Manufacturers of high-priced headlight bulbs are touting brighter light and greater visibility down the road, which is alluring for drivers, but are they much different than standard bulbs? We put eight models of premium bulbs to the test to see how bright and how far they shine.
The $20-$80 premium replacement bulbs from GE, Hella, Phillips, PIAA, and Sylvania were tested in our labs and at the track and compared to standard, cheaper bulbs and the factory bulbs in our 2012 Hyundai Accent and Volkswagen Passat test cars. Our tests revealed that the aftermarket replacements generate a whiter light than the basic bulbs, but they didn't help us see farther in the distance. That is because distance is determined by the shape and size of the reflector or lens in the lamp, not the bulb.
If you just like the stronger white light and don't care about better visibility, then premium bulbs are for you. If your headlight lenses are dull and hazy, the reason could be dirt and oxidation, which can easily be fixed by a headlight restoration kit (see our Ratings).
See our full report to see the products and prices of the bulbs we tested.