What is a headlamp bulb?

A vehicle"s headlights (or headlamps) serve to illuminate the road during nighttime driving and to make the vehicle more visible during daytime driving. The headlamp system includes a low beam used for normal driving, and a high beam that is only to be used when no other cars are present on the road. While cars of the past relied on round, sealed-beam lamps, modern vehicles feature headlamps with aerodynamic shapes and replaceable halogen bulbs. Some headlamps are powered with high intensity discharge (HID) bulbs that put out more light. These lamps are also known as "Xenon headlamps" and stand out by their bright bluish-white glow.

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How does the headlamp bulb work?

A headlamp incorporates a bulb placed in front of a reflector (or a series of mirrors) that projects a beam of light through a lens and directs the beam to the road ahead. Halogen lamps produce more light with less heat output than older incandescent bulbs due to the halogen gas injected into the bulb. HID, or “Xenon,” headlamps provide even more light by producing an electrical arc for illumination rather than a glowing tungsten filament. Some late model vehicles feature self-leveling headlamps that that remain level with the road regardless of the angle of the vehicle. Vehicles with "adaptive headlamps" use a motor to shift the focus of the lamp to follow curves in the road.


What are the symptoms related to a bad headlamp bulb?

The most common symptom of a headlight bulb that needs to be replaced is a lamp that does not work. Some headlight bulbs will work intermittently when they are wearing out.


Can I drive with a headlamp bulb problem?

While it is possible to drive a vehicle with a burned out headlamp bulb, it is not legal in most states, and in others a burned out headlamp bulb is considered an equipment malfunction. Care should be exercised when driving with a burned out headlamp, as the lights serve not only to illuminate the road, but also to signal drivers to oncoming traffic. A burned out headlamp bulb should be replaced as soon as possible.

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How often do headlamp bulbs need to be replaced?

The lifespan of a headlight bulb depends on how often the lights are used, how roughly the vehicle is driven, and how the bulb was handled on installation. A standard halogen headlight bulb can last as long as one thousand hours of operation, and a high intensity discharge (HID or "Xenon") bulb can last twice as long. Since headlight bulbs may contain sensitive filaments, rough driving or frequent driving over rough roads can cause the bulbs to wear out faster. Also, oil from a technician"s hand during installation can create hot spots on a headlight bulb, which causes the bulb to burn out faster.


The average cost for a Headlight Bulb Replacement is between $50 and $57 but can vary from car to car.