Car Troubles / Headlights

The Trick That Can Save Hundreds on Recycled Headlights

Car Troubles / Headlights

Replacement Headlights Have Changed Over Time

It’s hard to believe, but there was once a time when cars were not even required to have headlights! Of course that was when the idea of a motorized vehicle was very new. In the 1880s headlights were lit by acetylene and oil and soon after electric headlamps were introduced. Replacement headlights have evolved much since then. And, while headlights have gotten brighter and better, they have also become more expensive to replace.

Composite Replacement Headlights

Halogen headlights, or composite headlights, were introduced in 1962. They replaced incandescent sealed beam headlights, which required the entire casing to be replaced if a bulb burned out. The halogen light allowed one bulb to serve as both the high and low beam, replacing manual floor switches. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards were amended in 1983 to permit the optional use of glass- plastic glazing. The headlights were then made with a plastic housing unit, instead of glass, which allowed the bulbs to be easily replaced. This was great for consumers. A vehicle owner just had to pop out the h4 bulb from the back of the plastic housing and insert a new one. But the yellowish light halogen bulbs produced wasn’t very bright. This led the way for HID lights.

Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) Replacement Headlights

This headlight was introduced in the early 1990s. The lighting technology in an HID headlight uses no filament, unlike the halogen bulbs. According to JD Power ( HID bulbs create light when a high-pressure gas, xenon, is excited between high-voltage electrodes. A single HID bulb can handle the job of two incandescent filaments. It is also three-times brighter than a halogen bulb, although the bluish light given off can be distracting to other drivers. Replacing these bulbs can be expensive. One universal-fit bulb can cost $120.

LED Replacement Headlights

Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lights are one of the newest types of headlight. The light comes from tiny bulbs that create light from the movement of electricity across a tiny electronic chip, according to JD Power. LED bulbs run at cool temperatures, require a very small amount of electricity and provide clear, surrounding light. They are also designed to last the lifetime of a vehicle. But this type of light is more expensive than halogen or HID lights. Converting your existing headlight bulbs to LED can cost $120 – $180 for a complete conversion kit. Swapping out the entire headlight for LED can cost up to $500, depending on the vehicle’s make and model.

Laser Replacement Headlights

Laser headlights may be the headlight of the future. They are currently only being used by BMW and Audi. The light comes from blue laser beams directed at yellow phosphorus gas. These types of lights have all the lighting benefits of LED but use at least half the energy. It may take a while for these lights to catch on though. Replacement lights for the BMW are $10,000.

Replacement Headlights at

Headlight design may have improved over the years, but replacement costs of these new lights are much higher. The fancier the light, the more money replacement parts cost. Luckily, PartCycle has lots of used headlamps in its online inventory. PartCycle replacement headlights can cost 50 percent less than new lights and include the entire headlight assembly. That means you get an entire new unit, instead of only one piece. A headlamp assembly for a 2010 Ford Focus can be found for $122 on In contrast, an aftermarket replacement part can cost upwards to $260. Plus, all of the parts on PartCycle are Original Equipment (OE). They came off the very same vehicle you’re already driving, meaning they will always be a perfect match. Go to and search for your next headlight.

Erin Sandage
Erin Sandage
Senior Editor at The Locator
Erin has written articles on the automotive industry since 2008 with a specific focus on automotive recycling. She also serves as Senior Editor for The Locator Magazine and Locator UpFront.
Categories: Car Troubles, Headlights