Replacing a single front headlight on two-thirds of vehicles rated good by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) costs upwards of $1,000 — more than double the average insurance deductible of $500.
IIHS gathered the cost data as part of its recent evaluation of headlights across manufacturers. Overall, notes IIHS, repair costs for a minor crash could easily double when a headlight is damaged because typically, even if just a part of it is damaged, the entire headlight needs to be replaced.
According to the data, factory headlights range in cost from approximately $526 for the Subaru Legacy to $1,262 for the Kia Optima and $3,200 for the BMW 5 Series.
Crashes take a toll on today’s headlights. While contemporary car designs that feature low-profile hoods and bumpers appear sleek, the IIHS notes that they leave pricey headlights vulnerable to damage during any kind of crash, despite the severity level.
While consumers might expect good-rated headlights, which are LEDs or high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, to be more expensive than traditional halogen headlights, the data indicates that prices are high across the board.
For example, a halogen headlight rated poor by IIHS on Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class costs $615 — still more than the typical insurance deducible of $500.
Even a decade ago, headlights were expensive. In tests of 2007 midsize luxury cars, for example, it cost $847 to replace the HID headlight on the Infiniti G35 and $1,046 for the one on the Lexus ES, according to IIHS.