Klarus        
Results 1 to 29 of 29

Thread: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    4,271

    Default Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade?

    So I had both bulbs burn out on my truck. At the same time. I thought for sure, the switch went bad. Check the records, indeed, there is a known problem with the auto switch going bad. Typical mid 2000s GM build quality, a 4-letter word. And these were expensive performance bulbs. Spent hours troubleshooting it, come to find out, it was actually both bulbs that went bad, simultaneously, not the switch. It's rare, against the odds but it does happen.

    Upgraded the vehicle, kept the spare bulbs in the new GM truck. I thought it used the same bulbs. Had one burn out, take out the bulbs, they don't fit. It's not 905/906 like in the old truck but the H11 stuff. Why oh why are there multiple standards? Drove around with one light until could get to the store the next day. Now I have a set of low/high - two sets - laying around.

    My idiot GM truck has this thing that when you disable the alarm, the lights turn on. You have to do Key on / engine off and twist the round knob counter-clockwise. You have to specifically turn them off and the stupid daytime running lights. The runtime of these bulbs is not that great and combined with the fact the DRL are always on unless you turn them off. Meaning frequent replacement.

    GM is just awful quality on top of the ican bulbs that ever maker suffers from. No more GM for me. Maybe a Toyota next time. But that's just a footnote.

    Why cannot they just build lights that never, ever needs replacement. Its not the material the bulb thats the problem but the time and the downtime involved. GM and other makes are cheap. It's a cost-saving measure. Completely moving to LEDs might cost billions, I would think but long-term, it will save billions.

    I am beginning to think the president needs to issue an executive order. I am not a fan of them but this is a matter of national safety I think. Imagine in case of a war supplies are distrupted and the bulbs burn out one by one every 6 months with no way to replace them.
    Malkoff Devices!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by etc View Post
    So I had both bulbs burn out on my truck. At the same time. And these were expensive performance bulbs. Spent hours troubleshooting it, come to find out, it was actually both bulbs that went bad, simultaneously, not the switch. It's rare, against the odds but it does happen.
    It's not rare or against any odds. It's actually very common. Multiple similar bulbs on the same circuit often have similar burnout times, because whatever factors act to affect the lifespan of one bulb (steady-state voltage, voltage spikes, etc) will also act to affect the lifespan of the other bulb(s). Also, the majority of so-called "performance bulbs" on the market are a scam -- especially the expensive ones. The scam works like this: you pay a lot of money and you get reduced headlight performance and a short bulb lifespan. Exactly what brand and model of bulb were these?

    As far as "hours of troubleshooting" goes, that's really not the truck's fault, or anyone else's fault. The bulbs are always the first thing to check.

    Upgraded the vehicle, kept the spare bulbs in the new GM truck. I thought it used the same bulbs. Had one burn out, take out the bulbs, they don't fit. It's not 905/906 like in the old truck but the H11 stuff.
    You mean 9005/9006 in the old truck.

    Why oh why are there multiple standards?
    There aren't multiple standards. There are two: one used in the USA, and one used everywhere else in the world. Both standards contain technical specs for numerous different kinds of headlight bulb. Each kind of bulb has its relative strengths and benefits and drawbacks, there is no one single best kind. H11 is about a 15 years newer bulb design than the 9006 (HB4). Compared to 9006, H11 offers more light for the same power consumption, greater focus precision, longer lifespan, less glare, better sealing, and a few other advantages, which is why H11 has grown more popular and 9006 has declined in popularity. You seem to wish for progress to be frozen at the point where it existed when your old truck was built, so you can use a bulb you happen to have lying around. That is not how the world works.

    My idiot GM truck has this thing that when you disable the alarm, the lights turn on. You have to do Key on / engine off and twist the round knob counter-clockwise. You have to specifically turn them off and the stupid daytime running lights. The runtime of these bulbs is not that great and combined with the fact the DRL are always on unless you turn them off. Meaning frequent replacement.
    If you're unhappy with your vehicle, sell it and get something better suited to your needs and preferences.

    GM is just awful quality
    If you're unhappy with your vehicle, sell it and get something better suited to your needs and preferences.

    on top of the ican bulbs that ever maker suffers from.
    Is this assemblage of words supposed to mean something? Because it doesn't.

