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Upgrade my headlight bulbs?


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41 replies to this topic

#1 ccrinc

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 04:42 PM

Yes, I know I asked this before. And somebody gave me an answer. And I can't find it. Sue me: I know engines, not headlights.

 

What bulbs are good to upgrade mine (low beam) on my 2009 Forester Premium?  Trying not to fry the electrical system here.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

(Oh, and hi, guys. Been around some, just not commenting. Hope everyone is well.)

 

Emily



#2 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 05:25 PM

Get LED's. They are awesome. And cheap now. 

 

GD



#3 Bushwick

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 12:38 AM

Go to the parts store, and look at the differing bulb levels. Sylvania has different tiers for example, like Silverstar, etc. Should have a small image on package comparing the differences within the tiers.

 

Be warned, you'll be lucky to get 1-2 years out of them. The brighter ones, while working great, aren't as durable as the normal ones.

 

If you don't want to fuss with new ones constantly that are expensive, replace the ones you have with an oem style new bulb (pretty sure bulbs loose brightness over time) and adjust the light spread by adjusting the housing. Many cars have them pointing almost at the ground within 20'. I like to find a long flat section of pavement at night, and raise their height until they are covering everything that needs to be seen. Passenger bulb should cover some sidewalk/treeline to the right, while left bulb should be more forward to avoid blinding oncoming traffic (cops will ticket if it set to blind). Even normal bulbs set right will make a huge difference.



#4 idosubaru

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 01:02 AM

There are some reasonable online reviews if you can find a good one. I usually skim them for info.

I’ve never noticed a difference.

All I know is I haven’t replaced an XT6 bulb in 12 years, maybe 1 I’m forgetting. But my EZ and EJs I have no clue how many I’ve replaced.
Why is that?

I know xt bulbs aren’t awesome but I don’t find EJ/EZ stuff awesome either. Maybe they need adjusted like bushwivk said.

Edited by idosubaru, 12 April 2018 - 01:03 AM.


#5 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 09:25 AM

https://www.amazon.c...headlight bulbs

GD

#6 NV Zeno

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 09:25 AM

​I went with Wagner "Brite Lite" BP9003BLX2 on my '96 OB.  Vast improvement over stock.  Direct, no-mod install.  Got them from Rock Auto.  Very satisfied.

 

Just my 2 bucks



#7 carfreak85

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 09:52 AM

GD, for all the great advice you give out on the USMB, I'm f*****g shocked that you would recommend someone install LED bulbs into a halogen headlamp housing.

 

OP - Do the exact opposite of what GD suggested:  Buy a nice set of high quality halogen bulbs, HIR bulbs (NOT HID), or do a true retrofit.  DO NOT install HID/LED bulbs into a halogen lamp housing.  :horse:



#8 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 10:13 AM

We do them all the time. They work just fine. Very bright. Check out the thousands of 5 star reviews on Amazon. 

 

Read the reviews on the one's I linked and check out the pictures of the beam patterns. They are very similar to halogen.

 

GD


Edited by GeneralDisorder, 12 April 2018 - 10:16 AM.


#9 Gloyale

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 11:16 AM

HIDs and LEDs are obnoxious.

 

Special place in hell for those drivers that use them

 

That said,   GD, I don't see anywhere in that package description that those bulbs are DOT compliant.  Have you checked that?

 

The packaging translations also scream cheap quality garbage.  Had any failures on them?



#10 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 11:31 AM

the ones he linked DO look better than most other designs. I think there also are some with a conical reflector that have the LEDs shining backwards onto them that may also work. Some them have set screws that require adjusting the rotation of the unit in the reflector.

 

but, MOST still spray too much above/outside of proper cut-offs and 'appear' brighter for that reason.

 

I would proceed carefully and make sure I could return them if they don't work well. Most of the LED upgrades on the road are annoying.

 

also, please don't get purple - stay at bright white/ 6K or under if possible.



#11 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 12:17 PM

Haven't had any failures. Pattern looks correct. Very bright. Again - check out the reviews. 

 

As far as DOT - if the pattern looks correct.... who's going to ask? The police are already blinded by all the late model cars with factory HID and LED equipment. They won't know the difference. And everyone has been very pleased - no complaints about blinding oncoming traffic. One of my tech's has them in his 95 Impreza. Thumbs up. 

 

Amazon has very good return policies. You could easily return them if you don't like them. 

