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Thread: Sylvania Xtra-vision H11XV Low-Beams - Scatter & Glare (non-HID)

  1. #1

    Post Sylvania Xtra-vision H11XV Low-Beams - Scatter & Glare (non-HID)

    I've probably spent at least a day researching this, trying to figure out what's going on. My car is a 2007 Buick LaCrosse CXS (3.6L DOHC), low-beams are H11, high-beams are H9, both in the same assembly along with the turn signal but different reflector housings. This issue is with my low-beams, I've never replaced my high-beams and they look fine when I flash them against a flat surface. Anyway, I have stock multi-faceted halogen reflector with bulb shields (glare shields, whatever) in both my low and high beam reflector housings. One of my original lamps burned out last week so I went ahead and replaced both lamps with some Sylvania SilverStar H11ST bulbs that I picked up a while ago but never installed because I didn't feel like taking apart the front end of my car. This time, my hand was forced. Installing new bulbs is not as easy as the owner's manual makes it sound. I didn't loosen the fascia when I installed the SilverStars so it took me 20+ minutes of all sorts of stuff to get the assemblies back in and flush with the fender(s), bumper cover, and getting the assembly to line up with the retainers. I did not touch the bulb itself when I installed the SilverStars or the XtraVisions. Needless to say, I really manhandled both assemblies I don't believe I damaged anything because both headlights are doing the exact same thing. After installation, I did not check the alignment and just assumed that it was correct. Never checked the pattern either. Took my car out for a spin and when I pulled back in my garage, I saw focused light (pattern) and then just a mess of diffused light. I know next to nothing about headlamps (now I do) so I figured bad bulbs, they'd been in my trunk for the better part of two years. Went and picked up a pair of Sylvania XtraVision H11XVs, put them in, waited until dark, exact same problem. Spent like six hours Googling that day (and the next day, and the next day, etc) trying to find a solution, coming up empty. The best I could find is that the pattern I'm getting is practically identical to that of an HID bulb in a reflector housing, although I do not have HIDs, nor will I ever. The first thing that came out of the Buick tech's mouth was "you put a HID light in a reflector housing?" This is making me seriously consider replacing both headlight assemblies because it's such a PITA and I won't be driving myself nuts trying to fix this. I commute 100 miles every day and, while it doesn't get dark until around 8 p.m. now, I'd LOVE to have this fixed by the time sunset is around 5 p.m. or earlier. All of the embedded pictures are of the XtraVisions.

    Before vertical adjustment:



    I took it in to the dealer two days ago, the tech says "Oh your headlights were just adjusted too low. I checked the assembly and I don't see any problems." He said he jiggled the front-end up my car and nothing was loose, reflector seems to be in the right place. He and everyone else I've talked to doesn't seem to understand the purpose of the bulb shield, even when I explain it. After the vertical alignment, problem still persists but it's actually worse because the beams are higher, scattering light literally 15+ feet ABOVE my car. It lights up the siding above my garage when the car is level and my jaw dropped when I saw that it lit up the underside of a bridge that's about 15 feet off the ground. It's scattering halos and ring patterns to the side as well. I'm EXTREMELY frustrated as no one has any idea what's wrong and I'm just taking shots in the dark. I'll come up with an idea, then refute it. Another idea, refute it. My latest and best explanation is that light is leaking or bending around the bulb shield and hitting the reflector in spots it's not supposed to. Why it would do that, I have no idea. The reflector on the driver's side is a little pitted, but neither reflector is melted or showing any signs of giving out like rippling around the bulb socket. Could I have twisted the bulbs in incorrectly? It is seemingly impossible to do as one of the tabs is larger than the rest so there's really only one way to do it or that the bulbs are crooked, which is also hard to believe but who knows. Another possible explanation I got is that the assembly can't handle the increased light output. Finally, could the headlights be out of alignment horizontally so bad that it causes this? Hoping someone here can shed light on the problem, no pun intended. Here's a few more pictures (I have a ton, but hopefully these are enough). ANY insight, advice, help, or solution would be appreciated as I'm just making educated guesses here.

    Notice the rings projected onto the top of the garage door, then the ones a bit lower with that weird shape. The closer I get to a flat surface they diverge and converge the farther away I am. The glare/diffusion/scatter/whatever is going on looks a lot worse when I'm on the road.





