Car Lights & Bulbs - Our Easy Guide

how to check your car headlights - motoreasy car maintenance
how to check your headlights are working Headlights ensure you can see the road ahead at night

Car Headlight Bulbs

Checking your headlamps, indicators and fog lamps work is one of the basics of car maintenance. If they don’t it makes you less safe, open to prosecution for having an unroadworthy vehicle and an instant MOT failure. Being able to see and be seen is a driving fundamental.


Keep your headlights clean

Sounds obvious, but the simplest thing you can do is to keep your lights clean. This is especially important in winter with the build up of salt and road dirt. Ideally clean them once a day or every few days. Also look at the plastic covers which many vehicles have over the headlamps. These can over time discolour and will eventually become an MOT fail point. You can buy a lens cleaner, but what also works well is toothpaste. It is mildly abrasive use and an old toothbrush is perfect.


How to check your car lights

Ideally you should check your lights each week. Ideally get a friend or family member to regularly check brake lights and indicator lights by observing the lights while you apply the brakes and use the indicators.

Has my car light bulb blown?

The simple truth is that it isn’t always easy to tell. You may have a vehicle with warning lights that show up on the dashboard. Otherwise it could just be other drivers flashing at you. Ideally you should be alert enough notice reduced visibility. Often indicator bulbs tick much more rapidly when one of them has failed.

How to replace car light bulbs

There is no standard procedure for replacing lights on any vehicle as it now varies so much. You can of course get a garage to do it or sometimes a car parts supplier will fit them, for a price of course. So it is worth reading your owner’s manual and even more usefully there are a lot of videos online showing exactly how it can be done. Some experts think that bulbs should be replaced in pairs, for more consistent performance. Also, some models may even need to have their computer reset to acknowledge that the bulbs have been

Upgrading car bulbs

Obviously research is essential to make sure you find compatible, but more powerful bulbs. As the budget option is to upgrade your halogen bulbs, which claim to emit at least 30% and as much as 100% more light.

More expensive and with a longer life, up to ten years, are the HID (High Intensity Discharge) or Xenon bulbs can put up to 120% more light on the road compared to a standard halogen bulb. Xenon can also produce a beam pattern that is longer allowing other road users to be seen more clearly and giving you more time to react to potential hazards.


Further Reading

Testing Car Headlights - a step-by-step

Car Rust - how to find and fight it

Prevent car repairs with our weekly maintenance checklist

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