Top 8 Best LED Headlight Bulbs
By | Last updated: July 20, 2021
best led headlights

There few frustrations more vexing to a gearhead than one’s car being equipped with a set of headlights which cast approximately as much light as two fireflies in a jam jar. Replacing them with an aftermarket set of LED bulbs is a bright idea. LEDs cast a very bright and defined beam of light compared to halogen units, allowing drivers to see farther ahead and spot Bambi before he jumps out onto the macadam.

LEDs also don’t produce much heat. One less source of heat in an increasingly crowded engine bay is a Very Good Thing. Additionally, a big advantage of LED bulbs is their energy efficiency, drawing roughly a third of the power compared to traditional halogens. The auto industry has steadily improved the situation by introducing factory LEDs to the front of many cars, but there are plenty of older machines out there deploying old-school tech.

Keep in mind that different jurisdictions have different rules about headlight bulb replacement, especially when those replacements can illuminate the dark side of the moon. A sloppy installation can lead to annoyed (and blinded) oncoming traffic or an impromptu roadside conversation with the constabulary. Check yer local laws.

1. SeaLight LED Bulbs Combo Package

This product promises a ’10 minute’ installation, but anyone who’s ever worked on a car knows a ten-minute job is just one busted bolt away from being a 3-day ordeal. But that bit of ad copy fluff is about the only complaint we have about this product since it is available in a variety of socket styles to ensure a proper fit – just make sure to order the right one for your car at the checkout.

While only drawing 12 watts of power, the seller insists it throws 14,000 lumens worth of light down the road. It is said these are designed so as not to blind or dazzle oncoming traffic, though the ultimate success of that metric is down to proper installation. The light it emits is rated at 6000K – a unit of measure you’ll understand after reading this article. Essentially, it refers to the level of ‘yellow’ in the illumination cast.

Pros/Very high ratings from 15,000+ real-world customers
Cons/More expensive than some
Bottom Line/An example of getting what you pay for

One of the brightest (pun firmly intended) entries in the automotive lighting aftermarket are the LED headlights kits from XenonPro. Among the best LED options on the market, these XenonPro kits are offered in an array of sizes and colors, produce up to 9,000 lumens of lights, and come backed by a lifetime warranty.

Looking for easy installation? These bulbs are the very definition of plug-and-play. This means a direct fitment with the same plugs and locking tabs as OEM specs, resulting in a quick-and-easy install in under 30 minutes. The bulbs come with an integrated driver and turbo micro-fan built in, which helps with underhood thermal management and durability.

They’re also available in four colors — 3000K (yellow), 6000K (bright white), 8000K (blue), and 12000L (purple) — though be sure to check your local laws before installing a colorful light such as blue or purple. Meanwhile, the advanced anti-glare technology prevents you from blinding other drivers—no small consideration if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a set of less-thoughtful LED bulbs. You can also expect XenonPro’s headlights to last, as they’ve been rated for 45,000 hours of use.

*This is a sponsored placement.

Pros/Dead-simple install, up to 300% brighter than standard halogen, comes with a lifetime warranty, premium quality
Cons/Premium quality means a premium price point
Bottom Line/One of the best options on the market

3. Highly Rated: LasFit LED Headlight Bulbs

Earning four-and-a-half stars from an aggregate of nearly 500 reviews is no mean feat – just ask the producers on any B-grade Hollywood movie. These LED headlights are available with a wide variety of connectors to fit most North American applications. Plug-n-play isn’t just for gaming consoles, y’know.

The company claims their headlight bulb creates a smooth light beam which illuminates in breadth and length with a sharp horizontal cutoff to avoid the ‘scatter’ that can blind other drivers. Reviewers seem to agree. They’re also one of the few sellers to note that the units will provide wonky DRL service if the car’s daytimes are shared with the stock low-beam bulbs. Your author can attest to this problem, so this warning to n00bs is welcomed. They also note some errors in Amazon’s fitment guide, another helpful item that many other sellers skip.

Pros/Well-designed cutoff minimizes beam scatter, leagues of positive reviews
Cons/Fitment guides must be examined like tax forms
Bottom Line/Popular plug-n-play option

4. GTP 9006 HB4 LED Headlight Bulbs

With a 360-degree beam pattern, this brand squarely inhabits the “never heard of ’em” end of the retail spectrum. The 250+ listed reviews are all over the map, bouncing back and forth between one- and five-star ratings like a pendulum on a grandfather clock.

