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Thread: what is consumer reports' headlamp testing methodology?

  1. #1

    Default what is consumer reports' headlamp testing methodology?

    Try as I might, I can't find how CR tests its headlamps exactly.

    https://www.consumerreports.org/head...ar-headlights/

    All I can discern from the above link is that they aim the lights and drive around on a track with "specialists." The whole ordeal seems to be subjective since it's always talking about how "specialists" rate glare and "cutoff" and "reach" and "intensity" and the such.

    And from what I've read on CPF, people here have a dim view of CR's headlamp testing methodology. But no one really specifies a weakness, apart from the fact that their testing methodology was developed by engineers at Guide, which apparently made crappy lights for GM. And then I read something about how CR prefers lights with no cutoff, and that was perhaps the only concrete criticism against CR's testing methodology.

    Is there a published testing methodology out there somewhere for Consumer Reports? Does anyone have any more specifics on what they do?
    Last edited by Ls400; 10-26-2018 at 12:18 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: what is consumer reports' headlamp testing methodology?

    The CR test is largely subjective, yes. Nevertheless, CR holds a lot of clout in terms of shaping consumer opinions, so whether the method is valid or not, automakers try to get good ratings on their headlamp tests. That might change as IIHS seems to have the spotlight/center stage right now in terms of shouting to consumers about headlamps.

  3. #3
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: what is consumer reports' headlamp testing methodology?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ls400 View Post
    All I can discern from the above link is that they aim the lights and drive around on a track with "specialists." The whole ordeal seems to be subjective since it's always talking about how "specialists" rate glare and "cutoff" and "reach" and "intensity" and the such.
    Some specialists might be a little better than others, but it is subjective.

    For many people, feeling like they see well is good enough, and they have no idea they aren't seeing well despite their comfort with their headlighting. This is why it's more likely that a bad headlamp can make a driver feel more comfortable driving behind it than a better one, and in some cases a good headlamp may make someone feel less comfortable driving behind it. This is why instrumented testing is first and foremost; CR could publish both those results (or segments of them) and then editorialize. ("We tested the '19 Chevy Heritage, a full-size pickup available in three trim levels: The Plantation, the Bull Run, and the Tara Edition. All used the same headlighting systems, which complied with FMVSS 108 according to instrumented tests, but we felt the beam wasn't wide enough, and reading overhead signs was difficult. Comparing the beam isoplot to the 2019 Kia Mia, we predict that drivers of the Kia may be more satisfied with beam width, the top winner overall in our headlamp tests...")

  4. #4

    Default Re: what is consumer reports' headlamp testing methodology?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    All used the same headlighting systems, which complied with FMVSS 108 according to instrumented tests, but we felt the beam wasn't wide enough, and reading overhead signs was difficult. Comparing the beam isoplot to the 2019 Kia Mia, we predict that drivers of the Kia may be more satisfied with beam width, the top winner overall in our headlamp tests...")
    Are these tests to be performed after aiming the lamps or without aiming them?

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: what is consumer reports' headlamp testing methodology?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ls400 View Post
    Are these tests to be performed after aiming the lamps or without aiming them?
    Ordinarily, one would expect Consumer Reports to test the cars as delivered, but they don't. They ought to include in their reviews just how much adjustment they had to do.

    The IIHS DOES test as delivered.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 10-29-2018 at 11:48 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: what is consumer reports' headlamp testing methodology?

    See here, where it says "After aligning the headlamps in an indoor lab, we test them outdoors at our track on dark, clear, moonless nights. Our headlight specialists set up a series of black targets at prescribed intervals along almost a thousand feet of level roadway. They then look for low-beam and high-beam performance, evaluating reach, intensity, width, and the evenness of the light pattern. They note glare effects—where stray light can bounce back from mist, rain, or fog. And they determine whether the transition or cutoff of light is so sharp that it reduces the headlight’s range as it moves over undulations and uneven roads."

  7. #7
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: what is consumer reports' headlamp testing methodology?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    This is why it's more likely that a bad headlamp can make a driver feel more comfortable driving behind it than a better one, and in some cases a good headlamp may make someone feel less comfortable driving behind it.
    With a million hucksters selling PnP kits on the 'bay and the 'zon that flood the foreground with useless light while barely illuminating the distance where you need to see to great commercial success, I think we can indeed say that immediately perceived driver comfort needs some discounting.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

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