Are your car headlights not bright enough? Understanding how to make your headlights brighter.
Last updated: August 5, 2023
Headlights are unquestionably one of the most important parts of any vehicle. In a sense, they act as your car’s eyes.
An IIHS study found that driving at night is 3 times more dangerous than during the day and that good headlights lead to nearly 20% less nighttime accidents compared to poor headlights.
In this guide, we'll show you how to brighten headlights using five easy methods for any car, truck, motorcycle, snowmobile, and ATV.
If your headlights are not bright enough, it's a major problem. Ironically, headlights have been one of the most neglected parts in vehicle manufacturing up until very recently.
The majority of cars, trucks, and motorcycles on the road simply have terrible headlight bulbs. They are dull, yellowish, and hardly illuminate the road.
Fortunately, there are brighter headlight bulbs that will completely transform your driving experience in low visibility environments.
The best way to make your headlights brighter is by upgrading to brighter headlight bulbs.
There are 3 types of bulbs you can choose from to improve nighttime visibility while driving: LED, HID, and halogen.
Very bright, long lifespan, long distance, wide range, easy to install
More expensive, vehicles w/ halogens only
Bright, good distance, wide range, color options
Fade over time, warm up period, more difficult to install, vehicles w/ halogens or HIDs only
Cheap, easy to install, direct replacement
Least bright, fade over time, short lifespan
Since the #1 reason for dull headlights is the bulbs it's only logical that upgrading the bulbs will help.
Let's take a closer look at each of the three types of bulbs you can choose from.
If your vehicle has factory halogen bulbs, you should seriously consider LED headlight bulbs.
LEDs are the brightest headlight bulbs. They are up to 700% brighter than halogen bulbs and last five to ten times longer.
Unlike halogens which emit a dim yellowish light, LED bulbs emit a pure white light, which dramatically improves nighttime visibility.
LED headlight bulbs fit right into your existing assemblies so the installation will be dead simple, even your grandma can do it.
For these reasons, upgrading to LED bulbs is the best way to get brighter headlights.
If you're curious to learn more, read our popular post Can I Put LED or HID Bulbs in my Stock Headlights?
A second great option, if your vehicle has factory halogens, is to upgrade to HID (xenon) headlights.
HIDs are extremel`y bright, producing nearly 5 times more light than halogens and lasting up to 500% longer.
Although slightly more complicated to install, HID headlight bulbs fit right into your existing assemblies. They will unquestionably make your car lights brighter.
One thing drivers love about HIDs is that they come in a variety of color temperatures ranging from yellow (3000K - 4300K) to white (5000K - 6000K) to purple (8000K - 12000K).
If you have factory HIDs and you are wondering how to make your headlights brighter, there are a few considerations.
If your car is at least five years old, your bulbs may have started fading, and getting simple replacements should solve the issue.
Further, older cars may have dirty assemblies which impacts brightness as we cover in the next section.
If you're on a tighter budget or not looking to change the type of bulb your vehicle uses, you can opt for premium-quality halogen bulbs.
Premium halogen bulbs will get you up to 25% more light and they even come in white or light blue, which will help you see better at night.
Although not nearly as bright as LEDs or HIDs, they are a viable and inexpensive option to consider.
If you have an older car with dirty assemblies, a bulb upgrade and a good scrub of your headlights can make a meaningful impact on your nighttime visibility.
If you're not happy with your headlights, it's typically because of your bulbs but it's not always the case.
As a car ages, so do its headlights. They get dirty, hazy, foggy, and scratched from moisture and dirt.
So even if you have the brightest bulbs in the world, it won't matter if the light can't get through.
The good news is that it's usually quite easy and cheap to clean your headlight assemblies. It will not only improve your car’s light output but it will also make your car look much cleaner.
There are several ways of doing it with regular household ingredients (see the video below) or you can buy a headlight restoration kit for under $20.
It goes without saying that this method is only for older vehicles and that restoring your headlights can only restore the original brightness of your headlights.
Restoring your headlights and upgrading the bulbs will yield brighter headlights for older cars.
Last but not least, putting in new headlamp assemblies!
Another great way to improve the brightness of your vehicle’s headlight is to completely replace your existing headlight assembly for either an LED or HID assemblies.
Although the most expensive option by far ($2,000+ when factoring in parts and labor), it is very effective. The process is known as retrofitting.
Nonetheless, a retrofit would upgrade your current lighting system to LED or HID and dramatically improve your lighting by up to 700% and give your vehicle a cool new look and feel.
Unlike LED or HID bulb upgrades, you'll need an expert to install these unless you're an expert yourself. There is quite a bit of wiring and electrical work to do.
That wraps our guide on how to make your car’s lights brighter, we hope you found it helpful!
Yes, LED headlight bulbs can make your headlights up to 7 times brighter than stock halogen bulbs.
Yes, HID headlight conversion kits can make your headlights up to 500% brighter than factory halogen bulbs.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is provided free of charge to our visitors. It was prepared to the best of our abilities and with all the information available to us at the time of writing. We reserve the right to change, remove or update any information contained on this page at any time and without notice to improve its accuracy. The most reliable method to determine the bulb size is by pulling your actual bulb(s) and reading the part number indicated directly on the bulb. The information compiled on this page comes with no guarantees or warranties.