Recent comments seem to focus on damage during shipping but there are also scads of reports about units failing in short order after installation. This product may be a very good example of getting what one pays for – but if a dirt-cheap set of LED is what you’re after, these check that box.

Pros/Bottom-feeder price
Cons/Negative comments are starting to outweigh the good
Bottom Line/Shop carefully

5. Cougar Motor H13 LED Headlight Bulbs

Despite having a packaging that bears imagery straight out of computer parts from the 1990s, these lights stand alongside their modern competitors. Advertised as the industry standard of 6000K, these bulbs cast a cool white glow rather than the off-blue shade that some oncoming drivers find annoying, prompting them to hit the brights in retaliation (pro tip: don’t give in to the ‘payback’ temptation as you’ll both be blinded).

In terms of cooling, an aluminum component replaces a physical fan. Actual lumens are in the 7000lms range for the set and have a working operating temperature well within the confines of Planet Earth, save for Chicago when it’s hit with the polar vortex. Reviewers report that these bulbs aren’t picky when it comes to polarity, meaning they can be plugged in and installed without difficulty. A few reports exist of the things winking out prematurely, however.

Pros/Smaller base thanks to lack of fan, no polarity
Cons/Hang on to that receipt
Bottom Line/Affordable with largely positive reviews

6. NightEye Novsight LED Auto Lighting

Yeah, your author is a sucker for bright colors and a unique design. For better or worse, I’ll frequently choose the flashy option that stands out like an errant nail waiting to be hammered into place. The units are painted bright red despite the fact they’ll reside in a part of your car that will rarely be viewed by human eyes. It matters not; the color’s awesome.

A cold-pressed aluminum heat sink (in red!) stays 40% cooler than standard, although what standard they’re talking about is unclear. It does rate its cooling fan at a heady 12,000 rpm, several thousand north of most other lights. Their lifespan claim of 100,000 hours seems excessive. As with all the other units in this group, they’re easy to install using stock wiring harnesses. They are polarity dependent, so test the suckers before wrangling them into the headlight housings.

These lights have garnered good reviews from customers who have shelled out their hard-earned cash. The company does note that some common brands, such as those from FCA and a few German makes, may require a load resistor decoder to avoid flickering.

Pros/Anodized-style red finish looks baller, cool runnings
Cons/Polarity dependent, unrealistic lifespan estimate
Bottom Line/Get these if you love the color red

7. Beamtech LED Headlight Bulbs

The so-called “aircraft-grade” aluminum shows up again, along with a high thermal conductivity Nano layer and 0.8mm double-sided laminated copper substrate to keep the light bulb at an appropriate working temperature. Estimated operating life is less than others at 30,000 hours. These bulbs are available in all the popular headlight connector sizes.

Note that some reviewers mention that it is indeed possible to plug these suckers in backward, so if they fail to illuminate after installation, be sure to check that connection before raging out on social media. Also, an alignment tool is apparently included for good reason – some vehicles will require tweaking of the “blade” on which the LEDs sit in order for them to cast the proper light. This is rare in replacement bulbs but seems to produce a much better result.

Pros/Well-packaged and thought-out, plugs into many types of cars
Cons/Not totally plug 'n play
Bottom Line/A bit of work might be worth the hassle

8. Hikari Thunder LED Headlight Bulbs

This sub-brand of the Hikari line was introduced to capture a portion of the low-price LED headlight market. Claiming to have superior brightness and beam pattern thanks to its experience developing high-buck solutions, the Hikari Thunder bulbs are priced in line with other entry-level LED headlight kits.

Hikari says they were the first to adopt copper as a material for heat dissipation, a metal now widely used in the LED industry for this purpose. According to their own tests in which the company removed the fan and let the thing run for two weeks in a high-temperature environment, these bulbs have great resistance to overheating.

Compared to the Hikari Ultra Series which toss out 12000 lumens per pair at twice the price, these cheaper units are capable of producing 9600 lumens of white light to toss down the road. Hikari is upfront about a few issues with which their customers might face, primarily the propensity of some popular brands to place bulbs in headlight housings at odd angles. To compensate, Hikari adopts adjustable buckles to enable some of these machines to obtain the optimal light-beam pattern.

Pros/Tested to success in very high temperatures, reasonably priced
Cons/Not as bright as its slightly more expensive brother
Bottom Line/Good budget option

LED Headlight Bulbs FAQ:

Are there different types of LED headlight bulbs?

Before unholstering the Visa card, make sure to note the type of headlight bulb that is compatible with your particular car as there are several different types of plugs in production. It’s known that many cars are tightly packed underhood, meaning that while it is unlikely tools will be needed for the actual bulb install, a screwdriver or socket set may be required to carefully move another component or two. Leave the hammer out of it.

