The automotive industry has witnessed a remarkable transformation in headlamp technology in recent years. Traditional halogen bulbs have given way to state-of-the-art coded components integral to operating various Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and assisted driving functions that improve safety.
However, headlamps are one of the most damage-vulnerable components on a vehicle. Replacement can cost as much as 8% of the car’s value, and costs will likely increase further as more tech – including LiDAR, cameras and more – are incorporated into lighting units. So, while these advancements provide enhanced safety and improved driver visibility, they propose new challenges for vehicle repair engineers servicing and repairing these complex components.
Thatcham Research, the vehicle risk intelligence organisation that collaborates with carmakers to understand sustainable repair options for vehicles and potential insurance risk, puts the growing need to repair rather than replace damaged vehicle headlamp units under the spotlight in its Headlamp Repair Guide for vehicle repairers and vehicle damage assessors, consolidating repair options and encouraging a more sustainable approach. Thatcham Research has analysed vehicle headlamp specifications, complexities, technologies, and typical damage to identify potential repair strategies.
Two components that Thatcham Research has identified as most suitable for repair are headlamp mounting brackets and light lenses. Its research found that 65% of the top 10 carmakers already offer a headlamp mounting bracket repair kit designed to replace the sacrificial headlamp mounting bracket in some damage scenarios and could save thousands of pounds when weighing up the cost of a repair in comparison to sourcing a replacement unit.
Thatcham Research has also noted that an increasing number of carmakers, including Toyota, are making replacement lenses available. It believes this trend will continue as other vehicle manufacturers introduce lens replacement solutions across their car ranges.
Darren Bright, Thatcham Research’s principal engineer for automotive repair, explains the value of the Headlamp Repair Guide: “The days of a motorist or mechanic being able to repair a damaged headlight on the driveway are long gone. Today’s lighting units are sophisticated components with complex, advanced technologies and often have coding requirements to maintain their ‘connected’ status within the vehicle.”
“Thatcham Research’s engineers have collated this research data into the Headlamp Repair Guide that vehicle repairers can use to accurately reinstate an existing lighting unit, rather than replace it – to mitigate rising insurance costs and total losses,” Bright continues. “Our repair guidance highlights best market practices and gives Vehicle Damage Assessors the information they need to embrace sustainable repair methods rather than sending a defunct lighting unit straight to landfill.”
In the event of any headlamp repair, Thatcham Research’s best practice guide reiterates that repairers should cautiously approach any repair outside of the OEM recommended guidance.