Modes of Transportation

Xenon Headlights

You are allowed to replace a vehicle’s original conventional headlights with xenon or light-emitting diode (LED) headlights, under certain conditions.

Xenon headlights, also known as high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights, as well as LED headlights have been on the market for several years. They are part of the standard equipment on several luxury cars. These headlights provide better visibility and energy savings and have a longer lifespan than conventional headlights. They usually give off a light that is very white and that tends more towards blue than yellow. Compared to conventional headlights, these new types of headlights should not cause more glare on test points and their colour is similarly controlled.

On the road, when you are blinded by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle, you might automatically assume that the other driver did not switch to the low beams, and left the high beams on. However, it is possible that the other vehicle is equipped with xenon or LED replacement headlight bulbs that were not installed by the vehicle manufacturer. Other reasons may explain the glare. For example, the vehicle’s headlights may be improperly aligned or the vehicle’s rear could be overloaded, thus misdirecting the light beams. 

Changing vehicule headlights

You are allowed to replace a vehicle’s original conventional headlights with xenon or LED ones, but only if you do so using all the original equipment manufacturer parts.

Be careful if you’re thinking of buying a xenon or LED headlight kit online. Kits that do not include headlight housing might not provide adequate lighting. You risk not being able to meet the manufacturer’s lighting standards as the vehicle’s original sealed-beam headlight was designed to work with a bulb that diffuses light differently. Not only does such a modification make your headlights less effective and increase your chances of blinding other road users, it also violates the Highway Safety Code, unless the manufacturer can certify compliance with Canadian federal standards.

Regulations and vehicule imports 

It is important to know that the headlights of vehicles sold by the manufacturer must comply with lighting standards prescribed by Transport Canada.

Before importing a sealed-beam headlight or a vehicle from another country, you must ensure that its lighting system complies with Canadian standards. You can do so by checking whether the manufacturer can provide a certificate of compliance with Canadian standards or checking to see if the lighting components bear any specific markings.

Headlights that bear the specific lettering established by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is considered compliant with current standards. The various acceptable compliance markings are listed on Transport Canada’s website.

Vehicles from countries where people drive on the left side of the road may not be used, because their headlights could blind oncoming drivers even more. Just like sealed-beam headlights from those countries, they are designed to illuminate the left side of the road (including the shoulder), whereas the left side is meant for oncoming traffic in North America. 

If your Headlights do not Comply with Regulations

Under the Highway Safety Code, the SAAQ may require the removal, repair or modification of any equipment on a road vehicle that has not been installed by the vehicle manufacturer if the equipment presents a risk for road users. You must take care to ensure that the xenon or LED headlights are properly installed; otherwise, they could blind other road users.



Last update: May 27, 2022