The Simple Car Bulb Guide

The Ultimate
Car Bulb Guide 2022

This highly detailed guide will help you understand a lot more about car bulbs including:

  • What bulbs you need.
  • How to choose the right bulbs.
  • The difference between halogen, LED and Xenon.
  • What purpose each bulb has.

We’ve updated this article to keep it inline with 2022 and covered even more questions from our audience.

car bulb guide 2022

We understand that it can sometimes be a confusing experience when trying to find the right bulb for your car online.Many car owners are unaware of what bulb type they actually need.

Most people don’t know the difference between halogen, LED, Xenon or HID kits.

It can be confusing and a lot of drivers just want to be told what bulb they need.

Popping into a shop might seem easier but you’ll be greeted by someone who has a sales target to hit so sometimes their advice isn’t always suitable for you or your vehicle.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a quick and easy car bulb guide that teaches you the basics on car headlight bulbs, what bulb your car uses and the differences between halogen, LED and HID bulbs.

Here you can skip to the best section for you:

Section 1:
Finding The Right Bulbs

Replacing your car bulbs can be difficult.

A lot of vehicle owners struggle trying to figure out “what bulb does what?” and “what bulb goes where?”.

Luckily, we’re here to help!

We built this guide and adapted it for 2022 to help you understand what bulbs you actually need.

car bulb guide

Every car, make, model and year can be completely different from one another so finding out what type of bulb you need can often be a confusing task.Luckily, we have a sophisticated car bulb finder that searches a database of around 2 million different factors in order to find the correct details about your car.

Using this tool you can simply enter your registration number or select the details from the drop down list and you will be taken to the results that display which car bulbs you will need.

Checking Your Vehicle Manual

Sometimes the details for your car, van or motorbike may be incorrect or missing from our database.

Your vehicle manual will usually indicate the type of bulb each application takes.

This information can usually be found within the “Lighting” section of the manual.

Bulb Specification Chart

Unfortunately, some manufacturers won’t bother with this.

We’ve come across plenty of cars where the information is either missing or not even started.

If this is the case, then you need to physically take the bulb out and inspect it for yourself.

Manually Inspect Your Bulbs

If you don’t have a manual to hand (or if the info is less than helpful), then the next step would be to remove the bulb from your vehicle and inspect the metal or plastic base of the bulb itself.

This should be marked with specifications telling you what application the bulb is, the wattage and sometimes the colour of the bulb.

The bulb you need should be marked or detailed with an application number such as “H1, D2S, 9005, HIR2 etc“.

Bulb Application XenonH11 MarkingsH7 Markings

Section 2:
Car Bulb Finder

We designed a tool designed to help you find the right bulbs for your vehicle.

Our database spans over 40,000 makes, models, years and variants for vehicles registered in the UK.

All you need to do is type in your registration and our system will tell you what bulb types you will need.

car bulb finder

Our car bulb finder helps you discover what bulbs are needed for your vehicle and also shows you what applications you will need. Here, we are going to show you how it works:

Step One: Enter The Vehicle Registration

Simply enter your registration and click the “GO” button.

If your vehicle’s registration isn’t in our database then try using the right hand side of the car bulb finder.

Select your manufacturer, model, type and year and proceed to the next step.

car bulb finder

Step Two: Select Your Bulb Type

Following step one, you might be presented with a pop-up that asks what type of bulb technology your vehicle came with from the factory. This might not appear for every vehicle.

Your user manual will usually state whether your vehicle is Halogen, Xenon or Bi-Xenon.

If this box appears for you then just select the appropriate vehicle type.

Select Your Bulb

Step 3: Choose Your Bulbs

The next page you are taken to will show you all of the bulbs that we think will fit your vehicle. Please bear in mind that some data may not be present due to the ever expanding database of registered vehicles in the UK.

If your original bulb was an H7 bulb then any H7 upgrade or replacement should fit. Please keep in mind that some car bulb holders might not be suitable for upgrading from Halogen to LED however we can supply you with the solution required to fit the bulb.

car bulb finder

Want to see it in action? Here’s a quick and easy video guide for steps one to three.