Which type of LED headlight bulb should I buy?

Make sure to buy a set that has the proper base for the wiring plugs in your particular vehicle. Different manufacturers have a variety of setups depending on the application, so it’s important to be certain you’re selecting the right one to avoid disappointment when they show up.

Are LED bulbs difficult to install compared to standard bulbs?

Be careful when handling these lamps. Back in the old days, amateur gearheads were always warned by experienced wrenchers not to handle a halogen bulb by its glass surface lest the oils from one’s hands damage the unit. The same caution should be exercised with these newfangled LEDs.

What are some differences in the construction of LED bulbs?

There will likely be more excess wiring with these LED kits compared to the minimalist factory setup, so make sure to splurge on a couple of zip ties to clean up the installation and avoid a potential rat’s nest of wires. The base of LED headlamps are also larger than those of halogen bulbs, thanks to the need for an integrated fan unit, so test fitting the suckers before ramming them home goes a long way towards avoiding a frustrating experience.

Changes:

  • Updated title
  • Revised intro
  • Updated FAQ
  • Replaced DriveVision with SeaLight at #1 for availability
  • Replaced Cougar at #5 with fan-free option from same brand
  • Updated copy in #7

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

36 Comments on “Best LED Headlights for Your Car: Seeing Things...”


  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    Is ANY of this stuff DOT-legal?? Doubtful. More Chinese crap blinding oncoming traffic.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      The few that I’ve run across in auto parts stores say they’re strictly for fog lights.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Nope, not legal for use in headlights.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Short answer, no, they aren’t DOT-approved. Thinking critically, these appear to be halfway-decent designs, but they still have limitations. The bulbs that have the flat caps at the tip of the LED mounting plane seem like they would block any direct glare toward oncoming traffic, which is good. I think the larger issue is that LEDs don’t give a perfectly uniform light distribution, so the illumination pattern coming out of a reflector designed for a halogen bulb will not be perfect.

      I think they fall under the category of “your mileage may vary”. Some may work well and some may not. They may work well in certain car’s headlights and not in others. I personally would be interested, but I don’t like the idea of adding something that requires a separate cooling fan. One more thing to worry about failing and overheating.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe K

      Autoblog hyping dangerous illegal headlights. Shame on you.

  • avatar
    Polka King

    Phooey on headlights. Talk to us about X-tra Bright front turn signals, since the poo-for-brains manufacturers are placing them right next to the headlights, rendering them invisible when the headlights are on.

    And while you’re up, get me a set of white LEDs to replace the perfectly invisible blue indicator LEDs in my Hyundai’s dashboard. Hey! Let’s make our turn signals and dashboard indicators invisible! That’d be so cool!!

  • avatar
    EX35

    Now this site is pushing Chinese crap? RF would be so disappointed. Stick a fork in this website. It’s done.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’d be happy of 90% of the drivers around me had broken high-beam switches. Between bright LEDs and too many people driving with their high beams in constantly, it’s impossible to drive for any length of time without being dazzled at least once.

    I was once nicked for having my high beams on, when in reality it was just the factory HIDs. Those were by far the best lights I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving behind (I couldn’t really say how other drivers experienced then when they were oncoming). The second best are the follow-the-curve LEDs that I have now.

    Is the industry moving away from HIDs? Do they use too much power and ear marginally into fuel efficiency gains?

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      We must live in the same area!

    • 0 avatar
      4onthefloor

      @tank,
      HID is not the future, LED is. There is now a kit to convert my E46 from HID, to lLED. It’s going in this summer as I ain’t paying no 1K for a new set of OEM ballasts, and start up time to full brightness is instantaneous with LED. Only downside as mentioned is no snow melt, but I have a snow brush for that.
      Key is to match led position to original halogen filament position.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’m just beyond sick and tired of not being able to see the road ahead from the glare of coming vehicles on dark 2-lanes.

    After almost rear ending a stopped ’84-ish Toyota pickup with very dim tail lights and turn signal (it must’ve been a manual since no brake lights) stopped in my lane, I just run my high beam halogens at the point I can’t see upto my stopping distance.

    No warning flash, just bam, on high.

    I’m not sure if it’s their low beams or what. I doesn’t matter. The Toyota was stopped in my lane waiting to turn left at an uncontrolled, dark T-intersection (yielding to oncoming traffic) and the only reason I didn’t hit him/it is I was slowing to make a left there too. But I never saw the Toyota until I was about right on top of it.