    Why cannot they just build lights that never, ever needs replacement.
    LOL! Why stop at lights? Let's demand they just build whole cars that never, ever need replacement. Shirts, too. And shoes, tires, toasters, furnace filters, birthday candles, birthday cakes, carrots, hamburgers, and toilet paper. That is not how the world works. Today's LED headlamps have much longer potential lifespan than halogen lamps, but (1) eventual failure of one or more portions of the headlamp will still happen. (2) So will car crashes. (3) Putting "LED bulbs" in halogen headlamps ruins their safety performance and is illegal, so don't even think about it.

    Its not the material the bulb thats the problem but the time and the downtime involved.
    Whether you realize it or not, you are griping about your own failures here. You didn't do your research before buying "expensive performance bulbs". You failed to plan ahead and keep a spare bulb in the vehicle. How is any of that GM's fault? Or the government's fault? Or anyone else's fault? It's not.

    I am beginning to think the president needs to issue an executive order.
    Rule 4: no trolling or baiting. This is your only warning; stop now.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    I got tired of fooling with halogen bulbs too. Too much hassle and too poor of performance for me. That's why my current car has full LED front lighting. It's got it's issues too but it's world's better in my opinion than any halogen vehicle I have ever driven. If you can afford it buying a new car with full LED lighting probably is your best option. Just be warned that when they break outside warranty though it can be a huge pain to get them replaced.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Not really a huge pain to get them replaced..."just" a lot of money!

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Stillwater, America
    Posts
    4,007

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by etc View Post
    So I had both bulbs burn out on my truck. At the same time. I thought for sure, the switch went bad. Check the records, indeed, there is a known problem with the auto switch going bad.
    It's reasonable to think that the switch going bad caused the lights to not come on. Somewhat.

    Spent hours troubleshooting it, come to find out, it was actually both bulbs that went bad, simultaneously, not the switch. It's rare, against the odds but it does happen.
    Before I would spend "hours" on troubleshooting the switch, I'd check the bulbs. Even knowing the switch has a history of problems, once I see parking lights come on and if the high beams or flash-to-pass work then I'd guess it's working. Or if the fog lamps (if equipped) still light up when the lights are in the low beam position (since most have an interlock to only allow fog lamps to work in the low beam, not high-or-parking positions).

    Upgraded the vehicle, kept the spare bulbs in the new GM truck.
    Keeping spares is wise!

    I thought it used the same bulbs.
    As long as they're the right kind! (The owner's manual or headlamp lens markings will tell you).

    Why cannot they just build lights that never, ever needs replacement. Its not the material the bulb thats the problem but the time and the downtime involved. GM and other makes are cheap. It's a cost-saving measure. Completely moving to LEDs might cost billions, I would think but long-term, it will save billions.
    Bulbs are an incredibly cheap item to replace. And it's not just bulbs that fail. The lenses degrade from the heat and sun and road grit. Accidents happen, requiring the complete lamp to be replaced.

    Should headlamp lenses withstand the elements a lot longer? Certainly! Should they last "forever"? Unless they are glass, it'll be all but impossible to withstand the environment "forever" but the reflectors inside also degrade. In the case of LED lamps, LED emitters degrade. Something on the rest of the car will break. The cooling system could fail. The transmission could give out. A tree could fall on the car.

    You know, they say "They don't make them like they used to" and that's a good thing. Today's cars are safer, more reliable, cleaner, more comfortable, have more power, and contain more features than ever before. While they're certainly not as easy to work on than cars from the '60s, the thing was you HAD to work on your cars in the '60s. Heavy rain might mean the ignition system doesn't work properly. Certain weather conditions might mean near-certain carburetor icing. Vapor lock might be an issue in the summer. Antilock brakes didn't really start appearing until the '70s. Automatic transmissions were slippy and sloppy and heavy. Air conditioners used a particularly terrible refrigerant (R-12) and weighed quite a bit. And don't get me started on tetraethyl lead! (Thank you.)

    You had to set the timing and adjust the dwell fairly regularly. You had to adjust the carburetor from time to time. (Traveling to a high altitude? Potentially adjust both.) Spark plugs, distributor caps, rotors, wires, all had to be replaced fairly frequently. Yep, it's a good thing you COULD work on your own car because you frequently HAD to.

    Me, I'd rather drive a car that's hard to work on, but starts and drives and stops and conditions the cabin air in all weather conditions at all altitudes and doesn't require me to fiddle about under the hood periodically (other than air filter changes and the occasional MAF cleaning) than a car that's easy to work on and requires that I do so.

