Why does it cost so much to change car headlights?

Modern headlights are great. Not only do they last up to ten times longer than the traditional Halogen bulb, they're much brighter and have a considerably longer range. But did you know that it could cost you big money to replace them?

Popular brands were compared in a study by What Car? Cars with High Intensity Discharge (HID) and LED headlights could cost drivers an absolute fortune to replace.

Many modern cars have sealed light units, resulting in a specialist being required to carry out the work

Why are they so expensive? I hear you ask. Well, modern lights are quite complex. In most cases, when one part breaks, the whole unit needs replacing. Also, most HID units are completely sealed. This means that only an authorised person from the dealership is allowed to tinker with them. So not only are you paying for an entire new unit, you're paying for labour costs too.

Long gone are the old days of removing the light cover and replacing the bulb.

A warning light that you don't want to see in a modern car

Here's an example of this unfair system in action. Replacing a bulb in a standard Volkswagen Polo would cost you £18, whereas in the Polo GTI, you'd be faced with a hefty £846 repair bill.

Even if the HID unit isn't sealed, owners of the Audi A1 S-Line are faced with a £211 bill, which is much more expensive than the £18 charge for owners of the SE trim A1.

What happens if you own a cheap car, is it worth the repair bill?

Claire Evans, What Car? consumer editor, said: “The longevity of HID bulbs makes them a viable option on a new car. However, if you are buying a used car as a second household vehicle or as a first car for a son or daughter, you – and they – could be landed with a massive repair bill for a blown bulb that could even render the car a write-off due to it being uneconomical to repair.”

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments

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Comments (5)
  • Drill a hole in the back of the plastic housing.

    Find a test light,

    mark the wires accordingly,

    find an acceptable harness,

    wire it in,

    plug in standard bulb,

    twist new harness into hole,

    save 2 days of labour to pay for the fancy light,

    loose a half day labour to do the job.

    Job done.

    1 month ago
    1 Bump
  • the "sealed" excuse is just a rip off. The guy at the dealership doesn't posses any magic, if he can do it - you can do it.

    They did the same to the Jeep - took away the trans oil dip stick and plugged it with a cup that said "dealer use only". Right. Because you cannot possibly be trusted with a transmission oil top-off, or - gasp! - a change. Of course you can now buy a tool on the free market that replaces the factory dip stick.

    1 month ago
    3 Bumps


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