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Thread: Volvo 850 lighting

  1. #1

    Default Volvo 850 lighting

    I have a new to me 1997 Volvo 850, and while the lighting seems to be pretty decent I want to make the most of what I have. I'm assuming the best upgrade for the headlights is Xtreme Vision 9006s for the low beams, and 9011s for the high beams. Is there anything worth doing with the signal and position lamps on the car? I had Philips Xtreme Vision LEDs in the brake lights on my previous car, but I'm not interested in dealing with what it would take to keep the lamp failure sensor on this car happy with LEDs.

  2. #2
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Volvo 850 lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Random Guy View Post
    I have a new to me 1997 Volvo 850, and while the lighting seems to be pretty decent I want to make the most of what I have.
    Unless you have glass headlamp lenses, new (and genuine) headlamps may be the starting point.

    Any 168 or 194 in sidemarker lamps can be replaced with the Osram 2886X.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 09-19-2019 at 01:13 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Volvo 850 lighting

    The twin-bulb 850 headlamps don't deteriorate as fast/badly as the later S70-V70 lamps (with short-lived reflectors), but they aren't spring chickens, either (they're 22 years old, assuming originals). The lenses are glass, which means they won't be hazed but very likely could be pitted from years of road grit. Even pitting that "just looks minor" does a really bad number on the headlight performance: less seeing, more glare, more backscatter. And the reflectors aren't immune to age, either. By the time you can see degradation enough to notice, they're well past needing replacement.

    And speaking of replacement, aside from the usual caution (don't use aftermarket lamps if you can possibly avoid it; they're junk whether they're designed to look just like the originals or otherwise)), be aware that contrary to what some Volvo parts vendors claim, these headlamps are not designed to have their lenses replaced, and doing so usually ruins the lamps permanently. Some of those vendors go further and claim you can convert your US lamps into European ("E-code") lamps by swapping lenses. That's not true, don't fall for it.

    As far as bulbs go: Vosla HIR2+30 in the low beams and Toshiba HIR1 in the high beams, trimmed to fit as per here, and then the lamps aimed carefully and correctly with an optical aiming machine (not just shining on a wall or board).

    For signal lamp upgrades, use Stanley 3496 in place of P21/5W or 1157 (dual filament) and Stanley 3497 in place of P21W or 1156 (single filament). No amber version of either bulb is available. Use a good brand of 2357NA in the front turn signals. The PY21W rear turn signal bulbs tend to lose their amber coating; fix that by using Diadem bulbs (Osram ones specifically).

  4. #4

    Default Re: Volvo 850 lighting

    That's surprising that the lens isn't meant to be replaced, it appears to just be held on with clips.

    And it's great that the low beams will work with HIR2, I assumed that since the headlamp used lens optics that it'd have a ring type bulb shield and thus not be a good application for the HIR2. Goes to show what assumptions are worth .

    I assume there is no upgrade for the R5W lamps used for the rear position lamps.

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Volvo 850 lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Random Guy View Post
    That's surprising that the lens isn't meant to be replaced, it appears to just be held on with clips.
    The clips hold the lens on while the adhesive (which does the real "heavy lifting" as well as providing a seal against water and dust ingress) cures.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Volvo 850 lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Unless you have glass headlamp lenses, new (and genuine) headlamps may be the starting point.
    My 1996 has glass headlamps. Did they goto plastic after that? I need to replace one side, lens is cracked. Using a Euro style housing & its crap, but really not worse than the dim beam of the OEM. I have not looked to see if OEM new housings till exist in stock anywhere. And of course junkyard stuff has the chips & degraded silvering...

  7. #7

    Default Re: Volvo 850 lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Random Guy View Post
    That's surprising that the lens isn't meant to be replaced, it appears to just be held on with clips.
    ...and glue.

    I assume there is no upgrade for the R5W lamps used for the rear position lamps.
    That's correct.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Volvo 850 lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    ...and glue.
    That's a bummer.

    Just from the seat of the pants perspective (accurate, I know), the headlights seem great. Definitely nicer to drive behind than our Park Avenue, though that needs new headlights. Way better than the 940 that we also have. It'll be a real flamethrower with HIRs all around.

    The Toshiba 9011 is significantly more expensive than the Philips, and since I live in the suburbs and don't get to run with high beams all that much would it be an acceptable compromise?
    Last edited by Random Guy; 09-24-2019 at 12:13 PM.

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