Headlights may seem to last forever, especially if you only have a vehicle for a few years before trading it in on a new one and never had to change them. However, like almost anything else on a vehicle, they will wear out eventually.
If you start noticing that your lights are not providing the amount of light they used to, it’s a good idea to replace them sooner rather than later. It can be extremely frustrating, not to mention hazardous, driving at night with dim headlights. Headlamps are not just to help you see at night, however; they also help other drivers to see you.
So how long should your headlight bulbs last? It really depends on the type of lights you have on your vehicle.
Different Types of Bulbs Have Different Life Spans
There are three main types of headlight bulbs on the market today, each with their own estimated life span. Halogen headlamps are still the most widely used in today’s vehicles. At a lower cost and higher availability than the others, most vehicle owners replace their worn bulbs with Halogens.
The popularity of LEDs continues to grow; they are the longest lasting bulbs and many vehicle owners are replacing their stock light bulbs with LEDs, especially on older vehicles that have halogens. However, with LEDs still being the most expensive on the market, most vehicles on the road today still have halogens.
Halogen Headlight Bulbs
Halogens have an expected life span from 450 to 1,000 hours. The reason the range is so wide has to do with your driving habits. For example, if you mostly drive at night or if you use your lights every time you drive, even in the daylight hours, the halogen bulbs will wear out faster.
Halogens provide ample amounts of light for night driving. If you need more light, HIDs and LEDs are much brighter and provide a wider array of light.
Xenon HID Headlight Bulbs
HID (high-intensity discharge) lights have a longer life span, on average from 2,000 to 3,000 hours, before they start wearing out. Since that translates to approximately 90,000 miles, you may sell a new vehicle without ever replacing them.
HID bulbs are brighter than halogens and provide more road coverage than halogens, including additional light coverage towards the sides of the road. HID bulbs actually provide more light than LEDs, although not quite as bright.
LED Headlight Bulbs
LED can last about 30,000 hours, putting them at the top of the list of longevity. LEDs are also at the top of the list for light output and brightness while using less energy. They also come with the premium price tag and you may pay extra for a new car if you opt for LEDs instead of halogen.
Some people who have older vehicles tend to keep may convert the old halogen or HID bulbs to LEDs due to their life span.
Factors that Contribute to Headlamp Lifespan
You and your neighbor may install new headlamps at the same time yet they will wear out at different times. The longevity of headlights largely depends on where you live and how you drive.
Extreme hot or cold weather can affect headlamps. If you drive at night more often than during the day, your bulbs will probably wear out sooner. If you tend to use your lights even during the day, which some vehicle owners do for safety reasons, you may find you are replacing your headlamps more often.