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Thread: Need advice on upgrading 2011 Subaru Outback

  1. #1

    Default Need advice on upgrading 2011 Subaru Outback

    Hi,

    I live in the US and have a 2011 Subaru Outback. The car uses incandesce bulbs. The front light uses a 9005 highbeam in a reflector housing, and a H7 low-beam in a projector housing. As the lights burn out, I have been slowly trying to replace them with better lights.

    I have just replaced the tail light with some Sylvania LED, which appears to be legal in my state. I wanted to replace the front light, but is not sure what to do.

    One characteristic of Subaru is that their low beam are very difficult to change, there is a dust cap with little or no clearance and have to be change by removing the light or snaking your hand through the wheel well. The second issue is that the daytime driving light is aggressive and cause bulb to burn out . Subaru at some point replace the original bulb that burned out with a stronger filament version that appears to emit the amount of light but have a longer life. The old OEM bulb may burn out in 1/2 a year in 10K annual driving.

    Because of the hard to change bulb, my priority would be:
    1. find something that generate at least as much light as the original but last as long as possible.
    2. Find something brighter. They are dim compare to my other car.
    3. Would be nice to have a whiter light because it looks better to my eye, but I rather not have tinting on the lens that reduces output.

    I thought about installing LED, because they have long life, but I have conflicting info on whether this will work or not. I am pretty sure that nothing will fit in the low beam without removing the dust cap, which will probably be a bad idea and result in the housing filling up with dirt and moisture. It's also not clear if LED will project properly in the headlight.

    I thought about HID upgrade. The low beam does use a projector housing, but HID would have the same problem with the dust cap.

    The most viable solution so far is getting a better Halogen, but better means trade-off. I have put brighter lights in the car, but then they burn out too quickly. I notice that they have a technology call HIR that's supposed to have brighter light without sacrificing life, but I don't see them sold in H7 or 9005 bulb type, only 9012 type. Philip Ecovision appears to generate the same amount of light with a longer life, but I am not sure if it's better than the OEM Subaru bulb.

    I hope there are Subaru outback owners who can chime in. Thanks.

    Paul

  2. #2

    Default Re: Need advice on upgrading 2011 Subaru Outback

    Welcome to the board, Paul.

    I live in the US and have a 2011 Subaru Outback.
    OK, so the car (and presumably its headlights) are roughly 9 years old. So inspect them carefully. If the lenses are anything less than completely transparent, if there's any haze, you're not going to be able to see well no matter what bulbs you put in. Mild to moderate lens haze can be effectively treated, but more than that will require new headlamps.

    I have just replaced the tail light with some Sylvania LED, which appears to be legal in my state.
    Maybe and maybe not (what state?), but whether it's legal is not the primary concern. The bigger issue is that in many cases using LED bulbs degrades the safety performance of the lamp. See this post for more info.

    One characteristic of Subaru is that their low beam are very difficult to change
    Eh, not really; you just have to do it the easy way as shown here.

    the daytime driving light is aggressive and cause bulb to burn out
    Again: eh, not really. The daytime running light system on the '11 Outback runs the high beams at 50% voltage. The only potential issue this can cause is that if you never use your actual high beams (by turning them on with the switch, so they receive full voltage), the low-voltage DRL operation causes tungsten evaporated from the filament to be deposited on the inside of the bulb glass. It starts off as a reddish-brown stain, and eventually progresses to dark/black, severely reducing the output of the high beams. If it's caught early (red/brown stage) it can be cleaned off by operating the high beams at full intensity long enough for the bulbs to reach full operating temperature and stay there awhile. Otherwise, replace the bulbs. This can be a problem for people who live where traffic density means no real opportunity to use the high beams.

    Note, though, that Subaru lets you leave the headlight switch "on" and have the full lighting system go on and off with the ignition switch. If this is what you're doing, yes, it's going to severely reduce the life of you

    Subaru at some point replace the original bulb that burned out with a stronger filament version that appears to emit the amount of light but have a longer life.
    It's not a matter of the filament being "stronger", and long-life bulbs do not emit the same amount of light. They give you less light and shorter, narrower beam coverage (and that's when they're new; they grow significantly dimmer and weaker with age). You will have to choose either better seeing or longer bulb life; you cannot have both at the same time.

    Find something brighter.
    That's easy, go get a pair of 65w H7 bulbs from Dan Stern. They will make your low beams remarkably better, and their lifetime is comparable to a good quality standard H7.

    Would be nice to have a whiter light because it looks better to my eye, but I rather not have tinting on the lens that reduces output.
    There is no such thing as "whiter" light. What you are asking for here requires a tinted filter, which sharply reduces the amount of light you have to see to drive -- it doesn't matter if it's on the bulb or on the lens.

    I thought about installing LED, because they have long life, but I have conflicting info on whether this will work or not.
    There is no real conflict, the answer is not. So-called "LED conversions" for halogen headlights are unsafe and illegal, no matter what brand. Same goes for "HID kits".

    I am pretty sure that nothing will fit in the low beam without removing the dust cap, which will probably be a bad idea and result in the housing filling up with dirt and moisture.
    That's right.

    It's also not clear if LED will project properly in the headlight.
    Won't.

    I thought about HID upgrade. The low beam does use a projector housing
    It doesn't matter. Halogen headlight optics (reflector, projector, or any other kind) are not compatible with HID or LED light sources.

    they have a technology call HIR
    Doesn't exist in H7. You can get compatible HIR bulbs (these) that will make the high beams noticeably more effective. You will have to trim one of the bulb's plastic tabs as per this diagram.

    Also, the most important factor in how you see at night is whether your headlamps are aimed correctly. This has to be checked and adjusted using the correct tool for the job, which is an optical aiming machine as demonstrated in this VW bulletin. Shining the lights on a wall is not good enough.
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 09-09-2019 at 11:57 AM.

  3. #3
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Need advice on upgrading 2011 Subaru Outback

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    Also, the most important factor in how you see at night is whether your headlamps are aimed correctly. This has to be checked and adjusted using the correct tool for the job, which is an optical aiming machine as demonstrated in this VW bulletin. Shining the lights on a wall is not good enough.
    FYI, That bulletin is for a compression tester.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Need advice on upgrading 2011 Subaru Outback

    Oops, I grabbed the wrong link, thanks. Fixed now.

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