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Are Xenons Legal Uk

author
Christina Perez
• Tuesday, 27 October, 2020
• 9 min read

Can I replace the standard headlights on my Vauxhall Astral Elite with xenon versions? However, installing xenon bulbs as an aftermarket upgrade, as opposed to having them fitted on the production line as standard, is not legal in the eyes of the transport department.

h11 bulbs headlight osram intense cool 12v xenon twin rating pack genuine headlamp beam hi main
(Source: autoaccessoriesbg.com)

Contents

There is a similar situation when converting a car from halogen to xenon units. The Department for Transport takes the view that the sale and use of aftermarket HID lighting kits is illegal, but due to the European regulations mentioned above, makes expectations.

You can fit an aftermarket HID kit to a UK vehicle, and as long as the beam pattern is correct, the light is predominantly white or yellow-white, there is no glare for other road users, and the light passes all the standard MOT test checks such as being secure and pointing in the right direction, then you should be able to pass an MOT and not break the law. EU law says that HID headlights which emit more than 2,000 lumens of light, and all LED headlights, must be fitted with washers and self-levelling, But it’s not possible to accurately measure total light output either at the roadside, or in an MOT station, So if it can’t be proven that your lights emit more than 2,000 lumens of light, this regulation almost certainly doesn’t apply to you, But, your lights must be aimed correctly and have the right beam pattern on dip and main, If you have a manual headlight adjuster, the highest angle the headlights can be set to must not be higher than the rules allow, Lastly, HID dipped beams must stay on while your main beam is on.

Interestingly enough though, the article says “it is not permitted to convert an existing halogen headlamp unit for use with HID bulbs. The entire headlamp unit must be replaced with one designed and approved for use with HID bulbs, and it must be installed in accordance with the rules stated above.” In practice, this implies quite clearly that if you fit a projector designed for HID lamps into a reflector headlight so that the resulting beam pattern is correct, you won’t be in breach of the DFT’s guidelines on aftermarket His.

This has been cited as the cause of at least one MOT failure on a car which had His from the factory, but no washers or self-levelling fitted, according to this report by Auto Express. 6) The test in Great Britain is required to comply with the European Framework Directive on periodic technical inspection.

In this regard the annual test is to be amended in April this year to include the satisfactory operation of automatic levelling and washing systems where these are fitted. However, these systems are not mandatory for all vehicles fitted with HID lamps as it is dependent on light output and/or suspension movement.

vauxhall astra mk6 outer wing tail pair rear lights estate
(Source: ebay.co.uk)

As it is not possible for a tester to determine at the time of test (annual or roadside) whether these components are required, there is no reason for rejection, either in the directive or the amended manual. This is perfectly acceptable provided the bulbs are ‘E’ marked, but it is not possible to determine this at annual test, as dismantling is not allowed.

8) Satisfactory operation of the dipped and main beam headlamps is also part of the test and includes switching between the two functions. Therefore, if a headlamp does not operate immediately when switched between dipped and main beams, or vice versa, then this would result in a test failure.

“Other requirements” says: “Dipped-beam headlamps with a light source or LED module(s) producing the principal dipped beam and having a total objective luminous flux which exceeds 2,000 lumens shall only be installed in conjunction with the installation of headlamp cleaning device(s) according to Regulation No. Part 6.2.6.2.2 says “... devices which are adjusted manually, either continuously or non-continuously, shall be permitted, provided they have a stop position at which the lamps can be returned to the initial inclination defined in paragraph 6.2.6.1.1. By means of the usual adjusting screws or similar means.

No mention is made of “missing” systems, so it’s acceptable to have no headlamp washers or automatic beam levelling. So, if you fit a “bi-xenon” kit which replaces your flash-to-pass main beam, it MUST ignite immediately and brightly, every single time.

However, ultimately the interpretation of the law is a matter for the courts based on individual facts of any particular case. The reason for this is that the existing lens and reflector are designed around a Halogen filament bulb, working to very precise tolerances.

beam headlight main low hid bulbs xenon 100w dip super enlarge
(Source: www.ebay.co.uk)

Under these Regulations, HID/Gas Discharge/Xenon headlamps are not mentioned and therefore they are not permitted according to the strict letter of the law. It seems reasonable to require HID in the aftermarket to meet the same safety standards as those for new vehicles.

The headlamp unit (outer lens, reflector, bulb) shall be type approved to ECE 98 and be “e-marked” to demonstrate this. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offense to supply, fit or use vehicle parts which are not legal.

