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

What are some different types of headlights? 

In addition to sealed beam headlights, automakers developed more styles of headlight over the years, including halogen headlights, HID headlights, and projector headlights. 

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 into the headlight assembly.

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 direct 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?

You might need to replace your headlights if they are damaged, but also if they have cloudly or scratched lenses, or moisture buildup inside.  Some of the more common reasons to replace headlights are: 

  • 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 air 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.

  • 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.

    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.

How long do headlights last?

How long headlight bulbs last can vary a lot depending on the type of bulb and your car, as well as how much you use them.  Halogen bulbs may last anywhere from 400 hours of use to about 1,000 hours.  The Xenon bulbs used in HID headlights can last up to 2,000 hours of use. 

Headlight lens lifespans also vary widely, depending on where and how you use your car.  If you drive somewhere where a lot of road salt is used, or there's lots of dirt on the roads, your headlight lenses might get scuffed up more quickly. 

 

Is it illegal to drive with a headlight out? 

Yes, it is illegal to drive with a headlight out in most states.  Most states have laws that require you to have two working headlights.  If you don't, you can be pulled over and ticketed. 

You can also fail a sticker inspection if one of your headlights is out. 

 

How do I replace headlights?

How to replace headlights can vary from car to car, but a typical headlight repair may include the following steps

  1. Open the hood.
  2. Remove any other parts that keep you from accessing the headlight housing bolts.
  3.   These may include air intake parts or radiator hoses, for example. 

  4. Remove the screws or bolts holding the headlight housing in place. 
  5. Disconnect the wiring harnesses from the headlight bulbs. 
  6. Pull the headlight off of the vehicle. 
  7. Put the new headlight into place on the vehicle. 
  8. Connect the wiring harnesses to the headlight bulbs. 
  9. Fasten the bolts or screws to the headlight housing. 
  10. Aim the headlights to be properly aligned.
  11. You may need a service manual to learn the process for aiming your car's headlights.  Replacing one headlight at a time may make aiming the headlight easier.

  12. Close the hood. 

 

How do I replace headlight bulbs? 

How to replace you headlight bulbs can vary from car to car.  You may be able to replace the bulbs with the headlight in place, or you may have to remove the headlight from the car first.  Follow the steps above if you must remove the headlight.  A typical headlight bulb replacement may include the following steps:

  1. Wear gloves to avoid fouling the bulbs. 
  2. Oil from your skin can make your headlight bulbs burn out faster. 

  3. Open your hood.
  4. Remove any parts obstructing your access to the headlight bulbs.
  5. Generally, air intake parts or radiator hoses can be blocking access to your headlights.

  6. Twist the bulbs sockets out of the headlight. 
  7. Pull the bulbs off the sockets. 
  8. Push the new bulbs onto the sockets
  9. Twist the sockets into the headlight housing
  10. Close the hood. 

 

Should I replace both headlights at once?  

It is a good idea to replace headlights as a pair.  Even if one is damaged, the other may be duller than you realize.  Replacing the headlights together insures that they provide equal illumination.  It also makes your car look better.  Your car won't look its best with one shiny new headlight and one cloudy one. 

How much do headlights cost?

Headlights generally cost between $200 and $300 dollars, depending on the model of your car.  The labor cost of a headlight replacement can range from about $100 to $200, depending on your model, and whether you have the work done at an independent shop or a dealership. 

Headlight bulbs range from $15 to $20, with labor costs around $75 to $90.  

 

Need Headlights? 

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..."
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