    Poor quality picture (phone camera). I had to park the car at an angle to get the effect to show itself. Notice the light on the soffiits, gutters, and siding above the garage. I whited out my street address so that's why there's the giant white blob on the lower left.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Sylvania Xtra-vision H11XV Low-Beams - Scatter & Glare (non-HID)

    I don't see anything wrong. None of these pictures strikes me as different from what most recent GM reflector headlamps do. There's going to be some in the region above the main "light bar" portion of the beam pattern; it's there for road signs on the right and left shoulder and overhead. That's in the region from 2 to 4 degrees above horizontal. The self-dazzle control region of the beam pattern is from 10 to 90 degrees above horizontal, but there are allowances for fairly substantial amounts of light in this region, too, as long as any given streak or spot is not more than 2 degrees in diameter. The streaks and spots tend to come from light bounce off of shiny decorative elements inside the headlamp -- the bezel masks just behind the lens, filling the space between the mouth of the low beam reflector and the adjacent chambers (high beam, turn signal); sometimes you get bounce off the front surface of the bulb shield, etc. Park the car so you can see the stray light, and spend some time moving your hand around near the headlamp to get a handle on where the various streaks are coming from.

    When I first looked at your description of the problem, I guessed you had not gotten the bulb fully installed into the headlamp -- maybe not quite twisted and locked into place, since you say you didn't pull things apart to the extent prescribed in the manual. That may still be the case, but I think most likely these headlamps were doing the same thing all along, even with the original bulbs, and you just didn't happen to notice it.


    By the way, those Silver Stars would've been a bummer of an "upgrade"; they produce less light and poorer-quality light (not more, not better) than a standard bulb.

    PPS, I am suspicious of that dealer's headlamp aim adjustment. Most of them just reflexively raise the headlamps' aim in response to any kind of complaint from a customer. It's the quickest way to get the customer to shut up and leave. It will be well worth your time and effort to nose around the service department and ask questions about exactly how they checked the headlight aim, and keep asking until they tell and show you the answer. The only correct answer is that they used an optical headlamp aim machine (beamsetter). Any variant of "We shine them on the wall" is a wrong answer.

  3. #3

    Post Re: Sylvania Xtra-vision H11XV Low-Beams - Scatter & Glare (non-HID)

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheinwerfermann View Post
    I don't see anything wrong. None of these pictures strikes me as different from what most recent GM reflector headlamps do. There's going to be some in the region above the main "light bar" portion of the beam pattern; it's there for road signs on the right and left shoulder and overhead. That's in the region from 2 to 4 degrees above horizontal. The self-dazzle control region of the beam pattern is from 10 to 90 degrees above horizontal, but there are allowances for fairly substantial amounts of light in this region, too, as long as any given streak or spot is not more than 2 degrees in diameter. The streaks and spots tend to come from light bounce off of shiny decorative elements inside the headlamp -- the bezel masks just behind the lens, filling the space between the mouth of the low beam reflector and the adjacent chambers (high beam, turn signal); sometimes you get bounce off the front surface of the bulb shield, etc. Park the car so you can see the stray light, and spend some time moving your hand around near the headlamp to get a handle on where the various streaks are coming from.

    When I first looked at your description of the problem, I guessed you had not gotten the bulb fully installed into the headlamp -- maybe not quite twisted and locked into place, since you say you didn't pull things apart to the extent prescribed in the manual. That may still be the case, but I think most likely these headlamps were doing the same thing all along, even with the original bulbs, and you just didn't happen to notice it.


    By the way, those Silver Stars would've been a bummer of an "upgrade"; they produce less light and poorer-quality light (not more, not better) than a standard bulb.

    PPS, I am suspicious of that dealer's headlamp aim adjustment. Most of them just reflexively raise the headlamps' aim in response to any kind of complaint from a customer. It's the quickest way to get the customer to shut up and leave. It will be well worth your time and effort to nose around the service department and ask questions about exactly how they checked the headlight aim, and keep asking until they tell and show you the answer. The only correct answer is that they used an optical headlamp aim machine (beamsetter). Any variant of "We shine them on the wall" is a wrong answer.
    Thanks for the quick reply. This has been driving me nuts for the better part of a week. It just doesn't look normal at all and I'd like to say that I'm positive that I'd have noticed it before, but I can't. You are correct, the streaks and whatnot are coming off the reflective parts of the bezels, I was able to cover up sections with a fingertip. I suspect that that little strange shape at the top of one of those rings is a reflection off of the steel (or whatever they use to make them) tabs on the bulb and part of the socket since I had to put my finger over the center of the plastic to get that to disappear. That begs the question, should that be happening since, to the best of my knowledge at least, the tabs and socket should completely shrouded by the bulb shield itself although if I look at the shield straight on, I can see part of the socket and the top tab. I couldn't have caused the exact same damage to both assemblies...it's statistically impossible. The circular pattern that appears to be coming off the bezels is within the main beam pattern itself, and extends below it as well. It's invisible in the pictures, practically invisible to the naked eye as well but it almost looks like two concentric rings that don't terminate anywhere but they do converge at a distance. The bulbs are definitely seated properly, I've checked so many times it's not even funny and I pulled one of the assemblies tonight, turned the lights on and moved it around just to see if I screwed up mounting the assembly...nope. I'm OCD when it comes to solving problems. I did not loosen the fascia when I originally pulled the assemblies because I read some idiot's "how to" without having to remove the fascia if you have small hands, got pissed that I couldn't fit my small hands back there, followed the rest of the instructions but as I said, I got really rough with the assemblies.

