Sizing Guide: Which Aftermarket Bulbs Fit a Chevy Silverado?

March 05, 2021 8 min read

Silverado Truck

The Chevy Silverado is one of the most popular trucks on the road. It's been a common sight on the roads since it was introduced in 1998. If you're looking into aftermarket bulbs, you're likely in one of three situations:

  • You have an older truck that you're trying to keep maintained and running, and new bulbs will help.
  • Your more recent truck has reached the end of the life span for a typical bulb, and it's time to replace one or more that have burnt out.
  • Your truck doesn't have HIDs or LEDs, and you want an upgrade.

Luckily, the overall design of the Silverado may have changed over the years, but the mechanics have not. While there are a lot of different bulbs throughout and around the truck, the bulbs you need remain the same for many different years of the make and model.

Here's what you'll be looking at:

1999 - 2006 Chevy Silverado

From its introduction in 1998 to the year 2006, the Chevy Silverado has come in a range of trim levels and performance varieties. The Silverado 1500, 2500, and 3500, both HD and non, all contain slightly different mechanics, different engines, and different levels of performance.

2006 Silverado

One thing that didn't change between them, however, is the headlights. There are two bulbs in each headlight, one for low beams and one for high beams. Every Silverado between 1999 and 2006 uses the same bulbs.

This is the base code for the incandescent bulbs normally shipped with your Silverado. If you want to get replacement bulbs, these are two of the most common kinds of bulbs to find on store shelves. Simply visit your local auto parts store, or find your favorite bulb shop online, and order a set. You can order a single bulb to replace one that is failing, or order all four and replace all of the bulbs across the board.

On the other hand, if you want to swap in an upgrade like an LED or Xenon HID bulb, you have that option as well. Both kinds of bulbs come in both the 9005 and 9006 styles, allowing you to freely upgrade. Always upgrade all of your headlight bulbs at the same time, to avoid disparity in brightness or inconsistent visibility and viewing cone when driving at night.

If you choose to upgrade to LED bulbs, you will want to consider purchasing an error sign decoder along with the bulbs. Bulbs are connected to the computer system that runs the electronics of the Silverado, and that means any bulb other than the stock bulbs it expects can throw an error in the computer system, as can faulty wiring, improper voltage processing, and other electrical issues. Having a decoder on hand allows you to diagnose what the error codes are, and how to fix them, without needing to take your truck into a mechanic and use their computer systems to decode your errors.

99-06 LEDs

If you choose to upgrade to a Xenon HID headlight, you will have a slightly more difficult process. Xenons require a starter to give them the initial voltage surge necessary to ignite, which requires additional hardware that is not a stock part of your truck. You can use a surge device to do this, or (we recommend) a DC ballast. A DC ballast is essentially a large capacitor that saves up and delivers that initial surge, to turn on your bulbs and get them running at a consistent, full brightness at all times.

99-06 HIDs

Another optional upgrade is an anti-flicker relay. This relay allows you to connect your HIDs directly to your battery, so they have a consistent flow of electricity rather than an inconsistent flow. If you install HIDs and find that your lights are flickering, it's likely due to part of the wiring harness of the truck overall. You can use a relay to connect your lights directly to your battery, bypassing the wiring harness, and solving the flickering issue so long as your battery is not dying.

Anti Flicker Relay

Finally, we strongly recommend that any upgrade to HIDs includes an error canceller. As with LEDs, the computer system of the Silverado can throw up errors when it sees something unusual in the bulb slot, and will usually report that your bulbs have burned out. To get rid of the error in the computers and the pesky light on your dashboard, get and install an error canceller.

Error Canceller

It's worth mentioning that some makes of the Chevy Silverado require an error canceller, while others do not. Chevrolet is not a car brand that usually requires the error canceller to function, but we strongly recommend that you install it anyway. Check engine codes are annoying, and in some cases, they can prevent your car from passing inspection. It's better to avoid the hassle. 

2007 - 2021 Chevy Silverado

Beginning in 2007, Chevrolet decided to make a change to their headlights. The high beams are still the same bulb they have been since their inception, but the low beams have been upgraded.

New Chevy Silverado

Rather than coming with the standard bulb type 9006, the Silverado (again, all models and trim levels, from the Chevrolet 1500 to the 3500) uses the H11 bulb type.

Everything we wrote above with regards to LEDs and HIDs applies here to the high beams with bulb type 9005. The general information is still true as well, but the H11 bulb style is slightly different. It's a more updated style of the bulb, with a different socket design that helps to prevent premature failure due to corrosion or moisture intrusion, as well as a different connector, different voltage, and different brightness.

Regardless of whether you opt to update to LEDs or HIDs, our advice remains the same. For HIDs, you will need your additional ballast and your error canceller, and you may consider a relay to avoid the flickering issues that you get with older models and wiring harnesses.

It's worth mentioning that the 9006 bulbs and the H11 bulbs are not compatible. A vehicle that calls for one cannot use the other, and vice versa. A common mistake Silverado owners make is ordering the wrong bulb, due to misinformation online or misconceptions in the manual.

