Going led for longevity?
In recent years, many car manufacturers have made it harder for owners to perform basic maintenance tasks themselves and GEM’s Technical helpline receives regular distress calls from members that cannot work out how to change a headlamp bulb at home, without having to dismantle the fronts of their cars.
Recently, we have been contacted by several GEM members, complaining that they cannot even replace a simple front side lamp. On the whole, these small bulbs are prone to failing on a more regular basis, compared to the dim-dip and main beam headlamp units. If the front bumper has to be removed, for the lamp to be unbolted, to enable access to the rear of the unit, replacing a £2.49 part can become extremely time consuming and expensive. This factor is especially the case, if garage services have to be called upon.
Even many modern cars, equipped with expensive gas-discharge headlamps, rely on old-fashioned halogen bulbs for sidelights, which are located within a cavity within the headlamp assembly, where they can overheat and fail. The solution is to replace the bulb with a multiple LED type and these are available with bases that are compatible with the vehicle’s original lamp-holder. The result is a simple upgrade that will last for much longer than a conventional halogen replacement.
However, there are a few caveats. If your car has a bulb-failure warning facility, fitting front LED side lamp bulbs may fool the system into thinking that the bulbs have failed. This is due to the LED’s low current consumption. In addition, if your car is fitted with CANBUS wiring (as most cars made after 2007 are), ensure that the LEDs are compliant. If you are unsure, ask the vendor for advice.
Regarding the LED bulbs themselves, ensure that they glow white. Many types can radiate a variety of colours, including blue, which might be frowned upon at a roadside spot-check or MoT Test. Also, some cheaper brands of LED available on the Internet can give a very poor luminosity and so it is always wise to ask the vendor to back-up any advertising claims, before buying a pair.