Section 3:
The Difference In Bulb Types

In this section, you will learn about each bulb type and we cover the following:

  • How long these bulb types should last
  • The amount of light output
  • The benefits of each bulb type

This should help you decide on the best upgrade bulbs for your vehicle.

car bulb types

Discovering the differences between halogen, xenon and LED bulbs can be difficult to comprehend at times so we’re hoping that this section will help you fully understand the types of headlight bulbs available.

Filament/Halogen Headlight Bulbs

  • Halogen bulbs are a mixture of inert gas with a small amount of halogen gas.
  • The addition of Xenon gas into the mix allows the filament to burn brighter to increase light output.
  • The addition of a blue coating to the bulb will turn the colour of the light to be more white. The downside to this is a small reduction in light intensity.
  • Bulbs with a higher wattage produce more light but have a shorter lifespan.
  • Their colour range spans from 2900k to 5900k making them quite diverse bulbs.
  • These types of upgrade bulbs usually range between 20% to 200% brighter than standard halogen bulbs.
  • High power bulbs usually last less than 1 year where as long life halogen bulbs can last up to 4 years.

Halogen headlight bulbs are typically the standard bulbs in most cars. has a range halogen upgrade bulbs which include long lasting bulbs, brighter bulbs or bulbs designed for style.

Halogen / Filament tends to be a cheaper alternative but you might want to consider between price vs performance if you are looking for the best possible outcome.

H1 Halogen BulbH7 Halogen BulbH11 Halogen Bulb

The Drivers’ Trade Off

There is a “light versus style” trade off with halogen bulbs between achieving the most light output and having a whiter coloured light.

A blue coating will make a halogen bulb whiter however this will reduce the light output. This is what we call the Drivers’ Trade Off. If you decide to have whiter halogen lights, just keep in mind that you will be sacrificing the actual light output.

Brighter Lights Will Not Last As Long

Unfortunately, brighter halogen bulbs will not last as long as standard replacements or LED bulbs.

We went in-depth as to how long car bulbs should last in a recent article.

The Main Benefits Of Halogen Upgrade Bulbs

Aside from being a cheaper alternative to most LED headlight bulbs, the main benefit to choosing halogen is that there are no CANBus errors when you change the bulbs over.

Not only are these bulbs perfect for an error free experience but you will also have no bulb holder issues, fully road legal and are a completely low hassle option.

LED Headlight Bulbs

  • A long lasting lifespan of 2 – 12 years
  • Lower wattage means less strain on your battery
  • Generally consist of a crisp, clinical white colour output
  • Brightness ranges from 150% – 300% brighter than standard halogen bulbs
  • LED headlight bulbs are fast becoming the popular choice for car owners
  • CANBus technology is now becoming integrated into most LED car bulbs
  • Not road legal; as of January 2021, will not pass an MOT

The Baby Bulbs Of The Auto Industry

It’s definitely worth mentioning that LED bulbs are the youngest bulb types for vehicles.

Since the technology is still fairly new – aftermarket LED bulbs may cause issues with your CANBus system displaying errors or hyper-flashing.

The technology is advancing at a fast pace and we predict that it will soon overtake HID kits in both performance and power.

Each new LED product that is released to the public seems to have an increase in performance, technology and compatibility.

Not Road Legal

Unfortunately, all aftermarket LED upgrade bulbs aren’t road legal and may never be. This is because they are different from what the regular car is set-up with and so cannot be E-marked (a legal requirement).

They will also no longer pass an MOT as per government advice, although we have seen some garages turn a blind eye to LED headlights. It is always worth checking with your MOT technician beforehand.

Keep this in mind when upgrading your bulbs.

9005 LED BulbH7 LED BulbH11 LED Bulb

Branded LED Bulbs Are Simply The Best

This is completely accurate. Many retailers sell cheap LED bulbs claiming to be incredibly bright however the position of the bulb can dangerously affect the beam pattern which can be hazardous to other road users.

If you’re shopping around for LED headlight bulbs then we highly suggest only buying branded names like OSRAM, Philips or Twenty20. Try to avoid retailers that claim high brightness levels yet appear to be from an untrustworthy supplier or manufacturer.

Some car owners become worried about upgrading from halogen to LED bulbs so we put together an LED Brightness guide a while back that might come in handy.

