A Guide to Customizing and Upgrading Vehicle Lighting


Table of Contents

Whether a vehicle is used for conventional highway driving, or for more rugged, off-road usage, a range of options and after-market accessories exist to permit the upgrading or complete customization of a vehicle’s exterior lighting.

A Guide to Customizing and Upgrading Vehicle Lighting

In many cases, a vehicle’s standard lighting equipment can be upgraded to an improved illumination style, or a more durable, longer-life light source with relative ease.

Headlight modifications and upgrades

Regardless of driving conditions or vehicle usage, the most commonly upgraded or modified exterior lighting unit is the main vehicle headlights. While options will vary depending on vehicle type and age, an older vehicle may benefit greatly from an upgrade to a more modern light configuration.

A range of potential after-market options is on offer, including:

  • Halogen lights. Fast becoming a standard, halogen-style lights have progressively replaced the older filament type bulbs, which came standard on older vehicles. Cheap to purchase and easy to replace, these units provide superior illumination and can be recognized by their characteristic bluish tint.
  • High-intensity discharge (HID) lights. Favored by off-roading buffs, HID lighting offers a ‘next level’ lighting option. These sealed units use an inert gas like xenon for lighting, resulting in a high illumination lamp that can operate in an energy efficient manner.
  • LED lighting. Light emitting diode (LED) lighting has become a popular customization option when overall looks, profile and style are important. These lights not only look the part, but they also burn brighter than the standard halogen bulb, draw less power and are generally longer-lasting. LED lights can be sourced in smoked or tinted options, further adding to overall vehicle style and character.

Lighting accessories

Whether it be for driving in poor conditions such as fog, driving rain or snow, a range of supplemental lighting can be added to complement and enhance the illumination pattern of the main headlights. Fog lamps are typically task specific and are generally characterized by a yellow bulb.

The light bar is a popular choice, and can be sourced in a range of mounting options, which include frontal or roof mounting. LED configurations are popular for these lighting accessories, and a range of unit sizes and shapes are readily available after-market.

LED cube lighting is fast becoming a popular choice, and there is a progressive trend away from the more traditional ‘spot light’ configuration. These units can be mounted above the windshield, on the hood, bumper bar, or bull bar.

Dependent on the overall vehicle size and intended driving conditions, consider pairing up LED cube lighting with a light bar unit to give a wider lighting spread pattern, particularly for off-road work.

Underbody lighting

Now a well-established ‘show off’ accessory to round off the vehicle’s overall exterior lighting configuration, an underbody LED light system can be easily customized to suit most vehicles. Creating an illuminated halo underneath the vehicle these lights are available in a range of colors and styles to match and complement the vehicle’s custom lighting array!


Whether the vehicle owner is seeking improvements in light functionality, or overall vehicle aesthetics, or a combination of both, a range of cost-effective lighting options are available on the accessory market, which can be acquired and installed by a person with average mechanical skills.


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