All You Need to Know about LED Lighting for Your Cars


LED lights are something that is becoming increasingly popular for cars and for the home too. A lot of people are nervous about using LED lights in their car, and with good reason. While these lights are great for day to day use around the home – being quite energy-efficient and versatile, they are rather different in specification and coloring to the lights that we are probably used to in our vehicles.

A lot of automakers are fitting LEDs as standard for their vehicles, and it’s easy to see why. They are quite clearly the future of automotive lighting.

What Is An LED?

LEDs are a transistor that is coated with a substrate which emits light when current flows through it. LEDs are far more energy efficient than the more traditional incandescent bulb design. They use just a fraction of the electrical power and they emit more light per watt. They also do not waste energy by getting particularly hot. There is always going to be some waste; no light source is completely energy efficient, but they are quite cool to the touch and they, therefore, are comparatively green to run. In addition, the filament does not get consumed during use.

The Benefits of LEDs

LEDs are quite resistant to vibration compared to some other kinds of light. They are also more resistant to moisture. They come in a casing that is sealed, and they have an extraordinarily long lifespan – being used for up to 50,000 hours as compared to the more typical 2,000 hours that we have come to expect from a standard bulb. This means that in theory you could install a set of LED headlights and forget about them for the lifespan of the car. You’re more likely to need to replace the casing of the headlight for cracks or damage than to replace the bulbs inside it. Not needing to worry about bulb replacements or getting stopped by the police because of a bulb blowing on you is going to be a boon for most people.

These benefits should make it easy to understand why so many people buy LED headlights. They are a great option for people who want to upgrade their vehicle both in terms of style and having something that offers clear practical benefit. They look good and they improve your driving life. That’s hard to beat.

Easy to Install

Some people are a little intimidated when it comes to installing LED light bulbs because they are worried that they will require some electrical skill to install. While it is true that going from standard bulbs to something like lasers (yes, you can get lasers for your car) will require some re-wiring, that isn’t always true with LEDs. In most cases, it’s simple to do; just an in and out transfer.

You can get LEDs for pretty much any exterior light that your vehicle has – including headlights, brake lights, tail lights, turn signals, LED fog light bulbs, daytime running lights, side markers and reversing lights. You can also replace a lot of your interior lighting, including the courtesy light, map lights, the lights in your glove box and the door lights. IF it glows, then you can probably upgrade it to LED.

You will need to know the bulb number/bulb size to find an appropriate replacement but armed with this information you should find that it’s a simple job. If you don’t know what bulb you need then you can go to most good vendors and enter the name, make and model of your car, and be shown the products that are appropriate for that vehicle. There may be some instances where a manufacturer may have used a few different sizes within the same line, and in that case the vendor may not be able to make an exact recommendation for you. If that is the case, they will flag that up for you and you can go and remove the bulb in question and make a note of what size it is. This isn’t exactly a difficult task, and it’s something that you would need to do when you replaced the bulb anyway.

Typically, when you buy a bulb online you are getting exactly that – one bulb. So, if you are replacing indicators, brake lights or anything else that is a pair then you would need to buy two. Do not replace just one brake light with LEDs and leave the other with incandescent bulbs. They will have a different tint and level of brightness and this could cause problems on the road.

Choosing the Right Color

There are many different colors to choose from and you should follow the law and driving conventions as closely as possible. If you have an exterior colored lens, then you can pick a white bulb, or one that matches the color of the lens. If you have a clear lens, then make sure you pick the bulb color that matches the purposes – e.g. using red for your tail lights.

Changing Your Indicators

Note that while in the majority of cases, the job of replacing the lights is as simple as buying new bulbs and screwing them in where the old one lived, turn signals are different. The flasher unit in a lot of vehicles is designed specifically to work with incandescent bulbs, and if you put LEDs in there then they might flash too rapidly. This is known as hyper-flashing. It is caused because LED bulbs have lower resistance than incandescent bulbs, and the flasher interprets this as meaning that the bulb is out. Installing a resistor will fool the flasher unit by providing the amount of resistance that it expects. It is quite easy to install a resistance unit, and it will ensure that your new LED indicators flash at an appropriate, and road-safe rate. There are lots of video tutorials from www.diodedynamics.com that will explain what you need to do to get the resistor working, but its much easier than you think!