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Are LED Headlights Road Legal?

Are LED Headlights Road Legal?

Are LED headlights road legal?

LEDs have become popular in a variety of applications across the automotive world, featuring in brake lights, fog lights and interior lights. LED headlights are increasing in popularity, too. However, the legality of these bulbs can be questionable at times.

Read on to find out more.

Can LED headlights be used on the road?

Original Equipment (OE) LED headlights that have been fitted by the vehicle manufacturer are road legal. However, these bulbs are non-replaceable, which means that if the bulb fails, the whole headlight unit will need to be replaced. Fortunately, LED headlights are durable and have a very long lifespan, so you needn’t worry about this happening frequently.

If you are looking to replace an internal car light with an LED, this is also legal. Retrofitting LED headlights is where issues with the law may arise. For example, if you have a halogen bulb currently installed and you want to upgrade to an LED, it is not road legal to do so. This is because it is classed as a headlight modification, as you would be switching from halogen technology to LED technology. However, if you're looking for an LED headlight upgrade for off-road use, it's now easier than ever to purchase and install a high-quality option.

What makes a headlight road legal?

Road legal headlights are those that are legal to use on the streets. Each country has different laws that determine exactly what makes car bulbs road legal, but there are some basic guidelines you can follow to ensure your headlights meet the mark.

When using your headlights at night, the goal is to be able to see objects on the road around 50 - 100 metres ahead of you. Your lights must be bright enough to allow you to see, but they shouldn't be so bright that they dazzle other drivers.

There are also laws regarding the colour of your headlights. Regardless of which country you live in, the law requires your headlights to be yellow or white in colour. Some drivers may find that certain car bulbs are too blue, making them non-road legal. Blue lights are used by the emergency services, and if normal cars have headlights with a blue hue, it can confuse other road users.

What makes some car headlights so bright?

In recent years, vehicle manufacturers have started to move away from traditional halogen light bulbs towards LEDs and HIDs, as they offer improved brightness and durability. The brightness of headlight bulbs is measured in Kelvin (K), with a higher rating signalling a brighter light that is more blue in colour. 

Halogen bulbs have a colour temperature between 3,200 – 5,000K, xenon headlights have a temperature between 4,000 – 6,000K and LEDs typically have a temperature around 6,000K.

Extremely bright headlights are likely to either be xenon or LED. However, if the lights appear to be too bright and are a safety issue this could be due to a misalignment of the headlight. If you have any concerns about the brightness of your headlights, you should contact your local vehicle dealership.

LED headlights

LED headlights can be a great purchase. They will give your car a modern and stylish look, and they also have a much longer lifespan in comparison to halogen bulbs. The trick with LED headlights is to find bulbs from reputable sellers. Our best advice is to buy LEDs manufactured by well-known, high-quality brands, such as Philips or OSRAM.

There are two problems with using cheap LED headlights that you can find on online marketplaces.

1. They can be too bright - although the law requires drivers to use headlights that illuminate the road ahead sufficiently, it is actually possible to have lights that are too bright, because they can dazzle other road users.

2. They can cause issues if they are angled incorrectly - drivers who replace their halogen bulbs with cheap LED headlights may fail to align them properly. If you purchase LEDs, make sure you realign your bulbs to eliminate the risk of dazzling oncoming drivers.

Can you replace halogen bulbs with LED headlights?

In theory, LED headlights are a great idea. However, it's difficult to find LED headlights that are safe and road legal. Here at PowerBulbs, we do sell high-quality LED headlights from a variety of trusted manufacturers. Whilst they are not road legal, the bulbs are designed with specialist technology that prevents dazzling, making them a lot safer to use.

It's worth noting that many LED headlight bulbs will require a CANbus control unit to help them work correctly. Take a look at our range of CANbus control units, or read more about what they do.

When bought from a reputable manufacturer, LED headlights can look stylish whilst minimising risk to other drivers. Avoid buying cheap LEDs from online marketplaces - these bulbs are likely to cause you and your car many problems.

Shop our range of LED headlight bulbs

Why are LED bulbs not road legal?

The reason why vehicles that have had replacement LED bulbs retrofitted are not technically road legal is because this is considered an aftermarket modification that cannot be regulated. Because LEDs are so bright, it is essential that they are correctly fitted and aligned, to prevent dazzling other drivers and road users.

Other LED lights

LEDs can also be useful in other applications. There are many advantages to using LEDs as brake lights, fog lights, or interior lights.

Thanks to their brightness, LED brake lights make it easier for other drivers to see when you're slowing or stopping. LEDs also have a faster response time than other types of light bulbs. This means that when you step on the brake, they light up immediately. If you stop suddenly, the driver behind you will have extra time to react. In fast-moving traffic, those extra seconds could prevent an accident.

LED bulbs are also great as fog lights or interior lights. They're just as bright as halogen bulbs but use less power and last longer. You won't have to worry about your bulbs burning out and you'll spend less time and money replacing them in the long run.

However, please note that any LED bulbs used in your brake, sidelights or fog lights are not road legal, either.

If you're interested in switching to high-performing, stylish LEDs, check out our selection of LED headlights, interior and exterior bulbs.

Not sure if an LED headlight is for you? Check out our complete guide to xenon bulbs to learn more about xenon headlights, how they work and what benefits they have over other types of headlights.

Where can I buy bulbs for my car?

At PowerBulbs, we are leading vehicle bulb and spare parts specialists, with a wide range of high-quality automotive lighting products on offer. We have over 35 years of experience and expertise in the industry and pride ourselves on being the best for our product offering and customer service. So, if you’re looking for a replacement car light bulb, you’re in the right place.

Shop car bulbs here

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