Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

New HID bulb wrong color

New HID bulb wrong color

If you own a vehicle with HID headlights and have recently replaced an HID bulb, the light may not be the color you expected. This is normal. HID bulbs normally operate towards the blue end of the spectrum at around 6,000°K. Daylight blue is normally around 5,500k. However, new HID bulbs operate at around 4,150k for the first 200 hours, meaning the light cast by the new bulb will be noticeably more yellow. It’s not that you got the HID bulb wrong color, it’s just that it’s new.

HID color rises towards the blue end of the spectrum as the bulb ages

The color temperature (measured in degrees Kelvin) rises as the HID bulbs get older, and the HID light colors output turns more bluish white. A bulb that starts out at 4,300°K will eventually wind up at around 6,000° after about 300 hours of burning.

Brightness and color are not the same thing

People often think that a bluer looking bulb is brighter. Not true. A yellow looking bulb can be the same lux as a bluer bulb. The bluer bulb appears brighter because bluer light provides better contrast to the human eye.

Which HID color should you choose?

3000° K

A 3000°K bulb is a good choice for fog lights. It improves sight in low-visibility conditions like fog. Warmer colors penetrate fog and mist better than cooler and whiter colors.


A 4,300°K HID bulb gives off a slightly bluer light than normal halogen lights which are normally in the 3,000°K range.


The bluer 5000K HID bulbs most closer to the color of the sun at dawn and dusk. This color allows drivers to see with no issues in nearly all driving conditions, even when objects are far away.


A6000°K HID bulb appears brighter and improves visibility because this light color improves contrast for the human eye. It may appear brighter but it’s not. It just provides more contrast. That’s why it’s the most popular color for retrofitting.


This bulb casts a distinctively blue light that’s sharp looking. However, they don’t light up the provide better vision than lower temperature bulbs and appear dimmer. They also annoy oncoming traffic.


Bulbs with a 12000°K give off a deep violet or purple color. You may think they look cool, but they’re actually the worst choice for driver visibility. Don’t install this bulb if you want to drive safely at night.

©, 2015 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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