This suggests quite strongly that if you fit a projector designed for HID lamps into a reflector headlight so that the resulting beam pattern is correct, you won’t be in breach of the DFT’s guidelines on aftermarket His. As is always the case, expensive doesn't necessarily mean good, but one company I have found which you may wish to look at are American company The Retrofit Source (theretrofitsource.com), who sell high quality projectors designed for HID lamps, which mount by screwing into the bulb mounting hole in a reflector headlight.

And, for the record, I'm just a happy customer of The Retrofit Source, and sadly I don't get paid for my endorsement! Whilst most headlight bulbs today are bright enough to be road legal, color can be a problem.

HID bulbs, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, are filled with xenon gas. There is also a common misconception that HID bulbs are too bright and therefore not road legal.

lucas bulbs headlamp light side beam halogen clear standard park enlarge
(Source: www.ebay.co.uk)

A lot of people don't mind using their non-road legal bulbs on the road and running the risk of being caught. However, for those who want to choose road legal bulbs, there's plenty of options that look great.

A lot of the time, bulbs that aren't road legal will say so on the packaging, or will be E marked. When looking at the description of a bulb, click on the 'Specification' tab, where you'll find information on the legality of the product.

If you want to ensure your bulbs are road legal, shop from a trusted retailer who gives you this information upfront. Sticking with reputable brands also helps, as these bulbs tend to be properly labelled according to official regulations.

That's why it's important to know which headlight bulbs are road legal, and which could potentially get you in trouble. There was a thread on here a few weeks ago about fitting aftermarket Xenon to a motorbike.

I am not wanting to start any debate but because we were all trying to interpret the DFT regulations I thought I would ask them direct. So after many weeks they finally replied. Basically without auto headlamp height adjustment and washers then this is not legal.

(Source: forum.bmw5.co.uk)

Anyway here is the reply.... and as I say I do not want to open the debate again because this is kind of definitive from someone at the Department of Transport. A headlamp which has been approved to European Regulations for use with a HID light source is fine, provided the installation criteria are met.

However, failure to comply may lead to enforcement action by the police and may invalidate your insurance. Even if the vehicle does pass the Mot exam this only proves that the light produces a beam pattern which is clear enough for aiming.

The same requirements apply regarding fitting an HID light source to a motorcycle. Unlike with passenger vehicles, there are no European Regulations on the installation of approved HID headlamps to motorcycles.

This is partly because no agreement has been reached on how to implement automatic headlamp levelling and washers on motorcycles. Potentially this could allow an HID headlamp to be fitted to a motorcycle without automatic leveling or washers, and we are aware of one manufacturer who has taken advantage of this and fitted an approved HID headlamp to a motorcycle.

BMW do fit a std HID to one of its latest bikes, the suspension issue that they mention won't be a problem on BMW with its sophisticated Anti dive front end... Thanks for taking the trouble to post the above- Its people like you that make this site tick. Twas me that started the thread after fitting an HID conversion to my main beam on my Triumph Sprint.

dazon 1100 buggy superbyke quad legal road
(Source: www.gumtree.com)

There are numerous estate cars with self levelling rear suspension and there have been for many years. If you load up an estate the rear goes down, if an auto air or hydraulic system pumps it up that is self levelling, up to a point, I don't think the front needs to be involved.

Not bi-Xenon, but they did make quite a difference on the Wood head pass when I went for a late night drive. Factory fit HID will have auto levelling in the lights.

It's definitely a bit of a gray area as Xenon, HID, Gas Discharge headlamps are not mentioned in the RVL 1989 so, according to the strict letter of the law, are not legal.However, new vehicles have HID headlamps. The UK cannot refuse to register a vehicle with a European type approval.

As you rightly say RTL, the complete lighting unit must be replaced, not just the bulb. >> Near the bottom of this link is an example of the oncoming drivers view.

Uk /forums/index.php?show topic=55704 It's quite legal to retrofit Hid lights to any vehicle assuming you use OEM parts. Taking a MTV Golf as an example it's simply a matter of fitting the OEM xenon units and the self-levelling sensors/loom for the lights and a simple decode to tell the car it now has xenon lighting.

led number plate lights
(Source: pt.slideshare.net)

According to people I know on the Golf forums this can be achieved at the same price as the factory option. Certainly EU requirements mean that, if fitted to a new car, they must be self-levelling. However, the only UK in-use legislation is C&U and Mot.-neither of which mention self-levelling.EU requirements are applied differently in different countries-prime example-daytime running lights-not mentioned in the actual EU legs.

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