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The Ultimate Guide: LED Headlights vs. HID Headlights

Black pickup truck showing headlights

Halogen light bulbs come stock on most trucks and vehicles, though they often aren’t the best option for drivers. As technology has progressed, better lighting options have been developed that offer a wide range of benefits to consumers. RECON offers options for all aftermarket headlights, helping drivers choose the part that best suits their needs. 

Alternatives to standard halogen bulbs include LED and HID headlights, with both offering more power and cleaner lighting. LED and HID headlights differ slightly in their use and capabilities, and RECON provides insight to help match you with the best aftermarket headlight for your vehicle.  

LED Headlights

LED, or “light emitting diode,” headlights are one option for aftermarket headlights. They are currently the most popular choice for aftermarket headlights. There are many benefits of installing LED lights in comparison to stock halogen bulbs. Benefits of aftermarket LED headlights include:

  • Producing more light while pulling less energy from your truck.
  • A lifespan that is five times longer than stock halogen bulbs.
  • Cleaner, white light that increases visibility in poor or dark driving conditions.
  • Instant illumination, providing full brightness and color upon powering on.
  • Increased durability, with the ability to withstand rugged wear and tear, and poor weather conditions.
  • Virtually no maintenance over the course of LED headlights’ lifespan.
  • Highly unlikely to overheat, blow a fuse, or pose risk for electrical fire.

Aftermarket LED headlights are a great option for drivers who want to install an aftermarket headlight and not have to worry about maintenance or continuously replacing the bulbs, or “set it and forget it.”  Many drivers will never have to replace an LED headlight for the entirety of their vehicle ownership; possibly the biggest selling point.

HID Headlights  

HID, or “high-intensity discharge,” headlights are another option for drivers looking to purchase an aftermarket headlight as a better alternative to halogen bulbs.  Another newer technology, HID headlights offers numerous advantages over traditional headlights, with many similarities to LEDs.  Benefits of aftermarket HID headlights include:

  • 3x-5x the brightness in comparison to traditional halogen bulbs.
  • A lifespan of several years; longer lasting than traditional halogen bulbs.
  • Affordability.  HID headlights are great for drivers looking to upgrade on a budget.
  • More energy efficient than halogen bulbs.
  • Provide the ability to choose your color temperature and a light quality that matches your personal preference. 

Aftermarket LED Headlights vs Aftermarket HID Headlights

With multiple purchase options for aftermarket headlights, you may be left wondering what the difference is between LED headlights and HID headlights.  Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.  There are a few differences to keep in mind before making a decision on which to purchase:

  • LED headlights produce more of a white light, while HID headlights produce a light that is more blue in color.
  • LED headlights may cause more eye discomfort in other drivers in comparison to HID headlights.
  • LED headlights have a much longer lifespan than HID headlights.
  • LED headlights tend not to be as bright as HID headlights.
  • LED headlights are more durable than HID headlights, which tend to be more fragile.
  • LED headlights maintain their brightness for their full lifespan, while HID headlights may fade over time. 
  • LED and HID headlights both come in multiple colors, offering customers choices.
  • HID headlights are more affordable than LED headlights in the short-term.
  • LED headlights provide a wider scope of visibility when compared to HID headlights, which provide a more narrow view.

Things to Keep in Mind

When purchasing aftermarket headlights, whether LED or HID , it’s important to keep in mind that no bulb is indestructible and that the lifespan of each will depend on how much the headlights are used.

For example, a driver who utilizes their headlights for two hours a day will experience a much longer lifespan than someone who utilizes their headlights for six hours a day.  Any type of headlight may need to be replaced eventually, but purchasing aftermarket LED or HID headlights will greatly cut down on the frequency of which they will need to be changed. 

RECON offers a variety of aftermarket headlights available for purchase, as well as handy installation guides for each type of product.

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How to Easily Change Your Truck’s Headlight Bulbs

Blue pickup truck in front of mountains

If you’re looking to easily change your truck’s headlight bulbs, whether you’re replacing halogen, HID, or LED lights, it can be a simple process if you follow these steps. There are several items you’ll want to make sure you have before you get started. Make sure you have a clear workspace away from any street traffic or potential hazards. Never attempt to change your headlight bulbs if it’s raining or in a wet environment, since you’ll be working with electrical components. Safety always comes first. 

What You’ll Need to Change Your Truck’s Headlight Bulbs

Before you get started, make sure that you have everything you’ll need for the process with you. You’ll save time if everything is laid out and organized, ready for you to grab. Make sure you have these items.

  1. The replacement aftermarket headlight bulbs for your truck.
  2. Gloves, or alcohol wipes and a micro-fiber cloth.
  3. The correct screwdriver set.
  4. The proper conversion kit if you’re making the switch to aftermarket headlight bulbs.
  5. A safe space to keep any screws or connectors you will need to reattach.
  6. A safe receptacle for disposing of the old glass bulbs.