Big brand names within the market have been investing heavily into LED headlight bulbs and their are major improvements with every product. From fan-less LED headlight bulbs to incredibly bright LED bulbs for your car, the choices are becoming broader.

Some vehicles might experience CANBus errors but we’ve also got this covered in our CANBus error guide, complete with video.

Xenon HID Kits

  • A diverse colour range of 5000k, 6000k and 8000k
  • 35W – 55W power output
  • Immense brightness levels ranging between 300% and 450% extra light
  • Currently still the brightest aftermarket upgrade option
  • Plug and play system
  • Typically, the HID bulbs last from 2 – 5 years
  • Not road legal and will not pass an MOT

HID Kits pack an additional 300% – 450% more light when compared to standard halogen bulbs, they are renowned for producing immense lighting for your vehicle.

Containing Xenon gas, these bulbs are often the perfect upgrade choice when showcasing your vehicle.

9005 HID BulbH1 HID BulbH7 HID Bulb

35W HID Kits produce up to 350% more light.

55W HID Kits produce up to 450% more light.

Unfortunately HID kits no longer pass an MOT within the UK. They can still be used for off road use such as on private land for events, cross country and track events.

A simple plug and play system means even a novice can install. This simple system means you can easily switch between your HID kits and your road legal bulbs.

The Brightest Headlight Bulbs Available

It’s worth noting that HID kits are by far the brightest headlight upgrades on the market. There are no other upgrade bulbs available in 2019 that can compare.

Section 4:
Different Bulb Purposes

Headlight bulbs are designed to have different purposes.

Some are designed to produce as much light as possible, while others are built to last years.

This section is designed to help you understand the different purposes that manufacturers build bulbs for.

Hopefully this prevents you from buying a long life bulb and expect it to be bright.

car bulb purposes

Choosing between style, brightness and your bulbs’ lifespan can sometimes be a difficult choice.Understanding the difference between them doesn’t have to be though.

The easiest way to learn what the difference is is simple:

  • Higher wattage halogen bulbs have a shorter lifespan
  • High performance halogen upgrades can have a shorter life compared to a standard bulb
  • Long life halogens are available which can last up to 3 times longer than standard
  • LED bulbs have a lower wattage and a longer lifespan but can still produce up to 300% more light
  • HID Kits have a long lifespan even though their light output is much larger than standard bulbs

When choosing a bulb for your car, try looking for a mixture between a decent lifespan and a good level of brightness.

Our website allows you to filter between different options when trying to find the best headlight bulbs for your vehicle.

Different Bulb Purposes Explained

  • Maximum Vision

These bulbs are designed to provide as much light as possible whilst retaining their road legal status. Usually between 10% – 50% whiter and 60% – 200% brighter than standard halogen bulbs. As these have the highest bulb performance, they come with the shortest life (except for high wattage bulbs). You would typically get between 1-3 years of use before they need to be replaced.

  • Vision & Style

The purpose of vision and style bulbs is to offer a good combination of extra light and that sought after stylish whiter light. These bulbs usually give up to an extra 60% more light yet they allow you to still have a nice crisp white beam pattern.

  • Long Life

Long life headlight bulbs last much longer than standard or upgrade bulbs. They are not designer for light output improvements on either brightness or colour. The light output would typically be very similar to a standard bulb. However where they win over the others is that they significantly outlive them. Typically these will last a good 4-8 years depending on driving habits. These are a great alternative for owners who are not so concerned with improving light output and simply don’t want the hassle of repeatedly changing bulbs.

  • Off Road

Off road headlight bulbs main purpose is to provide you with as much light as possible. They do this by simply ramping up the power. Not economical, but they do provide the highest light intensity over the road legal options. Due to this high wattage, they are the shortest life bulbs on the market, typically lasting 6 months – 2 years depending on their use.

  • Standard Bulb

Sometimes you just have a bulb that’s failed and you want to get the car back on the road. If you’re not into the whole upgrade scene, then a simple bulb replacement is probably what you’re looking for. These are a like for like replacement for your existing bulbs, no frills and great value.

Section 5:
Frequently Asked Questions

We get asked questions all the time.

We’ve collated some of the most asked questions since the conception of ABD.

If you feel like we haven’t covered enough, let us know your questions in the comments below.