    So screw ’em.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I put lights in our Durango from The Retrofit Source. Got chastised by Sajeev on here (piston slap and follow up) but they are so much better and I taped the driveway where I parked with the old lights and used masking tape to outline both high and low patterns. Then when I put the new ones in I could adjust them the same as the old lights. I tried explaining that but he thought I put the lights on the garage for show. Oh well.

    I did put LED fog lights in to replace the old OEM with broken glass. The water would get in and pop the bulbs.

  • avatar
    kkop

    These lights are likely illegal. Also, they are blinding.

    Lights like these (mostly on Jeeps of any vintage with after market headlight replacements)are the reason I finally installed 6000 lumens foglights on my motorcycle for some retaliatory blinding of those idiots on the country roads around here.

    Can’t believe TTAC is pushing these.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I could swear there was a 10 best post about the drop in LED lights at some point last year.

      • 0 avatar
        Yankee

        You are correct. They ranked bulbs (and other products) before by reading the ad copy by the manufacturer provided on Amazon. Personally, I like reviews where the site actually tries out products and provides actual test results, but that is obviously not an option for a site which is apparently so short on cash. Hopefully they’re getting enough revenue from these fake “review” articles to keep the site running for the Rare Rides features alone, which are awesome.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I seem to recall that there were previous articles in TTAC about the impossibility of successfully switching out halogens or HIDs for LEDs, the asserted problem being that the reflector array in headlights is designed for the light source to be at a particular focus point in order to work correctly. The replacement LEDs do not put the light source at the designed focus point, so the whole assembly will not work as intended, with unpredictable (and likely poor) results.

    Oh well. Gotta make a buck (or loonie) somehow . . .

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Around here the only options people sometimes have seem to be no lights at all or high beams all the time. I doubt I would notice the difference between these and someone’s high beams, so I say knock yourself out.

    Toyota Prius drivers and the worst offenders for not turning their headlights on when it’s dark. I suspect that it’s deliberate, an attempt to maximize MPG. And Toyota/Nissan sedan drivers seem to be the ones who don’t realize that the blue light on the dashboard is blinding everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      But, but ma DRLs are bright enough to see the road.

      I haven’t figured out how to turn the lights completely off in my current car. There’s an off position, but the turny button thing springs back to auto and the light sensors override the off position. I’ve tried flashing people driving around with no lights on several times no avail.

      • 0 avatar
        chicklet

        The DRLs are bright enough to see the road, and the 10,000 watt instrument panel is showing the driver’s text messages and album covers of the music, so who cares that the car’s lights aren’t really on?

        At dusk, in a little dark gray blob doing way less than the other left lane traffic our driver has decided to linger in, the lights aren’t on!

        It’s sorta fun watching the other drivers damn near smash into this darkened blob, but hey, the dashboard sure is pretty. Bah!!!

        • 0 avatar
          Yankee

          You hit the nail on the head. Ever since instrument panels started lighting up without the lights on, people don’t bother to check that the lights aren’t on. DRLs make the problem worse. I think the Prius drivers Land Ark is talking about don’t even know their lights aren’t on between their DRLs and video game dashboards. Why can’t manufacturers just make all the lights come on when the ignition is running (with a little cancel button like the traction control cancel button in case you need to shut them off while parked, e.g., to avoid shining into a house window while waiting for someone).

      • 0 avatar

        This, every single day (actually every night).

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    You know who liked super-bright lights? Hitler liked super-bright lights.

    https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/nazi-rally-cathedral-light-c-1937/

    [130 lights, each with a dedicated 24kW generator and a crew of seven.]

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Are we doing reruns now?

      Do we get syndication fees? (…starts counting the days until Kia Telluride purchase…)

      [TTAC: If you ever want to turn these into actual useful buying guides, I have some ideas. But it would require advance planning and coordination.]

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “even if the IIHS has an annoying habit of deploying their ‘marginal’ rating far too often.

    Replacing that pair of fireflies with an aftermarket set of LED bulbs is a bright idea. LEDs cast a very bright and defined beam of light compared to halogen units, allowing drivers to see farther ahead and spot Bambi before he jumps out onto the macadam.”

    IIHS deploys their marginal rating far too often, eh? Really, who says? Putting LED modules in reflectors not designed for them is a “bright idea”, and gives a very bright and defined beam of light” you assert. And who the hell are you, pray tell? A lighting expert? I seem to remember you live in the Maritimes, as do I. It’s hard to admit to the world that a complete dork masquerading as an expert is a local. But what the hell, this is the TRUTH about cars, etc., n’est-ce pas?

