Are the headlights on your Chevy C10 old and
dingy? Replacing your classic truck’s headlights is a popular and easy modification. Compared to modern headlights,
the stock incandescent bulbs on a C10 are dim. C10
headlight upgrades will give you better visibility on the road and a fresh look.
Types of C10 Headlights
There are a few different types of C10 headlights: halogen, HID, and LED. Halogens are a step
up from incandescents, but HID and LED lights are more popular for restomods.
C10 Halogen Headlights
Halogens are the most common type of headlight on the road. Like incandescent bulbs, they use a tungsten element
encased in an envelope. But rather than using glass, like incandescents, halogen bulbs use quartz that can stand up
to higher temperatures.
Halogen headlights use gas around the element to convert electrical current to heat and light. These lights last
longer since they “recycle” tungsten vapors. When a certain temperature is reached, the gas combines with the
tungsten atoms and deposits them back on the filament. This increases the filament life and lets the bulb burn
brighter and hotter. They reach full brightness immediately when turned on.
Even though C10 halogen headlights are better than the stock lights, they’re still less efficient than newer
technologies. But their low cost, easy maintenance, and widespread availability make them a popular choice.
Installing halogen headlights only takes a few minutes. Be careful when installing them, though, as they can be very
Average lifespan: 450 - 1,000 hours
C10 HID Headlights
High-intensity discharge (HID) headlights are another popular option. They’re also known as Xenon lights, named after
the gas found inside the bulbs. HIDs are powered by an electric current that passes through an inert gas within a
HID headlights emit light that is whiter and brighter than halogen bulbs, but they have to warm up to reach peak
brightness. They provide better visibility, but at a cost to other drivers. They’re often mistaken for high-beams as
they can sometimes be overly bright. HID lights are often more expensive and can be difficult to find. They can take
30 to 60 minutes to install. The process is relatively simple but may require more wiring work.
Average lifespan: 2,000 hours
C10 LED Headlights
Light-emitting diode (LED) headlights are different from HIDs and halogens in that they’re semiconductors. Rather
than using gas, they produce light when powered by an electrical current. A tiny LED light can emit as much
brightness as a halogen bulb. Although manufacturers often use multiple LED lights to make up a headlight unit.
LED lights are the most efficient option, reducing alternator wear and using less fuel to operate. C10 LED headlights
are typically more expensive than halogen or HIDs, but they have a much longer lifespan. Unlike HID lights, LED
bulbs reach full brightness immediately.
Average lifespan: 30,000 hours
How to Upgrade C10 Headlights
Here’s an example of how to upgrade the headlights on a 1970 C10. The process should be similar whether you have a Square Body or other
model year. Just keep in mind the wiring process may vary. We went with a set of stylish C10
LED headlights with a light bar for our truck. The installation time is approximately 30 minutes to an hour.
The exact tools will vary depending on the specific installation, but you can expect something along these lines.
- Phillips and flathead screwdrivers
- Cutting tool
Step 1: Remove Headlight Bezel
Start by removing the screws holding the headlight bezel. This will usually be done with a Phillips screwdriver. Once
the screws are removed, take off the headlight bezel and set it aside.
Step 2: Remove Chrome Ring
The chrome ring around the headlight is held in place by three screws. Our C10 had two Phillips screws and one
flathead. When you get the screws loose, hold the headlight so it doesn’t fall out and slide the ring off.
Step 3: Unplug Wiring Harness
Unplug the old headlight by disconnecting the wiring harness from the factory plug.
Step 4: Trim Headlight Bucket
In order to fit the heatsink for the new headlight, you may have to trim the headlight bucket so it fits properly. We
used a plasma cutter, but you could use a grinder, hole saw, body saw, or Dremel tool for this.
Step 5: Plug in New Headlight
Plug the new headlight into the factory connection. For the two wires on the running light, you’ll send the black
wire to the ground and the red wire to the running light or low beam wire so it runs at the same time.
Step 6: Reinstall Chrome Ring
Once the headlight is in place, slide the chrome lock ring on and reinstall the screws.
Step 7: Reinstall Headlight Bezel
Reinstall the headlight bezel by lightly tightening the screws down.
Step 8: Repeat Process on Opposite Side
Simply repeat the process on the opposite side to complete the installation.
Which C10 Headlights are Right for You?
Any upgraded C10 headlights will be better than your factory lights. Halogens will be the most affordable option, but
LEDs will give you the best efficiency. If you want super bright lights, HIDs are the way to go. Each type of
headlight comes in a variety of designs, with C10 halo headlights being a popular choice. Whatever you decide, new
headlights will drastically improve visibility and give your C10 a more modern look.
Sources: CarFax, How Stuff Works