How Long Should Car Bulbs Last?

The lifespan of car bulbsAs a car owner it can be pretty frustrating when one of your car bulbs blows.

You’re left with the responsibility of trying to find the most suitable replacement but get left with multiple questions like what car bulb types will I need or are LED headlights brighter than halogen bulbs?

Luckily, we’ve covered those topics already but the main question that car owners tend to ask is “how long a car bulb should last” and we’re going to cover that off in today’s article.

How Long Should Car Bulbs Last?

How long a bulb lasts completely depends on its design.

Manufacturers will often provide a guideline of the “expected hours” or “run time” however these need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

There are a few factors involved that can determine the lifespan of a car bulb which include the following:

  • Exposure To The Elements

A car bulb can be exposed to all sorts that will determine how long it will last.

Hot and cold temperatures or direct sunlight can cause the elements within a bulb to corrode or degrade early. The UV rays from the Sun can filter through your headlights and cause any plastic or silicone to become brittle meaning the lifespan of the bulb may be shorter.

Extreme weather isn’t the only cause for degrading bulbs though. Potholes, speed bumps and vibrations can also cause damage to halogen bulbs over time.

  • Usage Amount

You might not be aware of how much your bulbs are actually in use.

Plenty of vehicles these days will have either daytime running lights or dipped beam headlights that come on automatically when it’s cloudy. This increases the usage and can cause your bulbs to burn out much faster than you would expect.

We see this happen quite often for taxi drivers that only work the day shift. Their bulbs are in constant use when it rains or is cloudy and they’re unaware of exactly how much usage they are getting out of their bulbs.

Road users that drive mainly at night will see a significant difference than people who drive during the day. HGV drivers and taxi drivers’ working night shifts tend to burn through bulbs about four times faster than the average road user.

  • Dirt, Grease & Grime

The glass on halogen bulbs should never be touched with your bare skin.

The natural greases and oils can stay on the glass for a long time and when the bulb is on can heat up in one spot causing the bulb to overheat and pop the glass.

When installing car bulbs, always ensure to avoid touching the glass bulb and wear clean gloves if possible.

  • Power Output

Increasing the wattage of a bulb increases the power output, equalling more light being emitted. The more power going through the bulb will mean that it’s lifespan is greatly reduced when compared to a bulb that has a lower wattage.

Usually the brightest bulbs tend to burn out faster however as technology changes and adapts, we develop new techniques that make these bulbs last even longer. This includes things like improving the filament within the bulb, upgrading the technology around the LED or using better quality gases within the bulb.

These days, even bright bulbs can last longer than standard bulbs.

Headlight Bulb Lifespan

As we’ve mentioned previously, the lifespan of a bulb will depend on the technology within it.

To make life easier, we’ve put together a table that shows you just how long the average upgrade bulb will last depending on it’s type:

Then we wanted to breakdown the average lifespan, warranty offered and maximum brightness for each bulb type to show you a much clearer explanation.

The maximum brightness for each bulb type is taken from products that we sell through ABD.

Bulb Type vs Brightness vs Lifespan
Bulb Type Max Brightness Avg Lifespan Avg Warranty
Halogen Bulbs 150% 14 months 12 months
HID Conversion Bulbs 450% 23 months 24 months
OE Xenon Bulbs 200% 20 months 12 months
LED Bulbs 300% 42 months 36 months

 

The table and chart helps depict the maximum brightness, average lifespan and warranty for each bulb type.

Please keep in mind that the average lifespan depends on the brightness of the bulb. If a bulb can reach the maximum brightness then the lifespan is greatly reduced.

Sidelights, Indicators And Reversing Lights

The other external bulbs on your vehicle are much more robust than headlight bulbs.

Sidelights, indicators, reversing lights, brake lights and fog lights can last much longer due being used much less. The only bulbs from this list that are used the most would be brake light bulbs and indicators – everything else has a much greater lifespan.

Unfortunately, there’s no consistent data on these types of bulbs because every vehicle and their usage is different.

