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Car light bulbs: replacement and choosing

When and why it is necessary to replace car light bulbs

The vacuum head light bulb, light bulb for turn indicator, rear stop lights and marker light bulbs serve averagely for a 1000 hours. Halogen lamps have lifetime limit from 2000 to 4000 hours. IRC-halogen bulbs work twice longer. Replacement of components of any type should be performed in case of breakdown.

The most common defect of the light bulbs is burning-out of the tungsten filament. Breakages of the filament and damage of the glass bulb are also possible. Burning is mostly the result of service life end of the component, but it also can happen because of too high voltage supplied to the detail. Mechanical damages of the filament and bulb are usually the result of the road accident or heavy impact, for example, in case of getting the wheel into the deep pothole.

Light bulbs are replaced in pairs. Otherwise a new part will be brighter than the worn-out one and light distribution will worsen.

How to choose car light bulbs

Light bulbs are divided into 2 common types: with vacuum bulb and with bulb filled with halogen evaporation. Vacuum light bulbs are the simplest and have affordable price. Their disadvantages are significant energy consumption with small light efficiency and small lifetime limit. Moreover, their light has yellow colour which is not optimal for road lighting.

Halogen bulbs have brighter and colder light. However, in comparison with vacuum ones, they heat up and differ by higher price. IRC-halogen components should be noted separately. Their bulbs have special infra-red covering which reflect heat emission back to the tungsten filament. This provides lowered by 45% energy consumption and twice longer service life in comparison with the common halogen light bulb.

Light bulbs can have one or two tungsten filaments. The latter are used as high beam light sources. According to the fixation type in the light body there are two categories: flange-mounted and stud-mounted ones. At mounting the flange-mounted part the tungsten filament is located on the required distance from the lens or in its focus. These light bulbs are installed into headlights and fog lights. Stud fixation doesn’t guarantee precise tungsten filament location but it simplifies mounting. Components of such type are used for passenger and luggage compartment lighting, and are installed into stop-signals, side lights, turn indicators and car marker lights.

For the components to serve longer it is better to choose production of proven manufacturers. Today the best manufacturers are Philips, Osram, Hella and others.

When selecting components you should pay attention to power, voltage (12 or 24V) and to letter markings. Letter T marks small bulbs, R and P mark devices with the socket diameter of 15 mm. and the bulb diameter of 19 and 26,5 mm. accordingly. Letter W points at the glass socket, Y - at the orange bulb colour, H marks halogen light bulbs. Moreover, in markings you can often find information about the socket type, quantity of contacts in it, purpose of the light for which the component is intended.

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Important advices for our customers

How to replace a bulb in front fog lights?

To replace a bulb in front fog lights you need to gain access to the rear part of their body. In some cars, it will be necessary to demount the wheel from the side of the part needed to be replaced and dismantle the wheel arch cover. Then you should turn the bulb counter-clockwise, carefully remove it from the light body and disconnect from the wires. A new component may be installed after that. If the bulbs are halogen-type, don’t touch their envelopes: stains, left on the glass, will lead to premature destruction of the component. It will be more comfortable to perform these works, if you install the car onto a servicing pit or a ramp. In case if there is no necessity of wheel demounting, the car may be set on a curb from the needed side. Sometimes, the whole light unit should be demounted in order to install a new bulb. To do so you need to remove decorative pads on the bumper, carefully unbending the fixators, and then unscrew fastenings of the fog light. You can find more detailed instructions in vehicle technical documentation.

How to connect fog lights?

To connect fog lights you will need a special mounting kit for their installation. Usually such kits contain all required elements: electric wires, sockets, a switch-on button and a relay. Connection is performed by the following scheme:

  1. Sockets should be connected to the fog lights, connecting negative wire to the car body. Positive one should be led to the battery mounting area – a relay will be connected to it.
  2. After this you need to install a relay, connecting it to the positive wire with one contact, and second – through the wire to the car body or to negative terminal, third – through the fuse to the positive terminal of the battery. The wire of fourth contact should be led into the cabin.
  3. Then you should install fog lights button in the dashboard and connect it to the wire, coming from the relay.

Can you install xenon in fog lights by your own?

Many car owners are interested, if xenon can be installed into fog lights by their own. It is not recommended to use gas-discharge lamps, if halogen bulbs were installed in car as a standart: this not only endangers the safety of all road users, but is also law violation in many countries. Xenon bulbs can only be used in lights with special marking. In some cases, xenon lights assemblies can be installed in the car with halogen fog lights. But in most cases it will require wiring replacement, which is quite difficult to do by your own. Moreover, such tuning sometimes requires the certificate, confirming that all works were performed by qualified specialists and done properly.

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