When comparing 9005 vs 9006 lightbulbs, they look almost identical at first glance. But can you use one in place of the other? The answer is yes, in some circumstances, but it’s not recommended. Let me explain.
High- and Low-Beams
The 9005 and 9006 bulbs are normally used as high- and low-beams, respectively. This means that you can use both bulbs for different purposes in your headlights.
9005 bulbs can be used as high-beam, low beams, or fog lights. High beams are best for driving on country roads at night. Your high beams may be so bright that they may cause glare for other drivers on the road, so use them sparingly. Snow and fog may make them appear even brighter. It is often illegal to use your high beams in areas with heavy traffic.
9006 bulbs can also be used as high beams, low-beams, or fog lights. Low beams are used for normal nighttime driving. These are fine in cities, streets, and other situations where brighter lights are not warranted.
Your headlights probably have settings for both high and low beams. Each setting is useful for different situations.
Another major difference between these two bulbs is power. 9006 bulbs use 55 watts; 9005 bulbs use 65 watts. This means that the 9005 bulbs produce brighter light. 9006 bulbs are not as bright, but more efficient. It is unwise, if not illegal, to have your high beams on all the time in the United States, so check your state laws if you have questions.
For legal and safety reasons, it is not recommended to have bright bulbs in both headlight settings.
Along with the difference in brightness, you may wish to consider how far these bulbs allow you to see down the road. The 9005 has a superior range. Its beams can light up a wide area of around 360 feet. This radius allows you to see other drivers coming long before they see you, allowing you ample time to avoid an accident.
A 9006 bulb has less range, but for normal driving conditions, that may be all you need. This type of headlight also makes you more visible to other drivers on the road.
Remember that 9005 and 9006 are sizes, not brands, of bulbs. If you have a preferred brand for lightbulbs, check if they make these sizes. Your favorite brand may also call 9005 and 9006 by different names, so check your vehicle manual if you have questions.
For easy comparison, here is a table with the 9005 and 9006 statistics side-by-side.
|Primary Use||High beam||Low beam|
|Power||65 watts||55 watts|
|Range||Broad area ~360 feet||Mid-range ~200 feet|
|Brightness (halogen)||1700 Lumens||1000 Lumens|
9005 vs 9006: Will These Bulbs Work with My Car?
It is possible to make a 9005 lightbulb fit in a 9006 socket. However, this does not work the other way around. Do not attempt to put a 9006 in a socket designed to fit 9005 bulbs; the 9006 bulb has a bigger base and will not fit in the smaller socket.
While you can use 9005 bulbs in both settings, it may not be wise. The additional wattage will create more heat than your housing is designed for.
You may also encounter HB3 or HB4 bulbs. The HB3 bulb is the 9005 bulb under a different naming method. If your car uses HB3, it can use 9005. Likewise, a 9006 bulb is sometimes called HB4. Note, however, that not all H bulbs are cross-compatible with 9005 or 9006.
Many brands of cars use 9005 or 9006 bulbs. These include, but are not limited to, Acura, Chevrolet, Ford, Audi, and Kia. Most major brands use 9005 or 9006 bulbs already. If you wish to perform headlight repairs yourself, they are valid sizes to choose from.
9006 bulbs will fit the low beams of most vehicles. Around 99% of vehicles use a 9006/HB4 bulb for their low beams. To see which bulbs fit your vehicle, use the Sylvania Bulb Guide to look which headlights will fit your vehicle perfectly. Your vehicle handbook will also tell you which bulb(s) are compatible with your car. Websites like Amazon.com also have features to make sure that the bulbs you want to buy will fit your car.
What About H11 Bulbs?
H11 bulbs are an alternative to 9006 bulbs. They are both low-beam bulbs. However, the H11 bulb is slightly more efficient than the 9006 and a little brighter; the 9006 has 1000 lumens and the H11 emits 1200 lumens. With its unique shape, however, the H11 may not fit all headlight fixtures. Double-check that your vehicle can use H11s before buying them.
There is a decent chance that your car already uses 9005 and 9006 bulbs. They are common bulb sizes in many automobiles. However, that one digit makes a world of difference. They have different power settings; although one can modify a 9006 socket to fit a 9005, it is not recommended. There is no “winner” between these two bulbs; they serve different functions and are often used together.