For example, a headlight bulb will only have one purpose and be suitable for one application (unless your fog lights or DRL’s accept headlight bulbs). A 582 bulb however has many different other uses that range from the following:

  • Tail light
  • Brake light
  • Fog light
  • DRL bulb
  • Indicators
  • Reversing light

The lifespan of these bulbs can be difficult to keep track of as a manufacturer because each application is subject to it’s own wear and tear and can be exposed to the elements much more depending on it’s position upon the vehicle.

For example, delivery drivers might have their indicator bulbs on much than the average driver due to the need of constantly putting their hazards on throughout the day.

The good news is that manufacturers still give decent warranties for these types of bulbs. Twenty20 gives 1, 2 or 3 year warranties on their bulbs so it’s always best to check this before making a purchase.

How Long Do Your Bulbs Last?

Let us know in the comments about your car bulbs or if you have any questions just write in the comment box below and we will try to get back to you as soon as possible.






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Patrick Reynolds
1 year ago

How long does xenon headlights làst ? I have a 2018 focus.one of these bulbs has gone. Is this covered by warranty ?

clive
1 year ago

Hello. I purchased several sets of Lucas infinity +120% or +130% for several cars H7 and H4 types. 3 months on. 3 have already stopped working, I understand they are a part that can’t have a warranty but should I have picked another make?

regards

Mike
1 year ago

I have a 1998 Audi A6 which I bought from new. All of the bulbs are working and OEM fit. I am, however, just about to fit an HID upgrade to the headlights having installed a new Bosch battery and alternator ….. just in case!! The car has covered 67,000 miles since new.

Mark Lawrence
1 year ago

RING BULBS ONLY GIVE A 3 MONTH WARRANTY ON THERE BULBS AS THEY SAY THEY ARE CONSUMABLES AND CANNOT GIVE AN EXACT TIME ON HOW LONG ANY OF THERE H1 H3 H4 H7 BULBS SHOULD LAST BEFORE REPLACEMENT. MOST OF THERE CAR BULBS ARE NOW MADE IN CHINA BUT I’M NOT SURE IF THIS WOULD MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE NOWADAYS AS A LOT OF CAR PARTS ARE COMING OUT OF CHINA TO THE UK IN ENGLAND I HAVE BEEN USING OSRAM FOR YEARS NOW AND MOST ARE STILL BEING MADE IN GERMANY BUT NOT SURE FOR HOW MUCH LONGER. OSRAM LAST A LOT LONGER THAN RING BULBS HOWEVER THEY ARE MORE EXPENSIVE TO PURCHASE. AUTO BULBS DIRECT GIVE ONE OF THE BEST WARRANTIES OUT THERE BUT HAVE NEVER MADE A CLAIM SO CANNOT COMMIT ON HOW HOW GOOD THERE REPLACEMENT BULBS ARE. SO BULBS TAKE AN AGE TO FIT SO THE LABOUR CHARGE WOULD BE A LOT MORE THAN A STANDARD BULB REPLACEMENT. UNFORTUNATELY NOBODY KNOWS EXACTLY HOW LONG A 12 VOLT CAR BULB WOULD LAST. I HAVE PERSONALLY HAVE SOME LAST FOR OVER 3 YEARS NOW AND SOME LESS THAN 3 MONTHS.

Andrew
2 years ago

My Toyota is nearly 10 years old, over 100k miles and it still has the original ‘Made in Japan’ halogen bulbs fitted….. The only failure I’ve had is the ‘third’ brake-light, which is an LED cluster.

Trevor
2 years ago

The longevity of LED bulbs is critically dependent on how hot they run which in turn is dependent on the cooling mechanism provided. Pretty well all cheap LED bulbs are woefully lacking in heatsinking for their power rating and thus never achieve the lifetime that is theoretically possible; hot LEDs also are less efficient, so you get less light per watt as well. So if you see an LED bulb with a high power rating that has little or nothing in the way of cooling fins or fibres, give it a miss.

(PS I’ve worked on the design of LED streetlights so know a bit about this!)