    My idiot GM truck has this thing that when you disable the alarm, the lights turn on.
    The issue I have with exterior lights coming on when the alarm is disabled that typically the reversing lamps come on. This is dangerous because children (and perhaps adults) will begin to equate a stationary vehicle with the reversing lamps on with a vehicle that's been unlocked, not one that is about to back out of a parking space. As for the other lights, people regard it as a convenience that they can find their car more easily, or more safely walk to it in a dark area because of the additional lighting. It's probably something that the dealer can adjust the programming on for you if you don't want to mess with it anymore.

    But the title of the thread is "Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade?". The auto industry has upgraded many times since the introduction of the first halogen bulb (and certainly since the introduction of the automotive headlamp). In some cases, the "upgrade" was to bulb life at a detriment of filament luminance and beam focus (not an upgrade from a safety point of view) but in others the bulb performance has increased greatly. All of them are available in abundant quantities. And regardless of the bulb used, there are other factors that make a lamp good or not; a poor lamp designed around the best bulb will underperform an excellent lamp designed around one of the worse bulbs.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 09-11-2017 at 12:51 PM.
    "If the solar eclipse is anything like my Mitsubishi Eclipse, it'll darken the daytime sky"

    --Philip J. Fry


    (stolen from a friend)

  6. #6

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    I feel the rant is not without merit, but it is poorly phrased and aimed. It is inarguable that there a lot of headlights today that meet "the letter of the law" but have objectively, measurably, and demonstrably far worse performance than some headlights did in decades past.

    When I've had cars that allowed it, I have installed so-called "E-code" headlights of the type and quality offered by Daniel Stern, et al. I've had many cars since the era of the "composite headlamp" that had significantly and measurably worse performance than those Cibies and Marchals did.

    Could car manufacturers do better? They most certainly could. However, manufacturers are in business to make profits. That certainly gives them the option to install cheap, lousy headlights that still meet "the letter of the law", and they most certainly do.

    Could governments change laws, thereby forcing manufacturers to install demonstrably better forward lighting? They sure could, in theory. But in practice, such things fall pretty low on the list of priorities, and I'd be fairly certain that government lobbyists on behalf of the automobile industry do their best to keep legislation that forces better (and perhaps more costly) headlights off the table.

    So no, nothing will change, not as long as there are profits to be made from lousy headlights.
    Last edited by eggsalad; 09-12-2017 at 02:53 PM. Reason: fix a typo

  7. #7
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Idaho, USA
    Posts
    926

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    ...Could car manufacturers do better? They most certainly could. However, manufacturers are in business to make profits. That certainly gives them the option to install cheap, lousy headlights that still meet "the letter of the law", and they most certainly do...
    In the recent DVN newsletter there was a little article about IIHS tests on midsize pickup truck headlights that supports what you say:

    Despite pickup trucks' relatively high headlamp mounting height, some models gave a useful illumination distance (defined as at least 5 lux) down the right side of the road of less than 38 metres (123 feet)—not nearly enough for anything like the speeds people actually drive.

    Some of the tested trucks had short seeing distance and no low beam glare violations, suggesting maybe the headlamps could be aimed higher. But some of the tests showed inadequate seeing distance and excessive glare, suggesting a more fundamental problem with the engineering of the lamps. All of the trucks had halogen headlamps—some reflector, some projector, almost all with separate low beam and high beam bulbs and optics (one model had very basic reflector high/low beam lamps with HB5 bulbs).

    http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/deskto...lap-front-test
    Last edited by SubLGT; 09-12-2017 at 09:10 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    SubLGT, you beat me to it!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by SubLGT View Post
    In the recent DVN newsletter there was a little article about IIHS tests on midsize pickup truck headlights that supports what you say:

    "...fundamental problem with the engineering of the lamps."
    Maybe the Engineers did a poor job, but I bet the Cost Accountants were happy!
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 09-12-2017 at 03:08 PM. Reason: size tagging

  10. #10
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Stillwater, America
    Posts
    4,007

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    Maybe the Engineers did a poor job, but I bet the Cost Accountants were happy!
    The engineers have a difficult, thankless job trying to get a lamp that fits where the other designers allotted them a pittance of space left over from trying to cram everything else under the cramped (but stylish!) hood, and where they were allowed a certain budget.

    That vehicles get functional headlamps at all is a miracle of engineering because marketing wants the car to look *this awesome* and the accountants want the car to cost *this much* to build.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 09-12-2017 at 03:21 PM.

