Insurers Rejoice! Headlamp Replacement Costs Are Still Really High, Says IIHS

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
insurers rejoice headlamp replacement costs are still really high says iihs

Unless you’re still tooling around in a hand-me-down rig donated by your grandfather, chances are good you’re not in possession of a car outfitted with sealed-beam headlamps. That car might also have real 5 mpg bumpers, further insulating you from lofty repair costs.

For owners of newer cars, plenty of pain awaits after a fender-bender, though advances in passive restraints have relegated most of that pain to your wallet. After smashing through potentially thousands of dollars of camera and sensor gear housed in your bumper and grille, the next thing damaged in a low-speed, front-end impact is your headlamps. New figures from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveal what you’re likely to pay for a replacement. (Hint: it’s a lot.)

However, if you’re one of the few people who shelled out for a new Lincoln Continental this year, there’s good news here.

The IIHS recorded the price of OEM headlamp assemblies for 2018 model-year vehicle as part of its latest round of headlight rankings. While not an exhaustive list, you’re likely to see something you may recall from glancing at the driveway a few minutes ago.

In terms of replacement cost, the peepers found on the Subaru Legacy and Outback ranked lowest, at $526. Your insurance deductible probably covers all by $26 of that part. The Chevrolet Volt, which will soon be deader than disco, rang up a $540 bill for one of its headlights. After that, prices climb quickly.

Say the aforementioned Subarus are too stodgy for your discerning tastes. Well, prepare to face $860 for a Crosstrek unit and $927 for a lamp belonging to a WRX or Impreza. A pre-revamp Kia Soul asks $1,027, while the Mazda CX-3 warrants a $1,085 invoice cost. Your sensible and affordable Hyundai Elantra sports headlamps that rival the cost of a used Elantra from the previous decade ($1,348). A Santa Fe demands $1,642, which is 82 bucks more than a Mercedes-Benz GLC.

Sadly, the IIHS doesn’t specify whether the figures provided are for optional or standard units, though it’s unlikely the 2018 Camry’s entry-level headlamps warrant the listed $1,810 replacement cost. That’s probably the optional LED units. Going from base halogen lamps to LED or HID units can really pack on the price, with the Mercedes-Benz GLE offered up as an example. Base halogens on that model, which apparently suck, cost $615 when ordered from the OEM. Spring for the upgraded lamps and cost rises to $2,820.

The priciest lamps in the short list are that of the BMW 5 Series, which carry a cost of $3,242. That wasn’t the case last year, when it was discovered that Ford Motor Company charged $4,555 for Lincoln Continental headlight assemblies.

“When we did an initial survey of prices last year for 2018 models, Ford was charging $4,555 for a Lincoln Continental headlight, the most expensive one in our survey,” writes Sean O’Malley, senior test coordinator at IIHS. “We let Ford know the price was out of line with other manufacturers. This year that same headlight costs $1,667.”

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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2 of 24 comments
  • Truckducken Truckducken on Dec 13, 2018

    Those damn 5 mpg bumpers had to go, they were trashing fleet mileage averages.

  • Dynasty Dynasty on Dec 15, 2018

    A few years ago a drunk lady, who got in a minor fender bender and attempted to flee the scene, was hauling ass down my street. She ended up going off the road in front of my house and hit a street tree and came to a fast halt. I could smell the booze from my front porch. You're probably wondering what this has to do with headlamp assemblies. The next day I found the two headlamp assemblies about 10' from the point of impact. They self ejected. In my garage are what appear to be in good condition early 2000s lexus es350 headlamp assemblies. Been meaning to sell these.

  • 28-Cars-Later Wrangler people are crazy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Transition" to layoffs, this guy is the Bob(s) from Office Space.
  • Vap65689119 As a release engineer I also worked in quality, if they are serious they should look at Toyotas business model which has their suppliers as genuine partners, thats how you get a quality product
  • Mike-NB2 I seem to have landed in an alternate universe. $12,000 for a Jeep that's going on a quarter-century old and with an automatic transmission? Wow.
  • Stuart de Baker This driver wants physical knobs and buttons that are easy to use while keeping eyes on the road, and does not want effin screens that require eyeballs to be taken off of roads, mfgs be damned.