Concern with LED bulb upgrades on classic cars
The use of LED bulbs in classic cars to improve relative visibility in both day and night driving conditions is a topical issue for classic car enthusiasts. It's "relative visibility" because as modern cars have brighter lights and daytime running lights, on a comparative basis classic cars tend to be less visible. Speaking with Chris Hunt Cooke he mentioned the Federation for Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC) is "on the case" so far as this LED topic is concerned. Behind the scenes the FBHVC beavers away in many ways on behalf of the classic car fraternity, not least in its contacts and discussions with the Department for Transport, Members of Parliament and other Government departments.


Classic Car Weekly is out on the stands at newsagents every Wednesday and carries many topical items of interest to classic car enthusiasts together with product reviews and features. Well worth buying a copy and judging for yourself.

Updated: 170106
Posted: 161214
In a recent article Classic Car Weekly noted "classic car owners should not replace exterior bulbs with LED items because it has discovered no LED replacement bulbs on the market in the UK can comply with legally required technical standards. Only LED bulbs in purpose-built housings are legal. Used in original housings some bulbs can dazzle oncoming traffic, while others are too dim". They quote "Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, saying purchasers of LED bulbs) may think they are enhancing their safety by fitting a conversion bulb, but good intention is misplaced".

The article also noted "a spokesperson for the Department of Transport says the Government position on LED aftermarket conversions is the same as it is on HID conversions which are only permitted when the entire lamp unit, not just the light source, is replaced by a Type Approved lamp".

Bulbs are one of the few aftermarket replacement parts that have to comply with compulsory technical standards and LED bulbs do not do this. Using an LED conversion bulb might cause you to commit the offence of driving an unroadworthy vehicle leading to a risk of prosecution under the Road Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations (1986) and the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations (1989).

In today's issue of Classic Car Weekly an interesting letter responding to that article is published - extracts below.
An enlightened view on LEDs
In his letter to CCW Tim Newing raises a number of key points starting with "what seems clear is the regulations have not caught up with the new technology and are still talking about electrical "power" (wattage) of bulbs and not the actual measured light output. Anyone driving around the roads these days can see LEDs fitted to many modern cars for indicators, side, tail and brake lights and it's clear they offer superior visibility to traditional bulb fitments on classic cars". Tim then says he feels the CCW article "sowed the seeds of fear into those who have moved with the times (by fitting LEDs) and damaged the small businesses that are trying to provide products for classic cars. Wouldn't it have been better to point out the issue, encourage people to make their cars more visible and reliable in a responsible way and suggest that the legislation needs to be updated to make sense of modern technology?" His final sentence catches the dilemma - "whether or not the individuals who own and drive our (classic) cars think it is more important to be safe and as visible as they can be in modern traffic or whether compliance with the letter of the the out-dated law is more important?"

See our earlier items on lighting upgrades for classic cars
Retroffiting daytime running lights to a classic car. 141110 More
Daytime running lights or DRLs and classic car lighting. 140815 More
V8BB thread Daytime running lights or DRLs and classic car lighting. 140815 V8BB
Non-LED daytime running lights on classic cars. 140501 V8NOTE476
LED lights upgrade. 140414 RV8NOTE386
LED lights conversion. 140401 More & later correction
DfT daytime running lights information sheet. 101101 More
Information Gateway on upgrading sealed beams. More
Upgrading the sealed beam units on the V8. 050401 V8NOTE324