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Thread: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

  1. #1
    Flashaholic Lightdoctor's Avatar
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    Default 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    I'm interested in installing a relayed headlight harness kit in my wife's 98 Honda. I'm assuming that the headlights are ground switched, but I wanted to check here before I acquire one.


    Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    Yes, the headlamps are ground-switched. Be very careful in shopping for a headlamp relay setup. Much of what is offered is of unreliably poor quality. Also take a close, careful look at your headlamps, which are now (unless they've been replaced) fourteen years old. If they are not genuine Honda parts in perfect condition with no lens hazing, prioritize their replacement.

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    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    Yes, the headlamps are ground-switched. Be very careful in shopping for a headlamp relay setup. Much of what is offered is of unreliably poor quality. Also take a close, careful look at your headlamps, which are now (unless they've been replaced) fourteen years old. If they are not genuine Honda parts in perfect condition with no lens hazing, prioritize their replacement.
    I would only install a harness of the best quality I can get. Yes, the car is old...my wife likes the car. The headlights are in OK shape...not like new but still 90% clear. (The very top portion is the only place that is clouded.) CR magazine in an earlier issue recommended the headlight kit from Sylvania over any other...have you seen that article and do you have any experience with it? I know that most members recommend the Doulblehorn option.

  4. #4

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    Headlight polishing kits will restore it, temporarily. Once you buff off the rest of the UV resistant coating the headlight will haze over again quite quickly.

  5. #5

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    If the reflectors are still good and replacements are expensive, you could try this process/product.

    http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/...lant-idea.html

  6. #6

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    I saw that Consumer Reports recommendation. It was not very thoughtful; they looked at the lenses a grand total of eight weeks (gosh, eight whole weeks!) after polishing. There really is no polishing process or kit that will do anything but temporarily postpone the need for new headlamps; you're polishing off the UV-protective coating, then the sun attacks the polycarbonate lens itself, then the headlamp is finished, and as for the autogeekonline link: random urethane mixed with alcohol, no, that won't restore any UV protection to the headlamp lens. Neither will any of the other coatings, sprays, lotions, waxes, etc.

    If your wife likes the car enough to keep it, investing in a new pair of genuine Honda headlamps with appropriate bulbs will very likely do more to improve her ability to see at night than installing relays would -- especially if you use the '99-'00 headlamps which have different optics for longer seeing distance on low beam.

  7. #7

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    Are OEM headlights (new) generally widely available for older cars in general (10+ years)? How long after a model is discontinued is the manufacturer going to continue to manufacture replacements? It seems like something like headlights are a low-volume item, and the higher price will force a lot of people to aftermarket manufacturers--which are not as good.

    Of course in older cars you didn't have to worry about it, you just replaced the sealed beam.

    I realize a lot of the parts aren't actually made by Ford, Chevy, Toyota (well I think Toyota does), etc. Crash parts and stuff often seem to go heavily aftermarket, so I don't know what the production demand would be.

  8. #8

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by iroc409 View Post
    Are OEM headlights (new) generally widely available for older cars in general (10+ years)?
    That varies from car model to car model.

    How long after a model is discontinued is the manufacturer going to continue to manufacture replacements?
    That also varies from car model to car model.

    New genuine headlamps are still available from Honda for the vehicle in question in this thread.

  9. #9

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    Lucky to have a wife who is happy to drive an almost 15 year old entry level car! Certainly the investment in new oem light assemblies is peanuts compared to what most of us need to spend to keep the wife happy in the automotive department!!!!! Does your wife have a single younger sister???

  10. #10
    Flashaholic Lightdoctor's Avatar
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    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    I didn't know that a '99-'00 headlight bucket would fit a '98. That's good to know. The headlights are adequate and she says she can see just fine even though I've offered to replace the buckets and install a harness. My wife is very frugal, almost to a fault. She complains when I spend any money on any kind of lights, automotive or anything else. Qship, she's the youngest.
    Last edited by Lightdoctor; 05-01-2012 at 10:36 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    The headlights on 98 Civics are positive switched, not earth switched. How do I know? Well, I have electrical engineering qualifications, and have owned a 1998 Honda Civic since it was new. I also have a relay-switched headlight loom using 10 AWG wiring in mine, since I discovered when it was new it was dropping over 2 volts between the battery and headlights – it makes a big difference to brightness. By the way, if you don’t believe me about the headlight switching, the service manual for USA/Canadian Civics is widely available free of charge as a pdf on the web, and they show the circuit diagram – battery (positive), fuse, switch, dipswitch, wiring, headlight bulb, earth! Toyota are the main car brand who routinely use earth switching for headlights, not Honda.


    I also have the same problem with my plastic headlights, but managed to recently pick up a second-hand set cheaply on Ebay, with much clearer lenses, which I’ll install soon to replace my set with cloudy lenses.

