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Illuminating the Road Ahead: Challenger Headlights

Illuminating the Road Ahead: Challenger Headlights

The fact that the Challenger is such a popular car makes it easy to want to distinguish yours from the rest. Even in less common trims and colors, they can blend in with the crowd. The body is so beautiful in stock form that it would be a sin to hack it up with body kits. So where do you look? One option is to upgrade your Challenger’s headlights. Upgrading headlights is driven by more than just changing the looks of the car. You sit behind those headlights and they’re your only means of seeing at night as you motor along. The benefits of improving your vision are almost limitless especially when you’re driving a beautiful and fast car like the Challenger.

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Keeping you and your Challenger safe is paramount to driving another day (or making it to your local race track). Headlights are one aspect of this. Night time driving can become its own headache with failing bulbs. Upgrading to longer lasting LEDs or high intensity beams (HIDs) will improve your night vision while improving the exterior appearance of your Challenger.

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Stock Housings

The third generation of Challengers is divided by a revision that took place for 2014 models and newer. Naturally this would change things up for the headlights meaning that not all stock options are the same. Before you go investing in any aftermarket upgrades, it’s important to know what you’re working with.


2009-2013 Factory Options

The first Challengers of the third generation are fitted with traditional reflector housings. These units have H13/9008 bulbs, two to each housing making for a total of four individual lights across the front of the car. 

2008-2013 Bulb type

  • 9008 bulb x 4

2014-Current Factory Options

The generation split meant that some changes to the headlights would occur. The use of a total of 4 headlights across the front of the car would stay the same. The bulb type changed from a 9012 for these cars and the housings themselves were upgraded to projector style housings.

With some models it’s important to note that the headlight housings would be used in the vehicle's induction system. These lights use an LED lighting system in place of the Halogen bulbs.

2014-Current Bulb type

  • 9012 x 4 (or LED)

Aftermarket Options

So what are your options? The housings themselves are a focal area for many of the aftermarket options. For 2008-2013 Challengers, the use of reflective headlight housings makes it easy for one to want to swap to projector headlights or even halos.

The level of difficulty behind this task is very low meaning almost anyone can tackle doing so. If one wants to retain the factory look, they can simply upgrade the bulbs that live within those housings.

The stock headlights on 2014-current Challengers are aesthetically appealing and even function better, but that doesn’t mean that all of the same options aren’t on the table.

Bulb Types

Bulbs are the heart of any lighting system, and you’re going to come across a bunch of different types while you’re shopping around. Halogen bulbs are the factory bulb options for Challengers and we all have a pretty good understanding of what they are and how they work. But what about the other types you’re going to come across? What makes them special?

LED: Some Challengers come stock with LED headlights from the factory so we might as well stop here. The biggest advantage of LED lights is that they are significantly brighter than halogen bulbs but they can be a bit more expensive. These bulbs can be used in any housing style including halos. In halo housing, the halo itself will be made by a series of individual LED bulbs and it won’t be a continuous ring.


  • Superior brightness


  • High Cost
  • Broken pattern in halo housings

HID: As with any lighting upgrades, you need to make sure not to overstep the bounds of the laws and regulations in your area. High intensity discharge bulbs are particularly subjected to this because of the fact that you can play around with the color of the bulbs themselves. These bulbs are also a step above halogen bulbs in terms of brightness.

  • Superior brightness
  • Come in a variety of colors


  • Colored bulbs can be illegal for street use

CCFL: Cold cathode fluorescent lights are a type of bulb you may or may not come across when shopping but are worth understanding nonetheless. These types of bulbs are used exclusively in halo headlights. This is the oldest type of technology used in halo headlights. 

The fluorescent characteristics of these bulbs mean that the halo in halo headlights will illuminate as one continuous unbroken ring. They may not be as bright as LED options but are much more aesthetically appealing.


  • Aesthetically appealing in halo lights 


  • Not as bright as LED’s

Difficulty of Conversions

We touched on the level of difficulty behind swapping headlights in the Challenger but we didn’t discuss the process. With bulbs, you will need to remove trim behind the headlight and the airbox in order to actually access the housings.

At this point it’s as simple as removing the bulb and replacing it. With HID or LED lights, you may need to install an additional harness behind the bulb but it’s nothing more than an additional minor step. If the whole housing needs to be swapped out, the initial process is about the same. All that changes is that the headlight housing will need to be unbolted and removed but the whole ordeal still doesn’t become any more difficult just a bit longer.

Fitment includes: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-8, RT, SE, SXT, RallyeRedline, ScatPack, Hellcat, GT, TA, Demon