Better Lights, Safer Driving

by Conor Burke

Who doesn’t want to see better and further when driving at night?

LED vs Halogen Bulb in VehicleAt one point in time HID (High Intensity Discharge) or Xenon Headlights were reserved for the higher end vehicles of the car market.  In the early 2000’s these cars stood out at night with very bright, crisp headlights. If you wanted to join the club you had to purchase a luxury vehicle.  Practical buyers in the market for affordable vehicles were stuck with the less powerful, dim headlights.

In recent years things have changed with advancements in technology and demand for luxury features in entry level vehicles.  Many consumers will be pleasantly surprised to find the headlights on their entry level vehicle provide enhancements in nighttime safety.

What’s changed in automotive lighting?

Light Emitting Diodes entered the automotive world also known as LEDs.  The benefits over halogen bulbs is they use less energy, produce less heat, are brighter and last longer.

“A light bulb has gone off” in the auto industry, dull halogens have now been replaced with LED’s.  In the last few years automakers have really embraced the new technology and LED bulbs can be found both inside and outside most new vehicles of any price range.

Not only do headlights and tail lamps have the LED treatment, in-cabin, map lights, dome lights, door lighting and even dashboards are all now reaping the benefits.

Do you have a car without LEDs?

The good news is that almost all vehicles fitted with halogen bulbs are suitable for LED conversion.  Upgrading your headlights can make a drastic difference in road illumination.

When you begin your search for LED replacement bulbs, they are promoted with the brightness in lumens. Lumens is simply a measure of how much light you get from a bulb.

The average halogen being about 1000 Lumens. LED replacement headlight bulbs can start around 2000 Lumens. The average being about 5 times brighter with 5000 Lumens and some LED bulb manufacturers are advertising bulbs rated at 15,000+ Lumens.

Comparison of LED HeadlightsBefore you buy, make sure the bulb will fit in the housing.

Many LED bulbs have a bulky casing, some with small built in fans for cooling.  So be sure to check the measurements and confirm the bulb will fit in the housing and you will be able to reinstall the dust cap. This will prevent the headlight from getting dirty and foggy inside.

Once your new bulbs are in you’ll want to check headlight alignment, you may need to adjust the height.  It is important to adjust headlights so you do not impair the vision of other drivers and have a clear view of what you need to see on the road, signs and other obstacles.  Headlights may need to be adjusted for many different reasons, weight in a vehicle, worn out suspension components, or the vehicle has been in an accident and parts have been replaced.

Most vehicles have an adjustment screw to properly aim the headlights, check your owner’s manual to locate your adjustment screw or have your mechanic inspect and make the adjustment if needed.