Car Bulb Buyers Guide

If any of your car lights aren't working, then you aren't going anywhere once the sun sets! Car bulbs are crucial bits of kit and you'll fail your MOT or risk being stopped by the police if even one bulb isn't working. Our buyer's guide will take you through the rules surrounding car bulbs and the best bulbs to get for your car.

How do Car Bulbs work?

Despite being smaller than the bulbs you'll find in your lampshades at home, car bulbs are much brighter and longer lasting than the bulbs used to light up your living room. As well as throwing light out onto the road ahead directly from the bulb, light intensity is amplified thanks to super-reflective materials that surround the bulb within the headlight itself.

You've hopefully noticed by now that your rear lights are red, but this doesn't necessarily mean your bulb emits red light - often this is done by the plastic cover, which is coloured red to provide red light instead of normal white light. Some LED rear bulbs however do emit red light, so it depends on the kind of car you have. Your indicators will also use either a coloured cover, or an orange light-emitting bulb.

What is full beam?

Every car has two main headlight settings, commonly known as 'low beam' and 'full beam'. Low beam is the standard setting, with light positioned forward and down onto the road so other road users aren't affected. The low beam setting is used on busy and lit roads and is the 'standard' setting when you switch your headlights on.

The full beam setting points light upward and outward, allowing drivers to see potential hazards both further down and at the sides of the road. You don't need to worry about finding headlights that are compatible with both settings - all car headlight bulbs have two filaments or sometimes even two bulbs at different settings that point light in different directions depending on whether you're using full beams or low beams.

Which bulb do I need for my car?

We'd recommend using our handy online tool to find the right bulb for your car, or a Halfords car bulb expert can help you to find the right bulb in-store.

Which car bulb is best?

Filament car bulbs / Halogen car bulbs

These are the 'factory standard' bulbs you'll usually find on most cars. They offer good value for money, are relatively easy to replace and last a long time. Some of our bulb upgrades provide brighter and more intense light, useful for winter driving or drivers who do most of their travelling when it's dark.

Xenon HID car bulbs

If you've ever spotted a pair of blue-tinged headlights on the road, then they were likely High Intensity Discharge lights. Filled with Xenon gas, these bulbs can't just be slotted into your average car headlights and will need an additional box that is either fitted by the manufacturer or as part of an aftermarket kit.

LED car bulbs

LED bulbs are highly efficient and last a long time, but you'll only be able to benefit from them if your car's manufacturer has installed them - it's currently illegal to add LED bulbs to your car as an aftermarket installation.

Choosing the 'best' light bulb really comes down to personal preference and what kind of bulbs your car uses. If you want brighter, whiter headlights, then opt for one of our upgrades - we offer bulbs that range from a 25% brightness increase to a 150% brightness increase, so check out our Halfords Advanced bulbs if you'd like bulbs that offer brighter light.

How to change a car light bulb

Messing around with your car's vital components can cause damage if you don't know what you're doing, so we always recommend letting Halfords do the hard work for you! Just ask at the till or bring your car and new bulb to your local Halfords store and we'll happily fit it for a small charge.

Shop all car bulbs