Driving at Night

RHS-113

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Well the car was serviced today and the headlight aim was indeed adjusted. Time will tell if it helps. I've just been told that I can't retrofit the fog lights or repurpose them. Why? Don't know! "Computer says no" Plus it looks like the Swedish light bar just won't fit - there's too much going on at the front of the car. Something I learned as a youngster is that just because one person says no, the other person might not. So the search goes on.
Fingers crossed whoever adjusted your car's headlamps did it correctly, preferably using a headlamp aiming machine. If your car's headlamps were not adjusted correctly, then that could create other issues, like too much glare for oncoming traffic.
 

Toulouse42

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Time will tell. All I know so far is that the aim was lowered quite considerably. I could tell that previously, my lights illuminated the trees and road signs more than they did the road. In them olden days it was obvious how to align headlights to my satisfaction. Now you can't do a thing without reading the manual and trust me, the manual for my Ateca is by far the worst I have ever seen. I'll give you an example. When I switch off the engine, I am encouraged on the instrument panel to check the "in car security wallet". What that actually means is that if you lock the car with the wireless fob, then people in the car can't get out. The whole manual has that degree of head scratching ambiguity. This is odd because when I used Mr Google on that Swedish website, I actually got quite a coherent piece of text.
 

DRW

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... preferably using a headlamp aiming machine...
Do those exist anymore? With so many headlight styles out there I would think these are as obsolete as the four round sealed beams found on a vista cruiser.

My vehicle only has up and down adjustments, not left or right. Adjustment is simple, level ground, specific distance from a wall. Measure a certain point on the headlight, adjust beam on wall until cutoff matches measured height from earlier in the process. I didn't make up the process, it's in the service manual.
 
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Toulouse42

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All I know is that they did something. When I next take it out at night I will be able to check if it was done properly. Finding technical information about this car is very hard work, but its clear that one screw on the light goes up/down and the other goes left/right. Which is which is going to be a matter of guesswork. This is my first car with LED lights so I have no prior experience of these. I haven't needed to adjust headlights in almost 30 years now. Talking to a technician is harder than finding someone who will admit to being a spy. I think it's deliberate on the part of VAG group to ensure that we use the dealers for the littlest thing.
 

RHS-113

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Do those exist anymore? With so many headlight styles out there I would think these are as obsolete as the four round sealed beams found on a vista cruiser.
Headlamps aiming machines still exist, as many european countries have car inspections that check headlamp aim. They still exist in the US too, but good luck finding an auto repair shop that has one. They are not the same as mechanical headlamp aimers used to aim headlamps with the three aiming nubs like the old hoppy b4a. See this video for an example of a camera based aimer. Non camera based aimers exist too, see here and here.
All I know is that they did something. When I next take it out at night I will be able to check if it was done properly. Finding technical information about this car is very hard work, but its clear that one screw on the light goes up/down and the other goes left/right. Which is which is going to be a matter of guesswork. This is my first car with LED lights so I have no prior experience of these. I haven't needed to adjust headlights in almost 30 years now. Talking to a technician is harder than finding someone who will admit to being a spy. I think it's deliberate on the part of VAG group to ensure that we use the dealers for the littlest thing.
Fingers crossed they did it correctly and the headlamps aren't either pointed too low or too high or too far to the right or left. Preferably they used a headlamp aiming machine like this but a shine on wall method can work as well if it's done correctly.
 

Toulouse42

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OK so I finally had a chance to drive my car in the dark after the headlights were adjusted. I can see really clearly but only for about 25 feet in front of the car, then darkness!! They were originally too high and now they're way too low. Even on full beam I can't see far. So, needless to say, I did it myself. Now I can see properly on both dipped and full beams. If it bothers other people, no doubt I'll find out soon but at least I can drive with confidence again.
 

EJR

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OK so I finally had a chance to drive my car in the dark after the headlights were adjusted. I can see really clearly but only for about 25 feet in front of the car, then darkness!! They were originally too high and now they're way too low. Even on full beam I can't see far. So, needless to say, I did it myself. Now I can see properly on both dipped and full beams. If it bothers other people, no doubt I'll find out soon but at least I can drive with confidence again.

Didn't you have a shop properly aim your lamps? I assumed they used a headlight aiming machine, did they not? Messing around with aim on the fly is a very inaccurate way to correctly position the beams, even though they may look and feel correct.

