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Illuminating Answers: How Long Should Headlights Last?

A car's headlight. The answer to, "how long do headlights last?," is dependent on a lot of factors. It all depends on what kind of headlights you have, whether you drive in harsh weather and how often you drive at night.

How long should headlights last before you replace the bulbs? The answer varies depending on what type of headlights your car has. Here’s how long different types of headlights last and why it can be tricky to determine how long they should last before they need to be replaced.

Halogen Bulbs

Halogen headlights last anywhere from 450 hours to 1,000 hours. That’s quite a range because there are so many factors that affect how long headlights last. The same bulb might last longer in your car than in your neighbor’s car all depending on your driving habits.

HID Headlights

Vehicles with HID headlights last a bit longer. These average between 2,000 hours and 3,000 hours of use before they need to be replaced. That works out to around 90,000 miles, so you’ll be driving a long while before these lights burn out.

Xenon Headlights

Moving up the scale in longevity are Xenon headlights. These last up to 10,000 hours, so you won’t be changing your lights very often if you have Xenon headlights in your vehicle.

LED Headlights

LED headlights sit at the top of the heap and take a huge leap upward in the number of hours they’ll work before they burn out. You can expect your LED lights to last an average of 30,000 hours.

How Long Should Headlights Last?Headlights

As with pretty much every part of your car, how long your headlights last depends on several factors that are unique to you and how you drive. Harsh climates can shorten a headlight’s lifespan, as will driving someplace where daylight hours are short. Those who often drive at night will also find their headlights don’t last as long.

When you do replace your headlight bulbs, it might be tempting to go with the cheapest option possible, but that’s not always a wise choice. Not all bulbs are of the same quality, so if you skimp on a lightbulb, then you’re skimping on quality and they won’t last as long.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations when the time comes to replace any of the bulbs on your car and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand the differences between the bulbs that fit your vehicle, then ask a sales associate to explain them so you can make an informed decision.

Your headlights are essential for not just seeing where you’re going at night or on cloudy days, but for being seen by other drivers. If your headlights aren’t working properly, whether they’re dim or burned out, get them replaced right away.

Check out all the lighting parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how long should headlights last, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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