Car Lighting, Decals & Connectors
When you drive past someone with a single headlight out, it's tempting to high-five everyone in the car for luck. But losing any part of the light source on a vehicle can be dangerous. In the past, the lamps of a car were powered with gasses and even when electricity was finally incorporated into the exterior light systems of cars, the lumens remained low, and therefore visibility remained poor. Advances in technology have ensured that the cars on the road today will be equipped with modern, safe materials that can illuminate as far as 400 feet ahead. Even if you drive a classic antique vehicle, NAPA provides several options to retrofit your old, reliable ride so that seeing in the dark is just as easy as it is with a modern car.
What do headlights do?
Headlights, or head lamps are a series of light bulbs and lens assemblies that fit into the front of your vehicle. They provide the main source of illumination on the road ahead, making it safer to drive at night as well as in dense fog, rain, and snow.
Head Light Types:
Sealed Beam Incandescent Lights
The bulb is sealed within a housing assembly that consists of a lens, element, and reflector, and the lenses are usually made of glass. If any part of the assembly fails, the entire assembly must be replaced. While the light emitted can be lower than modern options, these are relatively easy to install, and the glass lenses do not fog when exposed to the elements the same way plastic lenses do. There are also easy DIY retrofit kits if you're looking to update your car without sacrificing a classic appearance.
LED stands for Light-Emitting Diode and these lights use electroluminescence, or 'EL'. High-volt AC Power passes through a semiconductor which causes a non-thermal light to be emitted.
HID stands for High Intensity Discharge, and this type of light comes in a few varieties. Xenon lights, seen frequently on BMW vehicles like the BMW 528i use two noble gasses, xenon, and argon, as well as vaporized metallic salts to create an electrical arc which jumps to the contacts. This creates one of the brightest head lights on the road today. The blue hue and circular 'halo' shape of certain xenon lights are nicknamed 'angel eyes'.
Halogen lights are the most common headlamp on the road today. Electricity is sent through a fine tungsten filament is encased in a glass capsule surrounded by halogen gas. The current heats the filament to create the incandescent glow that can last for hundreds of hours. They are relatively inexpensive to manufacture, easily sourced, and competitively priced.
When is it time to replace a headlight or a turn signal?
You'll certainly know when it's time to replace a headlight that's burned out, but those with NAPA KnowHow will be sure to change both headlights when one goes out. Once one headlight goes, it's difficult to know when the next one will, and the headache really begins if you install a replacement light on one side, only to have the other go out a few days later. Driving with a single headlight can cut visibility in half and therefore risks a ticket and creates dangerous driving conditions, especially at night.
It may not be so obvious when a turn signal light has reached the end of its life. Depending on the year, make and model of your vehicle, a burned-out turn signal or flasher bulb is indicated by a rapidly blinking light. It's always a good idea to routinely check your headlights' high and low beams, taillights, brake lights and flashers to be sure everything is in working order. If you do find that a bulb is dark, consider replacing the same bulb on the other side of the vehicle to ensure the bulbs wear out around the same time.
The illumination of any vehicle light is also dependent upon the wiring harnesses which provide power to the assembly unit from the battery. If these wires become loose, corroded, or simply wear out, it can cause the bulb to dim or go out altogether. Be sure to check that all the wiring harness connectors are firmly in place, the connector pins are not bent or corroded, and the wires are free of moisture.
When in doubt, bring your pop-eyed ride into any local NAPA Auto Parts store or AutoCare Center and we can take a look and get your lights shining bright again.