If you aren’t sure which headlight bulb you need for the specific make and model of your truck, search for the correct part here.

Getting Started

Make sure that your truck is powered off, and completely cooled down before you start the actual headlight bulb change. It can get hot under the hood when the car is running and you want to avoid any possible accidents or burns. Some people also choose to disconnect their truck batteries entirely when changing headlight bulbs, for an added element of safety.

Once you have everything you need to get started changing your headlight bulbs, and the truck is turned off and cooled down, you’re ready to move on to the next step. You’ll need to lift the hood of your car and locate the headlight bulb holder and wire connectors from the inside of the hood. It’s a common misconception, but you don’t replace headlights from the outside, and you don’t have to remove the headlight cover on your truck.

Prepping Your Equipment to Change Your Truck’s Headlight Bulbs

Now that you have everything you need to change your aftermarket headlights, and your truck is prepped, you can officially get started, and get those new lights up and running. Lots of people choose to wear light gloves for this process, since the oils from your fingers can rub off onto the new bulbs, causing clouding and improper light distribution. Others choose to carefully wipe the bulbs down with alcohol pads and a soft cloth right before installation.

Either way, make sure that the bulbs you’re about to install are as clean as they can be, so that you get the best light possible as well as the best electrical connection. The rest is easy.

The Installation Process for Aftermarket Headlight Bulbs

Your truck is off, your workspace is clear, you have everything you need, and your bulbs are in prime condition for installation. Follow these simple next steps to complete your headlight bulb change.

  1. Disconnect the power wires from your old bulbs. They’re most likely held in place by either a clip or a cap. If so, you’ll have to undo that first.
  2. Now that the old headlight bulbs are disconnected from the power source, unscrew them. You should be able to twist them counter-clockwise (righty tighty, lefty loosey).
  3. If a headlight bulb seems stuck, jammed, or you can’t get it to move, don’t use excessive force in an attempt to get it out. This can cause the glass to shatter off the base of the bulb and you’ll need further tools or a professional to remove the broken bulb.
  4. Once the old bulb is out, be sure to throw it away somewhere safe. Make sure it’s off the ground, to avoid stepping on it, or running it over with your tires and causing problems later on.
  5. Clean your new aftermarket headlight bulbs, whether they are LED or HID lights with the alcohol wipes and soft cloth. 
  6. Install the bulb, and connect any wires, gaskets, etc. according to the conversion or installation kit’s instruction manual, if you have purchased one. If you are changing a headlight bulb that already has an installation set-up, simply reattach the items as they were before.
  7. Repeat this process on the other headlight.
  8. If you disconnected your truck’s battery, plug it back in once both headlight bulbs have been changed.
  9. Close the hood of the truck, start your vehicle, and turn on the lights to ensure that they power up correctly.
  10. Check the height that the lights shine. They should not be too high, as they will impeded the vision of other drivers, or too low, as they won’t provide you with the light you need. They should be facing straight ahead.
  11. That’s it, get driving, you’re all set to go.

Finding the Right Aftermarket Headlight Bulbs for Your Truck

RECON is proud to be a leading aftermarket automotive lighting provider, and we are here to serve all your truck’s lighting needs. Check out our handy online installation guides for additional information, or contact us today to speak with an automotive expert.

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Replacing Halogen Headlights: Everything You Should Know

Two trucks in need of halogen headlight replacement

If you’re looking to replace your halogen headlights with LED or HID bulbs, there are a few things you should know before you get started. The popularity of LED and HID headlights as aftermarket truck parts has continued to rise in recent years, due to certain advantages that they have over the conventional halogen option.

Halogen bulbs are the most widely used type of headlight today, due to their low-cost, vast availability, and the ease of which they can be changed. However, there are many reasons to consider making the switch, and lots of things to know before you replace your traditional headlights.

The Advantage of LED and HID Headlight Bulbs vs. Halogen Headlights

Most trucks come with stock halogen headlight bulbs, and you may be thinking about making the switch to either LED or HID bulbs. To decide which option is best for you, you’ll want to know what advantages LED and HID lights offer that halogen bulbs do not.

The Lifespan of LED and HID Headlights

While traditional halogen headlight bulbs are the least expensive option in the short-term, they tend to burn out more quickly than LED or HID headlights. Additionally, both LED and HID headlight bulbs have a much longer lifespan when compared to halogen bulbs.

Halogen bulbs have a lifespan of anywhere from 450 to 1,000 hours depending on usage, while HID headlights can last anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 hours. This is quite a difference. LED headlights offer an even longer lifespan. They can last up to 50,000 hours, or almost fourteen years with regular use. If you’re tired of changing out your halogen light bulbs frequently and need a headlight that’s longer-lasting, HID or LED bulbs may be the best choice for you.

