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The Volvo Bulb Guide

Replace bulbs in pairs. Bulbs dim with age. If one side went, the other is probably close and can look dimmer than the new one on the other side. The used one can always be put back in the package, marked as “used spare,” and kept in the trunk.

This Volvo bulb guide post by QuirkySwede might be the best concentration of Volvo bulb information in one place on the Web. There, I said it. What’s inside?

The Volvo Bulb Guide

  • Commonly Confused Bulbs
  • Confusion Examples and Avoidance
  • Comparison Tables
    • Neo-Wedge Bulbs
    • Festoon Bulbs
    • Side Mirror “Approach” Bulbs
    • 3000-Series Bulbs
  • Older Volvos
  • Common Questions
    • Why does Volvo sometimes list “1156” as a replacement bulb?
    • Can I use a higher wattage bulb?
    • Can I “upgrade” to a mini-halogen bulb?
    • Any downsides to brighter tail lights?
    • Are blue-tint bulbs better?
    • How did blue-tint bulbs get started?
    • Can I swap out a halogen headlight bulb with a “HID conversion” bulb?
    • Are HID lights better?
    • Should I switch to LEDs?
    • Do fog lights (front) and fog lamps (rear) really do anything?
    • What do “SV” and “DC” mean after some Volvo bulb descriptions?

Volvo Bulb Superguide

If you don’t care to devote even a tiny portion of your brain to bulb minutiae, then quickly skimming QuirkySwede’s Tips section will pay dividends some day:

No bulb costs more than a “defective equipment” ticket and court costs, nor should take longer to change than a traffic stop.

Make a routine of checking your bulbs. Multi-task them into other regular activities like unloading groceries or talking on your phone in a parking lot so you spot bad bulbs before the fuzz does.

Use glass storefronts at night as a big mirror to check your brake and reverse lights while in your car.

Look low, not high. The right bulbs for common uses have FOUR digits, start ABOVE 2700 and thus will be LOWER on numerically-ordered racks at parts stores and supercenters. Gas stations seldom carry more than a couple types, so buy spares before a road trip.

Don’t mix bulbs. If you replace one SAE tail light bulb with a R5W (5007), check the other ones too. Unbalanced electrical loads can have strange symptoms.

Search the socket, lens, or reflector for a ECE bulb designation so you get the right bulb (see “SHORT VERSION” and “2. Confusion Examples and Avoidance” above).

Replace bulbs in pairs. Bulbs dim with age. If one side went, the other is probably close and can look dimmer than the new one on the other side. The used one can always be put back in the package, marked as “used spare,” and kept in the trunk.

Don’t let spare bulbs rattle in the package. Crumple a piece of paper towel or plastic bag behind them so you don’t find the filament broken or amber paint flaked off when you need them.

Smear a little di-electric grease lightly on the bulb contacts, especially if you spot any corrosion. It is non-conductivity prevents the grease from creating a short while providing an oxygen barrier to reduce corrosion that inhibits performance. Corroded sockets and connections are best cleaned with Caig DeoxIT®, though a pencil eraser or the finest sandpaper may help in a pinch.

Keep your fingers off the glass. Use a paper towel or plastic bag to hold the bulb glass and wipe clean of fingerprints, dirt, or grease afterward. Wipe halogen and headlight bulb’s glass clean with rubbing alcohol if touched to avoid hot spots that shorten its life.

And if that’s too much, just knowing this post is here will help when you need to identify/buy/replace a bulb on your Volvo.

The Volvo Bulb Superguide


bulbs-composite-sm.jpg Volvo Bulb Guide