The ultimate list of car bulb types

Car bulbs keep you safe and seen on the roads. Whether you’re driving day or night, the indicators, brake lights and main lights of your car are essential safety features that you, other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians rely on. If you’ve got a busted bulb or need some spares for a road trip, then you’ll need to make some choices.

The world of car bulbs can be confusing.With so many options and car bulb types on the market, how do you choose? Well, with our help, of course.

What are the different types of car bulb?

At Halfords, you’ll find a selection of car bulbs, including LED bulbs, halogen bulbs and xenon bulbs. They all have different properties and are available at different prices.

LED bulbs

Modern LED bulbsemit a brighter, longer-lasting light than traditional halogen car bulbs. LED lights are packed full of light-emitting diodes. When electrons pass through, the semi-conductors inside transform the power into light.

LED bulbs are highly energy-efficient, drawing a lower wattage from your car battery and have a longer lifespan than halogen bulbs. They also provide a warm and intense beam that can be 150-300% brighter than a typical halogen bulb.

You’ll find that LED bulbs can be more expensive than other car bulb types, but that’s off-set with the thousands of hours of trouble-free operation you can expect. A LED bulb can last up to 10 years.

If LED lights are energy-efficient, highly effective and a worthwhile investment, what’s the catch? Well, it’scurrently illegal to fit LED bulbs to your car unless your car’s manufacturer has installed them. The reason is that no legislation currently exists to approve the use of LED lights as a replacement for the typical halogen lights you find on most vehicles.

LED bulbs are perfectly legal for both interior lights and for off-road use.

Halogen bulbs

Halogen bulbs (sometimes called filament bulbs) are the classic car bulb design that we’re all familiar with. The humble halogen bulb contains a tungsten filament that gets hot and creates light when a current passes through it. The bulb is filled with halogen gas to prevent them from discolouring.

Most cars come fitted with halogen bulbs because they’re more cost-effective to manufacture and therefore cheaper to replace than other bulb types.Swapping out a like-for-like bulb can be done in a few minutes,either by you or by our expert fitting service.

All halogen bulbs are tested and road legal. You’ll also find that halogen replacement car bulbs are cheaper than LED lights or xenon bulbs. Longer-life halogen bulbs are available and can provide a 25%, 50% or 3 x improvement in operating life for a small cost increase per bulb. If you want brighter lights, our Halfords Advanced range delivers up to 150% more light from the same size.

Xenon bulbs

Xenon HID bulbs use an electric arc between two electrons within the bulb to create a much stronger light than a typical halogen bulb. The inside of the bulb is filled with xenon gas, which produces a much brighter light than a halogen bulb.

While they’re more expensive than halogen or LED bulbs, Xenon HID bulbs can produce 300-450% more light than a standard halogen bulb and come in a range of colours. We recommend replacing them every three years, and in pairs, even if they don’t appear to have failed.

Xenon HID bulbs aren’t a slot-in replacement. Instead, you’ll need some additions to fit them. Like LED lights, xenon HID lights are only road legal for cars where they were originally fitted by the manufacturer.

What car bulb should I buy?

The choice of car bulb comes down to price versus performance. All car bulbs we sell at Halfords conform to the required standards, which means they’ll perform perfectly in your vehicle.

So, you’ll need to make some decisions about what matters to you. Cheaper bulbs may not last as long as more expensive bulbs. The bulb that burns the brightest may not last as long as a lower-wattage alternative. LED bulbs are efficient and effective, but currently, they’re not road-legal, so you’re taking a risk.

How do I identify the car bulb I need?

If you’re searching for a replacement car bulb, the easiest way to find the ideal replacement is by using our car bulb finder. Type in your vehicle’s registration number and you’ll only see the bulbs that will fit your vehicle.

You can also look in your vehicle handbook in the lighting section of the manual.

If you don’t have the registration number or vehicle handbook, you can identify the replacement bulb you need by removing the old one. You should be able to identify the bulb’s application number, which might begin with a D, H or P. Using this number, you should be able to select an appropriate replacement.

If you need any advice, then pop into your nearest Halfords store or autocentre and one of our trained technicians will be happy to help.

FAQs

‘OE’ stands for ‘original equipment’. OE parts are those fitted to the car when it’s on the assembly line. When buying replacement car bulbs, you can choose to replace your bulb with an OE part, or an aftermarket replacement.

Aftermarket parts are built to the same standards and will perform the same function, but in many cases are cheaper than OE parts – particularly if you buy direct from Halfords rather than purchasing through an expensive car dealership.

Halogen bulbs use a filament to generate light and are the traditional form of car bulb that come fitted to most vehicles. LED bulbs use diodes to generate light and are a popular upgrade that owners can make to their vehicles. They last for longer, are more energy-efficient and emit a stronger light than typical halogen bulbs.

The colour temperature of a bulb describes how yellow or blue the bulb is. The colour temperature is measured in units called kelvins. If the bulb has a low colour temperature (2500K for example), it will be more yellow. If the colour temperature is higher, it will be bluer. Most car bulbs, such as the H7 477 Car Headlight Bulb Halfords +25 per cent Longer Life Single Pack, will produce a pure white light.

Yes, we can – and it’ll probably take us less than five minutes too! There’s no need to book our car bulb fitting service; just visit your nearest Halfords store, and we can fit a single headlight bulb for £8 and an indicator or tail light bulb for just £5. Every Halfords store carries a huge range of car bulbs, and we have replacements for 98% of the cars on the road today.