When you’re driving at night, there’s nothing more important than being able to clearly see what’s ahead of you. If you find that you can’t see very far ahead, or if you have to keep switching your high beams on to get a better look, you might be having some issues with your headlights that need to be resolved. The good news is that maintaining and replacing your car’s headlights is easy and affordable, and yet it can be one of the best things you can do to improve your safety while driving in the nighttime. Make a point of learning about the different options you have when it comes to headlights, how to keep them clean and well-maintained, and when and how to replace them.
1. The Various Types of Headlights
There are several different types of headlights, and they are not all created equal. Cheap, lower quality headlights provide less illumination and can burn out faster.
Halogen headlights are the most common and cheapest to manufacture. Their light often has a yellowish tint, and they tend not to be as bright or reach as far as other headlights. HID (high intensity discharge) and LED (light-emitting diode) headlights are brighter and whiter, and can provide much more visibility while you’re driving. They’re also more energy efficient than halogen bulbs. However, they’re also more expensive, and the glare, especially from HID bulbs, can be distracting for oncoming drivers.
2. Practicing Proper Headlight Maintenance
Take some time to wash your headlights regularly. Dirt and debris can both reduce visibility and increase glare. If you’re washing your windshield, give your headlights a scrub too. Get down and take a close look at the bulbs to see if they’re cloudy or cracked, indicating that you should replace them. While you’re at it, make a habit of doing a regular walk-around to make sure all your brake lights are still working.
Alignment is also important—bumpy roads, jolts, or collisions can throw your headlights out of alignment. A mechanic can make sure they’re pointed in the right direction to provide maximum illumination of the road in front of you.
3. When It’s Time to Replace Headlights
Halogen bulbs will have a tendency to dim naturally over time. If you’re having trouble seeing the road at night, or if you can tell that your headlights have dimmed noticeably, don’t wait for them to burn out before replacing them. It’s best to replace both headlights at the same time so that the lighting is even; uneven lighting can cause visibility issues.
Although it is entirely possible to replace headlights yourself, accessing the headlights can be difficult on some vehicle models. You can always locate a good auto repair shop to change them out for you.
Driving at night or in any other low visibility conditions with burned out or insufficiently bright headlights can have dire consequences, so don’t let anything bad happen by putting off simple headlight care and maintenance. Check them frequently and replace them as soon as any issues come up.