Odd question about car headlights

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Raven

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I'm guessing this is the right forum for this question. I've always been unsatisfied with the light output of my automotive headlights, and I'm wondering if there are aftermarket headlights, that can do a better job? Has this been discussed here at CPF before?

Ok, after doing a search I found a couple of year old threads, that were very informative. The one thing that really stood out was a warning to use the "same wattage" bulbs, or risk frying your system. I'm curious, if anyone has simply made a trip down to their local auto parts store, and investigated this further. That's exactly what I plan to do this week, and if I find a cheap easy solution to upgrading my sedans headlights, I will post it here.

Raven
 

Rotten Ron

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JC Whitney has some Hella replacment lights that max out the street legal limits of car headlights. I believe around 39.00 ea depends on car model. Also check Summit catolog.
 
D

**DONOTDELETE**

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The only real way to get brighter headlights is to upgrade to HID. You can upgrade just the bulbs for around $400 now. You'll need to install ballasts, and replace the bulbs. This will change the color tempurature to near white and be much brighter than any regular headlight.

The only aftermarket bulb that I've found to work better than OEM bulbs are the PIAA SUPER WHITES. Other aftermarket lights usually just run at a higher wattage, and tint the glass blue.

Having higher wattage bulbs in your headlights will void your cars warranty and in most cases against the law, so if anything happens (melting, headlight clearcoat peeling, etc) make sure you put the OEM bulbs back in before taking it in to the dealer. Check your local Vehicle Code under lighting. There are wattage limitations, height limitations etc.

Good quality driving lights and fog lights will dramatically increase visibility. Don't skimp out, a good quality driving/fog light will cost around $300 and up. I have a website dedicated to Montero Sports, with a link to lighting if anyone wants to check it out. I have a hidden page at:

http://monterosport.net/page31.html

http://www.monterosport.net and click on lighting

I recommend changing to HID or add Driving/fog lights. Good brands are PIAA and JAOS.
fd22c2c3.jpg
 

Artful

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I replaced mine (years ago when I had full size pickup) w/ new & improved headlights and added some extra's a set of long range narrow beams that came on only w/ high beams when relay was activated and set of fog lamps mounted low that could come on alone or in combination w/ high beams (yep improved stock location hella's, pencil high's w/ wide beam fog's all at same time - looked like sunrise from the south a time or two) - had an additional set but was asked to remove them as as limited by state law. They all worked very well - I also had mounted white fog lamps under the doors aimed sideways and down (for turns and courtesy light activation) and a single rear facing driving light that was activated by backup lights. (only thing salvagable after a snow plow went off the road).

It can be addictive adding lights to a rig.
 

Minjin

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There are some assumptions being made here that probably shouldn't be made. First and foremost, what kind of car is it (make, model, year)? Secondly, in regards to upgrading your lighting by adding lights, you should look into whether your state allows this. Some states such as mine (PA) mandate that if you have more than one auxilliary set of lights, then they must be covered when driving on the street. Also, that fog lights must turn off when high beams are selected. There are many good legal options that can be taken before going down the expensive HID route.

Another question that needs to be asked is whether you are unsatisfied with your low or your high beams.

Let us know.

Mark
 

dano

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First...I just put in a pair of Sylvania Silverstar bulbs into my Subbie. They are really good and an inexpensive upgrade. The color temp is much whiter than stock bulbs, and they are brighter than the stock bulbs...

Second, this is moved over to G.L.

--dan
 

lemlux

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I agree with Surefire M6 about PIAA bulbs. PIAA now has bulbs that are brighter and whiter than the "Super Whites" he mentions. These new bulbs are the "Extreme Whites".

PIAA claims that their 55 W H3 extreme white is as bright as a standard 110 W bulb and has a color temperature of around 4100. I have a set of these and find them to be as advertised. They cost $29.95 per bulb at Off Road Warehouse in San Diego which also sells them on line.

As far as not putting more wattage in your lamp goes, I'd check to see if your reflector is plastic or aluminum plus glass. If aluminum and glass, you can probably go to 85W. If plastic, stay with your stock configuration.

edit: (See other following comments on wiring capacity.)
 

Banshee

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A popular mod to the 1994-96 Impala/Caprices is to substitute the OEM headlight capsules with the T84 European export only capsules. They are NOT DOT approved but are FAR BETTER in construction and materials..ie glass instead of plastic. Once youve located and installed a set you are free to start running higher wattage bulbs (up to the limits of the headlight wiring harness) I had a custom harness built and now I am running 90w(low)
100w(high) bulbs...FAR better than the 55w/60w stock lights..some guys in the National Impala forums are running 100w/130w bulbs with the export lights and upgraded harnesses...
 

iddibhai

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lumlex, the idea of going overwattage, is i believe, not related to whether the reflector/lens can handle the heat but rather the stock wiring/relays, which are generally not all that great can. i would link to Daniel Stern lighting but his webpage is getting redirected to some DNS service... http://lighting.mbz.org/
 

lemlux

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iddibhai:

You're right. I suppose that some harnesses can only handle 55 W / 12 V = 4.6 Amps while others can handle up to 130 W / 12 V = 11.8 Amps.
 
