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Car encyclopedia

Head Light

A head light (or head lamp) is attached to the front of a vehicle. Its purpose is to illuminate the road during periods of low visibility (i.e. nighttime, snow or rain, etc.). 

Symptoms of Wear or Failure

  • One or more of the head lights will not operate
  • Discoloration of the head light lens
  • Head light not aimed correctly
  • Water or condensation in the head light lens

Related Repair Advice

  • The most common failure is simply a burned out bulb. However, the repair may be difficult since access to the bulbs can be limited on some vehicles.
  • If one head light bulb burns out, the other may not be far behind. In many cases, a repair shop will recommend replacing both blubs when one burns out
  • Depending on the model, one bulb may contain both the high and low beam filaments; or, two separate bulbs may be used.
  • Care must be taken when head light bulbs are replaced so the head light still aims in the right direction
  • Systems using separate high and low beam bulbs will have the low beam located outboard or above the high beam
  • Some vehicles use high-intensity discharge (HID) or Xenon type head light bulbs, which can be very expensive to replace
  • Failure of the head light or high beam switch could also cause the head lights not to function correctly

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