Headlights are a part of every car. Today, most run automatically so you don’t need to think much about them.

But if a headlight fails, this is a serious safety hazard and can get you a ticket. When you notice a bulb fading or starting to flicker, don’t wait until it burns out. Think about or research, “What headlights do I need?” as it’s essential to choose the right kind of light before installing it.

Each headlight consists of an assembly with high and low beam lights. In newer models, a single bulb can be switched from high to low, and vice versa; older units had separate bulbs for each. Headlights are installed in the front of the vehicle and powered by its battery. Photoelectric sensors enable headlights to turn on in rainy, foggy, dark, or otherwise poor lighting conditions.

Types of Headlights

  • Sealed Beam Headlights: Found in cars a decade or more old, these are becoming less common (except for in SUVs and larger trucks). The bulb and lens are in the same unit. The downside is if one piece fails, the entire unit must be replaced.
  • Composite Headlights: The lens, filament, and reflector are contained in separate units, meaning individual defective parts can be replaced without swapping out the entire headlight unit.
  • Capsule Headlights: Are often found on newer cars and simply plug into a headlight socket assembly built into the car.
  • Reflector Headlights: In addition to a light source, a reflector headlight has a chrome-plated surface to increase the intensity of the beam yet protect oncoming drivers from glare.
  • Projector Headlights: Feature a project bowl that contains the light source, which reflects towards a projector lens in a chrome-plated housing. Light hits metal to create a concentrated light beam on the road.

Types of Headlight Bulbs

  • Halogen: Light is produced by a tungsten filament; a mixture of iodine and bromine, or nitrogen and argon, gases help increase the filament’s life. Halogen lights are known to last and are available in various sizes.
  • High Intensity Discharge (HID): Rather than a filament, HID (or xenon) headlights contain two electrodes in a sealed bulb. These bulbs emit a higher intensity light than halogen lights.
  • Light Emitting Diode (LED): Smaller than the other two types, LED bulbs are extremely efficient and can be installed in various patterns. The bright light they produce is visible day or night, and LED lights feature a plug-and-play design making them easier to install.

Important Considerations

There are numerous choices when it comes to headlights. This makes it all that much more important to carefully consider what you need. Long-lasting models don’t need to be replaced frequently, so a longer lifespan can be convenient and more affordable over time. A lot of headlights are easily installed, so you don’t need a professional’s help, which can save you hassle too.

Brightness is another important factor. While brighter bulbs typically cost more, they increase visibility on darker roads. This is a bonus if you live in or often travel through remote areas with dark or low-visibility conditions.

White light can illuminate signage, help drivers see better at night, and make your vehicle more visible to others. They’re common with high-end vehicles but can be installed in any car. Halogen lights can emit white or blue beams; the whiter the beam, generally the brighter the light. A headlight with whiter color temperatures can emit a beam that more closely resembles natural light.

How Do I Know It’s Time for Headlight Replacement?

After several years, the lens may become hazy, thereby dimming light output. Haziness can often be addressed by cleaning a headlight lens. Dimming and flickering can indicate a headlight is failing. Water entry or a loose connection can cause this. When installing headlights, it’s recommended to replace them in pairs, while headlight guards can protect them in case of a crash.

To find the right headlight, check the headlight assembly’s Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) number. Using the OEM number, a dealership or car specialist can help you find an identical replacement part. And depending on your needs, you may also want to consider installing fog lights to increase visibility in foggy or snowy conditions; they typically install below the headlights.

Find a Used Vehicle at Hawthorne Auto Square

We carry hundreds of high-quality, low-mileage pre-owned vehicles representing many makes and models, from Ford, Honda, and Chevy to BMW and Bentley. Every car on our lot is covered by a 6-month comprehensive warranty. However, if you’re wondering, “What headlights do I need,” the road to replacing them is easy when you know what to look for.

To get started with finding your dream car, browse our inventory or apply for financing with approval in minutes. Also, feel free to call our sales department at 866-707-7664 for assistance or to schedule an appointment at our dealership.