Pickup Headlight Bulb Upgrade

Updated Sep 5, 2014

How-to replace OE pickup headlight bulbs with high-output bulbs

Sylvania’s SilverStar Ultras a good step up when your pickup’s OE headlight bulbs need replacing 

By Bruce W. Smith

Later-model GM pickup headlight assemblies have to be removed to replace the bulbs, which takes about 45 minutes per side.

Headlights dim and eventually burn out over time. It might not be today, tomorrow or next week, but at some point in the typical work truck’s life, the bulbs will need to be replaced – probably more than once.

Replacing the bulbs is a job shop mechanics would rather poke themselves in the eye than tackle because it is a pain to do.

This is especially true in later model GMs where the headlight assembly needs to be removed just to access the bulbs. 

That’s an hour R&R time for each side – and downtime in a shop is lost money.

So make the time worth the effort by installing stronger, brighter bulbs that improve the driver’s night vision and ability to see farther down the road.

One good upgrade that improves a pickup’s OEM headlights is switching to higher-performance bulbs like the Sylvania SilverStar Ultra. 

The bulbs, which are available at auto parts stores, are street-legal in every state (unlike HIDs). According to Sylvania (sylvania.com), the Ultras add 40 to 50 percent greater distance and side-to-side coverage than the stock bulbs on pickups that are just a couple years old.

We upgraded both the high- and low-beam headlight bulbs in our Project Bedrock (2011 GMC Sierra 1500 4Ă—4) to take advantage of the improved efficiency and performance of the SilverStars.

SilverStar Ultra bulb (top) looks almost identical to the OE halogen bulb, but its performance is markedly improved.

The SilverStar Utras do make a noticeable difference compared to the stock headlights: They cast a wider spread on low-beam and penetrate farther down the road on high, and the whiter light makes it easier to see details.

Bulb replacement takes just seconds. Unplug the connector, then a 1/4-twist and the bulb is out.

Oncoming traffic isn’t bothered, either – a plus for those who want to be conscientious to others with whom they share the road.