There are basically two reasons why you’d want to replace your headlights, right? First, maybe one of your headlight bulbs burned out–a safety hazard that can get you an unwelcome ticket from the local authorities. Second, maybe you’re tired of the pale yellow glow from your stock headlights, and you’re ready to upgrade to better bulbs or something like xenon headlights with an HID conversion kit. Either way, you’re probably here because you’re looking for some advice on how to proceed. So let’s dive right in and talk about the best replacement headlights for your needs.
1. Replacing a Burned-Out Headlight Bulb
Here’s a rule of thumb that I always tell people when they’ve got a burned-out headlight bulb: if one bulb’s gone, the other won’t be far behind. It just makes sense to replace both bulbs at the same time.
But now let me give you a tip that’ll save you a few bucks: Don’t go to your dealership to get the replacement headlights. Sure, those dealer lights might have the manufacturer logo stamped on the metal somewhere, but the truth is, manufacturers tend to use the same suppliers as auto parts stores. They just charge you more. And if you get your replacement headlights at a place such as Advance Auto Parts, chances are you’ll end up with brighter, longer-lasting bulbs than what came with your car.
The only problem with buying headlight bulbs on your own is that they don’t install themselves, so you’ll have to figure that part out as well. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult. Many independent mechanics will install the bulbs for you at little or no cost, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can look in your owner’s manual for headlight replacement instructions.
2. Upgrading Your Headlights
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a car that came from the factory with xenon headlights (a.k.a. HIDs or high-intensity discharge lights), you could probably use a little more light on dark roads. One option is to pick up a couple non-xenon replacement headlights, because as I said above, they do tend to be more powerful than your factory units. It’s a simple and cost-effective solution that might be all you’ll ever need.
Another option is to check your headlight lenses to make sure they’re not cloudy or yellow with age. If your lenses are dirty, it doesn’t matter how nice your bulbs are–you’re still going to have illumination issues. Especially if your car is on the older side, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a reasonably priced headlight restoration kit and clean up those lenses.
But if you really want the latest and greatest in headlight technology, xenons are the only way to go. They’re the ones with the distinctive white or bluish-white glow, and they’re increasingly prevalent on new cars nowadays, even non-luxury models. You’ll need a xenon conversion kit to do it right, and installing it yourself could take a couple hours–not to mention the fact that these xenon conversion kits can run into the hundreds of dollars for the parts alone. But the difference in illumination can be dramatic, and the kids seem to think they look cool, too.
How about you folks, have you replaced your headlight bulbs recently? Any tips for those who are starting down that road? Tell us about it in the comments, and maybe we can all learn a thing or two from your experience.
Editor’s note: Can you see clearly? If not, visit Advance Auto Parts for the best in headlights, wipers and more.