Can my headlight bulb be upgraded to LED?

With so many custom color temperature and several times the brightness of a halogen bulb, LED can be the ultimate lighting upgrade, but first lets see

Is LED upgrade a good choice for my headlight?

First see if you have reflective or projector headlight.  (photo)

Upgrading a reflective headlight to LED is a bit tricky, care must be taken in choosing the correct bulb, and adjustment to get to best output. Light from the bulb has to hit the reflective surface at a specific point, otherwise no matter how bright, the light may come out scattered. Most LEDs are adjustable. Meaning you can turn the diode (light source, where the filament would be in a halogen bulb) until you get a good pattern.

Projection headlights do not have this issue. Any light source can be placed behind the projection lens and pattern will come out perfect every time.

The next most important issue is cooling

Though the LED itself does not emit too much heat the other components that make the LED light work do get quite hot and need room for air flow. Take a look at where the wiring harness coming from your car plugs into the bulb. If it is exposed you are good to go for the upgrade, but if it is enclosed within the headlight with boot cover, then LED bulb will not survive for long. The unit will eventually overheat and malfunction. Removing or cutting the boot can create air flow, but will let dust and moisture in your headlight housing. In this case an upgraded aftermarket LED headlight assembly replacement is recommended. Protecting the integrity of the headlight must always be priority.

Best candidate for an LED bulb upgrade is a projector headlight with an exposed bulb connector.

Do light-bulbs dim over time?

The short answer is yes. HID and LED bulbs do not burn out easily but they do dim gradually over time making it hard to notice.

While halogen bulbs in theory do not dim, in reality many factors can contribute to dimming and shortening of a halogen bulb. The most common issue happens during the installation of the new bulb, if gloves are not worn, natural skin oils can be transferred to the bulb acting like glue. As halogen bulb heats up it attracts particles and debris. Particles sit on the oil and concentrate over time create black spot compromising up to 50% of light emitting from the bulb.

Other issues contributing to dimming in a halogen bulb especially in a lower quality brands is loosening of the filament. Some bulbs are designed to pull lots of power and be very bright initially and dim quickly by design. Choosing a quality bulb is always a good idea.

No matter the type of bulb, issues with the power source and wattage can also contribute to the bulb dimming.

An average useful life of most bulbs is about 2500 hours. Its always a good idea not to wait for the bulb to go out. If your bulbs are more than 5 years old it’s a good time to get a professional assessment.

 

Can I replace the lens on my headlight?

Yes, if an aftermarket replacement lens is available it is possible, but before you rush to lens replacement there are few things to consider.

Proper lens replacement is time consuming and expensive. If you are a do it yourself kind of person get ready for lots of frustration and possible damage to the headlight housing. Improper seal will let moisture and dust in the housing creating problems down the road. Professional replacement is the best way to go, but even then process can be very expensive, so before you opt for an expensive replacement consider this.

Most issues on the surface of the lens can be fixed for a fraction of the cost by professional permanent lens restoration.

New aftermarket replacement hosing for most cars are very affordable and sometimes cheaper than the replacement lens. Check online to see how expensive a new aftermarket replacement headlight housing is for your car.

If you have a luxury car where headlights are over $1000, and you cannot find an aftermarket replacement, a professionally refurnished used headlight is still a better option. Especially if you considered lens replacement due to dust or moisture inside the housing. There could be much more damage to components than meets the eye.

Always leave lens replacement as the last resort.

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Vivid Headlight
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