Category Archives: Car Light Bulbs Pics

Car Light Bulbs Pics

When your current bulbs fail, you will likely just pick up the ‘standard’ replacement of the correct fitting from your local automotive shop or petrol station. You may not realise that there is a wide range of choices available for your car or motorcycle, depending on your needs and preferences.

This article outlines the main types currently available to allow you to make an informed choice. There is a wide variation in cost and capabilities, and a huge range of suppliers.

Standard Halogen Filament Bulbs

Standard replacement bulbs are cheap, simple and readily available in even the most unusual fitting types. There is a wide variation of quality, with branded replacements often providing better light output and longer life. Note that some newer vehicles are moving away from standard halogen lighting to provide distinctive looks or longer life for where they are hard to access.

Enhanced Halogen Bulbs

Mostly available for headlights, enhanced bulbs offer increased light output over standard replacement. They often use different or modified materials for both the filament and the gas it is contained in. These bulbs are often called ‘Xenon’, as Xenon gas is one of the main constituents. Various brands are available, the most well-known being Ring Xenon Max (offering 100% more light than ‘standard’), Osram Night Breaker (with 90% more light) and Philips X-Treme Power (with 80% more light).

Upgrading to an enhanced Halogen bulb is exactly the same as replacing a standard headlight bulb, and can generally be done at home in a few minutes. Due to the difference in brightness, you will need to replace both side for cars or motorcycles with twin headlights. Xenon upgrade bulbs are available in sizes to fit almost all vehicles.

Extra Long Life Bulbs

Extra long life bulbs use thicker elements and quality components to give a life of up to three times longer than a standard bulb. They are available as headlights, brake/tail light and sidelights. The most common uses for these are vehicles (notably Volvo cars as well as many motorcycles and trucks) where the lights are always on. Long life bulbs reduce the frequency with which you have to replace them, and are only slightly more expensive than standard. Various brands are available, including Osram Ultra Life and Ring Vision24.

Styling Bulbs

Allied to the growth of the modified car scene has been an increasing supply of ‘styling’ bulbs that modify the light output of a standard halogen using altered filament or gas materials, or by adding filter coatings. Different coloured light can match a cars colour scheme, and provide a distinctive look. Some of these bulbs also offer enhanced light output, but the more extreme ones have poor total light output due to filters, and are a long way from the white light required in the Highway Code. These extreme styling bulbs are recommended for off-road or show use only, and may attract unwanted attention from law enforcement or testing stations.

Another class of styling bulbs has been seen since the appearance on ‘crystal’ type light fittings, where the lens is almost totally transparent. Indicators have to give a yellow light, and standard yellow coated bulbs give an odd ‘fried egg’ look, as they are visible at the centre of the reflector. Styling bulbs are now available that are silver coated, but still give a yellow light, to prevent this look. The silver bulb coating into the reflector to give a better finish.

LED Bulbs

First seen on new cars a few years ago, there are now LED replacement bulbs available as replacements for most rear lights, brake light and side lights, as well as some internal lighting. LED lights, at the moment, are not available for headlight bulbs as they are not bright enough, but they are being frequently seen in factory fitted and aftermarket front white daytime running lights, such as the distinctive BMW ‘Angel Eyes’.

Replacement LED bulbs have one or more individual SMD LED lamps on them, but are designed to fit into standard fittings. Their main advantages are very low power consumption (useful if you have a ‘show car’ with a lot of additional lighting) and extremely long life of up to 50,000 hours, meaning it should outlast the vehicle! They provide a whiter light than most standard halogen filament bulbs, so are often paired with modified headlights.

One drawback to using LEDs on some cars with CAN-BUS bulb failure warning systems is that the LED draws so little power the dashboard bulb failure warning light is shown. This can be resolved by adding a resistor to the wiring, or buying one of the new range of bulbs with a resistor built into the assembly itself. LEDs cost more than standard replacement, but the huge life span (and not having to go to the effort of replacing them) more than makes up for this in the long term.

Xenon HID Bulbs

Originally only available as factory fitted options on some top-end cars, xenon HID bulbs work totally differently from traditional halogen filaments. The light is created by an arc (spark) of electricity inside a special mixture of gases (including Xenon) and metal salts. The light created by Xenon HID is about 300% brighter than standard halogens, and is also whiter. Some HID bulbs produce blue tinted light, with the colour being designated by a Kelvin ‘Colour Temperature’ scale.

Aftermarket HID conversion kits are now available for most fittings. The conversion kits consist of a ballast unit (that provides the high voltages required to create the arc), plus an HID bulb. HIDs generally last longer than standard halogen filament bulbs, as they do not have a filament to break, but they do tend to give more blue light with age, and will eventually stop working.

HID conversion kits are not strictly road legal as they are not factory fitted options, and there are issues with some cheaper conversion kits creating a beam pattern that will fail the MOT test. Higher quality HID kits are carefully designed to give the correct beam alignment, and not blind oncoming drivers. HID bulbs cost considerably more than standard replacements, but will last around three times as long. If converting a standard headlight to Xenon HID, it is worth purchasing a quality kit, as cheaper kits may give poor beam pattern and the high voltage components are likely to fail sooner.


This article outlines some of the choices available, so the next time you are need to replace any of the exterior or interior lights on your car, van, truck or motorcycle you can be aware of the wide range now available.

By Jonathan Elder

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