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What are Headlights?
Headlights, or headlamps as they are commonly referred to, are one type of auto part that doesn’t seem to need much explanation when you think about them initially. They simply attach to the front of all cars and trucks, and light up the darkness so that you can drive safely at night. Easy enough right?
Well, yes and no. When electric auto headlights first arrived on the automotive scene, they were taking the place of kerosene burning lanterns that were not only fire hazards, but they were not very bright and they often blew out. Needless to say, auto headlights that were powered by electricity were a very welcome arrival at the time. With the magic of electricity and two little wires, they turned on, stayed lit on windy days, and gave drivers much improved night time vision.
By 1941, “Sealed Beam” headlamps with glass lenses became the requirement for all vehicles in the United States, which was great because the four different styles of sealed beam headlights became amazingly cheap and plentiful. On the downside, automotive headlights became a car designer’s worst nightmare because they were the same size and shape on every car and truck. Luckily, that rule only lasted 42 YEARS! Yikes!
1983 arrived, and it was a beautiful time to be a car headlight. The sealed beam headlight was no longer required, and plastic lenses were now allowed. This is the exact moment in time when the auto headlamp started to become complicated. Composite halogen headlights were the first to arrive, and they finally had replaceable halogen bulbs. This made headlight repair incredibly easy. Composite headlights were also designed to improve the look of the car rather than detract from it. This often meant the integration of corner lamps and parking lights with the front headlights.
The 1990’s brought with it the next significant change with fancy new HID / xenon headlight technology. A HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlight bulb is filled with xenon gas which, with the help of an HID headlight ballast, allows the headlamp bulbs to be brighter and last longer than ever before. Unfortunately they come at a higher price point than the boring old sealed beam and composite halogen headlights.
That brings us to Projector Headlights. Projector headlights may use halogen or xenon bulbs, and they direct the light perfectly out the front of the car with the help of a small, movable metal shield. This shield is controlled with an electric motor and automatically moves when the high beam switch is activated. As you can imagine, moving parts inside a headlight assembly can obviously lead to more things going wrong, even when in the most delicate of accidents.
When it comes down to it, headlights do still brighten your night. But there are now a cornucopia of types, shapes, sizes, and styles depending on the vehicle that they are being attached to. The aftermarket headlight industry has really done an amazing job at offering perfect fitting, high quality, non-OEM headlights at prices that any car owner can afford.
When Are Replacement Headlights Needed?
The obvious answer to this question would be "if they are damaged, they need to be replaced". However, there are many other reasons to replace a set of older lights that don't qualify as being "damaged" per se.
Can I Replace a Front Headlight Myself?
Most likely, yes. The majority of cars and trucks have headlights that can be replaced by a do-it-yourselfer. It usually requires a ratchet set and possibly a screwdriver. Sometimes the bolts can be hidden, so a repair manual is always helpful. Once replaced, it is always a good idea to align the headlights to factory specification. Many owners’ manuals have recommendations on how to properly do this. It typically involves aiming the car towards a wall, and measuring the height of, and the distance between the light beams.
For more detailed information about headlights, the different types, how they each work, and more, check out our in-depth guide to replacement headlights.
Need Replacement Headlights?
Headlights are one of the most important components of your vehicle; they allow you to see the road in front of you clearly during the night and in any bad weather that may arise. If they have been damaged and / or are not working properly, not only is your own safety at risk, but the safety of others is as well. Therefore, damaged headlights should be replaced as soon as possible.
At 1A Auto, shopping for aftermarket headlights for your car, truck, SUV or van is easy - we're here to help you! You’ll find aftermarket replacement headlight assemblies of all types and styles including xenon, HID, projection, halogen, smoked, tinted, LED and more.
We also carry OEM replacement headlights for certain makes and models as well. Headlights from 1A Auto have the following features:
Call our ASE Certified customer service team toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about our aftermarket and OEM replacement headlights, warranty, compatibility or to purchase. You can also shop and buy online right here at 1AAuto.com.
Written By: Jeremy Nutt
Welcome to 1A Auto....
We employ USA based, knowledgeable support technicians. They'll help you through your project. We always make sure you get the right part. And we boast the industry's most generous returns policy. You won't find a company more passionate about auto parts than 1A Auto.