Car modifications are more common than some people think. Even a small change like a pair of headlights counts as an upgrade. So, you are not alone in your dissatisfaction with stock car bulbs as thousands of people begin to search for conversion kits every month.
And if your first instinct was to browse for more information about switching to LEDs, you have probably encountered countless myths and misconceptions surrounding this kind of modification. Some of them are demonizing LEDs, some are discouraging and some set expectations too high to ever deliver.
LEDs are interchangeable
This misconception can be ruled out as a rookie mistake. Cars are built to have very specific sizes of light bulbs. They have sockets that usually fit only one size. Even if you want to swap bulbs between the same car model it might not work if they are not of the same year.
This mistake is really easy to avoid, a quick headlight bulb number lookup will show you what size to search for. Just select your car’s make, model, and year to find the necessary specifications. Be very precise with this while choosing aftermarket bulbs to make sure they fit.
Headlight conversion is easy
LED conversion is not always a plug-and-play situation. If your car is not built to work with various types of light bulbs, there might be issues with power consumption. LED lights require less power than halogens but they still need a constant supply of it. Sometimes car owners have to research a little more about wiring diagrams and special adaptors to make a successful conversion.
The best way to do it is to get a high-quality LED conversion kit because adapters can be incompatible with your bulbs. Such kits include practically all you need to install new headlights except for tools. They also provide step-by-step manuals on how to install each part properly.
LED headlights boost MPG
Thanks to active marketing efforts we all know by now that LED bulbs are eco-friendly and energy efficient. This is not a myth at all, LED bulbs need much less energy than halogens, sometimes up to 85% less. And the energy comes from the car’s battery and in the end, from the engine. The logic behind boosting MPG with more efficient bulbs is solid.
However, the effect of such an upgrade is so small, you will hardly notice it. To get your gas mileage up, you need to take the matter more seriously and change aerodynamics, make the vehicle lighter and do regular check-ups.
Drivers whose cars have automatic DRLs on their cars will benefit from this conversion a little more. Switching to LEDs might not reflect on their gas mileage, but the battery will certainly get a longer service life.
LEDs are too expensive
Halogen bulbs are certainly the most affordable among the available options on the market. However, the price tag is not the best way to tell what is more expensive. The return on investment is much more suitable in this situation.
If you change cars relatively often, before their stock headlights begin to show apparent signs of wear, yes, by converting to LEDs you will not get your money back in any way. The benefits are only noticeable to the owners of older vehicles.
Stock halogen bulbs burn out sooner than any other type and replacing them with halogens is cheaper. But they also dim faster, so the quality and brightness don’t last. While LEDs beat them in every aspect except the price. However, with LEDs, you will not need to worry about replacement any time soon if they are installed correctly.
LED headlights are too bright
Brightness is the main reason why people go for LEDs instead of halogens. Yet too much of a good thing is bad, and today LED headlights have a certain reputation among drivers. Diodes can produce up to 300% more light than an average halogen headlight bulb. This is quite impressive, but normally nobody needs that much light to drive home in the evening.
The issue with blinding lights from oncoming traffic is real and dangerous. It causes a lot of discomfort and can potentially cause serious accidents. And though LEDs can contribute to this problem, it is not impossible to get bright headlights without blinding other drivers.
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The simplest way to do it is to put some effort into looking for LED bulbs not brighter than 2 000 – 3 000 Lumens. Legal limits vary from state to state, but they stay within the range of 2 000 to 4 000 Lumens.
And if the color is not very important to you, choose warmer hues over cold white. “Stick to the range between 4 300 Kelvins and 6 000 Kelvins. This color temperature is gentler for human eyes,” recommends Ben Collins, the content editor of the LightningLab project.
LED headlights are illegal
Some drivers use LED headlights irresponsibly, and there are certain limitations on brightness, but aside from that LEDs are just as legal as halogen and xenon bulbs. Many car manufacturers such as Toyota, Volvo, Cadillac, Audi, Hyundai and countless more produce vehicles with OEM LED headlights. Because this technology provides versatility in design and works great with hybrid and electric vehicles as well.
A cutting-edge technology of smart headlights that was been legalized this year in the US would have been impossible without LEDs. And this same technology is yet another solution to the blinding problem.
You can convert any car headlights to LEDs
With a certain set of skills and knowledge, it is possible. However, not every person has a degree in engineering, and troubleshooting problems after unsuccessful conversion can prove to be extremely difficult. There are many things that can go wrong in the process. And some car models just seem “cursed” if you dig deeper into car enthusiasts’ forums.
You should think twice if your car has halogen DRLs, they are not the best neighbors for new LED headlights. Such cars often have power supply and distribution issues. If you notice your car’s make and model pop up in threads about conversion problems, this should be a sign that you must prepare for potential issues and extra work.
Other common issues with LED conversions include flickering and dashboard notifications about headlight bulb failure. This often happens when the car is meant to have halogen bulbs that require more power to produce light. And LEDs can do the same job while taking a fraction of that amount. This confuses the computer inside your car, and it assumes that the bulbs are faulty. This issue requires some more wiring work and possibly a new adaptor or driver.