  11. #11
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    dfw.tx.us
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    The engineers have a difficult, thankless job trying to get a lamp that fits where the other designers allotted them a pittance of space left over from trying to cram everything else under the cramped (but stylish!) hood, and where they were allowed a certain budget.

    That vehicles get functional headlamps at all is a miracle of engineering because marketing wants the car to look *this awesome* and the accountants want the car to cost *this much* to build.
    Between overwhelming styling and cost demands you get compliance products. It doesn't help that automakers - always looking to drive buyers away from the base model to up their profits - tend to bind up better headlight options (in terms of perceived quality anyway) in upper-tier trims and packages. It might only cost the OEM a couple hundred bucks to include HID or LED headlamps, but that's going to run the buyer at least a $1000 premium.

    So instead we have no small percentage of drivers turning to the headlamp aftermarket for replacements, infamous for its lack of compliance with safety regulations such as FMVSS 108. This has always struck me as a market failure - but one without an explanation so simple and satisfying as to be a bumper sticker slogan. OEM headlamps are always hideously expensive at a parts counter while aftermarket models cloning them are a fraction of the price, suggesting an unaddressed value gap. I suspect that sales of OEM headlamps are quite slow at dealer parts counter prices outside of body shops doing insurance work. Astronomical parts-counter markup isn't unusual: I remember hearing about some 300ZX fans doing research ~25 years ago to determine the cost of building a complete car from parts ... a car that went for $50,000 new would cost close to $1 million to assemble yourself from parts out of the catalog.

    So why is this? Having seen many non-OEM headlamps in person I can state with some confidence that aftermarket parts cut corners on quality - housings and lenses aren't as good, optics are far more lossy, the beam patterns are worse, and they're less durable. Related to the immediate build/operational quality deficiencies, one imagines that far less engineering goes into the design of non-OEM assemblies. And of course, with the beam patterns being off vs OEM they're not compliant with safety regulations.

    In a perfect world, regulations are implemented, they cost little, the market adapts, and everyone complies. But in this particular area it's apparent that user compliance is lacking and industry either can't or won't work to lower the costs to the point that buying compliant products. Stepping up enforcement will do some to deal with non-compliance but I doubt it will either motivate users to comply to the point that they drive volume to OEMs and other compliant suppliers to drive down costs.

    I don't claim to know precisely what gives. I've heard that the regulators are - like most .gov agencies - utterly moribund relative to how industry is accustomed to moving. There's also the potential of regulatory capture or use of regulatory compliance as a competitive advantage against would-be entrants; the insistence upon exclusive FMVSS 108 compliance when left-hand-drive E-code compliant lamps perform quite similarly also cuts off a huge body of well-designed headlamps. I also wonder if there's some particular set of requirements in the regs that add some margin of safety at a huge cost in terms of engineering and production expense that might be worth reconsidering if it results in more compliance.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  12. #12
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Stillwater, America
    Posts
    4,007

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    So why is this? Having seen many non-OEM headlamps in person I can state with some confidence that aftermarket parts cut corners on quality - housings and lenses aren't as good, optics are far more lossy, the beam patterns are worse, and they're less durable. Related to the immediate build/operational quality deficiencies, one imagines that far less engineering goes into the design of non-OEM assemblies. And of course, with the beam patterns being off vs OEM they're not compliant with safety regulations.

    In a perfect world, regulations are implemented, they cost little, the market adapts, and everyone complies. But in this particular area it's apparent that user compliance is lacking and industry either can't or won't work to lower the costs to the point that buying compliant products. Stepping up enforcement will do some to deal with non-compliance but I doubt it will either motivate users to comply to the point that they drive volume to OEMs and other compliant suppliers to drive down costs.
    This sort of thinking is unrealistic. Of COURSE the noncompliant off-brand garbage isn't going to be expensive to make, and of course the GOOD stuff will be. We're not going to see a Moore's Law-driven disinflation in headlamps the same way we got it for computer parts.

    This is really a non-argument. Genuine parts cost more to make, period. They're not going to make enough extra to drive the production costs down. Those they do have to be stored somewhere because they're not going to keep cranking out MY17 headlamps for the next three model years. The inventory is taxable, all that stuff.

    You know what WOULD fix it? Going back to the "sealed beam" form factors. Fat chance!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post

    You know what WOULD fix it? Going back to the "sealed beam" form factors. Fat chance!
    You'd think that would help, but according to Mr. Stern, all the dies used to crank out sealed beams wore out 30 years ago, so you can't even get a decent sealed beam anymore. But if the mounts were there, I suppose you could fit $350/pair LED drop-in replacements.

    edit: if sealed-beam form factors are that important to you, the Chevrolet Express van can STILL be ordered in fleet-spec with 200mm sealed beams
    Last edited by eggsalad; 09-13-2017 at 12:17 AM.

