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Headlight Bulb Finder and Buyer's Guide

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

In this headlight bulb finder and buyer's guide we take a look at everything involved in buying the right headlamp globe for your vehicle, whether it is a car or motorcycle. There is a surprising amount of variety in the market for car bulbs and it can be a bit overwhelming to know what to choose and to know whether it is worth spending more on a specific type of bulb. However, this is not a decision you should make lightly as it is important for your safety on the road in both making sure you see things in the dark and in making sure that other people see you. In the world of automotive lighting it pays to be prepared, this bulb replacement guide should help.

Removing a Broken Auto Headlight or Tail Light

The first step before you can even consider buying a new brake light or headlight is to actually remove the faulty ones from your vehicle. This also has the added benefit of giving you something to size against in an automotive store, making it a lot easier to find the right size for your vehicle. Cars are typically easier than motorcycles when it comes to this step though this can completely depend on the model. For a headlamp you simply open the bonnet and pull the globe socket and cable backwards through the headlamp casing. Some might twist or have an extra fastening, if it feels difficult to remove ensure that you consult your owner manual. Most tail lights are accessed through the boot through an panel on the inside. Again, if you are having trouble locating the access point consult your owner's manual for more detailed instructions.  Motorcycles headlamps typically require you to remove the headlight casing and the tail lights require you to remove the seat. You may require a shifting spanner or sockets and a screwdriver to do this.

Finding the Right Bulb Size

Once you have your original bulb removed then it is quite easy to get the right size. Simply consult the code on the base of the bulb and pay attention to the shape of the plug side. An even easier option is to simply take the old globe into a store to compare. The bulb type could be fluorescent, HID, or LED but these are typically interchangeable and will be looked at in more detail later in this article.

Picking the Right Headlight for Your Car

Cars are typically quite well-lit and have a lot more flexibility in headlight choice. You can either opt for a cheap model headlight or you can go for a high performance globe. If you mostly stick to daytime driving then you are not in dire need of added vision then you can stick to a lower wattage cheaper make of headlight bulb. You only really need one for legal purposes and for conditions where you want to make sure other people can see your vehicle in this case. However, if you drive at night then you should invest in a HID lamps headlight like a Philips headlight. HID Xenon or LED bulbs are the best choice for this kind of driving. If fog is common where you drive then make sure that you choose an orange tinted globe as these allow you to see much further in fog and mist.

Picking the Right Motorcycle Headlight

Motorcyclists should never opt for a cheaper make of bulb and even if your current bulb is not broken you should consider an upgrade. More importantly then the increased visibility you have you are far more likely to be noticed by a car or truck, and this can save your life. It is also a good idea to go for a nice reliable brand like Philips or Osram since a blown globe can leave you stranded in the dark.

What About Tail Lights?

Tail lights have a bit more flexibility in how much you spend since their brightness is not quite as important. The main thing is that the lamp section is fully illuminated and that there is a big difference between park and brake. For tail lights you can either opt for a fluorescent or an LED model. If you have a clear colored lamp section then make sure that you purchase a red LED bulb cluster to remain legal.

Why You Should Carry a Spare Bulb

In most states and in many countries worldwide it is illegal to not have a working bulb in both headlights and tail lights. As such, you should always carry at least one spare bulb for both the front and the back of your vehicle at all times. If you want to save on this spare bulb you can opt for a cheaper bulb as a spare.

Where to Buy Bulbs Cheaply

While you should mostly go for better quality bulbs instead of cheap ones you can often find good models and brands at cheaper prices if you know where to search. Retail outlets are the best in terms of service and if you are not sure of what size you need then your first trip should be to a retail store. If you already know what size you need then the best place to buy a globe cheaply is actually online. The first place you should look is on Amazon. Browse for bulbs by customer review and make sure that you read the reviews beforehand to make sure you are getting a good model. Stick to models that receive four stars or more in average review score. The next place online to try is eBay. EBay is a great place to buy good globes in bulk from resellers. You can sometimes even get free shipping on larger orders (that is, at least four at once). If you are looking for the cheapest globes possible then your best options is actually to buy them second-hand from wreckers. Most wreckers will collect stock and aftermarket globes and resell the ones that work and you can get some really cheap spares this way. After reading his guide you should feel like a professional headlight bulb finder but if not you should consult with a professional mechanic for more information.



Jul 5, 2012 6:31am
I can relate to the parts about motorcycle headlights, they can be a nightmare to deal with.
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