How to Buy Headlamps on eBay

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How to Buy Headlamps on eBay

Headlamps are powerful lights at the front of a vehicle that both allow the driver to see, particularly in darker conditions, and to be seen by passing vehicles and pedestrians. These safety functions make headlamps one of the most important features of a vehicle. And because of their visibility, they can also make a unique style statement, which is why headlamp design is one of the key features of a vehicle's look.

Whether replacing old bulbs or damaged parts, or upgrading to a more powerful, durable headlamp, consumers can find a range of buying options on eBay's online auction. eBay offers the advantages of an extensive selection of products, both new and used, for a range of vehicles, from standard to rare. And with over 100 million users, prices are kept competitive.

Shopping on eBay is an easy process, but savvy buyers know what to look for and what to avoid. Understanding the different headlamp types and what is legal and compatible for one's vehicle is crucial. In addition, there are a few other steps to take to ensure a positive transaction. By following these guidelines, consumers can find the right headlamps for their vehicle.

Types of Headlamps

Having a familiarity with the basic types of headlamps helps buyers assess which kind to look for. They can choose to replace their old bulbs, or upgrade to a new type. Incandescent, halogen, LED, and HID lamps are used in cars and motorcycles alike. However, not all bulbs are compatible with all vehicles, so buyers should be aware of what their car or motorcycle is fitted for.

Incandescent Headlamps

For many years the headlamp standard, incandescents feature a tungsten filament, which, when heated by electricity, gives off light. The filament gradually evaporates and finally needs replacement. Thicker filaments last longer, but thinner ones burn more brightly.

Halogen Headlamps

Halogen headlamps are also incandescent tungsten bulbs, but the presence of halogen gas in the filament tube gives it a longer life. As the tungsten evaporates, it collects on the bulb walls; halogen prevents this by transporting the tungsten back to the filament, essentially renewing the bulb with each ignition. However, because the halogen cannot transport the tungsten back to the exact place where it had been, some spots on the filament eventually become so thin that they break, requiring replacement.

LED Headlamps

LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs have been an emerging headlamp option on luxury vehicles, and are slowly growing in popularity. These semiconductors boast lower energy consumption and high durability, potentially lasting as long as the life of the car. They drain the car's battery less, and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. There are two disadvantages to LED headlamps: cost and heat dissipation. While the heat released from incandescent and halogen bulbs keeps the headlamps defrosted in cold conditions, LEDs do not perform this function, resulting in reduced visibility. They have also been criticised as having a shorter reach on both main and dipped beams than halogen or HID bulbs.

Daytime Running Lights (DRL)

A recent trend is to include headlights that run all day, as a measure to increase visibility and therefore safety. Daylight Running Lights (DRL) are constantly illuminated in accordance with European Regulation 48, which has made this mandatory on all new vehicles as of 2011. Some drivers also appreciate these lights as an added element of style.

DRL are automatically switched on when the vehicle starts, regardless of whether the headlamps are activated. They are bright enough to be readily seen in daylight; however, they are too bright for nighttime use, when headlamps or position lamps should be used.

While newer vehicles have DRL automatically installed, it is not required that older vehicles be retrofitted with DRL. If retrofitting a car with DRL, it is important to ensure they have been approved by European legislation, and that the installation be such that they switch on automatically when the vehicle is started, and switch off once headlamps are activated.

About Aftermarket Xenon HID Headlamps

Xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps pass electricity through ionised xenon gas at high pressure, producing a bluish light that is three times as bright as a halogen lamp. The unique structure of xenon HID lamps features electricity jumping between two electrodes, whereas incandescent lamps have a filament. Because HID lamps operate on higher voltage, they require a specific transformer called a ballast. However, they draw less current than traditional headlights, which is another advantage.

Some drivers have claimed the intensity of HID lights is blinding; properly installed HID lamps must prevent this by adjusting the lights' angle. For these reasons, xenon HID conversion kits are illegal in the UK. Upgrading to HID headlamps is still possible, but it must be done by replacing the entire headlamp with one designed specifically for HID xenon technology, which includes cleaning and self-levelling features. As regulations in this area are subject to change, buyers interested in HID conversion kits should check ahead of time what the latest legal requirements are.

Verify Headlamp Legality

Not every item sold on eBay is legal for vehicles in the UK. Labels like "road-legal" may not always be accurate, or may apply to some vehicles only. For example, xenon HID lamps are technically road-legal, but only for vehicles fitted with HID headlamps. In order to avoid purchasing a type of headlamp that is illegal for their vehicle, buyers should check the latest regulations from the Department for Transport.

