Why and When to Replace Headlights 

when to replace headlights

How long do headlights last on average? The standard response to the question about when to replace headlights is there is no standard response to the question.  Headlights go out for a myriad of reasons. One must take into account advances in lighting technology, and the amount of time a person spends driving with the headlights on.

The best way to know when to replace headlights is obviously when one has gone out.  Let’s go over some tips for how you can be a little more proactive.

Taking care of some car maintenance at home? These articles may help:

Do all headlights lose brightness? 

The answer to this question depends on the type of headlights your car has. And what are the types of headlights? There are 4 main types of headlights currently used on today’s vehicles, including: 

Tungsten halogen headlights (standard lights)

Tungsten halogen headlights are the long-running standard headlight type. They are named after the components that create light in the bulb: a tungsten filament housed in inert gases/halogens (which keep the filament from staining the bulb’s glass).

Pros: Halogens emit a warm, yellow light and can be brightened or dimmed. They are the least expensive option available and are used almost everywhere, making them easy and cost-effective to replace.

Cons: Halogen bulbs last for about 2 years on average, a much shorter lifespan than other bulbs on the market. The light emitted by a halogen bulb also dims long before it goes out. The bulbs are also sensitive to heat and consume the most energy out of the 4 main types of headlights. 

Projector-beam headlights

These work similarly to standard headlights but feature a special, rear-facing bulb. The bulb illuminates the reflective case of the headlight to cast a brighter, more focused, and more uniformly-lit spot. 

Xenon (HID) headlights

Xenon—aka high-intensity discharge (HID)—headlights are an increasingly popular alternative to halogen headlights. This variety of headlights creates light by vaporizing metallic salts within a chamber housing xenon gas. 

Pros: HID headlights last about twice as long as halogen bulbs—between 4 and 6 years, depending on how often you drive at night. They are more energy-efficient than halogens and are lauded for providing the brightest and broadest light coverage of the 4 main types of headlights. 

Cons: The biggest detractor for Xenon headlights is their cost, which can be up to several hundred dollars per unit. Other drawbacks include glare (especially if the headlights are installed incorrectly) and the fact that the light also needs a few seconds to reach their full level of brightness. 

LED headlights

With its long lifespan and low consumption of energy, LED headlights are increasingly looking like the headlight of the future. The light in a LED headlight is created by running negative electrodes against holes in a semiconductor, the process of which produces a light-emitting diode (LED). 

Pros: LED headlights are so long-lasting that they will likely outlast the life of your car. LED headlights also consume the least amount of energy of the 4 main types of headlights, and provide better light than HID bulbs in adverse weather conditions.

Cons: Like HIDs, LED units are also very expensive. While it’s unlikely that you will ever need to replace a unit once installed, not everyone can shell out hundreds of dollars for headlights. LEDs also produce a lot of heat and typically require a longer time to cool down—factors that may reduce their ultimate usability. 

A quick note on laser headlights

Over the past few years, technological advances have led to the creation of laser headlights, which are now being promoted by luxury car brands like BMW. While the technology is currently out of the price range for many car drivers, further advances may increase the accessibility and prominence of this technology. 

How do you know when headlights need replacing? 

Headlights are essential to keeping you and other drivers safe on the road. It’s important, then, to know the signs of a headlight that is on its way out so that you can replace the light before you wind up driving without proper illumination. 

Signs of a failing headlight include flickering and dimming, with halogen lamps losing 20% of their strength long before they officially go out. Note that if some parts of your headlights work but not others, or if your headlights constantly blow, these may be signs of a larger underlying technical issue. 

Always replace both headlights at the same time. Since they were almost certainly installed around the same time, when one headlight goes out, the other typically follows suit not long afterward. 

Where can I go to get my headlights changed?  

Now that you know when to replace headlights, the big question on your mind right now is likely how you will get them replaced. While some car owners may feel comfortable replacing their halogen headlights, others have neither the time nor the inclination. Meanwhile, Xenon and LED headlights should always be installed by a professional. 

The professional mechanics at Colony One Auto Center are here to help drivers when it’s time to replace their headlights. We use only the best parts and safest practices to make sure that any and all of your nighttime drives are comfortable and well-lit. 

Still not sure when to replace headlights? Want a second opinion? Want help getting your car’s headlights up to snap? Take your car to an auto center you can trust. Call Colony One Auto Center at 281-801-4812 or contact us online today to get started.

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