9006 vs H11

There are also some reports that manuals state the wrong bulb type, particularly for 2007 trucks when the change-over was just implemented and copy might not have been rewritten properly. If this happens, you will, unfortunately, need to return your bulbs and buy the correct kind of bulb.

Some people attempt to modify the bulb socket manually to get it to work. We recommend against this; a mistake can destroy your bulb, short circuit your electrical system, and damage other parts of your truck. Even if you succeed, damage to the socket can allow moisture to enter and can cause premature bulb failure. This can even be dangerous with HIDs, which need a large surge of voltage when they're turned on, and can be dangerous if you're in the area while testing them.

Other Bulbs

The Silverado has a wide range of other bulbs throughout the outside and inside of the truck. These include:

  • Fog lights
  • Back up lights
  • Reverse lights
  • Daytime running lights
  • License plate lights
  • Parking lights
  • Turn signals
  • Interior dome lights
  • Cargo area lights
  • Miscellaneous lights (footwell, under the door, etc)

Different trim levels and different styles of trucks throughout the years have had different selections, placements, and styles of light. These have changed much more often than the headlight array for the Silverado, so you'll want to make sure you're identifying the right bulb for the right socket in the right year vehicle.

You can use our bulb search to find what bulbs go in what year and precise model of Silverado. Simply plug in the year, make, and model of your Silverado and you're off to the races.

Silverado Bulb Finder

Most bulbs inside and outside of a Silverado can be replaced with upgraded LED bulbs with no issues. Unlike headlights, accessory bulbs do not come in Xenon HID form, so you do not need to worry about high voltage ballasts for them. The LED upgrades are typically designed as a one-size-fits-most style, with a socket that can be plugged into just about any bulb location. 

Replacing interior and exterior non-headlight bulbs with LEDs is easy. You don't need an error decoder, OBD2 scanner, or any additional accessories for these smaller and less critical lights. High-quality LEDs will last a very long time unless they are overheated, and will likely outlast your truck itself in most cases.

Risks and Warnings

There are very few risks to upgrading your bulbs, whether it's headlights, accessory lights, or interior lights. 

If you choose to upgrade from traditional halogen bulbs to Xenon HID bulbs, you will need to put a little more effort into installation than you would with LEDs or other halogens. This is because of how HID bulbs are designed to work; the need for an additional ballast and a consistent higher voltage means you will need to install more than just a bulb. That said, installation is quite easy and, as long as you disconnect your battery before working on your vehicle, quite safe.

HID vs Halogen

LEDs, meanwhile, are completely safe. The voltages involved are trivial, and the act of swapping an old halogen bulb for a new LED bulb is easy. All you need to do is remove the old bulb and install the new one. Unlike halogens or HIDs, you don't even have to worry about touching the LEDs; you can't shatter them with temperature differentials the way you can bulbs that use filaments.

The only potential challenge you may run into is an uneven light. Some LED upgrades are bidirectional, meaning they shine in two directions, rather than omnidirectional like traditional filament bulbs. Old style LED bulbs can then leave dark spots, uneven coverage, or different issues with your headlights, particularly with your high beams. With improperly calibrated, bidirectional LEDs, you may even find your focus area out of range and even aimed to dazzle other drivers. 

Modern LEDs are much better designed to avoid this kind of problem. They have multiple LED emitters around a central cylinder, and they emit light in every direction at once, including forward. This allows them to be fully captured and reflected just like a halogen or HID bulb, casting a nice, even light forward.

LED Lights at Night

If you install your bulbs, only to realize that they're being cut off with strange cut lines, chances are the bulb is not properly placed in the socket. This kind of cutoff happens when the bulb is too far back, so the reflector bowl and the lenses involved in your headlights are cutting off part of the light. Usually, this is a sign of one of two things. Either you have failed to seat the bulb properly, or you've purchased the wrong bulb and are using it where it doesn't fit. 

Final Thoughts

Always double-check which kind of bulb your truck takes for the socket you're replacing. Headlights (both high beams and low beams) are important for the proper functioning of your vehicle at night and in low-light conditions. Our bulb search is a very useful tool for seeing every different bulb your vehicle uses and will help you identify the specific bulb you need for that socket.

Whether you're upgrading perfectly good bulbs so you can have brighter lights to cut through the darkness, or you're hoping to install RGB remote-controlled LEDs to create adjustable lighting, or you're just looking to replace an old burned-out halogen bulb with something that won't break in a couple of years, you've come to the right place.

Just use the bulb search, put in your year, make, and model for the Silverado or another vehicle, and hit search. We'll present you with a list of the best bulb options for every socket in your vehicle, along with the bulb type if you want to take that information to shop around. We offer some of the best LEDs and HIDs available, for the best prices, so we know you'll be back.

Choosing Year

When in doubt, you can always get a complete kit. Simply replacing the bulbs in your car alone might not be enough; some bulbs require special ballasts and wiring harnesses specific to those bulbs and your vehicle, so a complete kit is generally the best option for beginners.

Do you need help picking some aftermarket bulbs for your Chevrolet Silverado truck? Having trouble finding the perfect lighting kit? Reach out to our helpful team! We'll point you in the right direction and provide you with a kit that will fit perfectly the first time.

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LED LightStreet