- 3 Min Read
- By: Christian Schaefer
How To Save Money When Shopping For Headlight Bulbs
Cars are as much about safety as they are about looking good and driving well. Headlights and taillights often let another driver know that you’re there and what your intentions are, so they need to be functioning at their best at all times. Buying fresh bulbs at a local store can be expensive, but it doesn’t need to be. With FCP Euro, you can ensure you’re bulbs are always bright and your wallet is a little fuller.
Save Money By Buying Bulbs Before You Need Them
We’ve all hopped in our cars after a long day only to find that one of our headlight, taillight, or turn signal bulbs has gone out. Even without the possibility of getting a ticket, driving without maximum visibility is putting yourself at an unnecessary risk. In just about all of those situations, the easiest thing you can do is pop down to the local auto parts chain retailer and pick up some new bulbs.
If you haven’t had to do that yet, then you’ll likely be surprised by what those retailers will charge you. Because of the store’s big name and the “convenience” they provide, their prices are far greater than what you’ll find from us. Even something shared by tens of models across several manufacturers, like an H11 bulb, can be 50% more expensive in-store than online—and there lies a perfect opportunity for any DIY’er.
We buy batteries and house bulbs before we need them, so why not do the same with headlight and taillight bulbs, too? You’ll only be saving money and time in the long run.
What Kind Of Bulbs Do You Need?
Do you know what doesn’t save you money? Buying the wrong type of bulb. Like every other kind of bulb, automotive applications aren’t one size fits all. A quick peek at our site or any other offering automotive bulbs shows that there are tens to choose from in all sorts of wattages, colors, and construction. In most cases, applications are type-dependent, meaning that if your bulb comes from the right family, you’ll be fine to choose the wattage and color temperature you want.
There are many ways of researching what kind of bulb you have online, but the one surefire way to find out what’s in your car is by looking at the bulb. Each one has an ANSI Device Number, a three to five-digit code, stamped on it that signifies what it is. Once you have that code, simply pop it into Google or reference it with the info below to get your definitive answer.
HID Xenon Bulbs
Xenon bulbs have been a popular choice since the early ‘00s for many manufacturers. Compared to traditional Halogen bulbs, they’re a completely different design that uses the inert gas Xenon to emit light rather than the classic filament. That makes them smaller than Halogens but more efficient, as their light is up to twice as bright and white while consuming less power.
Euro-applicable Xenon Bulb Types
The above bulb types are all slightly different versions you’ll find at fcpeuro.com (and elsewhere) for your European vehicle. Each type has unique properties relating to its ignitor, ballast, voltage, and construction, so they cannot be interchanged without significant modification. The two lowest-numbered bulbs are the earliest variants and are regularly compatible with our favorite models settling into their modern classic era. They use nearly double the voltage of later bulbs and utilize Mercury, so ensure you’re safe when handling them. The later D3 and up variants are Mercury-free with improved efficiency. Expect all Xenon bulbs to last between 2000 and 3000 hours.
Although the Halogen bulb has been phased out among many automakers for main beams and high beams, they’re the most common kind of bulb among older models. Their vast popularity makes them easy to find and significantly cheaper than just about any other kind of automotive bulb but at the cost of performance. With that said, Halogens are still plenty safe; manufacturers like Phillips and Osram continue to offer updated, higher-performance versions.
Since 1962, the automotive Halogen bulb has seen many revisions and updates that have reshaped the bulb. As such, the selection below consists of just the most common type you’ll find equipped to any European vehicle in the last sixty years.
Halogen Bulb Types:
Each type is slightly different, varying in socket shape or designed usage. For example, H4 bulbs commonly found in air-cooled 911s use two filaments, one for the high beam and one for the low, whereas the H1 and H7 are single filaments for either the low or high beam. Also, while the H11 and H7 serve the same function, one has exposed prongs while the other has enclosed prongs. Once you know which type you need, you can shop around to choose your wattage and color temperature. Expect Halogen bulbs to last between 400-1000 hours.
The Best Way To Search For Bulbs On FCPEuro.com
Head over to our main site once you’re ready to shop smart and buy some bulbs preemptively. From there, you can search for the bulbs you want.
How To Search By Bulb Type:
The easiest way to find headlight bulbs is by searching by bulb type. Using the bulb type will return every matching bulb for that type, regardless of the described fitment. Many of the aftermarket Halogen-to-LED bulbs don’t have a listed fitment, so they won’t appear when searching by model.
How To Search By ”My Garage” Function:
While headlight bulbs are often referred to by their socket type, many others aren't. Searching by your specific make and model is your best bet if you’re looking for a particular turn signal, taillight, or fog light bulb. From there, you’ll have results guaranteed to be the right product for your OE replacement needs.
Car and motorsports-obsessed writer/editor for FCP Euro's DIY Blog. Constantly dreaming of competing behind the wheel or searching for another project. Owner of a turbo Subaru Forester and a ratty Porsche 914, neither of which are running.