All you need to know about replacement car bulbs

How do you know if your car's light bulb is bad?

Dim headlights are one of the first indicators that a headlight bulb is failing. Headlight bulbs can wear out over time and become considerably dimmer than they used to be. A dim headlight indicates that the bulb is nearing its service life limit.  

Interestingly enough, headlights usually don't blow out like lamps in your household. Instead, they gradually become dimmer and dimmer over the years, and this slow deterioration very rarely happens to both headlights at the same rate. So you can closely examine both beams and tell if one of them or both needs to be replaced. Fortunately, for that, you only need to know what size of bulbs fit your car's make and model. To help you with that, we will link a make and model-specific database, where you can find, for example, a light bulb size chart for all Acura vehicles.

Fading headlights, or flickering headlight bulbs, are two additional indications of a failing light bulb. If the filaments on a headlight bulb get damaged or excessively worn, it can cause the bulb to frequently go on and off. A flickering bulb will generally burn out soon after beginning to show this effect. This might also be an indication of a loose connection in the headlight's wiring.  

How long do headlight bulbs last?

Some replacement bulbs tend to last considerably less time than OEM lights. A typical aftermarket headlight lasts around five years, but not all replacement bulbs are created equal. In general, cars have at least one headlight replacement throughout their service life, especially since the average age of vehicles on the road is about 12 years.  

Typically, the type of bulb is the major factor that determines how long it would last:

  • Halogen: 500-1,000 hours
  • HID: 2,000 hours
  • Xenon: 10,000 hours
  • LED: 30,000 hours

This implies that the best approach to tell when it's time to start seeking warning flags that your bulb is nearing the end of its life is to figure out what sort of headlight bulbs your car uses. This list should give you an idea of how often you should replace your headlight bulbs, however, do not forget that these figures reflect only average situations. In real life, your bulbs are exposed to a number of factors like weather conditions, faulty electronics and wires, improper care, and extensive use. These conditions may significantly cut that assumed lifespan.

Why does my headlight bulb keep burning out?

The bulbs are designed to last for quite some time, so if you are faced with a situation when your bulbs go out way too often, there must be a good reason for that. Try to investigate a little what could have gone wrong and fix the issue. If you installed replacement yourself, check for these common mistakes:

Never touch the glass part with your bare hands. If you leave oily marks on the surface it will result in uneven heat distribution and shorten the service life of your bulb.

It's possible that the problem hides your installation process. Look up online tutorials and instructions on how to replace your vehicle's headlight the right way.

Check for wiggle room or unneeded motion in the socket. Excess movement can cause your bulb to brake and burn out far more quickly. Maybe the size is wrong for your socket. Check if the new bulb was actually interchangeable with the old one.

Inspect the socket for any signs of corrosion. If that is your problem, then you need to fix this first by completely replacing the faulty part.

HID bulbs

How do I know if my HID bulb is blown?

The thing with the Xenon HID headlight bulbs is that they have no filament, unlike the halogen ones. So it may be hard to tell without a spring. So how do you know if the bulb is burned out?

The answer is actually simple enough: try to confirm that the fault is in the lamp. As you probably know, the HID lamps need a working ballast to function. It is a small device that regulates how much power goes to the bulb. Without a ballast, any HID bulb would have burned out in seconds. To rule out the possibility of a faulty ballast you need to switch the working bulb with the bulb in question. Rarely do both bulbs go out at the same moment, so this should be no problem. If the bulb suddenly turns on in the opposite socket, then you need to change the ballast and not the bulb.

What causes HID bulbs to burn out?

No bulb is designed to last forever. As for the HIDs, they tend to last longer than halogen lamps, but less than LEDs. This is due to their construction that does not need a filament and a lower burning temperature. Even so, what many people fail to notice is that their car's lights gradually deteriorate with time. And not only that, some issues may dramatically shorten the service life of their bulbs as well. Below are some of the most common reasons your HID bulbs go out.

The wiring on HID headlights might be the reason behind burning out. Bad connections and frayed wires can disrupt the electrical current and cause a lot of unwanted heat.  This can lead to melting of the insulation and eventually a short circuit.

Dirt, dust, and other debris are also not good for your HID headlights. When the bulb is turned on, all the dirt starts circulating inside the glass envelope. This leads to uneven heat distribution and premature aging of the bulb.

Another reason might be the excessive vibration. HID bulbs are designed to last long, but they are not indestructible. Bumps on the road and potholes can damage your bulbs and shorten their lifespan considerably.

The problem may also be in voltage issues. If the voltage is too high, it will result in a lot of heat. This can cause irreversible damage to your HID bulb and burn it out. Check if your car can use HID bulbs and whether the ballasts work properly. Otherwise, the HID lamps are not going to last.