The Quality of Light That Comes from LED and HID Headlights

Halogen headlights provide a warm light that is sufficient for most drivers in every day driving conditions. HID headlights, or high-intensity discharge lights, are known for having a much more powerful light emission. The power of light they shine is much higher than traditional halogen bulbs; it can be more than twice as much. They provide greater visibility at night, as the light can reach much further than halogen headlights can. Similarly, LED headlights can provide greater visibility in dark conditions when compared to halogen bulbs. They are about 275% brighter.

If you do most of your driving at night, LED or HID headlights are probably a better choice for your truck than halogen bulbs.

Lower Energy Consumption

Another benefit of both LED and HID headlights when compared to halogen bulbs is that they consume much less energy than halogen bulbs. LED lights consume 260% less power than halogen bulbs. This means increased fuel efficiency and less of a drain on the battery of your truck. Not only will you save money in the long-run due to the increased lifespan of LED or HID headlights, but you’ll be improving the energy performance of your truck as well.

Ever accidentally leave your headlights on and go into the house or store for just a couple minutes, just to come out and find that your battery has died? While you should still be conscientious of this with LED and HID headlights, the lower energy consumption means that this isn’t as likely to happen as quickly. Anyone who has been stuck having to jump their car knows that even just an extra few minutes before their battery drains can make all the difference between making it to that meeting or dinner reservation.

The Durability of LED and HID Headlights Compared to Halogen Bulbs

If you’re looking to replace halogen headlights with LED or HID bulbs and durability is a primary concern for you, consider taking a look at LED lights. If you frequently drive your truck through rough weather conditions, or participate in recreational activities such as mudding or off-roading, LED lights may be the right choice for you. They are generally considered to be much more durable than halogen and HID headlights.

LED headlights contain no electrodes or filament, and they are shock and vibration resistant. HID lights are made of glass, as are halogen bulbs. LED lights work by producing electrons, in comparison to HID lights that work by producing energy through ionized gas.

The Process of Replacing Halogen Headlights with LED or HID Bulbs

Now that you know the advantages of using LED or HID bulbs over traditional stock halogen headlights, the next step is understanding the physical process of replacing those halogen bulbs. Replacing halogen headlights is something that you can either do yourself with the proper tools and knowledge or take to a custom shop for a professional to do for you. Either way, it’s important to know a little more about the process.

Swapping Out Halogen Headlights for LED Headlight Bulbs

If you’re looking to install LED headlights on your truck, you’ll be happy to know that your vehicle is already prepared. Virtually any car or truck that has traditional halogen headlights from the manufacturer can use LED headlights without any significant changes to the anatomy or structure of your headlight. This is good news for anyone looking to make an easy switch.

To determine which LED headlight part is right for your truck, use our easy search function to shop by make or model. You’ll be able to determine which LED bulb kit  is right for your vehicle.

Once you’re ready to swap out the bulbs, make sure your engine is turned off. Also, make sure your vehicle has completely cooled down before you attempt any disassembly or work with the headlights. It’s a good idea to disconnect the battery entirely whenever working with electrical components.

The rest of the process is simple. Once you’ve located where your halogen headlight bulbs are, all you have to do is unplug the wiring from the bulb and twist it out of the socket.

Next, twist the LED headlight bulb back into the socket, without using too much force. You’ll have to reconnect the wiring that you disconnected from the halogen bulb, and then secure the ballasts of the lights somewhere away from sources of heat.

Now you’re ready to turn the vehicle on and test that the lights are working. Make sure they are facing the proper direction and shine at the correct height. This is essential for road safety, as improperly positioned headlights can pose a danger to other drivers. It’s that simple.

Swapping Out Halogen Headlights for HID Headlight Bulbs

Similar to LED headlights, if you’re looking to install HID bulbs, use our easy search function to shop by make or model.

How you install the HID headlights will vary, based on the conversion kit you’ve purchased.  First, never touch the actual bulbs with your fingers, and second, never force a part in that doesn’t seem like it’s going to fit. You may break the bulb or an essential part and have to purchase it all over again. As always, be careful when working with glass to avoid shattering.

After you’ve followed all the instructions in your conversion kit, secure the ballasts and wiring just as you would if you were installing LED headlights.

Replacing Halogen Headlights: The Bottom Line

Ultimately, LED and HID headlights are much better options for your truck for a wide variety of reasons. From better light quality to longevity and power usage, the benefits are undeniable. Something you should be aware of before you decide to replace your halogen headlights is that both LED and HID light installations are more expensive than their traditional counterparts. The good thing is that while they may be more expensive up-front, you’ll end up saving money in the end because their lifespan is so much greater than halogen bulbs.

