HID headlights are high intensity discharge xenon headlights that don’t use a filament and last at least two to three times longer than conventional Halogen headlight bulbs. Not only do they last longer, the HID has a nice and modern xenon white look and two times the brightness than halogen to make it a very popular the world of car modifications and upgrades.
Because there are OEM HID bulb upgrades and aftermarket HID conversion kits available as options, it might be confusing for some people who come in to buy HID to determine if their car has HID or not.
For clarification, when we mention HID, we mean OEM HID where the car came equipped with HID xenon headlights from the factory. While you can get aftermarket HID headlights with excellent light output, cars that originally had the standard halogen headlamps that were subsequently converted to aftermarket HID don’t count as factory equipped.
How to visually check for OEM HID:
1.) Park your car in front of a wall or garage door. If the light is white then it’s usually HID. If the light is yellow, then it’s usually halogen. Sometimes it may be a little tricky to tell because you might not have anything to compare your color output with. Don’t confuse halogen bulbs that are blue tinted as HID bulbs since there are halogen bulbs that have been upgraded with a better lighting performance that have a blue tinted coating that only appear as if they were HID. Blue tinted halogen bulbs don’t provide the high intensity or blue/white light output.
2.) Check to see if the car has projector or reflector headlights. Nowadays, if the car comes with factory equipped HID, the headlight will have projectors and you will not be able to directly see the light bulb. While having projector headlights does not necessarily mean that the car will have factory HID 100% of the time, a car equipped with reflector headlights always means that the bulbs are halogen.*
This is a projector headlight:
This is a reflector headlight:
3.) Take a close look at the headlamps. HID headlamps will have words like HID xenon, adaptive headlight, Dynamic Xenon, or D1S/D2S/Philips etc displayed on the headlight lens or on the projector shroud. This is especially true in European cars.
Some customers get confused about this situation because they may have purchased their car used and wouldn’t be able to tell their HID is factory equipped (aka OEM) or aftermarket. If so, you can try the following:
1.) Remove the HID bulb. If there is wiring connected to the bulb like the one in the picture, it means that it’s most likely aftermarket HID. OEM HID bulbs do not have wires attached. (either a round "butt" or a square "butt")
This is an HID OEM bulb:
This is an aftermarket HID bulb with the wires:
2.) OEM HID headlights project a perfect cut-off line output on the wall. You can see the difference between aftermarket HID headlights and the OEM HID headlights’ beam pattern on the wall. The OEM displays a perfectly straight line while the aftermarket HID does not.
However, if you want to make a 100% accurate judgment call, pull out the stock bulb and send us a photo. We will be able to tell if your car has HID and also the corresponding bulb size.
*There are still some exceptions such as the 1998-2005 Lexus GS, 2000-2005 Lexus IS and 2001-2003 Acura TL.