Q. Will my new bulb(s) fit?

A. Yes, as long as you have selected the same fitting as your current bulbs. Let’s say your old bulb was a H1 halogen. As long as you have replaced it with another H1 bulb (halogen, LED or HID) then it should fit.

Q. Will my new LED upgrade bulb fit?

A. Yes, most of the time. There are two issues you might come across with aftermarket LEDs.

The first is if you have a specific bulb holder designed for halogen bulbs. If this happens, we can usually supply LED bulb compatible equivalents to use instead.

Q. Will my car show a CANBus error with my new LED’s?

A. In 95% of cases, no. That is as long as you are using a “CANBus compatible” LED bulb. However there are a few very fussy vehicles out there which might still complain.

There’s no way to be 100% sure until your new LED’s have been fitted. If they do show CANBus errors then they can be simply resolved using CANBus resistors or control units.

Q. What does “OE bulbs” mean?

A. OE stands for Original Equipment. In this context, it is referring to the part that was fitted by the factory when the car was new. OE is often used in Xenon HID technology to highlight they are to replace the bulbs on cars that had Xenons fitted from new.

Aftermarket HID bulbs tend to be for those who have upgraded from halogens to HID. Aftermarket LEDs tend to be for upgrades from halogen or Xenon to LED technology.

Q. What’s The Difference Between Dipped And Main Beam?

A. Your dipped beam (low beam) is what you have on all the time when driving at night. Your main beam (high beam) is what you put on when on dark country roads without street lights, or when flashing other drivers.

Q. What do colour temperatures mean for car bulbs?

A. Bulbs come in different colour temperatures that usually consist of 4 digits followed by a K (kelvin). There is a great colour temperature explanation on Wikipedia however for headlight bulbs, the rule usually looks something like this:

  • 3200k – Warm yellow
  • 5000k – White with a “tint” of yellow
  • 6000k – White with a very faint “tint” of blue
  • 8000k – White with a strong blue hue

Anything below 3200K will be a murky yellow, and above 8000k will veer into dark blue and purple.

Q. What colour temperature do I need?

A. It’s completely up to you.

The colour temperature (kelvin) that the bulb gives off is a style choice.

5000k is brighter than 6000k or 8000k bulbs and gives off a nice white light but again, this is more based off of style choices.

To mimic the LED style, you will want to go for 6000K colour temperature. For Xenons, 6000K-8000K is the perfect choice to suit the style.


Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

I need a h1 led 12v bulb equivalent to a h1 55w halogen bulb for a flashing beacon can you help please

Mike Lewis
2 months ago

I have a 58 plate 5 series BMW renowned for poor headlights, I did upgrade to HiD kit but the costs of the bulbs are now prohibitive so, I thought I’d go to LED what cost am I into for all-around replacements & do I have to disconnect the HiD unit?

3 months ago

I’ve got a Mercedes 04 W211 E500 Estate. When I got the car the headlights were very poor. After mopping and upgrading to H7 night breaker bulbs, I find the illumination still quite poor on unlit roads.
I’m not worried about cosmetics l just want more light.
Any suggestions?

5 months ago

I have a 1984 Land Rover 90. The original sealed Lucas headlights are, well, rubbish. The light is dim and very yellow. I want to use standard halogen lamp units so it looks as original as possible but, need better light . Am I best using up to date H4 halogen bulbs or use LED H4 replacements?

John Bucher
1 year ago

I am struggling to find a compatible LED Headlamp replacement bulb for my 2006 Honda 250 Recon (ATV) The existing bulb says it is 25 watt,

and the numbers on the bulb are 89486 & 5322, there is also an L5 on the metal trim pc. The mount has four prongs and the plug end is straight with three pins in an oval female receiver. The Honda part number is 34001-HP0-A01 and shows 35 watts

Mark W. Porter
1 year ago

Good morning

Do you stock interior and boot LED’s bulbs for a Mitsubishi Mirage 1193cc Hatchback registration number NU63 YNH ?

Kind regards


Dean Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark W. Porter

Hi Mark,

We don’t have data on what interior bulbs your vehicle needs.

For interior LED bulbs, it’s always best to take them out and identify them / measure them if they are festoon type bulbs.

If you’re unsure on how to identify them, take a picture of every bulb you want to identify and send it to us via email.

