What are headlights, and why are they vital for your car?

Headlights are a type of lighting system that is mounted on the front of a vehicle and is used to illuminate the road ahead when driving at night or in low-light conditions. Headlights are an important safety feature on vehicles, as they allow the driver to see the road and any potential hazards in front of the vehicle.

Headlights come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they may be mounted on the front of the vehicle in different locations, such as the grille, bumper, or fenders. Some vehicles may have multiple headlights to provide additional visibility.

What types of headlights are there?

There are a few different types of lights on the front of your vehicle:

Low beam/High beam: These are different parts of your headlights that have different intensities. Low beams are lower intensity and reach a shorter distance in front of your car. They’re usually what you would consider your “regular” headlights, the ones that go on when you turn your headlights on. High beams are high intensity and light a greater distance in front. In most newer cars, these are no longer separate bulbs – they are a single bulb with two filaments.

Daytime running lights: On many newer vehicle models, these automatically turn on when you start the car. They are only at the front of the vehicle. They are not sufficient for night driving, so when it gets dark, you still need to turn on your headlights.

Indicator lights: Here we mean your turn signal lights, or your blinkers. Technically these aren’t classed as headlights, but we include them here as they sit beside your headlights and people sometimes confuse the two. They are usually amber or red, unlike headlights that are white.

Fog lights: These also are not technically classed as headlights, but we include a brief description of them here for clarity. Your fog lights are mounted a bit lower down on the front of your car, and are designed to aid visibility in bad weather conditions.

What types of car lamps are there?

The key component of the headlights is the lamp, and there are different types:

Halogen – These are a very common type of headlamp for vehicles. They consist of a glass capsule filled with halogen gas and tungsten filament. They emit a yellow light and get quite hot, so on your vehicle they are protected by an outer casing.

Halogen lamps are more affordable than LED, but they are less durable and don’t shine as brightly.

LED – These bulbs (light-emitting diodes) are designed with semiconductor materials that emit light when they are powered by an electrical current. They are more expensive than halogen bulbs, but they can last up to 70 times longer than a halogen lightbulb.

HID – These are High-intensity discharge lights, also called Xenon. They are similar to fluorescent lights that you might use in your home. Instead of a filament, the space is filled with xenon gas, a high voltage is passed through two electrodes and the gas starts glowing. HIDs have a bluish-white light.

What to do if your car headlights are faded?

Over time the bulbs in your headlights will start to dim or fade. This should be checked when you take your vehicle in for a regular service, but if you notice that your headlights are not as bright as they used to be, let us know. We can check and test them and advise whether your bulbs need replacing.

Headlights may also appear faded if the headlight housing becomes cloudy over time. This is natural as dirt, grime and debris build up. We don’t recommend that you try to restore your headlights yourself.

DIY headlight restoration work or kits may actually do more damage and make the problem worse. Get in touch with the experienced team at Mt Roskill Collision Centre and we can assess what needs to be done. 

What to do if one low beam headlight is not working?

If one of your headlights is not working, it’s imperative that you get it replaced right away. It’s not enough to drive with only one working headlight. In New Zealand, that is illegal – and it’s unsafe wherever you are.

If one of your headlights isn’t working, we’ll assess the damage and repair anything faulty, or simply replace the bulb if that’s all that’s needed. We’ll also assess the other headlight to make sure that it is still in good working condition and not faded.

The importance of good quality headlights

Good quality headlights can mean the difference between life and death. To some, that may sound extreme, but visibility is a key factor in staying safe on the road.

If your car’s headlights are past their prime, we recommend paying a visit to our auto shop and getting headlight restoration. Get in touch with our team for more details.

Vision and safety on the road

Good quality headlights help you in your vehicle be seen by others on the road, improving your safety. In poor weather conditions and at night, this is crucial for avoiding accidents.

Good quality headlights also help you spot objects on the road, other vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians that you need to navigate around. They also help you see road signs that may warn of difficult driving conditions. The better your lights, the better your visibility and the greater your safety.

What does a headlight restoration service involve?

If you notice that you don’t have as much visibility from your headlights as you used to, or you’ve purchased a used vehicle with dim or faded headlights, it may be time for a headlight restoration.

Replacing headlight bulbs

One of the causes of “weak” headlights is the gradual dimming of the bulbs. Over time bulbs will lose their brightness. As part of a headlight restoration service, we’ll check the power of the bulbs and determine whether the bulbs need to be replaced.

Fixing existing headlights

The other cause of “weak” headlights has to do with the housing. Over time headlights get dirty and grimy, and the brightness of the lamps appears duller than it should be. We will assess whether a professional headlight cleaning will improve things, or whether there is damage to the housing that needs to be replaced.

The best thing to do if you need any help with your headlights is to get in touch with the experienced team at Mt Roskill Collision Centre.

For more information about headlight restoration, get in touch with the friendly team by calling 0800 227 762 or email [email protected] for professional and friendly car servicing advice.