The headlights can be considered one of the most critical electrical components of a vehicle. Not only are they essential for driving after dusk, but they also add a touch of style to your ride too. But, what should you do when the headlights go bad? That is what we are hoping to discuss today. After going through this article, you’ll get to know everything there is about headlights, including the headlight replacement cost.
Having the headlights in good working order is a must if you want to travel safely. In fact, issues with the headlights may land you in trouble with the law too. So, having a good idea of how to maintain the headlights as well as the repair costs associated with them is a must for any driver.
So, without further ado, let’s proceed with our look into the replacement costs associated with your vehicle’s headlights by first taking a look at the headlight assembly.
As you might already know, the headlights of your vehicle are not single components. Instead, it composes of several smaller components. Each of these parts has an effect on the headlight replacement cost. The main components of the headlight assembly include,
- Headlight Housing
- Headlight Bulb
- Turn Signal Bulbs
- The Headlight Lens
Now, we will take a closer look at each part of the headlight assembly to discover more details about them.
1. Headlight Housing
The headlight housing attaches the headlight assembly to the body of the vehicle. Moreover, it protects the bulbs from the exterior elements. Housings vary between different makes and models. Depending on the type of vehicle you have, the headlight housing may consist of one or multiple pieces.
The headlight housing is essential for making headlight adjustments, and it also helps to amplify the intensity of the light through its reflective backdrop. Headlight housings are typically made using rigid, transparent plastic.
This makes them susceptible to damage from collisions as well as to natural wear and tear. Luckily, most automakers have this in mind when designing headlight housings, and have made them in a manner that is easily repairable.
Several types of headlight housings are available on the market. Three of the most well-known ones include,
- Reflector Housing
- H4 Conversion Housing
- Projector Housing
Types Of Headlight Housings #1 – Reflector Housing
Reflector housings are some of the oldest headlight housings found on vehicles. Some gearheads also refer to these as directional or sealed beam headlights. They saw widespread use in vehicles made before 1985. These housings typically contained dual filament bulbs in a compartment-shaped bowl enclosure.
One of the main advantages of reflector headlight housings is the cost. As these have a simpler design compared to other headlight housings on the market, they are less costly. But, there are some disadvantages as well.
If a bulb inside the reflector housing burns out, there is no way to replace it. Instead, the whole housing has to be swapped out for a new one. Additionally, the light concentration ability of reflector headlight housings leaves much to be desired, especially when compared to later designs.
Types Of Headlight Housings #2 – H4 Conversion Housing
H4 conversion housings can be considered the most cost-effective upgrade for owners of vehicles with reflector headlight housings. These allow owners to fit both LED and HID bulbs into their vehicles, without being limited to just halogen bulbs.
Letting faulty bulbs be removed without the need to replace the whole housing is another major benefit of H4 conversion housings. This greatly reduces the headlight replacement cost and saves a significant amount of time as well.
Types Of Headlight Housings #3 – Projector Housing
Projector headlight housings are the most expensive type of housing available, thanks in part to their ability to focus the light better than others. This allows vehicles with projector housings to have excellent visibility on even the darkest of nights.
These were first introduced on luxury cars in the 1980s, before finding their way into cheaper models as time went on. In fact, almost all modern vehicles come with projector headlight housings as standard.
The superior properties allow these housings to use Halogen, LED as well as high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs for maximum lighting performance.
2. Headlight Bulb
The bulb is arguably the most important component of the headlight assembly. These are what produce the light which allows you to navigate your vehicle in the dark. There is a large selection of headlight bulbs available on the market. We will talk more about headlight bulbs later on in this article.
3. Turn Signal Bulb
Without turn signal bulbs, there will surely be more accidents on public roads. These are essential safety device which is mandatory on all street-legal vehicles. Turn signals can be seen as one of the most effective ways of communication between drivers on the road. Without them, the risk of others crashing into you is extremely high.
Most vehicles have the front turn signals embedded into the headlight assembly itself. The color of turn signals is monitored by the government.
For example, the law in North Carolina requires the front turn signals to be either white or amber in color.
It is important to inspect your turn signal bulbs once in a while to ensure that they are in proper working order. Simply park your vehicle in a safe location, turn on the emergency warning light and take a look around to spot any burned-out signal lights.
Some vehicles even alert drivers of burned-out turn signal bulbs through a warning light on the dashboard. That might be the case if you’re experiencing problems like your turn signal only works sometimes.
4. The Headlight Lens
Headlight lenses refer to the plastic component that covers both the bulb and the reflector. In the early days of motoring, headlight lenses were made using glass. That is not the case anymore, as modern lens covers are constructed using either polycarbonate or PC plastic.
This shift in construction materials was spearheaded by the array of advantages offered by plastic over glass. Being lightweight, having high resistance to impact, offering tight design tolerance, and being scratch-proof are just a few of them.
However, it is important to make sure that the lens covers do not contain any bubbles or streaks, as they can affect their performance. It is important to maintain headlight lenses properly to prevent them from getting damaged (such as learning how to clean headlight lens).
