Are HID and LED Headlights Worth Buying?


From Consumer Reports:

Brighter lights might not necessarily let you see farther down the road


Just my experience. I don’t believe in retrofitting from what is on the car original. But when we had the HIDs with the 2012 Acura lighting was exceptional. Almost like daylight on a dark street plus you could see deer way ahead on the side of the road. They went into my essential list like disc brakes. We now have the LEDs and they are very similar and like them too. So I’ll take either one. Obviously LEDs are going to last longer and are cheaper than replacing an HID. On both of them though, the high beams add very little and sometimes actually reduce the near intensity so don’t get used much. On the Pontiac with halogens I just use the brightest Ultra. They don’t compare to LEDs but the high beams are more useful. Plus you have to remember factory HID and LEDs are aimed so that there is a strong definition of where they aim high. Not so on retros.

Now as far as street lights go, I’m not sure. They have been replacing them and I’m not sure I like them for the color of the light, the fact that the beam is more concentrated, and seems like there should be a diffuser on them so you aren’t blinded looking up at them.


The TL generation before yours had a nifty little solution to this. The low and high beams were the same bulb. An electronic shutter flipped out of the way when you hit the high-beams, so everything remained exactly the same except that the light went farther down the road.


I agree. I also

I also use the brightest Silverstar Ultras on my vehicles, which use incandescent (quartz-halogen) lamps… They provide plenty of light.

I also agree with this statement. I find the higher intensity in the higher frequency (shorter wavelength) around the blue portion of the visible spectrum (400-450 nanometers in length) to be tiring. I’ve discovered that this is not uncommon.


No. There is no evidence based on testing of actual cars that HID and LED lights are better than the much less expensive halogen lights we have used for decades. The article includes a quote from IIHS, who generally know their stuff, but in the most recent IIHS test of 2018 Tiguan from VW the halogen lights outscored the optional LEDs. What is more important, but clouds the discussion, is that affordable vehicles have as good or better headlights than do premium brand vehicles in many cases. Cost and performance are not closely correlated in headlights. IIHS has the best headlight testing setup (as well as the most comprehensive list of tested vehicles) in the U.S., not Consumer Reports. That said, it is great that CR is making the topic a priority. This is exactly what their mission should be. Headlight marketing hype has seen its day come and go now that actual analytical and scientific headlight testing is standard on IIHS vehicle safety tests.


Here’s an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety article on headlights. There’s lots of interesting info on the IIHS website.