9003 Headlight Bulb Guide – How is it different than H4?

The 9003 bulb is a double-filament headlight bulb. It’s suitable for use as a high and low beam instead of having two separate bulbs. Some vehicles also use 9003 bulbs as fog lights. You will also find these bulbs on many motorcycles.

You can access your car’s headlight bulbs by opening the engine compartment and removing the headlight assembly from the inside. You’ll find the fog light underneath the headlight assembly.

You’ll have to remove the old bulb and connect the new one. It’s important to insert the new bulb properly so that the tabs connect to the correct wires.

Sockets compatible with 9003 bulbs use three wires. There is a black ground wire, a red wire to power the high beam filament, and a yellow wire for the low beam.

On a standard socket, the low beam tab will go in the top, the high beam tab on the left, and the ground tap on the right. However, you can come across sockets with different configurations. Check out this diagram to identify the type of socket you have and to wire your new bulb properly.

You can easily recognize 9003 bulbs because they have a double-filament and three tabs or prongs that come out of a straight base.

How to Choose the Right Headlight Bulb for Your Car

You will need to determine if your car requires single or dual filament bulbs. Single filament bulbs include H7, H11, 9005, and 9006 models. If your vehicle has a dual-beam system, you will probably need a 9003, H4, H13, 9004, or 9007 bulb.

The replacement bulb also has to correspond to the socket in your vehicle. Some bulbs have an L-shaped base, while others go straight into the socket. Pay attention to the angle and location of the socket to determine which bulbs will fit.

The best way to find a replacement bulb is to check your owner’s manual or to look up what kind of bulb your vehicle needs online. You should easily find a model number.

However, keep in mind that some bulbs are interchangeable. For instance, H4, 9003, and HB2 bulbs are almost identical. A vehicle that takes 9004 bulbs will also be compatible with 9007 models. You can also usually switch 9006 bulbs for HB4 bulbs.

It’s best to purchase the bulb model that your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends to ensure the best fit possible, but a compatible bulb can do if it’s the only thing you can find.

FittingThree tabsThree tabsL-shaped baseL-shaped base
UseDual beamDual beamLow beamHigh beam
What cars do they fit?Any car with DOT HB2 assemblyMost European vehiclesWide range of modern cars and SUVs with a single-beam systemSeveral Acura, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, GMC, and Honda models
Price range$5 to $25$15 to $20$10 to $50 (for a two-pack)$20 to $40 (usually sold as two-packs)
Model examplesSylvania 9003 XtraVision Sylvania 9003 Ultra Sylvania 9003 ZXE Gold Halogen Philips 9003 CrystalVision UltraHella H4 Headlight Bulb Auxito H4 LED Headlight BulbSylvania H11 XtraVision Sylvania H11 SilverStar Ultra High Performance Bulb Philips H11 Standard Headlight  Philips 9006 Vision Upgrade Headlight Bulb Sylvania Low Beam Halogen Headlamp Sylvania 9006 SilverStar Ultra Halogen Headlight Philips 9006 Standard Headlight  

How to Install a 9003 Headlight Bulb

Installing a 9003 headlight bulb is easy. You should watch this video to see the step-by-step process.

There are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Remember that you need to access the headlight assembly from the engine compartment and not from the outside.
  • Take care when handling the bulb. If you touch it with your fingers, oils will get on the bulb and could damage it when it heats up.
  • Insert the headlight bulb properly. If it’s crooked or upside down, the beam pattern won’t look right.
  • If your replacement bulb doesn’t fit properly into the socket, you can purchase an adapter to get it to fit.


Here are a few additional things to keep in mind when replacing a headlight bulb.

Is H4 bulb the same as 9003 bulb?

These two bulbs are virtually the same. The H4 model has a slightly shorter tab, but an H4 bulb will fit into a 9003 socket. However, a 9003 bulb might not fit perfectly into an H4 socket.

Can I use H4 bulb instead of 9003 bulb?

Yes, these two bulbs are almost identical, and it’s often hard to notice that the H4 has a slightly shorter tab.

Are 9003 and H11 the same?

No, these two bulbs are very different. The H11 model has an L-shaped base, while the 9003 bulb has a straight base with three tabs. Plus, the 9003 bulb is a dual filament bulb, while the H11 bulb is a low-beam bulb with a single filament.

Will H4 fit H11?

The answer is no. These two bulbs have a very different base. Besides, the H4 bulb is for dual-beam systems, while the H11 is a low-beam headlight bulb.

Is 9003 bulb a high or low beam?

It works as both. It’s a bulb with two filaments. One will come on when you need a high beam, and the other will emit a low beam.

What is the brightest 9003 bulb?

LED bulbs are brighter than halogen models. You can’t go wrong with a name brand like Philips or Sylvania if you want a bright bulb. We recommend the Sylvania 9003 XtraVision or the Philips 9003 CrystalVision Ultra.

What is the best 9003 bulb for motorcycles?

The Sylvania 9003 XtraVision bulb is a good option if you want a performing halogen bulb. For LED bulbs, Philips and Sealight are good choices.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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