Xenon is a great light and LED headlights are state of the art. So you may well want to upgrade the halogen lights of your car to one of these more recent technologies. Unfortunately, this is very complex – at least technically – and expensive and often even impossible.
Just to be clear from the start, almost nothing is impossible from a technical point of view. Skilled hobby mechanics can install an eight-cylinder engine in a small car or turn a station wagon into a convertible. What this is about is upgrading headlights to another lighting technology while expending a manageable amount of time, money and effort. Drivers often desire such an upgrade. Quite often, better light is the only unfulfilled wish when buying a used car. And there are drivers who simply want to keep up with the latest advances in lighting technology. Unfortunately, car manufacturers have made upgrading very difficult, even if the vehicle is or was in principle available with the alternative lighting technology. Evil to him who evil thinks – like some experts who think that companies do it on purpose to boost their business with lucrative extra charges.
Upgrading to LED headlights could be a bit easier in theory. Many are below the luminous flux value at which a headlight washer system becomes compulsory. The same applies to xenon at 25 watts, but that’s a rare beast. But even these two headlight technologies create one of the biggest problems with upgrades. Cable harnesses and plugs vary depending on the lighting technology. Often the light switches also need to be changed, also so that the little wheels for the manual leveling of halogen headlights disappear. In many cases, controllers or at least the software need to be changed. And when you come to flash upgrade the new software there is a potential problem in that the car manufacturer may not hand it over.
Provided that all the parts really are available as replacements it’ll cost several thousand euros or dollars – not to mention the work. Realistically, it’s fair to say that upgrades are basically not feasible in most cars. For owners of some models there’s hope though in the form of special upgrade kits. But here it’s important to keep in mind that the headlights which are specifically designed for this have really been approved, in other words carry a real E symbol (for Europe and ECE countries) or DOT identification (for North America). Unfortunately there are a lot of fakes on the internet. The LEDriving Xenarc headlights from Osram are legal of course. You can find out here for which cars they’re available. The range is being constantly expanded.