  14. #14
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Idaho, USA
    Posts
    926

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    ...So instead we have no small percentage of drivers turning to the headlamp aftermarket for replacements, infamous for its lack of compliance with safety regulations such as FMVSS 108...
    Have the lighting regulations in FMVSS 108 kept up with the changes in lighting technology? Or are they little changed from the days of the sealed beam?

  15. #15

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    You'd think that would help, but according to Mr. Stern, all the dies used to crank out sealed beams wore out
    That has nothing to do with it. What Alaric said, correctly, is that going back to standardized form factors for headlamps would quickly and significantly drive down the price of a replacement headlamp incorporating any given level of technology. That's because when some small number of headlamp formats service all vehicles, costs of engineering, tooling, and manufacturing a headlamp are spread out over a much larger quantity of lamps and recovered much more quickly. Furthermore, standard-sized headlamps would also solve other pretty significant problems (can't get a replacement headlamp/can only get an inferior knockoff piece of junk for an older vehicle, etc), but I don't think it would solve the problem of inferior fakes...they would just be standard-size inferior fakes, which already exist (knockoffs of JW Speaker and Truck-Lite LED headlamps, for example).

  16. #16

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by SubLGT View Post
    Have the lighting regulations in FMVSS 108 kept up with the changes in lighting technology?
    No.

    Or are they little changed from the days of the sealed beam?
    Also no. These two aren't either-or. It's more complicated than that, even though general-public newspapers and magazines love to play the simplistic, one-note "stupid NHTSA with their 1968 laws" song because it sells newspapers and magazines.

  17. #17
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    dfw.tx.us
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    This sort of thinking is unrealistic. Of COURSE the noncompliant off-brand garbage isn't going to be expensive to make, and of course the GOOD stuff will be. We're not going to see a Moore's Law-driven disinflation in headlamps the same way we got it for computer parts.

    This is really a non-argument. Genuine parts cost more to make, period. They're not going to make enough extra to drive the production costs down. Those they do have to be stored somewhere because they're not going to keep cranking out MY17 headlamps for the next three model years. The inventory is taxable, all that stuff.

    You know what WOULD fix it? Going back to the "sealed beam" form factors. Fat chance!
    Outside of the dealer ecosystem and body shops billing insurance, I seriously doubt that you see OEM headlamps being used in any significant volume. It's "off brand garbage" like TYC, Depo, Replace, and Dorman moving out the doors and loading docks of auto parts retailers. OEM lamps are difficult to source outside of dealer parts counters, 2-4x as expensive as their off-brand competition, and disappear from the market a few years after the vehicle goes out of production since the supplier stops making them. Perhaps suppliers' relationships with automakers mandates this behavior, but it's frustrating that the channels are so rigid, and costs to the retail customer are so greatly increased.

    "Off brand garbage" makes varying attempts at claiming compliance (often going so far as the CAPA pinkie-swear), but doesn't ever seem to comply. Why is this? What's the nominal cost per unit - $0.10, $1, or $10? If it's something like $0.10, that's likely just a lack of incentive to certify their designs. $1 might effect competitiveness via significantly more engineering and production effort. $10 will make it non-competitive with the other players that don't comply.

    I wondered about cost/benefit ratios in my original post because it's obvious that the current structure isn't driving desired levels of compliance. "Enforce harder" is an option, but it's going to have little effect on older vehicles where NOS OEM parts might not be available whose operators can ill afford OEM parts, nevermind replacing the vehicle outright; such vehicles are legion in my area of the country.

    Quote Originally Posted by SubLGT View Post
    Have the lighting regulations in FMVSS 108 kept up with the changes in lighting technology? Or are they little changed from the days of the sealed beam?
    We have far more than 7" round and 5"x7" square sealed incandescent beams today, so the regulations are changing. But they change quite slowly, i.e. Some of the adaptive systems being demonstrated by the automakers and suppliers for Europe have no place at all within US regulations (and with "regulatory cutbacks" being a new buzzword in DC, might not even start updating the rules to allow them). There are promising housing materials besides glass and polycarbonate allowed in the regulations, but I believe that none have been certified due to the stringent testing requirements.

