Difference between 9012 vs 9006 Headlight Bulbs

Here, we’ll be taking a look at the differences between 9012 vs 9006 headlight bulbs.

These are two very similar bulbs. However, there are a number of differences between them that make them better suited for specific uses.

Specifically, 9012 bulbs have a higher wattage and brighter light output. Another important distinction is that while these two bulbs can be used interchangeably, 9012 bulbs will require modifications to fit perfectly in a 9006 socket.

If you are still confused about which bulb to buy, allow us to use our experience working with headlights and cars to help you make the best choice.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between 9012 and 9006 headlight bulbs.

Brighter light output Slightly dimmer light
Longer tabs on the bulb baseShorter tabs on the bulb base
Will fit into 9006 socket if you trim the tabs on the base of the bulbWill fit into 9012 socket without any modification
Slightly higher wattagePower consumption is a bit more efficient
Not as long lastingLonger lasting design
Image of 9012 vs 9006 Headlight Bulbs

9012 vs 9006 Headlight bulbs compared


The first and most important distinction between 9012 and 9006 bulbs is their wattage. 9012 bulbs are rated for higher wattage than 9006 bulbs, thus drawing more power. As such, if you are looking for a more efficient setup, opt for 9006 bulbs. 

That said, our testing found that 9012 bulbs have noticeably longer throw than their 9006 counterparts. So if you want all out performance, 9012 is the go to. However, suppose your specific car’s manufacturer recommends installing one or the other. In that case, it is probably because the system is optimized for that particular bulb, and you’ll get the best results with it.


Thanks to the higher power rating, 9012 bulbs produce slightly higher brightness. In addition to the longer throw, this brightness helps increase visibility and safety for nighttime driving.

Unlike brightness, the color profile of both bulbs in similar configurations is essentially the same and should not influence your buying decision.


When it comes to lifespan, 9006 bulbs eke out a win, although barely. They are more efficient, and thus there is less chance of damaging the sensitive internal components of the bulb. This allows for slightly better lifespan and durability, but the longevity of both bulbs is pretty much the same.

Connector design

The most significant physical difference between these two bulbs is the design of their bases. Both have tabs on the bottom of the bulb for connecting to the socket, but 9012 bulbs have slightly larger tabs than 9006 bulbs.


These bulbs can be used interchangeably because of the differing tab designs, albeit with some modifications necessary. Specifically, 9006 bulbs can fit into 9012 sockets without any modifications, whereas with 9012 bulbs, you will need to trim the tabs of the bulb to make it fit perfectly in a 9006 socket.


To sum up, 9012 and 9006 bulbs are pretty similar, with only a few differences to set them apart.

9012 bulbs draw more power and offer slightly higher brightness output. 9006 bulbs are more power-efficient but offer less illumination. And finally, 9006 bulbs will drop right into a 9012 socket but the 9012 bulbs need to be trimmed to fit into a 9006 socket.

We have tested the vast majority of available options for both bulbs and found them to perform exceptionally well.

As for whether or not you should opt for one or the other, we have determined through exhaustive testing and evaluation that while it is possible to use these bulbs interchangeably, it is not entirely worth it.

In fact, it is better to use the manufacturer’s recommended size for your car to achieve the best results.

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Hi, I'm Graeme, the author and owner of HeadlightReviews.com. Before I started this hobby site, I used to work alongside my 'Pops', helping out as he worked as a mechanic for over 50 years. Twenty-five of those he was running his own Auto Electrician & Body Shop, where I fell in love with vehicle lighting. I've taken all our experience online (that's not his gig)… so it’s safe to say there are very few people on the internet who can match our expertise and deep understanding of vehicle mechanics, repairs, parts, and especially headlights. If you've got a bulb question, contact me here, and read more about me and headlightreviews.com here.

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