Using light bulbs with a high wattage, wiping them with dry cloths, and using harsh chemicals for cleaning can all lead to damaged headlight lenses. We recommend you always follow the manufacturer’s advice when cleaning the lens covers.
Moreover, if you’re experiencing any fog in the headlights or signs of condensation in the headlight, our detailed write-ups might help. Fogging issues (prompting you to learn how to defog headlights) could often be fixed simply by using the best headlight restoration kit, or even using DIY techniques such as applying baking soda and lemon for the headlights.
The reflectors are the final main component of the headlight assembly we’ll be taking a look at here. As the name suggests, the headlight reflectors are responsible for reflecting light from the bulbs onto the road, illuminating it in the process.
In order to achieve this goal, reflectors come equipped with an array of mirrors. Additionally, there is a light bulb filament at the base as well. Headlight manufacturers have to consider several aspects like weight, design, and tolerances when selecting materials to make headlight reflectors.
A significant portion of the headlight replacement cost is spent on the bulb itself. So, it is important for you to have a clear understanding of them. Mainly, there are four types of headlights available. They are,
- LED Headlights
- Laser Headlights
- Xenon Headlights
- Halogen Headlights
- HID Headlights
Headlight Replacement Cost, Types Of Bulbs #1 – LED Headlights
Light Emitting Diode (LED) headlights produce light through a process called electroluminescence. Here, electricity is passed through a diode or a semiconductor that emits photons.
There are two main components on an LED headlight – a projection lens, and an array of multi-crystal LEDs. The projection lens is responsible for combining the light beams from each LED into a single ray of light.
The main advantage of LED headlights over the other types available on the market is their longevity. LEDs don’t burn out like other types of light bulbs. As long as all the physical components inside work as intended, LED bulbs will continue to light the way. The normal operating life of LED headlights is around 10,000 hours.
LED headlights have several drawbacks too. When compared to other types of headlights on the market, the initial cost of LEDs is relatively high. Furthermore, these lights have a complicated cooling system, making them harder to work on, and even harder to come by.
Headlight Replacement Cost, Types Of Bulbs #2 – Laser Headlights
Laser headlights are the latest and most expensive type of headlights available on the market. They come with an electronic unit equipped with smart distribution technology, which allows the bulb to illuminate only the active areas. This helps you to get a clear view of the road ahead without dazzling oncoming vehicles.
Although laser headlights are currently only available on high-end vehicles, they are set to make their way onto other consumer vehicles in the near future. These lights are highly energy efficient, made evident by the fact that they costume around 30% less energy than other types on the market.
In addition to being expensive, laser headlights need to be regularly maintained to keep them in proper working order. Not only that, but they also need to be properly adjusted for proper illumination.
Headlight Replacement Cost, Types Of Bulbs #3 – Xenon Headlights
Xenon headlights have a light output close to 3200 lumens, and their operating life is around 3500 hours. These systems are comprised of multiple components which include the xenon bulb, electric ark, diffuser, control driver, lens optics, and ignition unit.
In vehicles equipped with Xenon headlights, the low beam and high beam are handled by two separate bulbs. Bi-Xenon lamps take this one step further by implementing both methods of illumination in a single bulb.
The switching between the two bulbs is accomplished by changing the beam’s geometry through the use of a magnetic curtain.
Washers and correctors need to be used in order to maintain the quality of light. Furthermore, the installation of Xenon headlights requires special bases. The high cost of Xenon headlights is seen by many as a disadvantage too.
Headlight Replacement Cost, Types Of Bulbs #4 – Halogen Headlights
Halogen bulbs are the most popular type of vehicle headlights on the market. There are several factors that have led to this popularity. First and foremost is the price. Compared to the other types of headlights we discussed, halogen headlight bulbs are very affordable.
Moreover, the simple design of these bulbs makes them easy to work on too. Halogen bulbs produce light through the use of heavy inert gases. Here, the light output is set at around 2100 lumens, which is lower than the other types of headlights we discussed today.
In addition, the service life of halogen bulbs is lower as well, as it ranges between 450 – 1700 hours. Manufacturers pair halogen bulbs with reflector housings for the best performance.
Although there are a few major drawbacks, especially when comparing halogen vs LED headlights, the low cost and simplicity of halogen headlights have made them a popular choice among car manufacturers and owners alike.
Headlight Replacement Cost, Types Of Bulbs #5 – HID Headlights
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs are considerably brighter than halogen ones. They are also more efficient and can illuminate a larger area as well. With proper maintenance, HID headlight bulbs can last for a long period of time.
But, all these benefits come at a cost. You see, HID headlights are more fragile than the majority of headlight bulb types we discussed today. So, you’ll have to replace them more frequently at an additional cost.
Inside an HID headlight, there is a sealed bulb that contains an electrode. This assembly replaces the filament found in most others. In addition, it also contains other materials like vaporized metals which help with light dispersion. You can easily spot HID headlights by the bluish appearance they have when turned on.
With that information, you should have a clear understanding of the different types of headlights available for sale.
There are a few signs which may point you in the direction of a headlight replacement. Let’s have a brief look at each, as well as the headlight replacement cost associated with them.