If you’re looking for some guidance regarding the installation of either LED or HID headlights, Recon offers free, online Installation Guides that are accessible at any time. We also have a Customer Service line for purchasing and general questions. Make the switch from your old halogen headlights today and never look back.

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Foggy Headlights: Common Causes and Best Restoration Methods

Foggy headlights being cleaned properly

Whether you have halogen, LED, or HID lights, sooner or later every truck owner is going to struggle with foggy, hazy headlights. It’s a fact of aging, and nothing stays new forever, but it’s something that needs to be addressed. 

Foggy headlights can cause decreased visibility while driving, posing a hazard not only to you but also to other drivers on the road. You may notice your headlights starting to turn yellow, or it may appear as if a film has developed on the inside that you can’t wipe away no matter how hard you try. This is an indicator that it’s time to clean your headlights beyond the usual car wash. 

Generally, headlights will need to be restored every 1 to 3 years to keep your truck looking its best while also maintaining safety on the road.

Causes of Foggy Headlights

RECON manufactures top tier truck headlights and aims to help you maintain their prime condition. Before you can effectively clean foggy headlights, it’s important to understand the underlying causes so that you can help delay the process in the future.

Light

If your headlights have an acrylic or polycarbonate cover, as most do, they will start to deteriorate when exposed to UV rays over time. This process is caused by oxidation and is not one that can be avoided.

After all, it’s impossible to stay out of the sun when driving. UV rays are strong enough to break down chemical bonds, such as sealants or protectants that you use on your headlights to prevent damage.  Exposure to UV rays will eventually lead to foggy headlights and will require headlight restoration.

Water

Water is another environmental element that cannot be avoided, no matter how hard you try. With water comes condensation, which can make its way into your headlights as time takes a toll on the sealant, reducing its effectiveness. This leads to clouding of your headlights and, again, is something that you will not be able to simply wipe away from the outside. Once water has made its way into your headlights it’s time for a headlight restoration. 

Dirt and Debris

What’s the point of having a truck if you don’t get it dirty now and then? Over time that dirt builds up, along with chemicals that can be on the surface of the road or in that mud you drove through last weekend. This will cause a foggy buildup on your headlights that will need to be cleaned. 

Similarly, flying debris can damage your headlights. Rocks kick up on the highway, branches scratch your headlights when you’re pulling out of the driveway or off-roading, and salt on the roads in the winter makes its way to your lights. This causes damage to your headlights and will require a thorough cleaning to retain optimum visibility.

Cleaning Foggy Headlights

There are many ways to clean foggy, cloudy headlights. There are do-it-yourself methods that can save time and money, though they may not provide a long-lasting or top-notch solution to the problem.  Professional methods may be worth investing in, especially if your headlights have sustained heavy damage and you are looking for a serious headlight restoration. 

Do-It-Yourself Methods for Headlight Restoration

Household Cleaners

Truck enthusiasts often turn to household cleaners for headlight restoration at home. Vinegar, baking soda, or a mixture of both can be used with a microfiber cloth or toothbrush to clean a foggy headlight.  This method works best when the fogging has been caused by dirt or chemical build up and is not effective at restoring scratches on a headlight. 

After scrubbing the headlight down, give it a rinse with clean water and polish dry with a microfiber cloth. This is the least expensive option when it comes to headlight restoration.  Just don’t expect the results to last long-term.

Toothpaste

People swear by toothpaste as a cleaning method for all sorts of products. From cleaning sneakers, to removing scuffs on leather, to shining jewelry, there seems to be an unlimited use for toothpaste in cleaning processes

Cleaning truck headlights is no exception, and this is another low cost method you can do yourself at home. Use a toothbrush to scrub the headlights with the paste for several minutes before rinsing with clean water. Again, don’t expect this fix to be a long-term  solution.  

Professional Restoration of Foggy Headlights

The professional restoration of foggy headlights is recommended to achieve the best and longest lasting results. Methods that professionals employ may include sanding, polishing, waxing, and resealing the headlights to provide not only the deepest clean but also lasting prevention against future fogging. 

The cost of a professional headlight restoration can run anywhere from $75 to $150 for both lights, but is generally worth the investment.  

Preventing Foggy Headlights

After foggy headlights have been cleaned or restored, the ultimate goal is to maintain that brand new appearance for as long as possible. While avoiding foggy headlights forever isn’t possible, there are steps that you can take to delay the process:

  • Parking in the shade whenever possible.
  • Wash your car regularly, focusing on the headlights.
  • Purchase a UV protection coat that you can apply yourself at home.
  • Use glass cleaner on the exterior of your headlights to remove outer layers of dirt.
  • Wax your headlights post-wash.

Foggy headlights are one of the least pleasant parts of car and truck ownership, but there are steps that can be taken to restore and delay the process. RECON is here for all things headlight related. Contact us online or call our Customer Support line at 877-377-3266 for more information.