    Canada allows both their own FMVSS 108 equivalent and UNECE lighting regulations, opening their market to RHT versions of European E-code lamps. But the US is too proud to allow those silly Europeans to sell their wares here, so we insist on our own slightly-different - and mutually incompatible - standards instead.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 09-14-2017 at 07:23 AM. Reason: Tiny little bit of pedantism on my part
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  18. #18
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Stillwater, America
    Posts
    4,007

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    You'd think that would help, but according to Mr. Stern, all the dies used to crank out sealed beams wore out 30 years ago, so you can't even get a decent sealed beam anymore.
    I said the "sealed beam form factor", not "sealed beam". (Kindof like how SSDs for computers are largely made in the traditional 'spinner' 3.5" or 2.5" form factors and with the standard connectors.)

    As -Virgil- explains what I (Socratically?) left unexplained:
    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    What Alaric said, correctly, is that going back to standardized form factors for headlamps would quickly and significantly drive down the price of a replacement headlamp incorporating any given level of technology. That's because when some small number of headlamp formats service all vehicles, costs of engineering, tooling, and manufacturing a headlamp are spread out over a much larger quantity of lamps and recovered much more quickly. Furthermore, standard-sized headlamps would also solve other pretty significant problems (can't get a replacement headlamp/can only get an inferior knockoff piece of junk for an older vehicle, etc)
    I do agree with -Virgil- in that he doesn't
    ...think it would solve the problem of inferior fakes...they would just be standard-size inferior fakes, which already exist (knockoffs of JW Speaker and Truck-Lite LED headlamps, for example).
    Those fakes would really have to be priced at slim margins to compete with the real stuff, and the price difference would be less dramatic than it currently is, since the "real deal" would be made with similar economy of scale. Compare this to Hue and the "compatible with Hue" bulbs that just might not be as good but "works with Hue".

    It'd be more like "Well, I could buy Greasy Prospector Pork'n'Beans for $2.39/can *or* I could buy Value$aver Pork-flavored Bean Food Product for $2.19/can, but that stuff just doesn't taste right."

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    f sealed-beam form factors are that important to you, the Chevrolet Express van can STILL be ordered in fleet-spec with 200mm sealed beams
    And it should be obvious why-- potentially lowered purchase cost and simplified maintenance and they can even order spare sealed beams either for normal wear replacement like a bulb, or in the case of a collision where a composite lamp assembly would drive up the repair cost, particularly when otherwise other 'cosmetic' body work could be foregone if all they really need is to throw in a new lamp.
    "If the solar eclipse is anything like my Mitsubishi Eclipse, it'll darken the daytime sky"

    --Philip J. Fry


    (stolen from a friend)

  19. #19

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Another issue with the current cost of these LED headlights ($1000-$2000 apiece) is that when these current generation cars are 15 years old, got 200K miles on them, and are on their 5th and sixth owner they are not going to be worth much. Judging from what I see around in my area, a huge percentage of cars on the road today have a book value of less than $4000. So if they are involved in a minor collision where both headlights that cost $2000 apiece, for example, have to be replaced, insurance companies are just gonna total the vehicle rather fix it with the OEM parts, or they gonna require that aftermarket parts be used. I can confidently say that most people in the US don't have $2000-$4000 laying around to blow on headlights. Because of this, as these new cars age, the demand for cheaper aftermarket lighting is gonna increase even more, and the demand for super expensive OEM lighting is gonna drop even lower than what it currently is.

    Maybe one thing OEMs can do to lower cost is to reuse internal headlight components as much as possible. For example instead of the Corolla using a different internal projector from the Prius, and the Prius different from the RAV-4, and the RAV-4 different from the Tacoma, and so on, the internal components remain the same across models and just the headlight housing change shape to accomodate whatever vehicle the headlight must fit.

    As a side note I was just comparing prices of some of these LED headlights, and for some cars the cost of both headlights is nearly the same amount or more as a new OEM engine block from the same or different mfg. For example the 2017 Acura MDX engine block from Honda is $3,491. On the other hand the 2017 Lexus Rx450H triple beam headlights are $4711 for a set. I could be wrong but I find it very hard to believe that more engineering, more expensive materials, and more man hours went into designing, build, and testing those headlights than what went into building that engine block.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Magio View Post
    Maybe one thing OEMs can do to lower cost is to reuse internal headlight components as much as possible.
    "Modularization". There is already a whole lot of this, and it's only growing more and more common. Headlamp makers have "libraries" of components (projectors, reflector optics, etc). Automaker chooses components based on what'll fit and what they want to pay for in terms of performance, technology, etc. Lighting supplier builds the chosen components into a headlamp. This isn't new, it's been going on and accelerating since projectors hit the scene (about 30 years ago now).

