LED vs. Halogen Headlights: Is One Better Than The Other?

New and improved LED headlights are taking over halogen headlights, but they aren’t always the best option.
Written by Alexandra Maloney
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Dec 26, 2021
One of the most important
parts of your car
are its headlights. They help you see the road, alert other drivers of your presence, and decrease the amount of
car accidents
each year. But, did you know there are actually two types of headlights?
For years, all cars were manufactured with halogen headlights, but recently we've been seeing a surge of LED headlights on many
newer model cars
. If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between LED vs. halogen
headlights
is, plus which is better for your car, we have the answers here.
New and improved LED headlights are taking over halogen headlights, but they aren’t always the best option.

What are LED headlights?

There are a few distinct features that characterize the newer LED headlights we’re seeing on the roads today. LED headlights are brighter, cast a wider pattern, use less energy, last longer, and are more white in color compared to halogen headlights, according to
Cars.com
These differences provide opportunities for many benefits to arise from LED headlights. They’re more visible to other drivers on the road because they’re brighter. Plus, since they last longer than halogen headlights, you won’t have to worry about your headlights dimming or going out completely as regularly as you would with halogen headlights. 
Not to mention, according to
Autolist
, the white light from LED headlights makes it easier for drivers to see shoulder markings and road signs, which makes for an easier and
safer driving experience
But, because LED headlights come with all these benefits, you can expect them to be more expensive than your typical halogen headlights. This also goes for repair costs—LED headlights will be significantly more expensive to repair or replace. LED headlights cost more for the car manufacturer to install, so you can typically find them as an upgraded perk on luxury trims. 

What are halogen headlights?

We’ve mentioned halogen headlights a lot already, but let’s get into the details of these historic headlights now. Halogen headlights have dominated the roads since cars could drive, and are still the most popular type of headlight you see today.
Unlike LED headlights, halogen headlights are powered by an incandescent bulb that lights up when an electrical charge hits the parts inside. You’ll be able to spot a halogen headlight by its yellowish glow, somewhat narrow casting pattern, and dimmer light. 
But, halogen headlights have been popular for so long for a reason. They’re cheap to install, repair, and replace. Many car brands like using them because they’re inexpensive and still accomplish the same goal as LED headlights, just maybe not as well. 
Plus, while LED headlights require a trip to the autobody shop to fix, many drivers can fix their halogen headlights right in their driveway by simply popping out the old lightbulb and sliding in a new one.

LED vs. halogen headlights: Which are better?

The answer is: it depends. While LED headlights definitely make sense for newer cars, halogen headlights do the same job. In fact, if your car has halogen headlights, it’s advised you don’t replace them with LED headlights. 
According to
Motor Biscuit
, because of the different technologies and parts required for LED vs halogen headlights, if you tried to replace one with the other, the result would be non functioning headlights. 
In short, if your car has halogen headlights, keep using them as you normally would. If you’re getting a new car and want to upgrade to LED headlights, that wouldn’t be a bad idea, but sticking with regular ol’ halogen headlights works just fine, too.
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