difference between 168 and 194 bulbs

What is the difference between 168 and 194 bulbs

Driving at night or in low visibility conditions can be dangerous without proper headlights to illuminate the road ahead. Having headlights that provide maximum visibility is critical for safe driving. For this reason, choosing the right headlight bulbs for your vehicle is an important decision. There are a variety of bulb types available for different makes and models of cars. Two common options are 194 and 168 bulbs. Both serve essentially the same function – powering your headlights to shine light onto the road. But there are some key differences between the two that drivers should understand before selecting replacement bulbs.

In this article, we will compare 194 and 168 headlight bulbs in depth. You’ll learn about the specifications of each bulb type including wattage, estimated lifespan, light output, compatibility with different vehicles, pricing, and more. Whether you’re searching for the brightest bulbs, the longest lasting, or simply want to understand the pros and cons of 194 vs 168 bulbs, this guide will cover it all. We’ll also make some recommendations to help you choose the right headlight upgrade for your driving needs and budget. Let’s get started!

key differences between 168 bulb and 194 bulb Table

Feature194 Bulb168 Bulb
Base TypeP13.5S wedgeP13.5S wedge
Typical Wattage15-28W15-28W
Lifespan300-1000 hrs300-1000 hrs
Light OutputLower lumensHigher lumens
Beam PatternWider spreadMore focused
ApplicationsInterior lighting, headlights for some modelsHeadlights, fog lights
Price Per Bulb$2-$8 average$3-$12 average

Similarities Between 168 and 194 bulbs

Though 194 and 168 bulbs serve the same general function, there are some key ways in which they are alike.

Base Type and Size

  • Both 194 and 168 bulbs use a P13.5S wedge base. This is sometimes referred to as a “double contact bayonet” style base.
  • The bulbs are very close in overall size:
    • 194 bulbs are 19mm in diameter.
    • 168 bulbs are 16.8mm in diameter.
  • So in most cases, a 194 and 168 bulb can physically fit into the same headlight housing.

“194 and 168 bulbs use the same P13.5S wedge base and are very close to the same diameter. This allows compatibility and interchangeability in some applications.”

Wattage and Voltage

  • Standard wattages for both 194 and 168 bulbs tend to be in the range of ~15-28 wattage at 12V.
  • Higher wattage “hyper white” bulbs are available in the 50-65W range for both types.
  • So the nominal wattage and voltage ratings are quite similar between the two.

Lifespan and Durability

  • Both 194 and 168 bulbs last roughly 300-1000 hours, depending on bulb quality.
  • Properly installed, they have a comparable expected lifespan under normal driving conditions.
  • 168 bulbs may have a slight edge in vibration resistance due to their smaller glass envelope.

So in summary, 194 and 168 bulbs share quite a few common traits when it comes to their design, power consumption, and durability. But there are still some important differences we’ll dig into next.

Physical Appearance 194 vs 168 bulb

While 194 and 168 bulbs share some similarities, there are some clear physical differences between the two types:

Shape and Dimensions

  • 168 bulbs have a round glass envelope shape.
  • 194 bulbs have a more oval or elliptical shape.
  • The 168’s smaller 16.8mm diameter allows a little more leeway for adjustments during installation compared to the wider 194.

Color and Coatings

  • Both bulbs come in standard or “cool white” hues from warm yellow up to bluish daylight tones.
  • 194 bulbs have more variation however, with diffuse, hyper white, and different color temperature options.
  • Some 168 and 194 bulbs have an amber powder coating on the glass for light filtering.

Installation and Handling

  • The 168’s smaller envelope and diameter makes it a bit easier to handle without touching the glass.
  • The 194’s wider profile can make installation a tighter fit and require more care to avoid smudging or fingerprints on the glass surface.
  • Overall, 168 bulbs tend to be simpler to install due to their more compact size and shape.

Application and Compatibility

While 194 and 168 bulbs may seem interchangeable in some cases, there are important factors to consider regarding compatibility with different vehicle makes and models.

Vehicle Applications

  • 194 bulbs are widely used for interior bulb in dashboards, trunks, license plates, and side marker lights.
  • 168 bulbs are most commonly used in headlight and fog light applications.
  • Certain models like Hondas and Toyotas use 168 bulbs in their tail and brake lights.
  • European vehicles more commonly use 194 bulbs for headlights.


  • In some cases, 194 and 168 bulbs can be swapped without issues due to their physical similarities.
  • However, it’s important to check your owner’s manual, as this varies by vehicle.
  • For optimal safety and performance, always install the specific bulb type recommended by your manufacturer.

“194 and 168 bulbs may seem physically interchangeable, but it’s critical to consult your vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure correct installation and operation.”

Vehicle-Specific Notes

  • Older Volkswagens use 194 bulbs for headlights, so upgrading to higher wattage 168 bulbs requires wiring harnesses.
  • Certain Jeep and Dodge truck models should only use 194 bulbs for proper beam focus, despite physically accepting 168 bulbs.
  • Check manufacturer guidelines before swapping 194 and 168 bulbs in your specific make and model for optimal safety.

Usage Differences Table

194 Bulb Uses168 Bulb Uses
Dashboard lights, map lights, glove compartment, trunk lighting Headlights, fog lights
Side markers, parking lights, license plate lightsBrake lights, turn signals, reverse lights in some models
Gauge and display panel backlightingincandescent bulb , dome light , warning lights
automotive lighting

Pricing and Availability 168 vs 194 bulb

When it comes to replacing your headlights or other automotive bulbs, cost and ease of purchase are important factors. Here is how 194 and 168 bulbs compare:

Cost Comparison

  • Standard 194 bulbs cost $2-$8 per bulb on average.
  • Standard 168 bulbs typically cost $3-$12 per bulb.
  • Upgraded “hyper white” and LED bulbs range from $10-$50 for both types.

So 168 bulbs tend to be slightly more expensive, however there is significant overlap in pricing depending on wattage, bulb technology, and brand.


  • Both 194 and 168 bulbs are readily available at most auto parts stores.
  • Mass retailers like Walmart also stock the more common wattages and types.
  • Wider selection of premium and LED upgrade bulbs are found at specialty automotive retailers or online.

Tip: Check local availability before ordering online to avoid wait times for shipping. Bulbs tend to be easy to find locally.

Where to Buy

  • AutoZone, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Pep Boys, NAPA, and Advance Auto Parts.
  • Retailers like Walmart, Target, Amazon.
  • Online specialty shops like SuperBrightLEDs, XenonDepot, theretrofitsource.
  • Conclusion difference between 168 and 194 In summary, while 194 and 168 car bulbs share some similarities, there are distinct differences that impact their performance, fitment, and pricing. The key similarities between 194 and 168 bulbs include:
    • Same P13.5S wedge base
    • Similar overall size and diameter
    • Comparable voltage and wattage ratings
    • Roughly equivalent lifespan and durability
    However, 168 bulbs tend to have some advantages in terms of:
    • Brighter light output capabilities
    • More focused and further reaching beam distance
    • Compact size for easier handling and installation
    • Availability of high-performance LED and HID upgrades
    194 bulbs, on the other hand, shine when it comes to:
    • Wider compatibility with interior lighting applications
    • Cost savings on standard bulbs
    • Variety of diffuse and color temperature options
    Ultimately, choosing the right bulb comes down to the specific use case and vehicle model. Always check your owner’s manual for the proper bulb type to ensure optimal safety and light performance. Investing a few extra dollars in a quality bulb from a reputable brand can provide increased visibility and peace of mind when driving at night.

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