Headlamps Should Match the Vehicle

Different vehicles require different bulb requirements. The types are divided in general according to whether there are two separate bulbs, one for main beams and one for dipped beams, or a single bulb that performs both dip and main. The latter type of bulb has two filaments, one which is always illuminated when the lights are on, and another that illuminates when the main beams are activated. The following chart outlines some of the most common types of bulbs.

Bulb Type


H4 (472)

The most common type; two-filament bulb with three-pin connection

H1 (448)

Most common bulb used for main beam in two-bulb setups; single-pin connection

H7 (499)

Most common bulb used for dip beam in two-bulb setups; two-pin connection


Xenon gas bulb for reflector housing


Xenon gas bulb for projector housing

While the majority of vehicles use the headlights listed above, there are other types, such as H11, HB3, and HB4. If unable to find the what kind of headlamp they need, there are many websites where consumers can look up this information by entering their vehicle's manufacturer and model. Alternatively, they can call an automotive repair service centre, which should be able to help them identify the right type of bulbs for their vehicle.

eBay also lets users specify the make and model of the vehicle in question, which can narrow the choices down to those that suit their needs. 

Choosing Between New and Used Headlamps

eBay lets buyers choose between a broad selection of both new and used automotive parts, and with over 100 million users, prices tend to stay quite competitive. Buyers considering purchasing used headlamps should be very careful to ensure that the item is in fully working condition; some experts warn against buying used headlights at all. If planning to have a mechanic install the headlamps, it is worthwhile to confirm whether they are willing to install a used headlamp.

Used headlamps should have photos and a detailed description of the item condition, including any cosmetic or functional damage, and a history of how long the product was used. Look closely at the photos, which should be of the specific part in question and not a stock image. If there are any questions about the item, eBay makes it easy to contact the seller.

Other Options: Headlamp Parts

Among eBay's selection of vehicle parts, buyers can find separate headlamp components, including bowls, adjustment clips, wiring, lenses, and more. On the other hand, full assemblies are also available.

Searching for Headlamps on eBay

Searching for items on eBay is simple: begin on the website's home page, and type keywords like "Astra headlamps" into the search bar. You can narrow the search results by selecting limiting factors; for example, a price range, or the part manufacturer you would like. For additional suggestions on efficient eBay searching, visit the Search Tips page.

Reading Product Information

Many eBay listings contain detailed information about the product and the seller. Just as sellers are responsible for the information they post, buyers are responsible for reading it thoroughly and understanding the product they are interested in. Buyers should always read the item description closely, paying attention to the specifics like bulb type, item condition, and which position the headlamp is for (if applicable).

It is important to note the seller's return policy, since this varies. Likewise, postage fees may depend on the shipping method and conditions. Local pickup is an option for some sellers; in that case, certain precautions should be taken to ensure the comfort and safety of both parties. A public, well-travelled area should be selected as a meeting point, and always during daylight.

Getting to Know the Seller

When buying automotive parts on eBay, it is important that the seller be reliable and knowledgeable. That is why buyers should get to know a bit about the seller of an item they are interested in. High feedback scores and positive reviews by previous customers who have purchased similar parts are good indication that the seller is dependable. Top-rated sellers complete a high frequency of transactions with positive outcomes, although some other sellers who may work on a smaller scale may be just as efficient and customer-service oriented.

Feedback helps great sellers get the distinction they deserve, and also offers them a chance to work on improving any weaker aspects of their business. Once you've completed your transaction, you can leave feedback about your experience on eBay.


eBay has an extensive selection of vehicle headlamps on its online auction website. Buyers can take advantage of the range of options, whether new or used, part or full assembly, standard or rare. In order to do so, it helps to have a basic understanding of the different choices available, as well as how to select one that is compatible, and legal, for one's vehicle.  

Types of headlamps include incandescent, halogen, LED, daylight running lights, and HID lamps. Choosing between these options depends partly on the vehicle's requirements, so buyers should be familiar with what those are, either by looking at the existing part, the owner's manual, or consulting a specialist. Furthermore, not all types of headlamps sold on eBay are legal in the UK, and some may be legal only for certain types of vehicles. Buyers are responsible for researching the most current specifications by local authorities.

Once they find an item of interest, buyers should take just a few more steps, including reading the item description and conditions of sale, and researching the seller's feedback record. Following these guidelines can help them find affordable, quality headlamps on eBay.

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