  21. #21

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    $4,711 .... wow ... just wow.

    With > 100K unit sales/year, likely 3 year production, say 33% premium model with a $10 million design / test / tooling cost , that is $100/unit. MFG cost? .... shouldn't be more than $100/unit ... probably is, but even if it is $200 unit, we are only up to $300.

    Right now there are 0 aftermarket, so if you break it, they can charge pretty much anything they want. It's almost like a mini monopoly.

  22. #22
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Stillwater, America
    Posts
    4,007

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by ssanasisredna View Post
    Right now there are 0 aftermarket, so if you break it, they can charge pretty much anything they want. It's almost like a mini monopoly.
    Aftermarket crap is out there. A popular enough vehicle will get aftermarket headlamps soon enough. I can name four "brands" off the top of my head that make '01 Corolla headlamps (TYC, DEPO, Anzo, and Spec-D). (Now, there IS "0 aftermarket worth buying" for that make and model.)

    Spyder makes a headlamp-shaped toy for the '12 Lexus RX of some kind. Perhaps it's not yet profitable to make these lamps yet. The more-popular vehicles make the best target.

    But claims that this is a "mini monopoly"? I'm not sure that follows. If demand is high enough someone is going to start building these, or they may even seek to purchase a license from Toyota to make RX450h headlamps. In the meantime, there are those same concerns (how many 'spares' do you build? Where do you store them? What about it being taxable inventory?).

  23. #23
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    dfw.tx.us
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Aftermarket crap is out there. A popular enough vehicle will get aftermarket headlamps soon enough. I can name four "brands" off the top of my head that make '01 Corolla headlamps (TYC, DEPO, Anzo, and Spec-D). (Now, there IS "0 aftermarket worth buying" for that make and model.)

    Spyder makes a headlamp-shaped toy for the '12 Lexus RX of some kind. Perhaps it's not yet profitable to make these lamps yet. The more-popular vehicles make the best target.

    But claims that this is a "mini monopoly"? I'm not sure that follows. If demand is high enough someone is going to start building these, or they may even seek to purchase a license from Toyota to make RX450h headlamps. In the meantime, there are those same concerns (how many 'spares' do you build? Where do you store them? What about it being taxable inventory?).
    TYC, DEPO et al seem to have figured out how to supply new headlamps appropriate for the replacement market - sure seems like the OEM suppliers could pull off such a trick if motivated, at a reasonable retail price.

    If third-party manufacturers sought a license to produce OEM replacement lamps, dollars to donuts they'd be nearly as expensive as the same OEM products that greatly limit demand outside of the dealer/insurance ecosystem.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  24. #24
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Stillwater, America
    Posts
    4,007

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    TYC, DEPO et al seem to have figured out how to supply new headlamps appropriate for the replacement market
    Appropriate for the headlamp-shaped toys market.

    sure seems like the OEM suppliers could pull off such a trick if motivated, at a reasonable retail price.
    Remember, just because Value$aver Pork-flavored Bean Food Product is so cheap, doesn't mean that Greasy Prospector Pork and Beans can also be as cheap. Not without switching to a lower quality of hickory-smoked pig fat.

    Making replacement headlamps in sufficient quantity to satisfy a reasonable need for replacement parts is expensive for the OEM. They're making (or having their tier-one's make for them) these headlamps and a host of other replacement parts all the while tooling up to produce the next model year and the next new model itself. The aftermarket headlamp manufacturers don't have the same constraints (and they're not building to the same quality standards, whether it is durability or photometrics).
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 09-15-2017 at 12:01 PM.

  25. #25
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    dfw.tx.us
    Posts
    5,021

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Appropriate for the headlamp-shaped toys market.
    I went through one edit pass too few. Or one too many. I meant to say "...in volumes appropriate for..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Remember, just because Value$aver Pork-flavored Bean Food Product is so cheap, doesn't mean that Greasy Prospector Pork and Beans can also be as cheap. Not without switching to a lower quality of hickory-smoked pig fat.

