Mechanics CornerTips

Upgrading Headlight Bulbs – Which is the best for you?

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Let’s face it, nobody likes eye strain while driving in the dark. The scenario of driving in a storm with rain lashing down and very little headlight visibility isn’t a situation that’s ever one to be desired. Upgrading your headlight bulbs can make all the difference between spotting hazards earlier while also keeping you more alert thanks to less eye strain.

We’ve put together a guide to help you through this somewhat mind-boggling process.

A Word of Warning – HID Conversion Kits

Before anything else it’s worth mentioning that with all the confusing information on the Internet regarding Halogen to HID xenon conversion kits, we’re just going to keep it simple; HID conversion kits are not road legal for cars in the UK and that’s why we do not sell them.


Finding Your Bulb Type

First things first, you’ll need to find out what type of bulb your headlights use. Some headlight manufacturers can save you time by stating what type of bulbs are fitted by stamping the designation on the back of the headlight, by using a sticker, or on classic vehicles they can actually be etched into the glass lens.

  • Most common halogen headlight bulbs: H1, H3, H4, H7, HB3 and HB4
  • Most common fog light bulbs: H3 H11, H8, H16
  • Most common HID Xenon bulbs: D1S, D2S, D3S, D4S

OSRAM have a dedicated online tool for this, however you’ll need to know some of the specifics of your car. If you’re savvy with cars then this will be no problem, but if not – you’ll need to know your cars chassis designation e.g. 8P1, 8L for an Audi A3 etc. Unfortunately, the tool uses Kwh as a power definition, so you’ll need to convert your engines Horsepower into Kilowatts to select your engine type. Most of these specifics are stated in your car’s logbook if you’re unsure. Click here to use the online bulb finder tool.



What Kind of Bulb Are You Looking For?

The next thing to do is work out what kind of bulb best fits your requirements. Do you want the best brightness upgrade, a long life bulb or some for style? In 2016, OSRAM changed to new colour coded packaging to help customers recognise the different types, they are as follows:

Click here to see a shorter overview of all the ranges


Performance (red packaging)

We recommend this category for the everyday user who has an average commute length to work. They provide the best improvement for brightness over standard fitted bulbs. Bear in mind that no halogen bulb will ever compete with a car with factory fitted xenon headlights though.

OSRAM’s performance range of bulbs consist of:


Styling (blue packaging)

These type of bulbs are great for improving the look of your car. Halogen styling bulbs utilise a thin blue coating which transforms standard yellow looking colours to a more modern, colder white look. You can view our article here which explains everything to do with blue coated halogen bulbs. The only downside is that coated bulbs don’t produce as much of a brightness gain to that of the performance range. On the contrary, HID xenon styling bulbs consist of special gas mixture to produce the desired colour, so that no lumen output is lost.

OSRAM styling bulb range:


Ultra Life (green packaging)

Does your whole bumper have to come off just to change your bulbs? Do you do long-distance night time driving? Do you own a Taxi? Do you want to fit and forget?

If the answer is yes, then this range is self-explanatory. The halogen Ultra Life range has a lifetime up to 4x longer than original OE bulbs thanks to a super robust filament. They also come with a 4-year guarantee. Impressively, the Xenon version has a staggering 10 year OSRAM guarantee for pure peace of mind!

View Ultra Life in our shop here


Original (orange and white packaging)

The cost-effective original spare parts.

OSRAM ORIGINAL LINE halogen bulbs offer convincing performance for standard requirements. They are robust, very cost-effective and have already been successfully used in millions of new cars from renowned manufacturers, whether as standard initial equipment or original spare parts.

Convince yourself of the excellent value for money, the reliable OEM quality and the wide product range of the ORIGINAL LINE.


Kelvin or K for short is a measurement scale that’s commonly used to describe the colour temperature in styling bulbs and lighting in general. Online Kelvin colour temperature charts always seem to differ from one to the other, so we recommend using the following as a Kelvin guide instead:


  • Original factory fitted halogen bulbs are around 3200K (this is a normal incandescent yellowish looking bulb)
  • The ‘bluest’ road legal halogen bulbs are OSRAM Cool Blue Intense which are around 4200k (this creates a colder, more pure white look)

HID Xenon:

  • Original factory fitted Xenon (HID) bulbs are around 4300K – Hence the Cool Blue Intense halogen range states they are ‘xenon look’
  • The ‘bluest’ road-legal Xenon (HID) upgrade bulbs are OSRAM Cool Blue Xenarc which are around 6000K that produce a slight blue tint. They are seen on the likes of prestige cars such as the Mercedes S Class, Aston Martin DB9 etc.

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  • Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, just wanted to say I’m thoroughly enjoying your new blog. Keep it up

  • That is a really good tip especially to those fresh to DIY mechanic stuff. Short but very accurate info… Thank you for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

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