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Headlight Assemblies

Headlight Assemblies

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Headlight Assemblies at 1A Auto

What are headlights and where are they located?

Headlights or headlamps are a type of auto part that seem to be pretty straightforward when you initially think about them. They simply attach to the front of your car or truck and light up the darkness so you can see and drive safely at night. Easy enough, right?

Well, not exactly. Headlights were a lot simpler in the past. Electric headlights replaced kerosene burning lanterns, which were not only fire hazards, but also dull and extinguishable. The electric headlight stayed lit on windy days and gave drivers better nighttime vision. By 1940, “Sealed beam” headlights with glass lenses became a requirement on all vehicles in the United States—great for the four cheap and plentiful styles, and terrible for the one-size-fits-all shape.

1983 was the year the headlight became a bit more complicated. The sealed beam was no longer required and plastic lenses replaced them on many cars. First, composite halogen headlights arrived, which had replaceable halogen bulbs, bringing an easy repair and the integration of corner lamps and parking lights.

The 1990s brought the next significant change with the "High Intensity Discharge" (HID) and xenon headlight technology; An HID headlight bulb is filled with xenon gas, which, with the help of an HID headlight ballast, increases the bulb's brightness and life span. Unfortunately, they come at a higher price point than the boring old sealed beam and composite halogen headlights.

Then came projector headlights. Projector headlights might use halogen or xenon bulbs, and they direct the light out the front of the car with the help of a small, movable metal shield. This shield is controlled by an electric motor and automatically moves when the high beam switch is activated. As you can imagine, moving parts inside a headlight assembly can lead to more problems, even in the most delicate of accidents.

When it comes down to it, headlights brighten your nighttime drive. But there are a cornucopia of shapes, sizes, and styles, depending on the vehicle they are attached to. The aftermarket headlight industry has done an amazing job of offering perfect-fitting, high-quality, non-OEM headlights at prices that any car owner can afford.

How do I know if my headlights need to be replaced?

There are many reasons why you should replace a set of older lights that don't look damaged. They might have:

  • Yellow or Cloudy Lenses - Over time, plastic lenses tend to fade and lose clarity.  This 
    significantly cuts down the amount of light that can shine through. You just don't realize how much light you are   missing until the new set of headlights are in place.

  • Moisture Build Up – Cooler, moist air outside can trickle into the headlight’s housings, which are vented at the top and bottom to keep any pressure differences from cracking the bulbs and lamps. When the lens of the headlight is cooler than the air inside the housing, droplets of moisture will condense inside, leaving water on the lens. When the outside temperature rises, the moisture usually evaporates. Water can easily get inside your headlights; it can leak in through cracks, broken or improper seals, or through the back near the bulb sockets and wiring, shortening the life span of the bulbs. Read the next section to fix the issue.

  •   Sealed Beams - When a sealed beam headlight bulb is burnt out, the entire headlight 
      assembly needs to be replaced. Luckily, they are inexpensive and easy to replace with simple hand tools.

  •   Old Age – With age, many factory composite headlight lenses become loose and eventually fall off. 
      The lenses can’t be replaced by themselves. The entire headlight assembly must be replaced to 
      correct this problem. 

  •   Worn Out Appearance - Old headlights make your nice clean car look old and worn out. If you want your car 
      to keep its value and look its best, you just have to have clean headlights.

Can I replace the headlights myself?

Most likely, yes. The majority of cars and trucks have headlights that can be replaced by any do-it-yourselfer.  It usually requires a ratchet set and possibly a screwdriver.  Sometimes the bolts are 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 to measure the height and distance between the light beams.

If you want to remove moisture, check for visible cracks or holes located around the edges of the headlight. If there are no visible cracks or holes, the problem could be the housing or housing vents, so check them for clogging. You can remove existing condensation in the lamp using an air compressor, or you can dry the inside by running the high beams and letting the lamp heat up the inside. This is typically a weather issue and doesn’t always indicate a defective headlight, but if your headlight is cracked or punctured, we recommend that you replace them.

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 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 you’ll find aftermarket replacement headlight assemblies of all types and styles including xenon, HID, projection, halogen, smoked, tinted, LED and more. Headlights from 1A Auto have the following features:

  • DOT (U.S. Dept. of Transportation) and SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) approved
  • Direct Replacement
  • Built to strict quality control standards

For more detailed information about headlights, the different types, how they each work, and more, check out our in-depth guide on replacement headlights.

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"Thanks for the fast reliable service. Great price, and the headlights were as good as oem or better!!! Keep up the good work..."
- Dwuan M.
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