Why Are My Car Headlights Not Bright Enough?

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  • Post last modified:July 1, 2021

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Driving at night is an entirely different situation than driving in broad daylight. Many individuals don’t even like to drive at night because of how it affects their driving ability. One situation that can make driving at night even trickier is if your headlights aren’t performing as they should be. We have researched the ins and outs of faulty headlights so that you can be as safe as possible on the road regardless of what time it is!

There can be a few different issues that can cause your headlights not to be bright enough. Some of these issues deal directly with your headlights, and others are caused by different parts of your car not functioning properly. Here are some of the most common reasons that cause headlights to appear dim: 

  1. Loose connection
  2. Old bulbs
  3. Foggy headlight lenses
  4. Corroded wire
  5. Alternator issues

Driving at night can be dangerous enough. That danger is only amplified when your primary way of seeing through the dark is hindered. This isn’t just a problem at night time either. Having properly functioning headlights is also very important during inclement weather such as rain. Knowing the possible causes of this issue is one thing and having an idea of how to resolve them is another. Make sure you keep reading down below for a comprehensive guide to getting your headlights functioning as they should be!

Modern black metallic sedan car in spotlight, Why Are My Car Headlights Not Bright Enough?

Causes For Dim Headlights

Causes for malfunctioning headlights can come from the energy that powers them or the headlights themselves. Some of these causes are more obvious than others. Due to that, it’s important to know your vehicle and everything surrounding your current headlight issue. 

1. Loose Connection

The first possible cause for your malfunctioning headlights is that there is a loose connection. This would take place in the back of the headlight system. If your headlights are both dim and not wholly shut off at times, this is likely not the issue. However, if one of your headlights is turning off and on at random times, this is probably the culprit. 

To fix this issue, you’ll want to pop the hood and look at the wiring on the back of the headline casing. In this case, the wiring connector is usually just a bit loose. This would leave it moving while driving or being moved and connecting and disconnecting the wiring randomly to the headlight. All you have to do is push the connecter firmly into place. This should fix the problem. 

2. Old Bulbs

One of the most common causes for dim headlights is simply that your bulbs are really old. If you can’t remember the last time your headlight bulbs were changed, then this is probably your problem. You will also be able to tell if this is a possible issue by looking directly at your headlight bulbs. Do you notice any discoloration? Older bulbs will start to gather a yellow or brownish substance on them that hinders the light as it goes through the bulb’s glass. 

Fortunately, this issue probably has the easiest fix. You don’t have to deal with any of the electrical systems or even use any tools. All you have to do is replace your headlight bulbs!

Start looking for new headlight bulbs here on Amazon!

3. Foggy Headlight Lenses

A very common occurrence in older cars is for the headlight lenses to become foggy. This is from a buildup of dirt, damage, and simple wear and tear over the years. Since the light has to go through these lenses, it makes sense that some of the light will be stopped if they are not clear. If your headlights are dim and you can visibly see that your lenses are foggy, fixing them will certainly help. 

To fix foggy headlight lenses, you can purchase a kit or try some at-home methods. The simplest at-home methods involve just cleaning the lenses. This will only really work if they aren’t very dirty or damaged. You can also try using toothpaste to get some built-up grime off of them. If this doesn’t work, you can purchase a headlight restoration kit. If all else fails, you may need to buy new headlights altogether. 

Click here to shop for headlight restoration kits on Amazon!

4. Corroded Wire

Another common cause for dim headlights is that the grounding wire is corroded or rusted. If you can look at where the ground wire connects, and it looks visibly worn, then this is probably the issue. Even if it’s not, then cleaning it will still help with any issues arising from it in the future!

The first step to cleaning the grounding wire is to disconnect the negative wire from the battery. This will be the black wire typically. Set it off to the side in a way that you’re sure it cannot fall and reconnect with the battery. Next, it’s time to clean the grounding wire. You can try to use a stiff bristle brush on it alone or in combination with some baking soda and water. It just depends on how rusted or corroded the wire is on your vehicle. 

Click here to shop for wire brushes on Amazon!

5. Alternator Issues

Probably the worst cause for this problem is that there is an issue with the alternator. This is the worst possible scenario because if you’re having alternator issues, then dim headlights will be the least of your worries. The best way to tell if the alternator is your problem is when the headlights are dimming. If they get brighter and dimmer as the engine revs or goes down, this is probably the case. 

If you suspect that the alternator is going bad, you should have it looked at right away. Not doing so may result in other negative power issues and, eventually, your car not starting at all. As the alternator goes bad, it will pull more power away from different vehicle parts and direct it to the most necessary places. 

Other Headlight Questions

Car Traffic At Night

Now that you know the possible causes for dim headlights, you should be able to address the issue quickly. However, just in case anything else comes up, it’s good to have as much information as possible. 

Can I Put A Brighter Bulb In My Headlight?

It is possible to install brighter bulbs in your headlights. However, if there is an issue with your headlights that don’t directly involve the bulb, this won’t do much for you. It may make your headlights brighter for now, but the issue will persist. 

How Do You Make LED Headlights Brighter?

Upgrading to LED in the first place will make your headlights much brighter. If you want to make those LED lights even brighter, you should look at the other components of the headlight. Try making sure the bulbs aren’t old or tarnished or making sure the lenses aren’t foggy. 

Can I Put LED Bulbs In My Stock Headlights?

In short, no. If your car’s stock headlights aren’t already LED, then you cannot do this. However, you can easily purchase and install a conversion kit. This easily lets you put LED lights in your car and have brighter headlights in no time!

Click here to shop for LED headlight conversion kits on Amazon!

What Is The Brightest Headlight Bulb That Is Legal?

This can be tricky to answer because it can depend on where you live. Different states have different laws concerning how bright or what color headlight bulbs can be. Generally, LED bulbs are the brightest variety that you can purchase. However, some of the brighter versions are not legal in all areas. It would be best to consult local laws when trying to answer this question in your state. 

Should I Replace Halogen Headlights With LED?

There are a couple of advantages to using LED headlights over halogen ones that may make you want to make the switch. As stated above, LED headlights are usually brighter than halogen ones. They also generally use less energy than halogen lights. You will have to buy a converter to make the switch in most vehicles, but they are fairly inexpensive. They are also simple to install and use. 

Final Thoughts

Modern black metallic sedan car in spotlight, Why Are My Car Headlights Not Bright Enough?

There can be several different causes for dim or malfunctioning headlights. They range from simply changing your headlight bulbs to taking your vehicle to a shop to get the alternator looked at. To diagnose the cause of your issues and fix it, you have to look at exactly what your headlights are doing and if anything else is affected. If you want a brighter light in general, you can also look into converting your current headlights to LED lights.

Overall with this information, you should be able to have some more light and feel safer driving at night!

For more nighttime driving tips, make sure you click on the links below!

Which SUVs Have Night Vision?

Where Should You Leave Your Car Keys At Night?

What Time is Considered Night Time Driving?

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