

However, the more powerful 100-watt lamps, which do not meet the specification of the permitted light sources, generate more light, but this leaves the headlights uncontrolled as glare and places a higher thermal load on them. In modern vehicles with an error detection system, the use of a non-approved light source would also result in an error being displayed in the cockpit.

Upgrading headlights yourself

If you want to change the lamps yourself, you should first look at the operating instructions for the vehicle. It is important to switch off the ignition and all light functions. Halogen lamps are under high pressure, so you should wear protective goggles if possible. The lamps can only be inserted and locked in a certain position. If installed incorrectly, excessive force may damage the mounting brackets or the headlamp mount.

After changing the bulbs, the headlights should be readjusted in the workshop so that they shine where the light is supposed to be: onto the road.

Conclusion

There are many lamp types that can be used for your headlight upgrade. Fully functioning and bright headlights provide visibility and ensure safety on the road. With upgraded headlights, you can not only stay secure but also look stylish.

FAQ

How can I upgrade low beam headlights?

The low beam can be improved in accordance with the regulations by installing replacement headlights from the aftermarket that are approved for the respective vehicle. This also includes the installation of xenon headlights. However, a headlight cleaning system and automatic headlight range control would then also have to be retrofitted. Alternatively, the installation of fog lights can help if they are not already on the vehicle. 

Can I upgrade headlights with brighter lights?

Experts advise against headlight upgrades with special lamps such as the so-called rally lights with up to 100 watts instead of 55 watts. The lamps are banned. In addition, the brighter lamps put more strain on cables, switches, and relays. An overload can then lead to a voltage drop and thus even less light than with a legal assembly. The result can also be smoldering or even burning cable harnesses, as well as blinding reflectors.

Can I upgrade headlights?

Most headlight upgrades are simple enough that you can do them at home without too much prior experience, but some are more complicated than others. Some headlight upgrades are also easier or harder depending on the vehicle you drive and the type of headlights that it came with from the factory.

What is a good headlight upgrade?

HID Headlights: Brighter and More Efficient

The result is a bright, whiter light than halogen bulbs. They are also more efficient and typically last longer. HID headlights are sometimes referred to as Xenon lights because of the gas found inside.

Are headlight upgrades worth it?

Replace your headlight capsules

A headlight upgrade with NAPA Lamps premium halogen capsules not only improves nighttime driving safety but also freshens up the look of your car or truck. Headlight upgrades are useless if you can't see through your windshield properly.

How can I upgrade my headlights to brighter?

  • Upgrade your headlight bulbs to LED. LEDs (light-emitting diode) are the brightest headlight bulbs. ...
  • Upgrade your headlight bulbs to HID. ...
  • Clean your headlights with a headlight restoration kit. ...
  • Retrofit your headlights & fog lights. ...
  • Buy premium halogen bulbs.
  • Is it worth upgrading headlights to LED?

    LEDs have a few advantages over halogens. They're brighter but consume less power, don't heat up as much, and take up less space. However, you can't simply replace a halogen bulb with an LED assembly. While there are conversion kits available, they have a few drawbacks.

    How much does it cost to upgrade headlights?

    The average cost for Halogen bulb for example is between $15 to $20 and an extra $50 for installation. According to an aftermarket auto part retailer, the cost per each High-Intensity discharge bulb replacement is $100 or more while the average cost of replacing an entire headlight assembly is ranges from $250 to $700.

    Which is better HID or LED?

    They have an average lifespan of more than 20,000 hours, which means they need to be replaced far less often than HID headlights, which have an average lifespan of up to 5,000 hours. LED headlights are also more durable. If you're looking for long-lasting, high-quality headlights, we suggest ALLA Lighting LED bulbs.

    How do you upgrade headlights to LED?

    How to Convert Your Headlight Bulbs to LED

  • Step 1: Find Your Headlight Bulb Type. ...
  • Step 2: Purchase an LED Conversion Kit. ...
  • Step 3: Unboxing Your LED Conversion Kit. ...
  • Step 4: Take Some Photos. ...
  • Step 5: Locate Your Headlight Bulbs. ...
  • Step 6: Remove Your Halogen Bulbs. ...
  • Step 7: Install the LED Bulbs. ...
  • Step 8: Connect the LED Ballast.
  • Do LED headlights last longer?

    LEDs operate about 90% more efficiently than incandescent bulbs, and because they generate less heat, that helps them last much longer than other types of lights. LEDs also typically don't burn out like incandescent bulbs, though they do dim over time.