Your beam cutoff needs to be 0.57 degrees down from the center of the lamp. Did you verify this at 25 feet away from a wall? The measurement from the ground to the center of the lamp would be your reference point on the wall (red cross in image below).

ece aim for cupra.png
 

Toulouse42

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Hi EJR. This is the primary dealership on the island and my car is still under warranty. I asked them to look at the headlights and they did. Quite how they did it I don't know. I just know that if I can't see more than 25 feet in front of me, then sooner or later, I'm going to kill someone. But, yes I did it properly. I have many times so I do know what I'm doing. To be fair though, that is about the limit of my auto skills, apart from tyre pressures etc.
 

EJR

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But, yes I did it properly. I have many times so I do know what I'm doing. To be fair though, that is about the limit of my auto skills, apart from tyre pressures etc.

I don't mean any offense by this so please excuse me, but often times people think they understand aiming but they do not. I've seen far too many people online explain how they go about aiming and some are wacky and just plain wrong.

There is only one right way to set the aim. There is no in-between. And because you made this particular comment...

"If it bothers other people, no doubt I'll find out soon but at least I can drive with confidence again."

...this seems to imply that you performed a haphazardly adjustment. Because if they were aimed in the only correct way they should be aimed, they will NOT cause glare at all.

Your lamp centers are probably somewhere around 82cm from the ground (I'm using data from the VW Taos which shares same platform as Ateca). With the beam cutoff resting at the proper height, this puts the cutoff at 74.3cm from the ground. The average eye level for oncoming traffic is about 110 cm so as you can see, your cutoff is well below the level that would cause glare. You could probably lift your cutoff to 0.4 degrees down (which is the height applicable to U.S. lamps using your type of beam) and still be ok however I recommended the 0.57 degree aim as I don't know how strict your country is and if you are subject to inspections.

You may also want to verify your horizontal adjustment. Shifting the cutoff elbow to the right an inch or two would give you far better downroad illumination ASSUMING that your current horizontal aim has the cutoff elbow at the centerline of the lamp. If you look at the image below you'll see what I'm talking about.

Notice how the BEFORE has no light just under the red cross and slightly to the left? That area is the far end of your lane. Now look at the AFTER and you'll see how much better light coverage there is in your lane as well as some light carrying over to the opposite lane. This horizontal aim is a better choice IMO.

cupra aiming.png
 
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Toulouse42

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No of course I don't take offense. The whole point of this forum is to learn from people who know more than I do. You have all been very helpful and welcoming. Thank you.
 

theory816

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Very interesting Toulous. There's a lot to address here.

Halogen Headlights.

I was surprised to hear you say that you prefer these over your old headlights. The key question here is, were they halogen projectors or reflectors? If halogen projectors, those are pretty good headlights. Halogens tend to have better CRI with 100 while LEDs have around 80 CRI, depending on the quality of the LED. High quality LEDs will of course be more expensive and there's no way to tell if your headlights have quality ones or they were cheaped out on.

LED Headlight.

I've driven in cars with LED headlights and didn't find comfort or visibility much of an issue. Only thing I can tell is the color difference. But it also may be that the issue flew over my head.

Headlight aim.

Car headlight aim generally does not ever need to be touched. The only time you need to reaim it is if you replaced the headlight unit. But the general rule is this, measure a distance of 25ft from the headlights and a line on the wall to the height of the headlight. The cutoff line needs to be two inches under the center of the headlight. As long as the beam continues to fall, then you won't blind others. If your aim is lower or higher, you won't get the full benefits of distance because the beam is dropping down too soon. I would get the dealership to properly aim it. Although, headlight aiming can be quite technical and the technician needs to be competent, otherwise they are just committing the same problems as a regular Joe would.

Brightness

Halogen projectors arn't going to be as bright as LEDs because with LEDs you have a wide range of parameters you can set. With halogens, you are stuck with a single preset of lumen output. That said, halogen's performance is very good. Brighter isn't better. Too much detail can be a bad thing for driving comfort.

Current Situation with headlights

It seems like the manufacturers are trying to phase out everything halogens. But I think that's a bad idea. As car designs become more embolden and striking, the manufacturers will keep have having to have a shock factor buiilt into the design, and there's no better way to do that than with high contrasting headlights. That's why in my opinion older cars were better in this regard.

This trend isn't going to stop.

Headlight restoration

Another consideration is that the front covers on the headlights will fade over time due to UV. This reduces the light output and causes glare. This isn't a problem on new cars but it's something to consider with older cars. Once the cover becomes yellow, it needs a lot of polishing to remove the damages to get it back to 80% performance.

What I would do.

I'd get an older car that's in good condition. You don't want to get something too old because then it'll have mechanical problems. Take this with a grain of salt though because I don't know your exact situation to make an accurate recommendation.
 
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