A “Bright” Guide To Car Bulbs

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This week in The Garage, Suzanne Keane explains car bulbs!

Every make and model car takes different bulbs so you need to know what’s required for your own car. You should always have spare bulbs in the boot and know how to change them (there are rumours that faulty bulbs will be included in penalty points offences from the end of this year and we don’t want those do we?)

Most bulb manufacturer’s and re-seller’s websites will tell you what bulbs your car takes. Firstly, lets talk about headlights. You will need both dip and full beam bulbs (although some have these combined – e.g. H4 bulbs).

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Headlight bulbs are generally labelled H1, H4, H7 etc. If either of your headlights aren’t looking bright it’s time to change the bulbs. It’s also important to get your lights focused regularly. Not only will it stop you blinding other road users, you will see more when driving in the dark.

Of course you also need to know if your car has regular halogen bulbs or Xenon. This is easy to figure out – look at your headlights when switched on. If they have a white/blue-ish tinge then they are more than likely Xenon but if they are yellowish they are standard bulbs.  If they are Xenon you will have to buy the replacements direct from your main dealer or from a specialist website. (Xenon or high intensity discharge lamps – HID’s – use Xenon gas rather than a filament and are roughly 3 times brighter than halogen bulbs).

Don’t forget your parking light bulbs! A tip is to replace these with LEDs on the front which will last much longer, just make sure they’re white and not blue unless you want to be drawing the attention of the boys (and girls) in blue.

Indicators are important to tell the world where you’re going. Without them you could find yourself quite easily a victim of road rage! Flick on your hazard warning lights and walk around the car. Check all of your indicators are flashing correctly and if they aren’t all looking bright orange it’s time for a change.

Styling Tip – If you have clear lenses on your indicators buy the chrome coated bulbs so the nasty orange colour doesn’t show through.

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Next you need to check out the rear of the car – tail lights, brake lights (get a friend to step on the pedal for this one), reverse light, fog light and your number plate lights all need to be bright and working correctly.

And finally, there’s no point in having new shiny bulbs if your lights are covered in dirt. If you don’t have time to wash the whole car just run a wet sponge over the lenses to make sure they can be seen by other drivers.

 


Example Bulb Types – 
(most bulb manufacturers will have a guide to the correct bulbs for your car on their website)

 

Dip Beam

High Beam

Front Ind.

Side Rep.

Tail lights

Rear Ind.

Brake lights

Reverse Lights

Renault Clio ’00 1.2

H4

581

501

380

581

380

382

VW Golf ’11 1.6TDi

H7

H15

585

501

955

585

955

582

BMW 3 series ’05 2.0

H7

H7

581

501

380

382

380

382

Peugeot 206 ’02 1.0

H7

H7

581

501

380

382

380

382

 

Suzanne Keane

28th January, 2013

Author: Suzanne Keane

A confirmed petrol head with a penchant for retro VW’s, Suzanne has been taking apart (and sometimes putting back together) her own cars for years! You can follow Suzanne on Twitter at @g60girl

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