How to Select and Install LED Headlight Replacements
LED lights are brighter, longer-lasting, and more efficient than traditional halogen lights. If you’re considering switching, you may be wondering how easy is it to find and install the right aftermarket LED headlight kit for your vehicle?
While there are many points to consider, such as vehicle specifications and bulb size, a little bit of research can go a long way. Read on for our guide to selecting and installing the right LED headlights for your vehicle.
How to Choose Aftermarket LED Headlights
The first thing you need to do when choosing LED headlights for your vehicle is confirm which sizes of headlight bulb you need. Your options for finding the right model include:
- Use a LED headlight selector tool, like this one
- Use your vehicle’s user manual to find out what bulbs your vehicle currently uses. Your bulb size should be listed under the “Vehicle Maintenance” or “Replacement Bulbs” section. From there, you can search online for LEDs with the same bulb size.
Standard forward-facing vehicle lighting can come in three different categories: high beams, low beams, and fog lights. High and low beams can be combined in the same bulb, while some vehicles have dedicated high beam bulbs and low beam bulbs. This means that you may need to purchase two or three headlight replacement kits for your project.
The final consideration you will need to make is whether you need a decoder for your LED headlights. This is common for vehicles made after 2000 when makers started using a central communication system (also called a CANBus System) for all electrical functions of a vehicle.
However, if you have a newer model vehicle and are in doubt about whether you will need this component - it is best to purchase it.
How Long Does it Take to Install LED Headlights?
Once you have selected the right LED headlights, you will need to decide how to install them.
You can either have them installed by a professional mechanic (or a trusted automotive-inclined friend) or do it yourself. Either way, expect that replacing your headlight bulbs will take a few hours.
Keep in mind that shop rates can be expensive, but professional technicians will be able to get the job done quickly and correctly.
How to Install LED Headlight Replacements
If you have decided that replacing your headlights is a job you can handle, follow these steps:
- First, disconnect your old headlight’s negative cable from the battery terminal and remove the bulb. This can be the trickiest step since factory headlight housing is different with every vehicle. When in doubt, refer to your vehicle’s user manual. Searching a bulb replacement tutorial on YouTube before you start can go a long way as well.
- Insert your new LED bulb into the empty housing. Ensure that the aluminum cooling bands (the red band attached to the rear of the device, also known as “heat sinks”) are tucked cleanly behind the unit. This allows heat to dissipate evenly through the cooling bands.
- Connect the new LED bulb to your vehicle’s wire harness, then reconnect the negative cable to the battery terminal.
- It’s time to “clock” the LED bulb, which ensures the correct beam pattern is produced from the headlight housing. This involves adjusting the position of the LED chips. As an example, NightRider LED replacements need to be “clocked” to the “9 and 3” position (where the chips on the LED unit are oriented like the hands on a clock). This means that the skinny part of the LED unit is facing up and down. Refer to the installation guide that comes with the NightRider LED bulb replacement kit
- You can now try out your new headlights. Ensure that both headlights are casting the same beam pattern, and beware of any flickering, which could be the sign that a decoder is required
Light Up the Night with Your LED Headlights
Now it’s time to hit the road with your brand new LED headlights! These models require much less maintenance than halogen bulbs, so you can plan on using your current headlights for years to come.
Still have questions about the setup process or other lighting products that can help you feel safer on the road? Get in touch through our website.