• Headlamps are one of the most commonly damaged components on a vehicle
  • The need for sustainable headlamp repair is increasing; the cost of a replacement headlamp can be as much as 8% of a new vehicle’s value
  • Thatcham Research has investigated headlamp repair options and used data to create new best practice guidance for vehicle repairers and carmakers
  • The guidance highlights how bracket repair kits and replacement lenses can often be used to reinstate damages headlamp units
  • Guidance will support the shift from ‘replace’ to ‘repair’

Thatcham Research is shining a light on the growing need to repair rather than replace damaged vehicle headlamp units and has written a best practice guide to highlight repair options and encourage a more sustainable approach.

Today’s headlamp units are often a coded component and integral to the operation of various Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and assisted driving functions that improve safety. But they’re also one of the most commonly damaged vehicle components.

In some cases, the cost of a replacement can amount to 8% of the total vehicle value when new, and costs are expected to increase further as more tech – including LiDAR, cameras and projectors – are incorporated into lighting units.

Sustainable repair solutions

As a vehicle risk intelligence organisation that collaborates with carmakers to understand sustainable repair options for vehicles and potential insurance risk, Thatcham Research has analysed vehicle headlamp specifications, complexities, technologies, and typical damage to identify potential repair strategies.

The organisation’s engineers have collated this research data and written a best practice guide that vehicle repairers can use to accurately reinstate an existing lighting unit, rather than replacing it – to mitigate rising insurance costs and total losses.

Darren Bright, Thatcham Research’s principal engineer for automotive repair, said: “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 that contain complex, advanced technologies and often have coding requirements to maintain their ‘connected’ status within the vehicle.

“Our repair guidance highlights best practice in the market and gives Vehicle Damage Assessors the information they need to embrace sustainable repair methods, rather than sending a defunct lighting unit straight to landfill.”

Brackets and lenses

Two of the components that Thatcham Research has identified as being most suitable to 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. These kits are 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.

When it comes to rectifying common forms of lamp failure, for instance a cracked lens, 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 the car parc.

In the event of any headlamp repair, Thatcham Research best practice guide reiterates that any repair outside of the OEMs recommended guidance should be approached with caution.

To download a free copy of Thatcham Research’s Vehicle Headlamp Repair Guide, follow the link: https://www.thatcham.org/headlamp-repair-guide.