Is it Time to Upgrade Your Vehicle’s Headlights?
How to know when it’s time for an upgrade
Headlights are an essential component of your vehicle. It is imperative to have functioning headlights for safety reasons. Driving at night poses unique challenges and your headlights are a crucial part of keeping you, and others, safe on the road.
Unfortunately, they are often overlooked until they are to the point of being burned out, hazy, or starting to dim. Which is somewhat shocking, considering that they are such an essential part of safe driving. In fact, many people do not realize that you can upgrade your vehicle’s headlights quite easily.
In this article, we will explore the differences between HID and LED headlights, the signs that it is time to upgrade, how you can replace your current headlights for HID or LED, and why this is crucial to the safe operation of your vehicle.
Why Should You Upgrade Your Headlights?
For starters, dimming, flickering, haziness, or a light that has simply burned out is a serious safety concern. Other drivers may not see you coming, and you may not see objects on the road ahead of you. Safety is paramount and headlights are a critical component of your ability to drive and arrive safely.
Generally, if one headlight goes, the other is not far behind. So, it is good to get them replaced at the same time to avoid a second trip.
Can you upgrade the factory headlights on your vehicle? Absolutely. In fact, it is often encouraged. Replacing old halogen bulbs in exchange for LED or HID lights can improve brightness and light by up to 30%. That is quite significant.
Simply put, brighter lights can dramatically increase your field-of-vision.
HID/Xenon vs LED
Xenon/HID lights are considered to be the brightest and most premium choice. They operate via heated filament and utilize gas. HID lights emit the distinctive, almost blue glow that many have come to recognize. They are also aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Headlights have come a long way. LED lights carry an advantage over typical factory halogen lights. They require less power to operate, they have a longer lifespan, and they run on a lower operating temperature. They also come at a lower price point than HID. Overall, they are a great option for someone who wants a brighter bulb while at the same time, being budget conscious.
Pros & Cons – HID vs. LED
HID (also known as xenon headlights) are filled with gas. Xenon gas to be precise.
When electricity travels between two tungsten electrodes in the bulb, it results in a much brighter light. You can get approximately 3,000 lumens from an HID bulb. Halogen bulbs emit near half of that amount, to give you an idea.
HID lights contribute significantly to better night driving, driving in poor weather conditions, visibility, and increased safety in general.
Halogen bulbs, however, offer only 450 hours of illumination, vs an HID lifespan of 2000 hours.
Yes, the initial investment for HID lights is higher, but not if you take into consideration the fact that you will need to replace halogen bulbs far more often.
Pros of HID lights:
- Brighter light, blue colour temperature
- Consumes far less energy than halogen
- Lasts more than 4x longer than halogen
- Bigger investment
Cons of HID lights:
- Unique shape. May not fit all vehicles
- Requires a ballast for power
- Potential coding updates to ECU
- Projector lens needed for focus. Can be bright to oncoming drivers
LED bulbs are relatively new to the headlight market, and are relatively simple when it comes to their components and their operation. They also do not require time to heat up.
Because they are made up of very few parts, LED bulbs can withstand vibrations and bumps on rougher roads far better than their counterparts.
LED lights also consume far less energy than halogen bulbs and have a much longer lifespan – up to tens of thousands of hours. LED lights also come in a variety of colours.
Pros of LED lights:
- Brighter than halogen but not as bright as HID
- Multiple colour options, unlike halogen or HID
- Less energy consumption than halogen
- Smaller and more minimalistic. Easier to fit shape than HID
- No ballast required
- Lest costly than HID
Cons of LED lights:
- May require resistors to avoid a “bulb out” error on dash
- Light does not project as far
Don’t Wait Until the Light Goes Out
Being such an essential part of night driving, it is strange to think that headlights are so often ignored. Especially after considering everything mentioned above.
When the snow comes, we switch to winter tires for safety without question. Yet, headlights are not typically something we inspect and replace as regularly as we should.
Perhaps you become accustomed to the dim glow. Perhaps you do not notice that one headlight is out. Bottom line – it is imperative to inspect headlights regularly and make this a part of routine vehicle maintenance.
Headlights are what allows us to communicate with other drivers on the road. The consequences of ignoring such an important piece could be astronomical.
It is a habit that can save your life, or the lives of others on the road. Adopt the habit. Inspect your headlights regularly, and consider an upgrade. Because your safety – along with others – is paramount.