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#4485047 - 08/10/17 07:10 PM Headlamp bulb prophylaxis?
buck91 Offline


Registered: 04/17/12
Posts: 2449
Loc: West Michigan
Is there a recommended time frame to replace headlamp bulbs? In other words, is there a given amount of time in which their output decreases significantly or does it just vary between applications? I have no problem waiting until one burns out; I typically replace both at that time and keep the old good one as a spare... Just curious if its worth replacing on a schedule...
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#4485053 - 08/10/17 07:13 PM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
DBMaster Offline


Registered: 09/18/12
Posts: 5323
Loc: DFW
My practice is to keep a spare PAIR on hand. If one burns out, which typically takes several years to happen, I replace them as a pair and throw away both of the old ones. They do dim with time as burned filament fogs the inside of the glass. YMMV

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#4485366 - 08/11/17 06:31 AM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
knerml Offline


Registered: 04/05/05
Posts: 480
Loc: NE Ohio
Because of bulb dimming, some people are now recommending replacing bulbs annually.

My wife's Hyundai burned out all 4 OEM bulbs in 18 months.

This nice thing about being proactive is being able to shop for price.
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#4485513 - 08/11/17 09:23 AM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
DBMaster Offline


Registered: 09/18/12
Posts: 5323
Loc: DFW
I think annually is a bit excessive, but pretty much all the roads I use on a regular basis are well lighted. I like to be able to get the brand bulbs I want and not be stuck with whatever the local Walmart or parts store carries. My spare pair is German Sylvania. The spare pair I keep around for my son's car is Hella.

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#4488974 - 08/15/17 07:00 AM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
L_Sludger Offline


Registered: 10/04/09
Posts: 3947
Loc: Ohio
A headlight bulb prophylactic should be avoidance. Avoid touching the bare bulb. Wear gloves if you can. Just say no to oily residue on the glass!
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#4489207 - 08/15/17 12:00 PM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
Smokescreen Online   content


Registered: 05/25/05
Posts: 3360
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I just burned out my first low beam bulb on the Corolla last fall, 1 bulb. At that time the car had nearly 190,000 miles on it in 9 years of ownership. I replaced both for good measure.

Bulbs that are run for DRL will brown over time if not run for lengthy times at full voltage. Luckily I don't do DRL.
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#4493848 - 08/20/17 05:44 PM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
purelux Offline


Registered: 09/27/05
Posts: 104
Loc: pennsylvania
I've seen cars only 1-2 years old of all makes using hid or halogen with blown or severely dimmed lights often due to the winter. Leaving that snow and ice completely covering lights when lights are running drl or normal power really shortens the life. Maybe in areas where it doesn't get so cold or snow much if at all it's different. Using oem lights you'll likely go well beyond a year but it will dim to some extent, noticeable though? If your using higher wattage or brighter lights it's very possible they will have a shorter life.

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#4494811 - 08/21/17 08:58 PM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
JohnnyJohnson Online   content


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 2746
Loc: Wet side WA
Well my lowly Toyota burned out the drivers side lamp just this year after 13 years that's the only bulb I've lost guess I'd better trade it in before the whole car falls apart! Bought two replaced one the other is in the glove box.
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#4494864 - 08/21/17 10:13 PM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: DBMaster]
4WD Online   confused


Registered: 09/21/10
Posts: 6386
Loc: Texas
You live in a better part of the LSS than I do. Not long ago we got a warning ticket over a headlamp, tail light, license lamp - BUT now it's going to be a ticket big enough to buy bulbs for 5 years - so yes I toss many good bulbs in the trash for "Don't Mess With Texas" LEO's.

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#4497665 - 08/25/17 10:45 AM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
Cujet Offline


Registered: 02/15/03
Posts: 7162
Loc: Jupiter, Florida
When I change a bulb, I always compare old vs new, side by side on my white garage door.

Most of the time, the new bulb is brighter than the old, but not always. And I've gone through the trouble of purchasing multiple different brands when I get a dim one. I've ended up with a box, chock a block full of substandard bulbs.

Long life bulbs are typically not as white.
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#4497901 - 08/25/17 04:12 PM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
raytseng Offline


Registered: 12/11/08
Posts: 2339
Loc: CA
the bulbs all have a rated lifespan, but your usage may vary and youd have to track usage.

i believe most oem long life are 750 to 1000hours on the spec sheet where as the high output ones are more like 100hrs.

to change early would be useful if the lights seem too dim or you dont want to get stuck out in a storm or something and have a light go out.


Edited by raytseng (08/25/17 04:18 PM)

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#4498465 - 08/26/17 09:00 AM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
Vern_in_IL Offline


Registered: 06/25/14
Posts: 1884
Loc: IL
I would change all bulbs at 100,000 miles or 150,000 miles.


Over time, especially small incandescence(side marker bulbs), the filament will gas off and slowly smoke the inside of the bulb glass.
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#4499265 - 08/27/17 09:19 AM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
jeff78 Online   content


Registered: 06/06/17
Posts: 129
Loc: New York
The OEM's tend to use longer life bulbs as standard - these can dim noticeably* before they burn out which depending on your driving habits might not happen for years.

The premium aftermarket bulbs (+100, etc) have shorter lifetimes so they tend to burn out before output degrades significantly. I run +100 bulbs in my motorcycle and due to the low beam always being on, they burn out every couple of months. Fortunately, the bulbs are easy to get at so replacement isn't difficult.


* - it's gradual so you probably won't notice until you replace them with new ones and see the difference on the road


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#4501326 - 08/29/17 01:27 PM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
circuitsmith Offline


Registered: 12/17/09
Posts: 620
Loc: Wash, DC
I periodically check all the bulbs for darkening glass.
So last year, at 10yo, ~60K mi, I changed turn, marker and headlights.
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#4501335 - 08/29/17 01:38 PM Re: Headlamp bulb prophylaxis? [Re: buck91]
Dave9 Offline


Registered: 08/28/17
Posts: 176
Loc: Cincinnati, USA
No, there is no sane recommendation to replace bulbs before they burn out, except by people who are so blind that they shouldn't be driving so they pimp the idea that new bulbs being a little brighter is really important.

Buy a spare bulb when you find a deal on it and keep it in your glovebox or other spare storage area so if you have one fail OTR, you can replace it then, unless your vehicle is so modern/convoluted that you can't even get to the bulbs w/o tools. Heh, progress.

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