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**DONOTDELETE**

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Lemlux,

Thanks for the correction. I meant extreme whites.

Remember guys, be very careful when going over the legal wattage. It's the law for a reason; saftey of oncoming traffic. Accident investigators routinely check bulbs if they suspect blinding to be the cause of an accident, that would change from a terrible accident to vehicular manslaughter. Same with height limits for fog lamps and driving lamps.

And how many car fires have you seen in your life. Some of those are caused by OEM wiring that cannot handle the extra wattage. Esp if you are putting in 85-130 watt bulbs in a system designed for 55 watts.

Sorry maybe it's the LE in me, just had to mention that.
grin.gif
 

iddibhai

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another thing you can do as a consumer who votes with your dollar, is write to the car company and let them know how crappy the lights are. the beancounters will sometimes have their way at the expence of decent lighting. NHTSA/DOT regs really suck in this regard: witness the range of lights from pathetic to totally awesome, all completely legal!
 

carbonsparky

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Originally posted by dano:
First...I just put in a pair of Sylvania Silverstar bulbs into my Subbie. They are really good and an inexpensive upgrade. The color temp is much whiter than stock bulbs, and they are brighter than the stock bulbs...

Second, this is moved over to G.L.

--dan
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Arial">There are option to get better performance out of your headlights. You can go all out as mentioned by some of the others or as Danno said, try some of the newer and improved halogens. Most of these are very inexpensive and really can improve your lighting and still stay legal. Halagens get dimmer with age, so sometimes just putting a fresh set in can help. Lens and reflector condition also can make a lot of differance. If your lens or reflectors are toast, price out some of the HID lighting systems. They might not cost much more than buying replacement OEM parts.
 
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**DONOTDELETE**

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You can buy just the HID bulbs and ballasts so you don't have to replace the whole headlight. Cuts the cost about half.
 

EMPOWERTORCH

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I added a spotlight to my Superdream for the same reason as Raven - to re-inforce the amount of light I had going out of the front pof he motorbike.I picked up my spotlight second hand but in pristine condition from an "autojumble", a kind of car boot sale which specialises in automotive bits and bobs! I paid the princely sum of £2 for mine!
It's by far the easiest and cheapest way of adding more light to your headlights.
My spotlight is wired so that it comes on when main beam is switched on, and goes out when dipped beam is on.
The advantasge of spotlights is that they have a separate power circuit controlled by a relay.
On my cirrcuit, the spotlight is powered by its own line from the battery via its own fuse so therefore does not overload the bike's existing loom (as would happen if you put an overwattaged bulb in the headlight.)
The othere consideration when adding extra lighting is alternator capacity. Maybe not so much an issue on a car, unless you want to fit 4 or more powerful rallying spotlights.
But also bear in mind that the modern car alternator has to power much more these days such as large car audio systems, electric cooling fans, heaters and aircon fans as well as a host of microprocessor circuitry.
You can, in England, buy a complete spotlight kit complete with lights, bulbs, pre-wired relay and good instructions. Some kits incorporate a switch which can be connected to the relay circuit to switch off the spotlight circuit.
Mounting the spotlights is dictated by country law. Heights, and the disance from the edge of the vehicle are usually included in that law.

I hope that the information isd useful to you.

Matt
EMPOWERTORCH
 

Tombeis

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I just installed a heavy duty wiring harness on a friends 2002 Chevrolet 2500 HD pickup.

The diferance in light output was very noticable.

The harness consists of heavier wiring and heavy duty headlight relays. Thekit also comes with a plug in diode which allows both high and low beams to be on when the high beams are on.

The kit takes about a half hour to install, and is well worth the $ 135.00 charged for it. No lamps included.

The kit is available for both the old two and three spade plug headlamps as well as the new style lamp plugs.

There are also higher watt lamps listed on the site.

Available at www.kennedydiesel.com
 

PsycoBob[Q2]

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A few minor notes for you- New Jersy apparently has a law against ANY aftermarket HID installations. It MUST come from the factory with the HID system installed.

HID bulbs produce a different light pattern than normal incandescent/halogen bulbs. If you change the bulb type, federal DOT regs require you to replace the reflector with one that matches that particular bulb. (blinding other drivers with mis-aligned beams is BAD) If you get a HID system, spend the cash for a full refit, reflectors and all. I don't know if fed/state DOT's provide any recomendations on the headlight pattern/max-brightness/Lumens/wattage, or if they just have a line for manufactures to call to get their system rubber-stamped.

Many cheaper fog-lights will specifically state "not for on-road use" or "For offroad use only." I haven't had the opportunity to check more expensive systems. That little tag means it's not DOT-approved (due to light-dispersion patterns that pase a hazard to other drivers, or the developer didn't want to bother with red-tape).

As someone noted above, some states require all aux lights to be covered when on-road, but other simply say you can't turn them on. If you do anything with your car's lights, check with your state's DOT for any regulations before you decide on a lightset- Forking over a considerable sum of money, only to find out it's illegal to install (or use for what you wanted if for in the first place...) would suck.
 
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