LED or Xenon? Common Misconceptions about Headlights Cleared
Headlight problems can cause drivers a lot of anxiety. Perhaps because of this, there are many misunderstandings regarding headlights circulating online.
Do you think you harbor such misconceptions? Read below to find out, and get things cleared up:
Flickering is Caused by Bad Bulbs
This one is tricky. Bad headlight bulbs could cause flickering, but it’s not the only reason. There are many reasons why flickering can occur, such as:
- Light bulbs reaching the end of life
- Poor installation
- Uneven power distribution inside the car (a stereo system or the tire pressure monitor could be drawing power away from the headlights)
- Car battery problems
- Wiring issues, such as damaged or bent wires
- A failing alternator
- Voltage fluctuations
- Excess heat from the engine
If the bulbs are the problem, flickering should go away once you replace the bulbs. In some cases, it doesn’t. It’s recommended to have the flickering problem checked out by a mechanic to properly solve it.
Investing in high-quality bulbs can minimize the risk of your headlights flickering. Carifex offers highly rated LED headlights with anti-flickering features. These bulbs have heat sinks and can better retain power to prevent flickering.
All in all, it’s hard to know what causes headlight flickering without a thorough check done on your vehicle. While it’s important to buy high-quality headlight bulbs, make sure that nothing else in the car is causing the flickering.
Xenon/HID Bulbs are Better than LEDs
Are HID bulbs brighter, longer-lasting, and overall better than LED bulbs? Not necessarily. It depends on how you define “better.”
HID lights are largely an improvement on old halogen bulbs. HIDs have high light intensity and emanate a bright color. LEDs are also known for intense bright light. Both versions can reach similar lumens, but LEDs can create more focused light, better for distance viewing.
What’s more, LEDs last longer than Xenon bulbs. They are considerably more efficient. These days, you can even get eco-friendly LEDs.
LEDs Can’t Illuminate Far Down the Road
This is a very common misconception. That’s mainly because drivers confuse beam length with illumination.
Illumination refers to how bright a bulb is. This is usually measured in a count called lumens. The higher the lumen count, the brighter the bulbs.
Beam strength or length refers to how farther the light shines. Despite popular belief, this doesn’t have much to do with the luminescence of the light. Beam length is determined by the reflector and another part called the projector.
The projector focuses the light and the reflector directs the lights toward the road. The further the beam reaches, therefore, depends on these parts, not necessarily the bulb itself. Having bright bulbs can certainly help you have a powerful beam.
LED bulbs can offer more brightness compared to halogens or Xenon bulbs. Therefore, they are great for seeing far down the road. If your car has a beam problem, it’s not the bulb you need to look at. If the headlight bulb is adequately bright, get the reflector and the projector checked out.
Regular Cleaning Can Brighten Hazy Headlights
Every driver wants clear headlight covers so the bulb beams can shine through. Car owners commonly see their headlight covers becoming yellowish or cloudy over time. Some think the hazing occurs because of dirt and dust from the road crusting on the lens.
Dust particles can build up on headlight covers and interfere with beam transmission. But this is not why hazing occurs, and seriously dulls headlight illumination.
Headlight lenses are made from polycarbonate plastic. When it catches sunlight, the plastic gets oxidized, creating a cloudy film. It doesn’t go off no matter how many times you wash your car.
When your car comes fresh out of the factory, the plastic lenses of the headlights are well coated with a UV ray guard. This prevents the lens from catching the type of light that leads to oxidation.
This protective film can wear off over time, much like a protective coat of paint. You will notice the UV sealant needs replacing when the headlights get cloudy. You could scrub and polish off the oxidation with gentle sandpaper, toothpaste, or special solutions found in headlight brightening kits. Afterward, apply the UV sealants to restore the headlights back to normal.
Dull Headlights are Caused by Bad Connection
This is a widely held belief among DIY mechanics. When the headlights become dull, you shouldn’t immediately suspect a poor connection. The usual suspect is, surprisingly, corroded ground wires.
When car owners think of cleaning headlights, they only think of washing the headlight covers. To ensure the longevity of all parts of the headlight, you need to occasionally clean behind the reflector as well. You will need to disassemble the headlight and the reflector to reach the wires.
Use a wire brush to remove debris and corrosion from the connection. Then, coat the wire with dielectric grease to slow down corrosion. While you’re at it, check the other wires for damage and corrosion as well.
Make sure you have the right information on hand before applying a DIY fix to any headlight issue. Never delay going to a mechanic if you are not sure about how to get a headlight problem fixed.