You can’t drive your vehicle at night without functioning headlamps. Fortunately, you have the option to change the bulbs when your headlights start to dim, flicker, or go out. But before you can replace the bulbs, you need to answer a fundamental question: “What headlight bulbs do I need?”
There are different types, kinds, and sizes of bulbs, therefore you may find it difficult to ascertain the suitable bulb for your vehicle. That's why we have created this ultimate guide to help you determine the right bulb for your vehicle. Now let's dive in.
what headlight bulb do i need

What Bulbs Fit My Car? Here's How to Find the Bulb Fitting You Need

Modern cars are becoming more and more similar to each other due to their use of universal parts. However, even after so many advances the differences haven’t reduced that drastically. Nowadays, headlight bulbs come in different types, sizes, and kinds. The bulb you need depends on factors such as the fitting area, the make of the car, the model and the year. 
You can take 9005 and H11 bulbs as an example. Both of them look the same, but they have widely different characteristics. The H11 bulb is a single low-beam light, meant to be used in the main headlight. Whereas the 9005 bulb is a high-luminance high-beam light, which is made specifically for the fog light area. If you exchange one for the other, the light won’t work as intended and it might have an adverse effect rather than being beneficial. 
Therefore, it is better to find the bulb that’s the most compatible with your vehicle. 
We have listed all the ways in this guide that will help you find the right bulb for any car and its fitting area.

Use Suncent Auto's Online Bulb Finder (Vehicle-selector): 

You can visit the SuncentAuto website where you will find the bulb finder on the homepage.
The process to find the bulb is quite simple, but we’ll still demonstrate how to enter information to get the right answer.
Let’s take a 2018 Ford F-150 as an example in this case.
1. Click on the online bulb finder which is located on the homepage.
2. Select 'Ford' in the 'make' section, 'F-150' in the 'model' section, and '2018' in the 'year' section.  Press go and the website will redirect you to another page with further information.
3. The website will filter the compatible bulbs for your vehicle. You can easily find out and shop for the right bulbs.
find out what headlight bulb you need via suncentauto
Alternatively, you can go to SuncentAuto's car bulb size guides to find out the bulb that fit your vehicle.

Check the owner's manual of your car

When you buy a vehicle, the dealership provides you with a user manual. This booklet has all the relevant information concerning the car, meaning you can use it to find the right bulb type. However, if you don’t have the owner’s manual, you can always look for help online. 
The first place to check is the automobile brand's website. They will probably have a manual uploaded to the website. However, you might not be able to access it, since many marques keep that stuff confidential.
What to do now?
Well, the internet is a vast ocean of resources and you can find almost anything on it if you look hard enough. So, go on to google and search for your car's user manual by typing in the model, brand name, year of production, and 'owner manual' in the box.
If you have the owner's manual at hand, you can check the "BULB SPECIFICATION CHART" to find out the headlight bulb size that fits your vehicle. Below is an example from the 2018 Ford F150's owner's manual.
find out headlight bulb you need from onwer's manual
- The information is 100% correct as it comes from an authoritative source.
- Each model is different and therefore the manual is also distinct.
- The owner's manual might not be available to the public.
- Some manuals do not have any information on the bulb’s model and type.

Use Philips or Sylvania’s bulb finder

There are other bulb finders on the internet that you can use to find the perfect headlight bulb for your vehicle. You can visit the Automotive Bulb Finder website, where you will see the bulb finder search bar at the top of the homepage. There you have to enter the year, make, and model of your vehicle, followed by the fitting position for which you require the bulb and view the matching products. Let’s say you wanted to find a high beam/low beam light for your 2008 Ford F-150. The search should like this:
The search will tell you that the 9008 bulb is the one that fits your requirements. You will also see several Philips bulbs that are made with the 9008 specification.
Pros: The information about the product, its price, and availability is 100% spot on
Cons: The data on the site is often outdated
For Sylvania, you can use their website, which is equally as helpful as the one by Philips. All you need to do is enter the model, make, and year of your vehicle on the bulb finder. Then click the 'full vehicle bulb list' option and view the various bulbs for different fitting positions.
Pros:Instant updates and accurate data all the time
Cons: The details are not very thorough, often leading to confusion.

What Types of Headlight Bulbs Do I Need? (Headlight Bulb Type Facts)

When it comes to headlight bulbs, there is no ‘one fits all’ type. You can find different types in the market and each type poses its advantage. Which one is the best? Well, you can decide that after reading the three most common headlight bulb types below.  

Halogen bulbs

Halogen bulbs are the most popular type but that is not because of their performance. The reason for their popularity is their low cost of production. Plus, the technology used in a halogen bulb is well-known and has been around for decades. In other words, you can always rely on these bulbs for your headlights.   
Inside a halogen bulb is a tungsten filament (much like the one you had back at home in the old days). However, the tungsten is given a boost by adding halogen to the mix, which increases its brightness and longevity. The H4, H18, and H9 are some common halogen bulbs.

LED bulbs

LED bulbs are increasing in popularity not because they are based on the latest technology, but for other very relevant reasons. To start, the LED bulb is more energy efficient, it has an extremely high life expectancy and it allows you to create unique light shapes.
The LED bulb works when electricity passes through several light-emitting diodes. As a result, the light is brighter and more effective than HID or halogen bulbs for illuminating the area in front.
The technology is still quite new and we will hopefully see some innovation in LED light technology that promotes worldwide acceptance.

Xenon or high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs

Xenon bulbs are more commonly known as HID bulbs. That's because they produce an immense amount of light when switched on.
Inside the bulb is an arc that’s placed between two electrodes. It comes alive when high voltage electricity passes through and the xenon gas fills up in copious amounts. The two elements help the light to shine brighter and for longer. However, xenon lights are expensive and thus not as popular as halogen bulbs.  

Can I Upgrade my stock light with an aftermarket headlight?

When your stock bulbs wear out, it is time to replace them with a genuine part. However, you could choose to go with aftermarket headlights, as this category will have more options.
If you have decided in favor of aftermarket headlights, you can shift from the traditional halogen bulbs and go for xenon or LED bulbs. We recommend that you go with LED headlights, because they are long-lasting, efficient, produce less heat, and they can do cool tricks. For example, the latest Audi S8 has a light show feature that looks very cool. You can get something like this only with LED headlights.

Where to Buy Car Headlight Bulbs?

If you are looking for a trustworthy place to purchase new car headlight bulbs, look no further than SuncentAuto. You can find a wide range of aftermarket LED and HID lights on their website. The prices are reasonable, and the quality is guaranteed. 
Here's hoping that this guide helped answer the 'what headlight bulb do I need?' question for you. If at any time you are confused about changing the car's bulb, head on over to this buying guide and find the solution to your problems.