    By the way, the headlights MUST be replaced with a set from a 96-98 model Civic – the 99/00 models had a slightly different shaped headlight, which requires the later model grille to fit. So you'll need both the later headlights, and the later grille, if you want to fit them. It’s cheaper to just buy the 96-98 model headlights, and make sure they are the genuine Stanley articles – there are a lot of shonky Asian ones for sale on the internet, that will probably spray light all over the place. I’d try a wrecking yard to see if you can get some off a crashed car (as long as it hasn't been crashed in the front!) – if you can find one that’s led a sheltered life mainly in a garage, the headlights won’t have noticeable UV damage to the clear coat.
    Last edited by Headlighthomme; 05-09-2012 at 09:49 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    The '99-'00 US-spec headlamps are the same shape as the '96-'98 US-spec headlamps. Remember, market differences abound; what applies in Australia or elsewhere doesn't necessarily apply to NAFTA vehicles, even of the same make, model name, and year.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    The '99-'00 US-spec headlamps are the same shape as the '96-'98 US-spec headlamps. Remember, market differences abound; what applies in Australia or elsewhere doesn't necessarily apply to NAFTA vehicles, even of the same make, model name, and year.
    Well, from what I know, as a member of Honda forums in Australia and the USA, they were all upgraded in 99 with some slight styling changes (headlights, grille, body coloured mirrors on lower spec vehicles, and some other interior changes - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_Civic_(sixth_generation) ). The headlights are very similar (almost identical unless you look closely), but are a slightly different shape, and that applies everywhere, as far as I know (the 99/00 replacement for my vehicle was actually made in America, where mine was made in Japan). So while they may be more efficient headlights, you can't change them over, unless you also change the grille.

    Edit: I can confirm from a brief look at the Honda Civic forum, that American Civics had the same changes to the front end that other markets had, and as a result, to fit the 99/00 headlights you need to also change the grille and front bumper (I forgot that the bumper had also been changed slightly). (American) people have done it in order to get the slightly later styling changes, and they needed to change the lot…. There are more details on the changes here http://honda-tech.com/showthread.php?t=2278221 . It looks as though the bonnets (hoods in America?) were different too, because of the change in grille length, as well as the front mudguards/fenders. I don't know why anybody would want to change them, given all the work involved.
    Last edited by Headlighthomme; 05-09-2012 at 02:43 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    Interesting -- my officemate did the exact swap in question on his '97 Civic, and the '99-'00 headlamps (genuine, from the dealer) fit right in place of the original '97 lamps without replacing grille or bumper or other components. Then he swapped in a set of Valeo/Cibie European-spec headlamp units; those fit fine too, but he had to swap them back out because he couldn't get hold of the motorized aim adjustors and the non-motorized ones from the US-spec lamps wouldn't fit.

    I wonder what was special/different about his car.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    That’s interesting. There’s no doubt that the later grille is longer, and that’s partly what necessitates the change of bumper and bonnet when the grille is changed, but I don’t know why the fenders also need to be changed – you’d think that would be related to the headlight cutouts in them. That seems to be confirmed in the Honda-Tech post I linked to, where they say the headlights differ in the following ways (credit to the original poster):

    - Headlights are shaped different in the corners ('96-'98 rounder; '99-'00 more pointed - this affects the hood and fenders too).
    - Headlights are different lengths ('99-'00 is longer than '96-'98 - this affects the hood and bumper).
    - Headlights' inner corners are shaped differently ('99-'00 is more pointed - this affects the bumper).
    - Headlights are different in internal design ('96-'98 has long amber reflector and amber bulb cap in the turn signal; '99-'00 has small amber reflector in between headlight and turn signal housings).

    Based on that, you wouldn’t think they’d fit in the available space. I did look at them at my local dealer when they came out to see what the differences were, and remember that I could pick the differences in the headlight shape, but it was more than 10 years ago. The main thing which is immediately obvious is the indicators differ, and that can certainly be seen in the photos. I just remembered several posts on various Honda forums where I was looking for information (and occasionally posting), where others said the headlights wouldn’t fit.

  16. #16

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    I gave him a call and asked, and now the mystery's solved: either he didn't mention or I didn't remember that he did in fact change all the components to match. His car was white, and he'd picked up the same-white components from a wrecking yard.

    So Lightdoctor, never mind what I said; Headlighthomme is right: the '99-'00 headlamps won't fit your '98 without additional component swapping.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic Lightdoctor's Avatar
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    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    OK, so the buckets are not interchangable. What about the switching? Positive or negative? I'm so used to Japanese branded vehicles being ground switched, that I just figured it was. I guess I'll have to dig out the wiring schematics for this old beast and go over them again.

    Thanks for the info so far.

  18. #18

    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    It really doesn't much matter; the idea is that you're using the factory wiring to switch relays on and off. The relays don't care which leg of their coil circuit is switched.

  19. #19
    Flashaholic Lightdoctor's Avatar
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    Default Re: 98 Honda Civic Headlight Wiring

    So, I finally looked up the wiring schematic for the Civic and see that indeed the headlights are power switched.

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