David Wallace
1 year ago

Hi I’ve just bought a mondeo titanium mk5 20 plate the lights are not the best to say the least, I don’t know the law on what type of bulbs I can fit to the car in respect to the MOT requirements. I am looking for a brighter white light with a lot more distance iam looking to change all the bulbs on the front except the indicators I believe they are H7,H15, H11, and W5W bulbs any help or recommendation would be greatfully appreciated.

Dean Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  David Wallace

Hi David,

For road legal aftermarket bulbs, you’d struggle to find the right balance between brightness and colour output.

Currently, the brightest halogen bulbs available are the Philips GT200 bulbs that are rated 200% brighter than standard bulbs.

David Wallace
1 year ago
Reply to  Dean Michael

Hi thankyou for the reply do Philips gt200 make the bulbs in all the sizes that I require or an alternative to the normal halogen ones. I am going to chance all the bulbs at the same time as the bumper has to come off to replace them once again once again thank you for your help and recommendations

Best regards


Dean Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  David Wallace

Unfortunately, Philips (and other manufacturers) don’t really make bulbs for every application type.

I’d recommend having a look through our website and seeing what bulbs would best suit your needs.

As it stands, H15 bulbs are quite limited in terms of available ranges.

For W5W bulbs, I’d recommend looking at LED alternatives because filament versions lack the light output you need.

We have a great range of W5W (501) LED bulbs available to choose from.

1 year ago

Hi All

I have a Corsa D (2010) 1.4 Si 100bhp and I would like to move to LED lights both dipped and Main beam. At about 5000k that will have the right light pattern so not to blind oncoming traffic. What bulbs and fittings would I need. Thank you.

1 year ago

I have kia sportage 2017 with led lights (full). They are still not very bright and have weak spread. Is there a good upgrade worth considering for main/full beams.

Steve Bower
1 year ago


Can you supply a warm white/5000k festoon bulb?


Dean Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Bower

Hi Steve,

Yes, we can absolutely supply that type of festoon bulb depending on the sizes.

If you’re looking to upgrade to LED, please check out the following links:

Mr George Bailey
1 year ago

My car is a Citroen C5 Aircross Reg GU20 XVT your system will not bring up reg or model! can you please help me? I am not sure wether to fit LED or HID. this SUV has reflector lights! Thanks Mr, george Bailey.

John Slater
1 year ago

I have an older car with H5 bulbs what would you recommend fitting to improve their performance

Casey Koo
2 years ago

I would like to order Skoda Octavia Ambition Plus 2019 model LED tail lights, the bulb is normal light bulb.

How much is it to deliver to Singapore?

Thank you

Ram Keshwala
2 years ago

I want to know which bulbs is those that have different colours temperature like when you look in other angles it look different colours new cars got them I don’t know what they called if you could helpe thanks

Derek Girling
2 years ago

TW382G2LED-1 do these leds come in any other colour. It does not say on the website.

Derek Girling
2 years ago

TW382G2LED-1 do these less come in any other colour than amber?

Hossam E. Mohamed Abd Elaal
2 years ago

Dear fellows

I own an MG RX5 comfort, and looking for a complete xenon light kit for it 4500-5000K but I don’t know what kit should I buy, is it H7, H3…..etc what is your recommendation, availability and price?

Thanks for your help

Dean Michael
2 years ago

We’re not biased however we do happen to have an amazing range of HID Kits available ;)

Jason O.
2 years ago

Thank you for a such a great guide!

2 years ago

so what’s about the H1 lamp?

Kenneth Ibrahim
2 years ago

what bulbs replacement would you recommend for a 1976 MGB 1800 for better light output.

regards Ken

1 year ago

Explain this to me, how you state that HID bulbs are not road legal and no longer pass MOT standards yet these are the OEM standard fitted in my 2006 Lexus and yet they pass the MOT no problem? Does that mean I now have to replace the entire headlight units of my car? Would Toyota be responsible for replacing the units free of charge or is the onus entirely at the owners expense………or are you just talking pish?

Dean Michael
1 year ago
Reply to  Leepshin

Hi Leepshin,

As you stated in your comment, your bulbs are OEM which is why they pass.

The road legalities and MOT issues are for HID conversion kits.

Kind Regards,