Headlight Replacement Cost #1 – Broken Headlight Assembly
The most obvious situation where you should replace the headlights is when the assembly is visibly cracked or damaged. This mainly happens when your vehicle gets into an accident or collides with something.
Continuing to drive your vehicle with a damaged headlight assembly will only cause more issues down the line. Not only that, but it can get you in trouble with the police too. Broken headlights allow water to seep inside. Over time, this water will corrode the electrical wires, causing short circuits.
Oftentimes, the only way to fix a broken headlight assembly is by replacing the entire unit itself. The replacement cost of a headlight assembly varies between different makes and models of vehicles. An auto repair shop will charge you anywhere from $250 to $1000 to replace the entire headlight assembly.
On the other hand, if you like some DIY repairs, you can get the costs down to the range of $75 – $400. Furthermore, it is important to add that replacing the headlight assembly is one of the easiest vehicle repairs to perform. It only requires a basic Blue Point tools kit and can be completed well within one hour on most vehicles.
Headlight Replacement Cost #2 – Burnt Out Bulbs
If the exterior of your headlights is in perfect condition yet they don’t produce any light, a burnt-out headlight bulb might be to blame. This can happen naturally over time. And due to the fallibilities of headlight bulbs, it is common for one light bulb to go out before the other one.
The process of changing a headlight bulb is not that complicated. To start, park your car in a safe area and power it down. Then, pop open the hood (make sure you know how to open Mini Cooper hood), and disconnect the wires that power the headlights from the housing. These wires usually have a cap or a clip that needs to be pushed down in order to remove them.
After that, you can simply unscrew the bulb and replace it with a new one. Keep in mind not to touch the glass of the new bulb. Doing so may get dirt and oil onto the bulb, hampering visibility and causing it to burst after heating up.
However, if the headlights still don’t work, there might be an issue with the fuse and wiring of your vehicle. In this case, we recommend taking your ride to a qualified auto repair shop for further assistance. But… How much is a headlight bulb?
The replacement cost of headlight bulbs varies depending on the type you have. For example, halogen bulbs, which are the most common type of headlights found today, only cost about $20 each.
On the other hand, you’ll have to spend around $100 to replace a newer xenon bulb. If your vehicle comes with LED headlights, the whole assembly needs to be replaced as these bulbs aren’t user changeable.
Headlight Replacement Cost #3 – Flickering Headlights
Loose wiring harnesses, corroded figures and power issues are the main culprits behind flickering headlights. However, a dying car battery may cause the headlights to flicker as well. The headlights depend on the battery to function as intended, and when it goes bad, the headlights suffer too.
No matter the cause, it is important that you get this issue sorted out as soon as possible. For around $100, you can have a professional mechanic inspect your headlights in order to determine the faulty component. After that, replacing the said component would probably get rid of the issue.
Headlight Replacement Cost #4 – Switching Issues
If you are having trouble keeping the lights engaged or when switching between modes, there might be an issue with the headlight switch. This component is also referred to as the dimmer switch, and it takes care of headlight functionality. The headlight switch usually comes as a lever attached to the steering column.
However, some modern vehicles have this switch in the form of a knob or button. Similar to the other fixes we discussed so far, the headlight switch replacement cost also depends on a few factors.
These factors include the make, model, and year of the vehicle as well as the switch brand. The average repair bill for a dimmer switch replacement falls between $150 – $250. However, there are occasions where the entire headlight assembly needs to be replaced to get rid of this issue.
Headlight Replacement Cost: In Conclusion…
The headlights are one of the most important parts of any vehicle. So, it is ultimately up to the owner to look after these crucial elements. Headlights can go out due to a number of reasons, which include the likes of collisions and adverse weather.
And when they go bad, be prepared to spend an average headlight replacement cost between $250 and $1000 to restore them back to working order.
FAQs On Headlight Replacement Cost
What Headlight Bulb Do I Need
The best way to determine the exact type of headlight bulb you need is by referring to the vehicle’s repair manual. Headlight bulbs aren’t universal, and they vary between different makes and models of vehicles.
Where Can I Get My Headlight Bulb Replaced
Any auto repair shop will replace the headlight bulbs for you. However, you will have to pay them the cost of the bulb along with the labor costs added on top. Instead, you can replace the light bulbs on your own and save some money.
Does Autozone Replace Headlights
If you purchase replacement headlights from Autozone, they will help you fit them onto your vehicle. However, we recommend taking the headlights to an auto repair shop for a more professional installation.
How To Replace Headlight
Headlights are some of the easiest vehicle components to replace. With a few basic tools, you can replace the headlights of your vehicle inside the comfort of your home garage.
How To Fix Headlight
The exact fix for faulty headlights varies depending on the components which have gone bad. For example, a simple bulb replacement is enough to fix flickering headlights. But, fixing a broken headlight lens requires replacing the whole assembly.
How Much Is A Headlight Bulb
Halogens are the cheapest headlight bulbs available on the market. On average, these only cost around $20 each. Xenon bulbs are more expensive, and they start at around $100.