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The best emergency bulb kit for light failure

• Replacement car bulbs
• Stay safe
• Stay legal

Written by Alex Boyd Published: 25 January 2024 Updated: 26 February 2024

Some may see having an emergency bulb kit as a bit of overkill. At best, a failure of your car headlight bulb can be an inconvenience, but the reality is that it could impact your safety and that of other road users. We’ve all encountered those one-eyed monsters barrelling towards us, unsure whether it’s a car or a motorcycle, and as a driver, you really do notice the decrease in illumination when you are down to one headlight. That reduction in visibility could mean the difference between spotting a hazard in good time and getting yourself involved in an unpleasant situation. And let’s not forget the indicators. A bulb failure here, at best, might cause some confusion, but in a worst-case scenario, it could lead to you causing an accident.

As Murphy’s Law dictates, a bulb failure is most likely to occur at the most inconvenient time when you really need your car’s headlights to work, i.e. not in the middle of the day when you are at a car bulb shop. Having an emergency bulb kit can save a lot of time and trouble and get you back on your journey quickly, knowing you are safe and complying with the law.

Let’s be honest, though; there are some cars on which changing a headlight bulb is no quick or easy task, and we have to look at these things realistically. However, if it’s a reasonably straightforward job on your car, there’s no real reason for not having an emergency bulb kit. There are various emergency bulb kits available – some containing a mix of bulb models to suit various vehicles, others dedicated to a specific bulb type. We’ve picked the best of the bunch to keep you legal and safe.

Best emergency bulb kit at a glance:

Editor’s choice: AA Compact Universal Car Bulb/Fuse Kit – Buy now from Amazon UK
Best comprehensive emergency bulb kit: XtremeAuto Universal 30 Piece Kit – Buy now from Amazon UK
Best emergency bulb kit for European travel: AA Euro Travel Kit – Buy now from Amazon UK

Best emergency bulb kit

Editor's choice

Rrp: £6.95

Price: £6.00
This handy kit from The AA is compact enough to fit in your glove box or door pocket. It contains the three most popular headlight bulbs, H1, H4, and H7, as well as other bulbs suitable for side, tail, and indicators. The kit also comes with three of the most common fuses.

Pros

  • Variety of bulbs
  • Good value

Cons

  • Only one of each type
Best for specific types of bulb
Price: £16.29
If you know you require a specific type of bulb for your vehicle, Bosch provides an emergency bulb kit tailored to specific bulb types. The kit can be supplied with H1, H4, H7 or, as featured here, a combination of H1 and H7 bulbs. You just pick the type of bulb or bulbs you require and keep them handy in your glove box.

Pros

  • Compact
  • Selection can be more relevant to your specific needs

Cons

  • The correct type of bulb must be chosen
Best comprehensive emergency bulb kit

Rrp: £10.99

Price: £9.99
If you like being well-prepared for most eventualities of bulb failure, this kit from Xtreme Auto is ideal. There are thirty items in this kit to cover not only head and tail lights but also number plates, interior lights, and indicators. It also comes with a selection of fuses, all housed in a handy case for protection.

Pros

  • Great selection
  • Sturdy case

Cons

  • Case could be stronger
Best emergency bulb kit for budget
Price: £5.49
A good, straightforward value for value-for-money emergency bulb kit. You get an H1, H4 and an H7 bulb for headlights, along with a selection for use in side and tail lights and indicators. There are fuses included, too, in the handy box, which is easy to store.

Pros

  • Good value
  • All main bulb types covered

Cons

  • Only one of each bulb
Best emergency bulb kit for European travel
Price: £15.00
If you plan on driving abroad, it's always worth checking up on the various legal requirements you have to fulfil. One which is easily overlooked is the requirement in some countries that spare bulbs be carried in your vehicle. This set from the AA should keep you legal and safe as well as supplying you with AA Eurolites Headlight Beam Converters to ensure your headlights are properly aligned for use in Continental Europe.

Pros

  • A must-have for European driving
  • Contains headlight beam converters

Why should I carry an emergency bulb kit in my car?

Carrying a bulb kit allows you to quickly replace a failed bulb, ensuring your vehicle remains visible and within the law. It’s recommended to check your vehicle’s manual to identify the types of bulbs required for your specific make and model so that the emergency bulb kit you carry includes those varieties. If you’re not sure, there are kits available with various bulbs to suit all the most popular headlamp bulb types in the UK.

Although it’s not required by law, there are plenty of good reasons to carry spare bulbs. For one, it is a legal requirement to have two working headlights. If one bulb pops and you don’t have a spare, you could wind up with a ticket or a fine.

Another good reason is that bulbs working in pairs tend to fail within a short time of each other. So, if one headlight bulb fails, you might find the other will fail shortly after. That is a good reason to get faulty bulbs replaced ASAP.

Most of the time, whether or not you carry spare bulbs is up to you. But, in some countries, it’s a legal requirement. Both France and Spain require drivers to keep spare headlight bulbs in case of an emergency, and it’s the responsibility of drivers to make sure their lights comply with local regulations. One critical aspect is the beam pattern and headlight adjustment. The UK, unlike most European countries, drives on the left side of the road. Therefore, UK vehicles are typically designed with headlights that dip to the left to prevent dazzling oncoming traffic. When driving in Europe, UK drivers must adjust their headlights to avoid causing glare to drivers on the right side of the road. Some vehicles come equipped with adjustable headlights, or you can purchase stickers that can be applied to modify the beam pattern.

While talking about car light safety, something else to consider is making sure your headlight lenses are clear, allowing the maximum amount of light to illuminate the road. There are headlight restoration kits available to help with this.

Alex Boyd is a Commercial Content Writer at Bauer Media writing for Parker’s and CAR, and loves travel, gardening, DIY and music.

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