Headlights vs. Collision Repair (Part 2)

Car HeadlightIn our last blog, we discussed how the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) began evaluating headlights in 2016. The findings showed only 2 of 95 headlight systems on 2016 model vehicles rated good. Since the first report was published many manufacturers have focused on improving this key safety feature. However, current data shows that most vehicles equipped with good headlights are ones with the expensive option package. Unfortunately, we see a correlation between cost and quality. This is obviously upsetting, as a good performing headlight is key to avoiding collisions while driving at night.

Headlights are a frequent replacement part at collision repair facilities. Most customers involved in a minor collision try to pay out of pocket and avoid making an insurance claim. Unfortunately, most headlights cost more than the typical $500 deductible, thus forcing the customer to make a claim. In addition to the cost of the part, the bumper must often be removed and then reinstalled in order to the take out the collision damaged headlight and install the new one. While this is not a major repair it will increase the labor time on the repair bill.

A common customer question at our collision repair center is, “Can I just replace the part of the headlight that is broken?” Unfortunately, the answer is no.

If a part is worn out, such as a bulb, LED unit or power module then yes that generally can be replaced. However, if any part is damaged, the whole headlight usually needs replacement. Since headlights are so expensive, vehicle design and headlight vulnerability has become a topic of conversation. Low profile hoods and bumpers look great but leave headlights unprotected in even minor collisions. IIHS found that 2/3 of good rated headlights cost over $1,000. The good rated headlights included LED’s or high intensity discharge (HID) lamps. These particular headlights are more costly than halogen headlights.

Cost of Headlight Repair

A damaged headlight could easily double the cost of a minor collision repair. Considering OEM headlamps range from $526 for a Subaru Legacy or Outback to about $3,200 for the BMW 5 series. Sturdy bumpers or ones that are higher off the ground would help protect headlights as well as other vehicle technology impacted in a collision. In addition, the placement of reinforcement bars could also play a role in protecting these pricey headlights.

We know that vehicle technology is front and center in today’s vehicles. Current models are equipped with parking assist, cameras and several other collision avoidance features. But what about the headlights? It seems so obvious! Quality headlamps are crucial to collision avoidance. Differences in headlight technology, how the headlight is aimed and light source all influence the illumination quality.

The good news is IIHS has cast a bright light on headlamp performance and manufacturers are responding to the issue. While most manufacturers are putting forth effort to improve headlight performance on next years vehicles, Hyundai/Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo are active in making positive simple changes to current year models. Thankfully, we are moving in the right direction!

Airpark Collision Center is a full-service collision repair facility repairing everything from minor to major collision damage. Please call or click for a quick estimate!

Tina Small has been part of the Airpark Collision Center team since 2006. Working directly with customers, her goal is to share frequent customer questions, and proper methods of collision repair.

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