Introduction: How to Convert Your Headlight Bulbs to LED

All vehicles fitted with halogen headlight bulbs from the factory are suitable for LED conversion.

The main advantage is a massive increase in road illumination and therefore improved safety when driving at night. The kit I used features CREE LED bulbs that have an output of 3,200 lumens. Typically, factory halogen bulbs have an output of just 1,000 lumens.

Step 1: Find Your Headlight Bulb Type

The easiest way to find your headlight bulb type is to search for it in the Sylvania online database.

The two possible results are as follows:

1) Single Beam Bulb - the high and low beams use two separate bulbs

2) Dual Beam Bulb - the high and low beams are combined in one bulb

If your vehicle is not listed on the Sylvania site you could try these other methods to find your bulb type:

  • Check your vehicle owner's manual
  • Contact the vehicle manufacturer via your local dealer
  • Remove a headlight bulb and read the bulb information

*Make note of your bulb type*

Step 2: Purchase an LED Conversion Kit

Now that you know your bulb type you need to purchase an LED headlight conversion kit. A variety of online stores sell these. The kit I used for this instructable is a CREE LED type that was purchased from MotorFiend.com for $119 including shipping.

Step 3: Unboxing Your LED Conversion Kit

Once you receive your LED headlight kit check that you have all the correct components. There should be two LED bulbs, two ballasts and wiring.

Step 4: Take Some Photos

Take some photos of your halogen headlights before you install the LED headlights, so you can compare the difference later

Step 5: Locate Your Headlight Bulbs

First ensure your vehicle is secured. Engine off, keys removed from ignition, parking brake on.

Pop the hood and locate your headlight bulbs

Unplug the plastic wiring connector from the bulb.

Tip: If you haven't ever replaced a headlight bulb the plastic clip might need some gentle assistance with a flat screw driver.

Step 6: Remove Your Halogen Bulbs

Depending on the bulb type you may need to remove a metal clip first, then you simply twist anti-clockwise and pull out the bulb

Tip: Store your halogen bulbs in a safe spot. You may want them in the future.

Step 7: Install the LED Bulbs

Install the LED bulbs into the headlight socket while being careful not to touch the LED with your bare fingers

Gently twist the bulb in a clockwise direction to secure it

Step 8: Connect the LED Ballast

Connect the LED ballast wiring. One end goes to the new bulb, the other to the original wiring harness.

Step 9: Check the Cut Off

Power up your headlights and check the position of the cut off.

You don't want to be blinding other drivers with you bright new lights, so you may need to adjust the position of the headlights. You can do this by adjusting the headlight alignment screws. Check your owner's manual for more information

Step 10: Secure the Ballasts

Secure the ballasts using either double sided tape or plastic zip ties

Tip: You want to keep the ballasts away from excessive heat, vibration and moisture. I mounted mine on the back of the headlight housing

Step 11: Test Drive

Time to test out your new LED Headlights!

Comments

author
Louheraid (author)2017-09-01

I'm replacing my headlights with LED. But I can't put the waterproof cover back on. Any suggestions on what I should use? It's on a 2004 Land Rover Discovery Thanks

author
SunilP16 (author)2017-08-29

I am planning to change the LED headlight instead of halogen bulb. But I am confused coz I read somewhere that using aftermarket LED bulb is illegal in some states. is that right? I even don't know what is the law in my state (Michigan). Can somebody advice. Appreciate your help.

author
Hoorain30 (author)2016-10-16

Hi I have Peugeot 107 and my car headlights light is to low can I change them led would be good for visibility on road at night specially on moterway

author
PeteC40 (author)Hoorain302017-02-05

If you have halogen light LED lights will make a big difference. However they are expensive. Another option would be to get an HID light kit. You can find HID kits for under $40.00. LED should not cost more than HID as they are less complex.

author
awalton31 (author)2015-12-29

are there any types of 9012 led replacements that don't require drilling out the dust cover on a 2013 ram projector lights?

author
gumby_kevbo (author)2015-06-25

My Ford truck had bulb retaining rings that interfered with the heatsink/fan. I was able to purchase some aftermarket ones that were not nearly as deep. If the retaining rings cover most of the harness connector, then you will most likely need different ones. Unfortunately I don't have any records of part numbers for the new rings.

author
auto_lights (author)gumby_kevbo2015-06-25

Hey gumby, there's another [newer] product made with Philips LEDs that doesn't have the fan. Instead it uses a metal mesh to disperse the heat. The output is 2,800 lumens, not quite as bright as the CREE LEDs I used, but still a lot better than halogen.

Philips_led_headlight_kit.jpg
author
gumby_kevbo (author)auto_lights2015-08-14

That looks really nice. In my experience fans are a fairly high failure rate item. In the case of some industrial computers I was involved with, nearly all the failures had fan failure as a root cause. When we moved to SSHD with convection cooling, our reliability improved drastically.

Now I am thinking about making some passive cooled heat sinks for the cree bulbs.

One thing I did on my install was to use some silver based heat transfer compound on the threads between the LED module and the heat sink. This is available at places that cater to the PC overclocking crowd. I think the brand I used is called Silver Ice, or something like that.

author
vinz3nt (author)2015-06-25

I never imagined that the development of LEDs would go that fast! Great instructable.

How are the LEDs doing on the road? Can you post some images of that maybe??

author
auto_lights (author)vinz3nt2015-06-25

Hi Vinz, here's some before and after photos. I probably should have included these in the instructable. Both shots are taken with the high beam on - hence the reason you can see the reflective sign glowing in the distance. The 'before' shot shows very little illumination near to the vehicle (from the low beam halogen bulbs). In the 'after' shot you can see a massive difference in the area lit up by the low beam. There was a little fog around, so not ideal conditions for photography, but you can see how much better the LED lights are. They have a very slight blue tone at 5,000 kelvin color temperature.

BEFORE-PIC.jpgAFTER-PIC.jpg
author
tomatoskins (author)2015-06-25

Great info! Thanks for sharing and welcome to the community!

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