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You may notice your headlights are not as bright as they once were. But why is this and do they need replacing? 

Let’s take a look at why this happens and how you can take control of the situation.

Do Headlights Dim? Here’s The Truth

The answer is yes, headlights do dim over time. However, do not be alarmed, this is a common problem which every driver will experience at least once.

Fading headlights can happen for a number of reasons, and not just because the bulbs are running out. 

Bulbs, Bulbs, Bulbs

As with household light fittings, different bulbs can be used in headlights that range in price. 

Halogen Bulbs

Halogen bulbs are the most common type of bulb and generally the most affordable. This type of fitting is popular because they are designed to retain nearly 100% of their brightness over time. The light inside a halogen bulb is recycled by the tungsten particles in the filament. 

HID Bulbs

HID (high intensity discharge) bulbs are much brighter than halogen bulbs and are usually installed inside vehicles during the manufacturing process. If you are thinking of switching to HID from halogen then check with your local auto-repair shop before purchasing them. It is illegal for certain cars to use HID bulbs and most sellers of HID products recommend them to be used off-road only. 

LED Bulbs

LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs were first used in vehicles in the late 2000’s and are popular due to their energy efficiency compared to halogen and HID bulbs. 

LED bulbs do not cause a ‘glare’ to oncoming drivers like other bulbs do. They can also be purchased in different sizes to accommodate to the needs of your vehicle. 

Can I Make My Headlights Brighter?

If your headlights are switched on at their usual setting and you feel like they are just not bright enough, your best bet is to replace them with brighter bulbs. Do not turn on your high beams as the glare is dangerous to oncoming vehicles. 

Reasons Your Headlights Are Fading

Possible reasons as to why your headlights are fading could be down to one of the following.

A faulty car battery

The typical car battery lasts between five to eight years and may be the problem that is causing your fading headlights. It is best to let a professional take a look as DIY jobs can sometimes lead to more problems. Failing that, it could be an overall electrical problem which again should be handled by a professional mechanic.

Loose connections

This is a minor issue and happens when a connection inside the bulb is loose. It is best to check connections before purchasing any new bulbs as it may save you time and money.

The bulbs need replacing

Sometimes, it is just that. Bulbs need replacing every now and again. It does not take long for bulbs to be replaced, so you will be back on the road in no time at all. 

Headlight casing

It isn’t always the bulb that is causing your headlights to seem dim. The plastic casing that covers the bulbs can sometimes become clouded or dusty due to elements from the road such as road salt and grime. 

 

Purchasing a lens cleaning kit often sorts the problem as they contain a mild abrasive that helps to remove any tough dirt. Have a good look at the lens beforehand though, if the lens is clear to begin with, using an abrasive will damage it if it is not needed.

Older headlights are known to damage the lens by emitting too much heat which blackens it. However, this rarely happens with newer bulbs that are on the market today.

 

How Often Should Headlights Be Replaced?

Generally, headlights last for an average of around five years. The lifespan of a bulb is based on how many hours they are in use. For example, LED headlights are more costly than other bulbs, but can last up to 30,000 hours as opposed to halogen lights which last around 1000 hours. 

Therefore, choose your bulbs wisely. Spending more upfront is wise if you tend to drive for long periods of time. Remember, your headlights only need to be turned on when it is dark and in certain weather conditions. 

How To Check That Your Headlights Are Working

As you will be aware, driving with faulty or no headlights is illegal. Driving, particularly in the dark, when your headlights are not working properly can put yourself and others at great risk. So be sensible, and check whether your car is safe to drive before setting off. 

To check if your headlights are in good working condition, park up in a safe area and walk around the front of your vehicle. If one is slightly dimmer than the other, it may be time to think about getting replacement bulbs as the issue will not fix itself. 

 

How To Prolong Your Headlights

Clean them

Giving the casing of your headlights a clean every few weeks is advisable. As we discussed above, it isn’t always a bulb problem. The light from the bulb must surpass the lens in order to reach its full potential, so a clean lens ensures clear, bright lights. You can even take it through the car wash if you don’t want to do it yourself. 

 

Keep a note of their last replacement

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until your headlights are dimming or not working at all. Making a note of when you last replaced them will help to gauge how much time you have before it happens again.

Bulb Upgrade

Why not think about upgrading to LED bulbs if you feel like the bulbs installed are simply not bright enough. Your local mechanic/auto repair worker, will recommend which bulbs are best for your particular vehicle. 

Final Thoughts

Headlights are a crucial part of any vehicle, so it is vital they are in good, working condition. Over time they do start to dim and when they do, it is best to sort the problem before they stop working entirely.

Speaking to a professional mechanic is highly recommended to resolve this common problem. 

 

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