LED Headlights: The Basics

This page explains the basics of LED headlight bulbs and should help you understand the differences between colour temperatures, brightness levels and fitting difficulties.

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LED Headlight Colour Temperatures

halogen vs led

OSRAM, Philips and Twenty20 all manufacture aftermarket LED bulbs.

Unfortunately, the choices available for LED headlight bulbs are fairly limited when it comes to colour options.

Whilst there are many colour options available for 501 LED’s, headlight bulbs however are typically 6000k on the Kelvin scale.

This is mainly due to the lack of demand for other headlight bulb colours.

The majority of drivers want a nice, bright white colour for their headlights and so producing anything else would be a waste of time.

Interactive Kelvin Colour Chart

Whilst it is difficult to depict the true colour of each Kelvin, we’ve built a tool to help you see the difference between two colour options.

How Bright Are Aftermarket LED Headlight Bulbs?

Most LED upgrade bulbs are much brighter than standard bulbs.

In fact, headlight LED options can produce anywhere between 150% to 300% more light.

The technology is always adapting and improving so in a few years time, these figures should be higher.

Currently though, anywhere that claims higher levels of brightness might not be safe or suitable for your vehicle.

This is due to cheap manufacturers attempting to flood the market with their untested LED bulbs.

We only recommend trusted brands such as OSRAM, Philips or Twenty20.

Keep in mind that the automotive industry rarely uses lumens as a measurement.

This is due to the fact that every headlight is different and a manner of factors cause the light output to be different.

Lumens is generally only used for domestic bulbs within a household because there is very little in the way to decrease the light output.

For example, the thickness of the plastic in your headlight or the amount of oxidisation can reduce the amount of light a bulb will display on a road.

So for this reason, automotive lighting manufacturers will use a percentage: e.g “300% brighter than standard bulbs”.

Main Issues When Fitting LED Headlights

Nearly all aftermarket headlight bulbs are labelled as plug-and-play.

The trouble is, sometimes there are things that are out of anyone’s control.

Your headlight might not be deep enough, CANBus errors might occur or you might need a specific bulb holder so the upgrade bulbs will fit.

This section will cover off the most frequent issues when upgrading to LED:

– The Bulb Doesn’t Fit

Usually this means you’ve ordered the wrong bulb. It could be the data for your vehicle was wrong in our car bulb finder or you’ve ordered the wrong bulb by mistake.

This can easily be rectified by following the Car Bulb Guide.

– The Bulb Fits But Is Loose In The Bulb Holder

Here you will need to change the bulb holder or fit an adapter to the bulb so it fits in correctly. simply take a picture of your existing bulb holders and email it to us.

We will then be able to identify what you need and get one sent out to you as soon as possible.

– One LED Light Doesn’t Turn On

This can be checked / fixed by changing the polarisation between the power supply and the bulb.

This is very common on Japanese vehicles and can be resolved by turning the connection upside down and plugging it back in.

– Both LED Lights Aren’t Coming On

Firstly, check the polarisation. If you’ve done that check and nothing is coming on still, then this indicates there may be a power supply issue.

This is usually due to your vehicles’ battery not being able to supply enough power.

We would suggest that you get the battery tested (or changed) and if the problem persists then we would need to look into this even further.

– Dashboard Is Showing Warning Messages

This will be a CANBus issue. Luckily, CANBus warnings can be resolved by attaching an LED resistor kit (21w will usually suffice).

You can learn more about CANBus errors in our previous articles.

– LED Fan Is Stopping My Dust Cover From Closing

This is a common issue that can be resolved fairly easily.

If your LED bulb is preventing the dust cover from closing then let us know.

We can provide you with custom dust covers that can be cut down to size.

They are lightweight and prevent any moisture from entering your headlights.


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alan headford
3 years ago

I’m keen to buy head and dip LED bulbs for a 3 month old Audi Q2 Sport before I hit something as a result of the poor OE bulbs. You only list bulbs uti 2018. Please could you help, thanks.

Thomas Blair
2 years ago

Can any one tell me if the halford 150 brighter lights are any good?

10 months ago

I am looking to install osram LEDriving headlight for BMW 1 but i have seen that after headlights fitment the car shows error code about the headlight alignment . Do you know if there is a solution for this? some say that even after coding the error messages keep showing.

2 years ago

I’m keen to buy LED headlights for my BMW X3 but have been warned by a friend that they may not pass the MOT. I would like to know if anyone has experience with this and if it is possible to buy an LED light bulb that dips properly with the right colour and can pass the MOT. If so would love a link.