    Are LED replacement headlights illegal?

    The reflector and lens of American vehicles' headlights are designed to work with those halogens, which is why using an LED replacement bulb is both illegal and typically results in crappier lighting than the OEM units.

    Can I put LED bulbs in my headlights?

    Many drivers are tired and frustrated with the dull, yellowish light output from halogen headlight bulbs and as a result, we frequently get asked: “Can I put LED or HID bulbs in my stock halogen headlight?”. The good news is that, yes, you can.

    Which are brighter HID or LED?

    Brightness: LED lights can have a brightness of 9,000-10,000 lumens while HID might have 8,000 lumens. Both, however, are brighter than traditional halogen lights. Technology: LED lights use electricity while HID uses gas (typically xenon).

    Which headlights are best for night driving?

    LED lights are the most suitable for driving in the night since they are bright but don't produce any glare. This means that they don't make it hard for oncoming traffic to see. These headlights come in small sizes, making them great for creating various arrangements and configurations for added style.

    Can I make my LED headlights brighter?

    How Do You Make LED Headlights Brighter? Upgrading to LED in the first place will make your headlights much brighter. If you want to make those LED lights even brighter, you should look at the other components of the headlight. Try making sure the bulbs aren't old or tarnished or making sure the lenses aren't foggy.

    Will LED headlights melt the housing?

    #3: The brightest LED bulbs are proven to create the most heat. #4: Even on the LED bulbs that create the most heat, they are still not hot enough to damage anything in/on/around the headlight housing.

    How much does it cost to upgrade to LED headlights?

    2022 LED Lighting CostsTypical Price Range (per fixture)$100 - $150Typical Price Range (per bulb)$4 - $8

    Why LED headlights are better?

    LED headlights produce a brighter, whiter light. They tend to put out around 2,000-4,000 lumens. So, LED lights illuminate more area and show things in that area more clearly. For comparison, the high and low beams on a halogen bulb produce 1200 and 700 lumens, respectively.

    Are brighter headlights worth it?

    In its ongoing headlight tests, Consumer Reports has seen an increase in cars equipped with these technologies. But do these brighter, whiter HID/xenon and LED headlights help you see any better when you're driving? The answer: Not necessarily.

    Can I add adaptive headlights to my car?

    The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a final ruling this week that permits automakers to finally add Adaptive Driving Beams (ADB) for vehicles on US roads.

    How do I upgrade halogen to LED?

    Fortunately, upgrading Halogen MR16 light bulbs to LED is usually a painless affair, as most LED light bulbs are now designed to retrofit to existing light fittings. All you have to do to swap your old light bulbs out is remove them from the light fixture and fit the new, shiny light bulbs in their place.

    Can I put LED bulbs in halogen fittings?

    Installing LEDs in halogen fittings can cause a few problems with your new lights. To get the maximum benefit from your new LED downlights, have an electrician check your circuits and fittings to ensure they are compatible with the lower-wattage LEDs.

    Can you put LED lights in halogen fittings?

    Yes, in many cases, you can simply replace your bulbs separately, one by one.

    Why do LED bulbs not last?

    Turning the light on and off over time results in the thermal expansion and contraction of base material, and can cause LED solder joints to fail. When an LED bulb loses 30% of its brightness, it is considered to be at the end of its useful life.

    Do LED lights get hot?

    Yes, new technology LED lighting can and will get hot, but when compared to the lighting of the past, temperatures are much safer. The heat from the lighting will also warm your surrounding environment but in comparison to old incandescent lighting, this ambient heat is greatly reduced when using LED lighting.

    What is the brightest headlight bulb that is legal?

    OSRAM Night Breaker 200% Bulbs

    With up to 200% more light, these are by far the brightest filament bulbs that you can get right now. They are completely road legal, E marked and come with a warranty.

    Are aftermarket headlight assemblies legal?

    As long as they are DOT approved, they SHOULD be legal. However, if they have a dark lens, here, they're illegal.

    Why are LED headlights so bright?

    An LED bulb is typically brighter and lasts longer. The light that is emitted from an LED bulb is also a cooler tone compared to a warm yellow light from a traditional bulb. Because of the cooler light, many drivers feel they have increased visibility at night with an LED bulb.

    How do you deal with super bright headlights?

    “If the lights from an oncoming vehicle are too bright, we recommend lowering your gaze slightly and shifting it to the right side of the road.