    These useless con barker advertorials are beyond the pale.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    On my last car, the 2013 Accord that’s still in my avatar (hey TTAC, how can I change that??!!), I bought LED replacements for the fog lights just because I couldn’t stand the color temperature difference between the LED OEM headlights and the halogen fogs. The color was great, but the light projection was poor! I suspect you’d have similar results with these replacements, notwithstanding that they’re probably not legal for street use in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      @sgeffe

      1. Log into your account.
      2. Scroll to the top of the page.
      3. Click on the icon which looks like a speedometer.
      4. Look for a heading called profile.
      5. Once in the profile section scroll about 3/4 down and there should be a spot where you can select a different profile picture.

      I’m not sure though, because my account has been acting goofy, not notifying me of new comments, and insists that I need to update the database while giving me an error that I cannot access the database section.

  • avatar

    This article is actively against highway safety, whether you are a fully equipped professional speeder or the best customer for the insurance company’s record and snitch OBD module program.

    Here in the wilds of New York state, we have a lot of unlit roads…not city, not lit interstates, but places where you rely on your lights to see the limits of the road, and notably, deer.

    I’ve uprated my lights for years…first H4 spec, and later, when the DOT finally allowed decent lights, I’ve bought the uprated OE lights….and occasionally added H1 driving lights, seperately switched and on relays.

    In all cases, they were correct euro codes, with sharp cutoffs, and properly aimed.

    These LED nightmares are put into cloudy headlight assemblies…never, ever attempted to be re aimed…and glare on high and low beam, in all weather.

    I KNOW US headlight specs are horrible, up to about 5-7 years ago…I know everyone cannot afford a new car with proper LED lights, or at least decent Halogens, but I’ve been blinded by at least one of these poorly set up car on every night drive in the last few months.

    Seperate Driving Lights are different, assuming the driver only hits them when they are alone….but these things glare 24/7.

    Take this post down.

  • avatar
    4onthefloor

    Sorry fellas, going to have to take the contrarian view here. As the owner of a set of aging eyes, I converted to Beamtech all around with a few caveats for those who want to do the same. You MUST have projector headlight housings, you MUST use tumeable, otherwise known as adjustable LED bulbs that allow you to adjust not only the rotation of the LED, but also the depth of the LED assembly.with a little research and proper aiming, I now have MUCH better vision at night, and haven’t been flashed once. Well worth the modest investment.

  • avatar
    focaltac

    Shameless commerce. Look ‘cool’ and convince yourself that the exagerated foreground illumination helps you see down the road better.

  • avatar
    gregtwelve

    Upgraded a 2006 Silverado work truck with Auxbeam LED’s and results are spectacular. I would say 2x as bright as Halogens. I originally tried a different brand but the body was too long and would not fit even though the description indicated it would. I double checked with Auxbeam and they assured me theirs would fit and theyt did. Had them a year and a half and still just as bright.

    Also upgraded my wife’s rear signal/brake light on her 2018 Lacrosse. The halogen bulbs did not match the rear LED tail lights. I installed a pair of “non hyper flash” LEDs and they are MUCH brighter than stock. Now looking into changing the HID headlights with LEDs but that might be more of a challenge.

  • avatar

    This is a bit of a minefield. Our Jetta S has 4 h7!bulbs. I wanted to upgrade as the whole family complained about it.

    A lot of research later I found an OSRAM replacement for 1200 a set complete lights from Germany but back ordered. ECE code lights were likewise ordered back to October.

    Phillips 9000 Ultinon appeared to be the answer. They are a legit effort by Phillips, not cheap (200 a set shipped you need two sets).

    Installation was a royal -B as you need to remove the lights and the clips VW uses to hold the light bulbs in needs to be changed. The guy who designed that has a lot of bad karma to work off. Three hour job and lights needed removal and workbench time.

    The end result is spectacular. They claim 250% of h7 output which I agree with. Color temp is an oe 5800 k so it is normal oe light. Best of all the beam cutoffs remain an you dont dazzle folks.

    So not all led are the same. I only bought the 9000 bulbs after research and took a risk but it paid off. These bulbs are aimed at the euro market and they state they dont meet ece regs but I doubt anyone in the US would fail inspection. Again the beam is still controlled and the cutoffs work

    My C43 has full active lighting enabled, not the hobbled USDOT version. How even basic cars have bad lights is inexcusable and a lot of the led out there dont improve things.

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