3 Types Of Car Bulbs (That You Need to Know!)

There are many different aftermarket bulbs in the market today that car drivers can choose from. These car bulbs also have different price ranges. So you can have those cheap ones and expensive ones. 

You might have difficulty choosing which car bulbs are meant for you and your vehicle and your choices. For car bulbs, you can go with those very bright bulbs, you can even aim for the latest car bulbs, or you want a car bulb that lasts longer. Unfortunately, some car drivers do not know that there are quite a few options you can have for car bulbs. 

There are even some drivers who are just content with having a car bulb. You should know that you should choose the best car bulb to give you better quality and good service. So in terms of the different types of car bulbs, you have xenon, halogen, and LED. 

The xenon is a car bulb that uses newer and more updated technology to create a long-lasting and even more bright light. The halogen type of car bulb is from a technology that has been going on around for decades.  And the led type of car bulb is the newest, and it is also the most efficient type when it comes to the energy of an automotive light. 

For starters, your vehicle can already tell you so much about what type of car bulb is suitable for you. So now, we will discuss further the three different types of car bulbs that you choose. Let us get started.

Types Of Car Bulbs

1. Xenon Or High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Bulbs

The first type of car bulb is the xenon or the high-intensity discharge (HID) bulb. The xenon type of car bulb has an arc and not a filament. This car bulb has an arc in between its two electrodes. 

According to the law, the car bulb must work at about eighty (80) percent capacity in four seconds the moment you turn them on. This means that it must have a high voltage starter so that it can ignite the gas. It should also have a control unit so that it can keep the bulb lighting. 

The xenon is the gas that is used to start the arc. The one that keeps it alight is the metal salts. Most cars also need xenon lights headlight washers to accompany the xenon lights to have a self-leveling mechanism. 

This is so that the light beam projected downward motion will continue even if the car is very heavily loaded. This is the reason why it can be expensive if you produce this kind of product. This is also the reason why a lot of car manufacturers choose halogen. 

Car bulb manufacturers have also made a xenon car bulb that would only require low light input. As a result, it will not need a self-leveling system or even a lens washer. This will make the product cheaper. 

So right now, this car bulb can now be offered and issued by many more than before because of the price drop. The xenon lasts longer than the halogen bulbs, but their light input will not decrease over time. The result is that they will not emit just enough light to be safe to use at night. 

The manufacturer would recommend changing your xenon car bulbs at least for about three years. After that, your car design can tell you if you will need a xenon car bulb. 

If you have a small and affordable vehicle, you might need a halogen car bulb. On the other hand, you will need a xenon car bulb if you have a more sporty car and a narrow headlight unit.

2. Halogen Bulbs

There is an essential technology on halogen bulbs, and they have been used around for more than half a century now. Today, it is still very widely used. This is because halogen bulbs are very cheap. 

They are cheap to produce, cheap to replace, and cheap to buy. The halogen bulbs are using a tungsten filament. This tungsten filament is the same as a household bulb. 

But they are just produced with halogen gas. This halogen gas is helping the filament so that it can grow brighter and last longer too. In small cars, what is usually used is an H4. 

It is a double filament headlight bulb. The H17 and the H18 are much smaller, but they are more powerful halogen bulbs.

On the other hand, the H8, H9, and H11 are self-sealing bulbs. Therefore, they do not just sit inside the watertight unit. This is why they are often used as fog lights.

3. LED Bulbs

The third type of car bulb is the LED bulb. The LED bulbs are slowly replacing the xenon bulb on newer cars. The reason for this is they are more efficient in terms of energy. 

They also last longer. And they allow car manufacturers to have signature light shapes. For example, the LED car bulb will pass electricity into one or more light-emitting diodes instead of a filament or an arc. 

The light produced out of this is quite the same light produced by a xenon car bulb. However, the LED bulbs will not make a lot of heat. This makes them more efficient, and this also makes them cheaper. 

The concern of some people is what if the electronics of a LED bulb will fail. When this happens, the entire light unit must need to be replaced. This is bad because it can get very expensive. 

And that makes it impractical for people who have old cars. The latest LED bulbs are used today for daytime running lights in newer cars, but when used for headlights, they will be more reserved for range-topping, luxury, and sporting models. But, again, this is because they are expensive to use.


In summary, car bulbs play an essential role in your vehicle. You might think there’s only one type of car bulb. But in reality, there are about three types of car bulbs. 

You must need to know which type of car bulb is best for your and your vehicle. The three types of car bulbs differ in terms of price and service. Knowing which one best suits you will give you a good service.

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Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more