Taking Care of Your BMW X5 Headlights

The BMW X5 is a luxury crossover SUV in the mid-size class. It has been in production since 1999 and is now in its third generation as of 2013. The X5 was the first SUV made by BMW and the automaker has called it a Sport Activity Vehicle, or SAV. The idea was to establish it as a comfortable on-road vehicle even though it was in the larger mid-size class. The X5 was one of the first of its kind to make the shift to a unibody car chassis, rather than the light truck platforms used by most mid-size SUVs up until this point. The X5 therefore has a chassis similar to the BMW 5 Series sedan.

What Do Headlights Do?

The basic job of a headlight is to allow you to see the road in dark or dim conditions. Headlights are designed to produce low and high beams, whether that is achieved by having a multi-function light or multiple lights within the assembly. High beams are designed to throw bright light straight ahead. This allows you to see further, but causes a lot of glare for any other vehicles on the road. High beams also create significant backdazzle when used in heavy precipitation conditions like rain, snow or fog. Low beams are your regular driving headlights and they cast light downward and either right or left depending on traffic direction. This allows for safe visibility and less glare and backdazzle in rainy conditions. Low beam headlights are designed for one direction of traffic and cannot be used safely if the traffic direction is different. They direct their light to the right or left in order to allow the driver to see signs and the road without causing glare to oncoming traffic. Using headlights with the wrong direction of beam is unsafe. North American drivers who import Japanese or European headlights for their foreign cars, thinking that they have better performance, are in fact getting lights that will be hazardous and even illegal. The required light production on headlights is white, however, there are also several acceptable shades of white. Warm white shows an amber or orange cast, while cold white shows a blue or violet cast.

Different Types of Headlights

There are several different types of headlights available to modern cars. The most common is still the tungsten-halogen style. In comparison to newer types of headlights, tungsten put out a smaller amount of light relative to their power consumption. The main benefit to tungsten-halogen lights is that they are common and usually not all that expensive to replace. Another type of halogen is the halogen infrared reflective or HIR. This style has a dichroic coating, which reflects infrared light and shines it back on the filament. This allows the filament to get hotter and thus produce more light without increasing the power draw. High-intensity discharge lights, or HIDs, produce light through an electric arc instead of the filament glow. The high intensity results from metallic salts inside the assembly being vaporized in the chamber. These lights put out more glow than tungsten and are often called xenon headlights. When HID lights are used on vehicles that previously had halogen, the output and distribution of the light are altered. This may cause glare and is not street legal in some places. The advantages of HID lights are as follows: - Increased safety due to the larger degree of usable light - Stronger efficacy and output - Longevity of 2,000 hours on average vs the the span of 450 to 1,000 hours for halogen

Disadvantages of HID include:

- Significant glare - Mercury content - Much higher cost and difficulty to install and repair LED headlights, or light-emitting diodes, are another new technology headlight. The technology began ramping up in 2004 and is becoming more common on luxury vehicles especially. LED headlights do not generate a lot of heat and do not use a lot of power in comparison to other types. The longevity of this type of headlight is also far beyond that of the halogen or even the HID style. The main disadvantage to LED headlights is that they are not as bright as a regular halogen or HID lights. This lack of brightness compared to halogen and other types makes driving in adverse weather conditions more difficult. Laser headlights are the least common of any headlight type, but that's likely because of how new the technology is. BMW premiered the headlights on its i8, becoming the first production car to feature them in 2014. Laser headlights are about 1,000 times stronger than LED lights and they draw less power than other styles of headlights. The technology for these style of headlights allows the lasers to be safely looked at when on the road due to a series of lenses within the assembly that diffuse the light.

Headlights FAQ

Q: Are LED headlights really better?

A: If you drive in adverse weather conditions a lot, LED headlights are less effective due to their lower light output.

Q: Since LED headlights are more expensive, do they also last longer?

A: The diodes may last longer, but LED headlights can still be damaged through wire corrosion, road damage or circuit board failure among other things.

Q: Is it better to get a HID system instead of LED?

A: HID headlights draw a considerable amount of power so you need to make sure that your vehicle can handle that.

Visit gobmwparts.com to find OEM BMW parts and accessories, including X5 headlights. Find what you need quickly and easily by searching with a VIN, part number or keyword. You can also select your vehicle's year, make and model from the menu. BMW cars and SUVs are designed with performance and reliability in mind. Don't compromise either with aftermarket parts. Replacing your worn parts or upgrading with genuine OEM BMW parts is a good way to keep your vehicle on the road longer. Our BMW parts experts are standing by to help you find the parts you need.