    Making replacement headlamps in sufficient quantity to satisfy a reasonable need for replacement parts is expensive for the OEM. They're making (or having their tier-one's make for them) these headlamps and a host of other replacement parts all the while tooling up to produce the next model year and the next new model itself. The aftermarket headlamp manufacturers don't have the same constraints (and they're not building to the same quality standards, whether it is durability or photometrics).
    I appreciate that OEM suppliers such as Visteon have different cost structures than no-names like TYC and that it genuinely costs more to make superior OEM-grade products. I have exceptional trouble believing that it costs the capital-intensive/low-margin automotive business 2-4x to produce OEM headlamp assemblies that the retail price differential vs off-brand would imply. Naturally, high-volume production for cars being assembled on the lines to the tune of tens to hundreds of thousands of units a year will naturally be cheaper than low-volume production of thousands for retail replacement consumption. Only it seems that the OEM suppliers cut off production once the supply chain makes their lifetime buys and cede the replacement market to our favorite low-end producers.

    Every car dealer I've been to has a parts counter, and it seems to operate at a decidedly pastoral pace. Walk-up business looks to peak at single-digit frequency per hour, and judging by the near ghost town employee population in the storerooms, there's not much more business from the internet, phone, nor mail. Given their pricing relative to just about anywhere else, this not not particularly surprising - unless part is truly exclusive to OEM or the aftermarket has failed to produce something adequate you go elsewhere. Thus my sense that OEM headlight assemblies price themselves out of the replacement market - leaving them to the no-name brands you find at auto parts retailers - because of their distribution channels.

    For tier 1 suppliers - whom seem to produce a strong majority of the OEM headlamp assemblies on the market - perhaps they prefer the certainty of supplying automakers vs the replacement market. It is surely easier to churn out product in regimented batches ordered in well in advance by a single huge customer than to produce smaller batches as needed. Perhaps it's in their contracts with the automakers not to keep the lines open and sell to outside channels. But it sure seems like the industry as a whole is leaving a lot of money on the table when they halt production and maintaining astronomical prices that drive the replacement market to inferior lower-price options.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  26. #26

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Remember, just because Value$aver Pork-flavored Bean Food Product is so cheap, doesn't mean that Greasy Prospector Pork and Beans can also be as cheap. Not without switching to a lower quality of hickory-smoked pig fat.
    I kinda look at headlights like grassfed beef. Sure, free range grassfed beef cooked at home is much healthier than a McDonalds, but the grassfed beef is hugely expensive. Not everybody can afford to eat it all the time, and those who can often choose not to simply to save money, even though they know good and well its not as good for them.

    I'm not saying I want quality food, or quality headlights to be dirt cheap. Good products ought to be amply compensated, but at the same time you can't price it to the point where most people can't or don't want to afford it. I think that's starting to happen with a lot of the new LED headlights, and I think in the long run its gonna exacerbate the problem with people running poor quality stuff on the road. Most people I know of cringe at the thought of paying $500-$600 for a set of OEM halogens. You can only image how much of a heart attack they gonna have if you tell them they got to spend 2 to 6 grand on a set of headlights.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by Magio View Post
    I kinda look at headlights like grassfed beef.
    To take the analogy further... In 1953, there was no such thing as "grassfed beef", because that's just what cows ate, and there was no need for silly marketing. In 1953, there was (in the US) the 7" sealed beam headlight, and it was good. You could get 6 volts or 12, and that was about your choice. When one blew or got crash damage, you went to the store and got a new bulb, a new reflector, and a new lens for about $5.

    Now you kids stay off my lawn!!

  28. #28

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by eggsalad View Post
    To take the analogy further... In 1953, there was no such thing as "grassfed beef", because that's just what cows ate, and there was no need for silly marketing. In 1953, there was (in the US) the 7" sealed beam headlight, and it was good. You could get 6 volts or 12, and that was about your choice. When one blew or got crash damage, you went to the store and got a new bulb, a new reflector, and a new lens for about $5.

    Now you kids stay off my lawn!!
    Cheap, standardized, and (usually) easily replaceable yes. Good performance, no.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Frustrated with the auto headlight bulbs - when will the industry finally upgrade

    Quote Originally Posted by 64.5vette View Post
    In 1953, there was (in the US) the 7" sealed beam headlight, and it was good. You could get 6 volts or 12, and that was about your choice. When one blew or got crash damage, you went to the store and got a new bulb, a new reflector, and a new lens for about $5.
    Cheap, standardized, and (usually) easily replaceable yes. Good performance, no. Cheap, standardized, and (usually) easily replaceable yes. Good performance, no.
    By the standards of what's possible today, no, but of all the vehicle headlamps available in the world in 1953, the US sealed beam was by far the best performer.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •