Are LED Headlights Legal In The UK

  • Are LED Upgrade Bulbs Road Legal?

    Let’s start with the short answer: Technically, LED upgrade bulbs are not road legal.

    To find out why, we need to delve into the specifics of the legislation…a boring job but we’ve done it for you! (section 4 & 5) states that dipped beam and main beam headlights are required to have an approval mark (usually E mark) or a British Standard mark. For nearly every other application on your vehicle, an approval mark is also required.

    The legislation is quite detailed and in-depth so we won’t go into it all here. But for example, stop lamp bulbs are required by law to operate between 15 and 36 watts. The full legislation that covers halogen and filament bulbs is ECE Regulation 37 and is 217 pages long!

    This may feel like the legislation is a bit pedantic but it’s worth noting that these rules are in place for your safety and the safety of others on or near the roadside.

    That’s Fine, Just E Mark the LED Upgrade Bulbs…right?

    Unfortunately not. LED upgrade bulbs can’t be classed as road legal because they cannot be E marked or have the British Standard mark.

    The reason that LED upgrade bulbs can’t be E marked is simply because no legislation exists for the use of LED technology in a headlight unit built for halogens.

    Headlight units are manufactured around a specific technology. Let’s say that the bulbs for your dipped beam are H7. The “H” stands for Halogen meaning the headlight unit has been purposely built for a halogen bulb. The number that follows the “H” indicates that only a H bulb with the same number can be installed.

    The aftermarket LED bulbs that are available have only ever been designed to replace their halogen counter parts and without supporting legislation, they can’t achieve an E mark.

    What is the difference in E marks?

    E marking is a very strict process that involves a series of rigorous tests and criteria that a bulb will have to meet.

    The number that follows the ‘E’ represents the country that has approved the mark for that product. That doesn’t mean it was manufactured or tested in that country, it just means that the country signed it off as meeting the requirements.

    Technically any product that has an E mark should all be up to the same standard, regardless of the country approval, as they all follow the same rules of the ECE regulation. However in practice, how strict countries uphold their E mark standards varies massively.

    Germany is by far the strictest country for allowing products to be marked with their “E1”. This means products with this number tend to be more reliably up to standard. Other countries don’t hold such strict standards and checks, so it’s more common for those to be less reliable.

    If you’re interested in learning more about E marks, then Truck Electrics has written a fantastic explanation..

    There Is Still Hope For Change

    Unfortunately, the legislation is old and outdated. Written in 1986, there are still many things that need to be changed.

    For example, the legislation doesn’t take new technologies into account. It was written at a time when the idea of replacing one technology for another within the same headlight unit just wasn’t a thing.

    According to the legislation – in order to get enough light output for a stop light, you would need a minimum of 15 watts. This would make sense for a filament bulb however an LED would produce an immense amount of light at 15 watts. Every time you press the brakes, you would be blinding the person behind you.

    Perhaps a better way to set the standards is to use metrics that transcend technology. For example, instead of a minimum or maximum wattage, lumens would be a better metric. Lumens is a measure of the total amount of light emitted.

  • With a better thought out set of rules, ensuring safety and reliability standards are met, without restricting it to one light technology, should absolutely be possible.

    Can LED Bulbs Still Pass An MOT?

    mot headlight test

    Regulations regarding lighting and MOT’s is a completely different kettle of fish.

    The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations states a bulb needs to be E marked, approved or have the correct wattage in order to be road legal. However this is not a requirement that is checked by an MOT testing station. This is probably due to it being an almost impossible (or at least insanely lengthy) task. If they have to check approval marks on bulbs, they would have to do this for every component on the car! That’s just not going to happen.

    Instead the MOT stations adhere to the MOT Testing Guides.

    What do the MOT Guides say about LED bulbs

    Check HID and LED headlamps for mandatory levelling and cleaning devices” and the assessor needs to check the lighting for “Operation“, “Security” and “Condition” which essentially means that they need to make sure that they work and are fitted correctly.

    That’s it. Nothing else is mentioned regarding the use of LED headlight bulbs.

    Now you would be forgiven for thinking that aftermarket LED bulbs would therefore fail an MOT as you would not have a self-levelling or headlight cleaning system installed. However Section 4.1.5 of the MOT inspection manual states that not all vehicles are fitted with a levelling device so if your vehicle doesn’t have one, it would not be tested.

    Brexit 2021 Update

    Please note that since January 2021, the MOT Inspection manual has been updated to include LED bulbs.

    Section 4.1.4 now states the following:

    “Existing halogen headlamp units should not be converted to be used with high intensity discharge (HID) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. If such a conversion has been done, you must fail the headlamp.”

    This is a brand new update that seems to only focus on headlights.

    There are no mentions to fail other LED bulbs such as brake lights, tail lights or reversing lights.

    With no other mention of after-market LEDs in the MOT guidelines, all that is left is for them to check is that the beam pattern is correct and the colour of the light is predominantly white, white with a blue tint or yellow. Any good quality after-market LED bulbs will meet this criteria.

    As long as the beam pattern and the colour of the light is correct – then there is no reason an LED upgrade bulb will fail an MOT.

    Should I Try Sealed LED Headlight Units?

    Many people looking to purchase a new car or van will soon be offered the chance to have sealed LED headlight units as an option from a dealership.

    Newer models might even have this as standard.

    What Is A Sealed LED Unit?

    A sealed LED headlight is a unit where the LED’s are completely integrated with the headlight unit itself. It cannot be repaired, opened or modified. Therefore you cannot replace the LED’s if one fails like you can with current halogen and HID bulbs. The entire unit will need to be replaced!

    To us this seems like a very wasteful idea.

    As I’m sure you’ve guessed, these types of headlights are extremely costly. If you do have one fail or break for any reason, your bank balance might be in trouble!

    If one bulb goes then the whole headlight will need to be replaced which will likely cost between £500 – £1000. As with all lighting technology, the colour and brightness will shift over time. Therefore depending on how old the unit is, you may even need to buy 2 units to ensure matching performance from both sides.

    Not only is cost an issue but you have no choice to change the light output performance. Some bulbs inside the unit could still be under-performing, basic LED bulbs. We are already getting calls from people looking to upgrade them as the light output is inadequate. It’s very disappointing to break the news that no upgrades are possible.

    The only option would be to upgrade your sealed LED headlights entirely with another after market set. But currently the cost to do this can fall between £1,000 to £2,500. These costs are reflective of this technology being fairly new to the automotive market. Of course as the demand increases, the costs should reduce but it will always be a more expensive upgrade than is available for halogen and HID units.

    Why Do LED Bulbs Blind Other Road Users?

    blinding LED headlights

    We’ve all experienced blinding lights from other road users before. It’s definitely not something new.

    Aftermarket LED bulbs tend to get the blame a lot on forums, Facebook or blog articles. Unfortunately, a lot of the blame is out of ignorance.

    There are a number of factors that could be at fault:

    • Cheap aftermarket bulbs

    Purchasing cheap bulbs can be dangerous for you and other road users.

    eBay, Amazon and Alibaba are rife with sub-standard LED bulbs that have plenty of 5 star reviews which can easily be manipulated. Whilst it goes against Amazon’s rules, many store owners realised that they can offer discounts and deals in exchange for 5* reviews. Some store owners will build a product that has amassed 5* reviews and edit the information and imagery to turn it into a new inferior product that is cheaper to manufacture.

    These cheap bulbs might be dangerously bright or throw out the wrong beam pattern that can blind oncoming traffic and get you pulled over by the police.

    Always aim to purchase any aftermarket bulbs from reputable brands such as OSRAM, Philips or Twenty20.

    • Incorrectly fitted bulbs

    Sometimes the person who has fitted the bulbs has done so incorrectly. The beam pattern might be wrong and in turn, blinds other drivers. We’ve seen bulbs put in upside down and at all sorts of funny angles. Just because it’s clipped in place, it doesn’t mean it’s definitely in correctly.

    • Vehicle Height Difference

    With so many 4×4’s and SUV’s on the road, there is a greater chance to get caught out with a height difference.

    This is typically due to the manual-levelling of the drivers’ headlight bulbs. In most modern vehicles, a small dial can be adjusted that raises or lowers the beam pattern of your headlights. When vehicles that are high off the ground adjust this setting, it can often blind other road users.

    There is a surprising amount of negative reviews and articles from reputable platforms that are simply misinformed or unaware why there is an issue with their bulb.

    For example, a review back in 2018 told readers not to buy aftermarket LED’s because “They will dazzle, because the light source is in the wrong place relative to the reflector….” – While this viewpoint reflects the poor quality and cheaper end of the market, it doesn’t take into account the performance improvements you would see from quality brands.


    As we conclude this article – aftermarket LED bulbs are not road legal according to the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations as they are not E marked.

    MOT testing centres will now fail LED upgrade bulbs in your headlights but the guidelines state nothing about other LED bulbs in your vehicle.

    There is never a guarantee that your vehicle will pass an MOT if you purchase cheap or faulty products so always ensure that you purchase quality branded LED bulbs from reputable sellers.

    We believe that the system for car bulbs is vastly outdated. The The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 is based on old technology and doesn’t account for newer technologies like LED’s. The regulations are not in-line with current MOT testing guidelines and creates a confusing message for people looking to purchase these products.

    Sealed LED units might seem like a good option when buying a car or van but consider the costs for the future.

    We would love to hear your thoughts on this subject so let us know in the comments and also take a vote on whether you think the system is outdated when compared to the technologies available today.

Related Information

  1. Overview
  2. Aftermarket LED Legalities
  3. LED CANBus Errors
  4. LED Headlights
  5. OEM LED Units


Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 months ago

Is it legal to fit LEDs as front parking lights? (ie. w5w)

10 months ago

I just want to thank you for the information about LED headlights. It’s about time the legislation was brought up to date. I know of at least one garage owner who doesn’t know about it. There must be many more.

6 months ago
Reply to  Robert

Indeed. Thanks for giving us an update. Sellers easily forget info like this helps build a brand

Ed Griffith
1 year ago

The halogen headlights in my 52 year old MG were upgraded to LEDs in April 2017 by a very reputable classic car restorer. I have driven the car thousands of miles at night since then and there have been no problems with dazzling other road users, but my vision has been greatly improved.

The LEDs were expensive and good quality and the asymmetric beam pattern was spot on. The car has passed 4 MoT tests since then and the beam pattern has never been an issue.

To have to change back to halogen bulbs now will be a retrograde step and the regulations need to be brought up to date rapidly to allow for the improvement in reliability and vision that LED technology provides.

10 months ago
Reply to  Ed Griffith

With the 2021 legislation update, vehicles older than 1986 are cannot be failed for LED headlights, so your conversion will be fine. Was it done by Beers?

Ross Little
1 year ago

Any idea when the law will be revisited and updated? This needs to happen.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ross Little

Given how slow this government do things, i am thinking by the time cars fly in the sky then they will start to review LED headlights.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ross Little

It took over 40 years for our much needed ring road…and now the Oil industry work in our area has all but died. So much for getting anything worthwhile done.

9 months ago

I have fitted LED bulbs all round my 2003 Freelander. Headlights, indicators, sidelights, fog, reverse all now LED. Passed the MOT no problem at all. LED lights are fare better than the standard lights. New cars have them, so why isn’t fine to fit into older cars. It’s safety after all. Lighting up the road better.

Euan Tausney
1 year ago

My jaguar X type uses the very same headlight for both the halogen setup & the factory Zenon setup, and as such are stamped H1 & D2S compliant. dual compliance indeed!

1 year ago

The standard Halogen bulbs on my 2018 Abarth 124 Spider are quite frankly totally inadequate and quite possibly even dangerous, especially on poorly lit roads, wet roads and during inclement weather. In my opinion the car in unsafe to drive in nighttime conditions. The after market LED’s are far superior and provide clear clean bright well lit driving conditions in all weathers. I have had not onward flashing of complaints or negative comments otherwise, which is more than I can say for many first market stock LED’s headlights out there on new and other cars and vehicles.The new legislation is seriously out dated and needs to be reviewed revised for modern technologies.

1 year ago
Reply to  AntonyParvin

Yes the law needs seriously needs updating but where do you start who do you contact to get back rolling

10 months ago
Reply to  Darren

Your M.P. would be a start. This is the sort of thing a new back bencher would like to get their ‘teeth stuck into’. Almost guaranteed to be passed and read into legislation.

1 month ago
Reply to  Robert

For those in Uxbridge can I suggest contacting their soon to be new backbench MP ;)

6 months ago
Reply to  AntonyParvin

You should drive within the capacity of illumination!

1 year ago

Bikes are treated differently at MOT, so just need an e mark now…

GOV.UK site: Class 1 and 2 motorcycles must not be failed for the defect ‘Light source and lamp not compatible’.
Headlamps must comply with all other requirements of the test and headlamp aim.

1 year ago
Reply to  Richard

Quick Update from some searching (NB I’m no lawyer!). Bike’s main beam could be okay…

The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, Schedule 5, Part 1

Requirements relating to obligatory main-beam headlamps and to optional main-beam headlamps to the extent specified in part ii

5. Markings–

(a) Any vehicle not covered by sub-paragaph (b), (c) or (d):
[shall have] An approval mark or a British Standard mark

(b) A motor vehicle first used before 1st April 1986:
No requirement

(c) A three-wheeled motor vehicle, not being a motor bicycle combination, first used on or after 1st April 1986 and having a maximum speed not exceeding 50 mph:
No requirement

(d) A solo motor bicycle and a motor bicycle combination:
No requirement

11 months ago
Reply to  Richard

I’m not convinced this is still the case, according to the latest docs, swapping out the halogen bulbs to HID or LED’s and the fitment should be failed.

11th January 2021

4.1.4 Headlamps – Compliance with requirements – Sentence changed from ‘Some motorcycles may be fitted with high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps. Existing halogen headlamp units should not be converted to be used with HID bulbs. If such a conversion has been done, you must fail the headlamp.’ to ‘Some motorcycles may be fitted with high intensity discharge (HID) or light emitting diode (LED) headlamps. Existing halogen headlamp units should not be converted to be used with HID or LED bulbs. If such a conversion has been done, you must fail the headlamp.’

Henk Koning
1 year ago

Thanks for the information.

I have good quality LED bulbs in my reflectors and the beam pattern is excellent.

Cheap bulbs are the problem, or incorrectly fitted bulbs.

Your bulbs and service have been excellent.

Stephen Collins
3 months ago

Great article! I too am intrigued about this Subject I have fitted LED upgrades in my 2006 Volvo S40 which has projector headllights with halogen bulbs as standard. I have also fitted LED’s in the front parking lights and front fog lamps. I get the impression that as long as the beam pattern through the projectors is correct I should not have any problems at MOT? But I am not sure about that, they look good with even and accurate pattern on flat ground against a wall.

I am not clear however if the same rules apply to front foglamps and parking lights, the fogs look great and are much improved with LED but what is the testing criteria for MOT, also am I safe with LED parking lights as they too are much improved and are awesome for the Volvo approach car lighting option on a dark night.

Finally, many thanks for your time and research on this subject.

10 months ago

LED indicator bulb upgrade. NO NO NO

A standard hazard unit is voltage sensed. It is just an on/off switch, whether one or all four indicator bulbs are working you should always have any dash repeaters working irrespective of which type of bulb is fitted

A standard indicator flasher unit is load sensed and usually works 2 indicator bulbs at 21W and a dash warning light. 5W and is set to repeat flashing within the legal limits. In the event of a the dash tell-tale .failing you will see it when the indicators are operated.
If a 21W bulb fails the unit will flash at a greater rate and again you will see it on the dash
Fitment of LED units will cancel all the internal safety issues associated with standard indictors.

Prove to Traffic .Commissioners, police or your insurance company that your indicators were working if you have changed to LED flashers.

Aaron Moore
1 year ago

So what about rear LED upgrades.. such as number plate and brake lights?

Russ Sciville
1 year ago

You don’t mention the very cost effective replacement LED headlamps that cost around £80 each.These are invariably are marked E9 so legal to install. I have them on my EV Elise and Ducati EV bike. Excellent power and beam shape from the very odd multiple lamps in the headlamp.You even get a daylight driving “Halo” lamp as well.

1 year ago

Are you going to do an article regarding the impact of the government banning the sale of incandescent/halogen bulbs and whether this will affect cars/bikes etc?

1 year ago

I have a mg zs SUV 2019 love the car but the headlights are terrible especially on rural roads I’ve put nightbreakers by osram in as a upgrade but still not adequate. Really need ledgistration sorting and updating for led headlight bulbs

Zara Butt
1 year ago

Hi i have bought new headlights that still use my halogen headlights however there is a LED projector beam or something around the outside would this be an MOT fail?? They are pretty much the same headlight that is on the newer minis.

mike noonan
1 year ago

HID/LED standards should be set and bulbs appropriately marked, then MOT tests should include a lamp level check.

The only problem they represent is badly level bulbs as far as I an see.

Lee Morris
1 year ago


I had LEDs fitted to my vehicle in November 2020. The new MOT guidance came out in January 2021. Does the guidance apply retrospectively, or only to LEDs fitted after the new guidance was published?

Chris Taylor
1 year ago

As long as the beam pattern is correct there is not a problem.

I have found adaptive headlamps cause more problems with blinding on coming traffic

1 year ago

Being blinded by oncoming lights, cyclists included, is dangerous and needs to be clamped down on. On the subject of sealed units, these were available inthe sixties and seventies, but were replaced with bulb units due to cost. What next crossply tyres?

John V
1 year ago

How many times have you flashed an oncoming driver to let him through…..only to be blinded by way of a vicious thank you flash, from over powerful led lamps!!!! These idiots should be severely jumped on by the Police and Testing Stations.

K. Thompson
1 year ago

I get really tired of the kind of people who ‘upgrade’ their headlights to ‘collapsed suns’ especially when the alignment is totally out, and one is facing utterly in the wrong direction. From a cosmetic point of view, ‘warm white’ leds should be the only option for number plates, the cool white versions look ridiculous, frankly.

1 year ago

I find the blue types annoying and distracting especially someone behind that goes over a bump or hill as you get the impression it’s the emergency services with the little flashes of blue. Colour and intensity aswell as strict guidelines of manufacturing parameters to make a H 7 halogen equivalents all the same except longer lasting lower power consumption. One argument that could be that manufacturer’s have actually went backwards by making bulb replacement much more difficult at the road side as often parts have to be removed to obtain access and some cases a whole bumper which is ridiculous. Imagine having to change a bulb in the wind and rain at the side of a busy road. My car actually uses the very same bulb for both dip and full beam which is also a step back. Led types last longer and use less power so also a bonus.

1 year ago

Should the regulations change they would have to regulate the led replacements so they meet the requirements for road use. The problem would be enforcing these on unscrupulous retailers such as through Ebay which could send them from timbuktu but at the same time the same could be said for any standard halogen bulb as even these may not meet regulations. At the very least kite marked approved bulbs only. They could also make a requirement that beam patterns are checked with a garage approval slip to confirm the modification is acceptable so insurance companies would accept the modification aswell.

Just start a official parliamentary petition to have it looked at by the department of transport and if approved accepted into legislation.

Stewart MacDonnell
1 year ago

UK regulations are outdated.

Should be reviewed asap

Benjamin Davies
1 year ago

I think someone needs to set up a petition to the UK parliament to get The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations amended to make the use of LEDs legal on the road (provided they are fitted to a projector housing, not a halogen reflector housing) you never get the right beam pattern in reflector housings and they just blind everyone whilst also giving you a slight benefit over halogens in that housing.

1 year ago

I have good quality LED bulbs in my reflectors and the beam pattern is excellent. There isn’t a problem with LED bulbs in reflectors providing the LED is made to the exact design of the halogen bulb (ie. The led chip is in the same position as the halogen filament within the reflector housing) then the beam pattern will be created properly.

Cheap bulbs are the problem, or incorrectly fitted bulbs. LED bulbs should be allowed to be fitted providing they pass a beam pattern test.

10 months ago
Reply to  Andy

Benjamin is right. The use of LED bulbs in reflector housing is not only illegal, it is downright dangerous and will invalidate your insurance. Projectors designed for HID bulbs should really be legal for LEDs, but the law is outdated.

Nick Hawryliw
1 year ago

I read this article with interest but disagree with a number of points! One issue not dealt with is one of safety. ALL of the LED bulbs that I’ve tried/experienced have the same major flaw, in that they light up the foreground by too much! Now, at first glance this would appear to be a good thing as it gives the IMPRESSION of being super effective. In fact, it is the opposite! This is because, due to the close proximity of the extra bright area, our eyes (irises) will automatically close down (using camera terminology, they would stop-down by several f-stops) vastly reducing our night vision and the older we get, the greater this affects us! This greatly reduces the actual distance we can see.

The second thing I notice, again with ALL the LED bulbs that I’ve experienced, is that because of the way that the light is produced, (it is a relatively large area as opposed to an h4’s almost point source) the light can do nothing other than scatter, quite dramatically, which dazzles oncoming traffic and is extremely dangerous!

In my humble opinion, these so-called upgrades will never be able to meet the stringent safety requirements of the national and international regulatory bodies! Yes they produce a lot of very bright light, but the do so in an un-useful and dangerous way that cannot be sufficiently controlled.

1 year ago
Reply to  Nick Hawryliw

I humbly disagree that they will never be able to meet, etc… as a one-time scientific equipment engineer I have witnessed huge leaps in technology and LED is just one area where it is evolving ALL the time. Other than this, halogen has had it’s day ad it was with tungsten and no doubt LED will have a replacement in the future. As an older driver I’m very glad that more of the road is lit by an LED beam. I want to see more of what I’m driving on. I do agree with the majority on this forum that poor quality bulbs are the bane of progress here.

John Jordan
1 year ago

I drive an older car with conventional headlights, which are perfectly adequate.

However, I often have to drive on New Forest roads that do not have any street lighting. Under these conditions, and even on side roads in built up areas, oncoming vehicles fitted with LED headlights make visibility dangerously difficult, even when dipped. Therefore, I believe that legislation needs to be reviewed to remove this problem. This is not only my opinion; everyone I have spoken to agrees that they suffer this dangerous situation.

Neil Mahler
1 year ago
Reply to  Dean Michael

But unscrupulous suppliers will claim this too unfortunately.

6 months ago
Reply to  John Jordan

I totally agree!

pete thompson
1 year ago

Can we get this up as something parliament could consider.

Bikers are doing ALL the work to protect being shunted, drivers just pass a test and off they go, we watch endless youtube videos, go to extra advanced training and always practice to ride better, we should be able to be lit up like christmas trees

Neil Mahler
1 year ago
Reply to  pete thompson

I once decided to walk home via an abandoned rail line at night time specifically to see the wildlife that emerges at night.

In the ‘distance’ I could see an extremely bright white light shining in my direction. This is the important bit – I had absolutely no idea how far away it was from me, whether it was an illegal motorbike riding on what is now a footpath, whether it was a cyclist with these very powerful LED front lights, or whether it was a person walking with a powerful torch. Furthermore, IT WAS IMPOSIBLE TO WORK OUT THE SPEED it was travelling towards me.

It seemed to take ages to reach me, but only when it was within about 50 metres did I work out it was a cyclist doing what seemed to be a steady 10mph. The track, being an old rail line, is absolutely straight so he must have been a full mile away when I spotted him.

Now imagine the cyclist was a motorbike doing 70mph on a country road and I was an old man in a car just pulled up at a junction ready to turn into this road. It would be impossible to know when best to take a chance and turn on to this road.

A proper debate in Parliament is urgently needed.

Duval Heating
1 year ago

Great read, thanks for the information. Was looking at upgrading my bulbs for both my car and van.

1 year ago

The legal H4 currently installed in my vehicle currently require replacing, the option of sealed LED is to expensive, however the H4 LED is a viable option and from the data will improve the current output. With regards the legalities wuth so few officers patrolling the highways I feel they have more important tasks than checking E standard lighting on vehicles and more importantly is than the vehicles lights operate fully.

Paul Norris
1 year ago

As we conclude this article – aftermarket LED bulbs are not road legal according to the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations as they are not E marked.

……………..and therefore your insurance would be invalidated as this would be an unauthorised modifacation

R Shelton
1 year ago

AT LAST ! – some clear explanation about the very ambiguous situation with aftermarket LED bulb upgrades in the UK market.

The regulations desperately need updating as I believe that it is actually becoming dangerous for the owners of vehicles which have outdated and inadequate lighting systems, dull headlamps and pitiful side lamps with no DRLs. They just can not compete with the latest vehicle lighting, which places them at a distinct disadvantage for daytime recognition. It is possible to pass the MOT with upgraded and safe LED lighting installed correctly.

Two points I would add to the excellent piece from ABD –

1) Worth mentioning and checking with your own insurance guys that they are happy with the upgrade – they will probably say ‘yes – if it passes the MOT’.

2) The MOT regulations are very clear however that they do not allow the upgrade to the even more powerful Xenon Projector type bulbs without a headlamp leveling system in place.

Thank you for the great article !

1 year ago

How do LED’s factory fitted ( indicators ) pass if they can not be E rated ?.

I would like to replace stop lamp bulbs (382) with LED’s because they always seem to be the ones that fail.

Fitting a 5/6 £ led always give a lower brightness, is that because the “filament” is not in the correct place for the lens ?

David Sheldrake
2 years ago

Your bulbs and service have been excellent. I’m amazed that the regulations are so outdated

Pete Childs
2 years ago

I’ve been using Twenty20 LED headlight bulbs for a good few years now and I’ve never had a problem because I’ve always fitted them according to the instructions and they have never give me any grief with other drivers flashing me because I’ve always made sure that the beam pattern is fine and over always made sure that the MOT person is happy with the beam pattern when it’s passed inspection.

Don van Riet
2 years ago

Recently a Dutch government official responsible for checking MoT (APK) testing performance of MoT stations on a random basis, told me that a new ruling on LED headlight testing was in the making. I wonder whether this is still relevant to the UK in post-Brexit times, but it is surely is on the European continent & Ireland. She also commented on my too blueish color of me reverse light LED’s, but I still kept my earlier approval (afterwards I managed to find bulbcolor LED festoon replacements in 3000K just to be sure). IMO this suggests that future guidelines for LED headlights may also include a color range. Strangely enough these overbright blue, expensive Xenon headlights plagueing the German highways were once permitted without debate!

Mr r g Stevenson
2 years ago

I have used led bulbs for a year or two and find that are better for light .I use them on my side lights at the front on my Corsa 2005 it makes a vast difference .I have been stopped by the police but after telling them that are only 3 watts thay let me go .it has just passed its MOT no problems with them in.the police thought it was great on the back number plate .I explained the law and he said he didn’t no that and he was now in the in the know .his mate was not chuffed at he went round the car with a fine prodlem .as a 70 year old ex motor fitter I do know what I am talking about on MOT testing . Il leave it there.

Vince Bishop
2 years ago

I am guessing that you can use LED lights as a subsidiary or extras? As long as road legal lights are fitted?

Paul G
2 years ago

One thing failed to mention is insurance. If you fit LED bulbs in a H7 designed unit and have an accident then goodbye insurance cover unless you declare it and they accept the change.

2 years ago

Interesting article but you do not appear to understand the reason for the manual headlight adjustment, it is not there to allow the driver to raise the headlight beam it is there to allow the beam to be lowered.

If you place a heavy load in the bed of a pickup or similar vehicle or carry a full compliment of passenegers in a car, the rear of the vehicle will sit down further on its springs, this will cause headlights to tilt upwards slightly raising the headlight beam this is why the manual adjustment exists, so that the driver can then lower the beam thus avoiding dazzleing oncoming traffic.

The dial usually has about five positions with zero being the position that the headlights are set at, the other positions from 1 to 4 (usually) will progressively lower the beam to accomodate the situations afore mentioned.

There are situations on the roads where you will get dazzled at night and it does not matter what type of headlight is used, this is unavoidable and you will get the beam full in the face, for instance if you appraoch a right hand bend that also drops away as you go through it, any oncoming traffic will be facing up hill and because the vehicles are in a curve, the oncoming vehicles dipped light beam will shine directly across your path and in your eyes choose what, your headlights will do exactly the same to other road users in similar situations, live with it you can do nothing about it, however there is no excuse for being dazzled or dazzleing others when vehicles approach each other on straight roads.

My car has LED dipped beams as standard it’s a 2016 vitara s bought new and at night I was getting flashed quite alot by drivers who must have thought I was on main beam, so I lowered them to prevent people being dazzled, thinking that the lights must have been incorrectly set from the factory I took my car to where I used to work as an M.O.T tester and I set the headlight beams bang on with their test equipment, and once again I started getting flashed at so again I lowered the beams and have left them there, because they are projector headlights I can see exactly where the cut off point is and on a straight road the height of the beam never gets much above an oncoming vehicles wheel arch at the point of passing it.

You can see an example of this very type of car on youtube if you search for “vitara headlight dazzle”. it shows the offending vehicle being filmed from the car in front, this by the way is not my vehicle but one on foreign shores.

Having done a fair bit of walking along main roads at night I know how uncomfortable and dangerous it is to be stairing into a vehicles oncoming headlights on main beam (you litteraly can’t see where you are walking) of vehicles being driven by inconsidderate people, of which there is no shortage unfortunately, I dip my headlights for all road users, driving, riding or walking and so should everyone else.

Alex Birt
2 years ago

My car is 17 years old and even with aftermarket headlights they are dimmer than most modern cars led headlights, I’m actually upgrading to be more safe and to see where I’m going, not to blind people. The laws need to change

David George
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Birt

Then you need to change your car rather than blind other road users – its not their fault you have an old car.

Michael Forte
1 year ago
Reply to  David George

As long as they’re fitted correctly he won’t blind anyone.

The average cost of a new car is £40k in the UK which isn’t an option for most people.

If it costs ~£100 to upgrade your bulbs for brighter light and they don’t blind anyone then I say go for it.

D J Mackay
2 years ago

A number of vehicles on UK roads have a headlight dipped beam that is too bright with a very sharp cutoff , as a consequence especially on short wheelbase vehicles, due to their greater pitching when travelling over undulating roads, they create a serious dazzling hazard.

New legislation should be enacted to limit the lumins output and to taper the top of beam intensity of headlight units thus mimicking, older technology, incandescent headlight characteristics.

The worst offenders, from personal observation, appear to be BMW mini, Volvo SUV’s, Mercedes SUV’s, Range Rover and Discovery vehicles, but they are not the only ones.

Robert Marshall
2 years ago

Your article on led upgrade was very interesting and informative. I agree completely that bulb quality and the importance of correct installation is paramount.

Andrew Marshall
2 years ago

Basically i drive around 4 hours a day and more at weekends. I find it very very disconcerting that this review of LED aftermarket bulbs supports the use of them. This is the bottom line. It IS Illegal to use any of these bulbs in Halogen or projector headlight units that use an H7 fitment. The fact they arent CE or kite marked is because if you actually research these types of headlight they are meant to use only one type of fitment and a specific light output with a specific aim. LED bulbs just flood the headlight with light far more brighter than the specified output therefore the light reflects into the eyes of oncoming motorists and also in your rear view mirror behind which can be very blinding. They are dangerous FULL STOP!. Do not use them. They can only be sold as ‘for offroad use only’. That is how the retailers sell them thats there get out clause, it reflects the blame onto you if you get stopped and fined for using them. It’s even worse for certain older vehicles as the wiring looms are not made for these types of bulb and therefore 9 times out of 10 it messes up your cars electrics and the lights can fail hence why you see so many people driving around with one extremely bright light and one that does not work at all. If you want a car with LED light technology then buy one with them fitted otherwise stay well clear. Even new cars with LED light technology are seriously bright…BMW, Porsche, Mercedes… to name a few. Why, why do we need this tech. It is a fundamental part of a car that directly affects other road users so why make lights brighter and brighter. The beam can only be shone down the road so far so all it’s doing is making the light in front of your vehicle brighter up to the same distance a halogen bulb can. There is no good or bad quality. They are all bad full stop. the sooner they are banned the better.

2 years ago

OK, I understand what you are trying to say, but what you describe is exactly what is wrong with the law. You only focus on “is this legal?”, which it clearly is not. I would rather see everyone (including lawmakers) focus on “why is this (il)legal?”. Because right now there are plenty of good quality LED headlights that generate the correct light pattern, that do not blind oncoming traffic, etc. They just cannot get a European approval because the laws never considered LED lights!

Please tell me (with facts and not your opinion) what is wrong with an LED light that has the right beam pattern and therefore does not blind anyone? Because if done right, that is what you get with a quality LED light. The problem is that, as the article says, many (including you) have made up their mind about LED lights in vehicles because of these idiots that buy them cheap in China and then mount them upside down and for extra dramatic effect aim them as high as possible. The more blinding bright white lights you see coming your way, the more you start to hate the technology. But you should hate the people who don’t consider other people on the road, not the technology!

Frances Etheridge
2 years ago

There should be simple to understand rules. Too much confusing and conflicting dos and donts

2 years ago

It’s interesting. I’m not from UK, and we haven’t hard regulations for car light. But, every country have handless drivers, they can’t setup right light with or without led lamps. Also, I think newer led bulbs 3-4 times brighter (by lumens) than ordinary halogen. So, they have to blind, even with good-tuned pattern.

Sharlyn Pontino
2 years ago

If you want to upgrade to led find something that has a small, dot-like led or same size as the spiraling filament of the halogen.

Some led bulbs (cheap ones) have big LEDs on the tip which causes distortion when reflecting on the lamp reflectors, smaller LEDs tip has sharper pattern thus no distortion on pattern yet brighter.

2 years ago

The point about the vast difference between cheap and more reputable / more expensive LEDs is on point!

Robert Marshall
2 years ago

The article confuses the difference between an MOT Test and Type Approval. Road worthiness is, ultimately, dictated by Type Approval, not by the MOT. If your car does not comply with Type Approval, technically, it is unroadworthy and invalidates your insurance.

Replacement new bulbs (like replacement windscreens, tyres etc) have to comply with Type Approval, as the article says correctly. It is an offence, to sell, fit or use on the road car parts that are supposed to be Type Approved but are not so. This includes fitting and using them for classic cars.

The Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations were written in 1989 and are British regulations; the more recent UNECE regulations take precedence. They do not need to list type of bulbs that are compliant, such as LEDs etc. All they basically say is that, if they comply with the technical specifications, they are allowed. If not compliant, they are not allowed. Therefore, LED conversion bulbs remain non- compliant.

The UNECE regulations do take LED conversion bulbs into consideration and investigations have been taking place to develop a standard that LED conversion bulbs can meet to make them safe and legal. In 2005, a working body of The International Automotive Lighting and Light Signalling Expert Group conducted a feasibility study, which concluded that there is

“no safe and legal alternative available for the public ” in terms of LED retrofit bulbs and it does not wish to “legalise illegal pseudo retrofits ” which remains the current situation – work is ongoing, however.

To date, this stance has not changed. LED conversion bulbs remain illegal to sell, fit and use on UK roads, despite what sellers will say…