    Much of the scatter and glare is invisible to the camera and I didn't or couldn't take pictures of of the other perceived irregularities. If I turn on my low beams in my driveway, it'll light up the side of my neighbor's garage which is at least 30 feet away. When driving on a residential street, I can see several very defined individual light rays, some brighter than others, in the passenger side lamp's pattern on the road. I can also see a single streak of light that is practically perpendicular to the driver's side assembly even when I'm on a well-lit road. I wouldn't be surprised if I royally jacked up the alignment when I remounted the assemblies, probably both horizontal and vertical. The catch (or not) is that prior to being adjusted, the same patterns, glare, and scatter were there at the exact same height they are post-adjustment. The only difference is that the main beam pattern seems to have covered up parts of the patterns visible in those pictures because although they're very faint, I can see them with my naked eye from the same perspective that those pictures were taken from. You're also correct about the headlight adjustment. When the "tech" adjusted the headlights, I'm 99.99% sure he used one of the garage doors in the service department garage (which isn't exactly dark) since he brought me over and showed it to me. That dealer (the only one in a 50 mile radius) knows that they're already on my list for a couple small screw ups and a colossally screwed up power steering repair that completely missed the actual problem, resulting in my high pressure hose blowing out while I was on vacation. So for all I know they could've just pulled another hack job on me with that alignment and lied to me about looking at the reflectors. The "tech" didn't seem to know much about headlights. That being said, I'll call the dealer tomorrow. Thanks again for the advice.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sylvania Xtra-vision H11XV Low-Beams - Scatter & Glare (non-HID)

    I really don't think the lamps are doing anything unusual. The only way I can think of to check would be to find another car like yours and compare, or to get a headlamp (a genuine GM item, asssuming that's what's on your car and not aftermarket junk from a crash repair) from a wrecking yard or off Ebay and compare using that.

  5. #5

    Post Re: Sylvania Xtra-vision H11XV Low-Beams - Scatter & Glare (non-HID)

    I'm gonna have to agree with you that there's nothing wrong with the lamps. My dealer comped me a pair of ACDelco OEM bulbs today, I just got done putting those in, only difference was light intensity but nothing else so swapped back out for the Sylvania XVs. Figured screw it, even if my assemblies are actually damaged I might as well be able to see better while I'm driving.

    It completely slipped my mind, probably since I've had this car for so long, but I didn't buy it brand new off the lot. The car is/was a GM executive trade-in, so basically brand new but with 2500 miles on it so I don't know what the headlights look like with brand new bulbs. My first bulb burnout happened at a little over 79k miles, lots of degradation between then and when it happened and I never paid much attention to that.

    I'll call my dealer tomorrow and get an alignment done, the right way since the alignment is way too high right now and I'll see if they have a 2005-2007 model on the lot that I could use for comparison, albeit in a dimly-lit but "night" dark garage. My best bet for a clear and definitive answer would be to go snag an undamaged assembly from one of the local yards. Both assemblies in my car are GM OEM. I did have some body work done after my parked car was clipped by a drunk driver. Body work was done by the local Buick dealer's body shop but that was less than a year after I got the car so my insurance would've paid for OEM parts. Now that I think about it, this could be an issue with the body. The header panel and radiator support tie bar on the passenger side are sitting flush but there's a narrow to wide tapering gap on the driver's side like the header has managed to rotate itself (or I REALLY fouled up when putting those assemblies in). However no indication that anything has shifted like etching, at least I couldn't see anything so either the body shop screwed me several years ago or this just happened. It didn't even attract my attention until my neighbor pointed it out. Eh, well, gonna have to call the body shop now to find out what they did and didn't do. Thanks again.

  6. #6
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Sylvania Xtra-vision H11XV Low-Beams - Scatter & Glare (non-HID)

    Quote Originally Posted by skinnyb82 View Post
    so my insurance would've paid for OEM parts.
    Don't bet on it, unless you've went out and looked at the actual lamps they could have used aftermarket, some insurance companies have written in the small print that they can use "OEM quality" parts which means TYC, Depo and other junk. My uncle has been in the auto body/insurance business for years so he knows what shady things they can do
    2 Inova T4's, one optic, one reflector, TF 2C Cree, Energizer 2AA "3W" Luxeon, Dorcy 3AAA "1W" focusing optic

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