Features to Look for When Buying Bulbs and LEDs for External Automotive Lights

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Features to Look for When Buying Bulbs and LEDs for External Automotive Lights

Automobiles are equipped with many lights. There are lights both within the vehicle and without. Over time these lights need to be replaced with a new bulb for one reason or another. Internal lighting sources, such as dome lights and reading lights, are important lights that often need replacing; however, when they do go out, they do not often create a hazard.

Unlike internal lights, exterior lights can create potential hazards if a vehicle is driven without them being replaced. When the external lights of a car go out, not only can it making driving hazardous to the passengers of the vehicle, but it creates a hazardous situation to anyone else around them as well. It is important to fix external automotive lights as soon as possible. Some people prefer to replace a standard bulb with a similar one, while others choose to install a LED bulb. These bulbs can be located at hardware stores, retail department stores, and online on eBay. Understanding the features of external bulbs and LEDs makes the job much easier.

Overview of Bulbs and LEDs

External automotive lights usually are not ones that need to be replaced very often. Some people believe that when an external automotive light like a headlight stops working, the whole unit needs to be replaced. While this may be true in some case, the vast majority of the time only the bulb within the unit needs to be replaced. Replacing the bulb instead of buying a complete headlight assembly can save a person a lot of unnecessary expense.

External Bulb Locations

There are many places where a bulb can go out on the external side of the vehicle, and these lights usually can be replaced with very little effort and usually just a simple tool, such as a screwdriver. It is helpful to know where the external lights are located to make sure that they are in proper working order. The table below lists locations where external lights are located on most vehicles.

Daytime Running Lights

Usually located on front of vehicle but may also include rear of many newer vehicle models; used when headlights conditions are dim but not dark

Driving Lights

White or led bulbs are common; benefits include brighter light source and more compact design for viewing roadway in dark locations

Turn Signals

Located on front, side, and rear of vehicle; often overlaps or wraps around corner of vehicle; used to alert drivers to future turning movement


Often used for safety purposes, especially to protect equipment and people who work at night; common on commercial vehicles; can be located on top of vehicle or in front of vehicle close to headlights


Secondary light source; used for foggy or other unfavourable conditions; located in front of vehicle, often close to headlights

Rear Lights

Comprised of brake lights, turn signals, brake lights and other lights used to illuminate license plates and other external rear areas of vehicle

Although the location of these lights are typically in the same locations in older vehicles, the location of external lights in newer vehicles may differ slightly, but generally be in close proximity to the older model cars. These light sources can be replaced with a similar standard external automotive bulb, or they may also be replaced in most cases with a LED bulb.

Colours of Bulbs and LEDs

Beside the need to replace an automotive bulb because it has stopped working, other people like to replace their lighting sources because the old bulb is dim or because they simply want a bulb upgrade. For some vehicle owners, some types of bulbs are better in various locations than others. There are differences between a standard automotive bulb and LED automotive bulb for exterior placement. Realising the benefits of a standard bulb and LED bulbs can assist a person in choosing one that is right both for them and the needs of their vehicle.

Although hardly anything can be considered to be "standard" in today’s modern society, for the purposes of this guide, "standard" refers to the typical bulb that is coloured white, orange, or red, and they are each used to designate a certain purpose. Since many bulbs are protected by an outer covering, it is not always easy to tell what colour the original bulb is. Becoming familiar with bulb colours allows a person to buy the right one without having to remove the outer covering in most cases.

White Lights

White lights can be either standard automotive bulbs designed for a specific location or other types of bulbs, such as LED bulbs, can be used in place of them. Common rear placement of lighting sources is on the external side of the vehicle and are typically white lights. White lights are used to signify a vehicle is backing up and automatically comes on when the transmission is put into the reverse gear.

White lights are often used in front placement areas on a vehicle as well. Headlights, also referred to in some regions as "headlamps" are so called because they are attached to the head of a vehicle. They can usually either be two or four light systems that directly illuminate the area in front of the vehicle.

The system that uses four lights is usually mounted in close proximity of each other in order to afford the driver more illumination as the vehicle travels forward. The two light system is considered to be the standard, while the four beam system is typically considered to be a high beam illumination form. Most vehicles on the road are equipped with both low and high beam choices, although high beam use is often regulated by the traffic surrounding the moving vehicle.

Red Lights

Red lights are usually in the rear of the car and are very bright. This colour bulb is used to warn others that the vehicle is progressing in a backwards motion, and caution needs to be exercised at this time. Rear fog lights are often red in colour as well and are also used to signal others that there is a potential for danger. Fog lights are used when visibility is low.

Orange Lights

Left external lights and right external lights are typically orange in colour. They are meant to show the intended position of the vehicle when used as turn signals. Orange lights are also used as a warning signal to motorists and pedestrians that there is a threat of danger. Orange lights are caution lights and are used by many commercial vehicles. The orange caution lights can either be one with a steady beam of light, or it can be one that flashes.

Heavy machinery operators often have orange lights on their vehicles, especially when hauling oversize loads. Flag cars used in construction and heavy machinery operation areas also often have an orange light that is attached to the roof of the vehicle. Commercial truck drivers have orange lights that surround the trailer and often the tractor as well. The lights used in this way are meant to show the outline of the vehicle when visibility is poor.

How to Buy Bulbs and LEDs on eBay

One of the easiest places to find external automotive lights is on eBay. Because there is a large quantity of sellers on this site, the selection of items offered is vast. In order to find the right bulbs and LEDs for your automotive needs, a keyword search is typically performed.

In order to start a keyword search for your items, navigate to the eBay home page and type in the specific terms in the search query box located at the top of that page. Try to choose keywords that are specific to what type of bulb you are looking for if you want the result returned to be more specific to the item you need. Although the results returned for your perusal might still be quite large, they are more specific to your needs. For example, if you want car lights that are LED, type in car LED lights and click on the search icon. Following these simple tips ensure a hassle-free shopping experience.


Usually, if a car owner has owned a vehicle long enough, there is occasionally an external light or two that burns out or needs to be replaced because it is too dim to offer adequate protection for its intended purpose. At times like these, it is helpful to know that there are a variety of bulbs to choose from, such as standard external automotive bulbs and LED bulbs as well. There are many places outside a vehicle where these bulbs are used.

The colour of the bulbs in the various locations often differs as well. Bulbs in the front of the vehicle are often intended to provide illumination for better visibility. Bulbs that are placed in areas on the side of the vehicle are typically used for cautionary purposes, although depending on the vehicle type and purpose, they can also be used on the roof. Bulbs that are located in areas at the rear of the vehicle for warning purposes are usually bright and red in colour. Knowing what to look for before buying a bulb helps to ensure that the purchase is an accurate one for the replacement needs of the vehicle.

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