 

I agree that the HID stuff from a few years ago and some of the first generation LED stuff was terrible. I wouldn't consider an HID kit ever again - ballast failure is common. But the newest generation of these LED products is much better. 

 

GD


Edited by GeneralDisorder, 12 April 2018 - 01:01 PM.


#12 idosubaru

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 01:12 PM

I guess this is a dumb question - but what's the point of getting LED bulbs? 

 

Last longer?  Will they be as forgiving, or better, in terms of weather, conditions, terrible roads, etc?

If so I can't buy them quick enough, i hate replacing bulbs. 

 

 

​  Vast improvement over stock. 

 

Bulb output diminishes over time so it might be that they're the same as a Stock bulb that's new? 



#13 Numbchux

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 01:46 PM

Dropping an HID bulb in a halogen housing is bad news, and there is no way to do it correctly with the same reflectors.

 

LEDs can work great, when done correctly. Don't dismiss them on principle. Some are garbage, and some are awesome. I bought a set of cheap ones for the fog lights in my Celica a couple years ago, and I loved them so much, that I bought the exact same ones for the low beams on my '04 Outback. The ones I got are bluer than I'd like (6500k), but not crazy obnoxious.

 

 

Step one is to make sure your headlight lenses are clear. Mine were very cloudy, so I started with a restoration (I wet-sanded, and sealed with some thinned urethane), which helped immensely. And then I swapped the LEDs in.

 

Because of the design of the bulb itself, it was a bit tough to get it in the housing and locked down correctly, but it fit fine. And unlike many LED upgrades, these have a flexible braided heat sink that can be molded to the housing shape so you don't have to cut or drill a hole behind the bulb for the heat sink.

 

Beam pattern is great, I've had them for almost a year and a half now, and I've never had anyone flash their highbeams at me. I've been followed by this car in traffic in my XT6 and my Celica, and did not find the headlights obnoxious at all.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012KF1XDA

 

35311320530_4f2acfb36d_c.jpg20170106_194211 by Numbchux, on Flickr

 

On my Outback, the low beam bulb is illuminated with a reduced voltage as the daytime running light. This would make the LEDs flicker, so I disabled the DRLs, this was easy on my car, but I don't know about yours.

 

I don't know if it's something about the LEDs, or just the color, but the light from the LEDs doesn't seem to travel as far down the road, so I'm not a fan of using them on the high beams.

 

 

 

LEDs use considerably less electricity, and should last longer. Of course, there's much more to go wrong, power converters, and sometime even cooling fans, so they do still fail.

 

One downside to be aware of, is they don't generate much heat, so there can be an issue with icing in the right (wrong) conditions. But honestly, it's not too bad.


Edited by Numbchux, 12 April 2018 - 02:04 PM.


#14 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 01:50 PM

LED's generally last much longer. As in possibly for the life of the car. The one's I linked are fanless with passive heat sinks. Silent, and one less part to fail. 

 

They are exceptionally bright. They also draw significantly less amperage.

 

GD


Edited by GeneralDisorder, 12 April 2018 - 01:51 PM.


#15 Bushwick

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 11:55 PM

Amperage draw is a concern why? Cars with at least oem alternators should be able to handle everything stock thrown at them. Unlike AC from the wall, everything the car makes is essentially free while running.



#16 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 01:13 AM

Amperage draw is a concern why? Cars with at least oem alternators should be able to handle everything stock thrown at them. Unlike AC from the wall, everything the car makes is essentially free while running.


Actually it isn't. The alternator uses HP and therefore fuel to run. Racers generally turn them off. I have a an alt in my drag car that with a ground signal will reduce its output by 1 volt and rely on the battery surface charge to make up the difference during 1/4 mile runs.

There's many reasons - free up amperage for other uses, economy, lower alternator temps, and less taxing on already old wiring to name a few.

LED's are far superior to incandescent bulbs. This is a fact.

GD

#17 Bushwick

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 12:03 PM

For everyday driving, the extra amp draw honestly won't be noticed, unless you are willing to constantly turn off the alt trigger and rely on the battery, in which case a lower amperage alt. would probably be smarter, assuming we are talking a bare-bones no electronics car. FWIW, I ran a custom-wound 290 amp alt in '96 Mark VIII (stock was 135 IIRC) and had a custom-cut alt. pulley made so it'd actually charge at idle (spun it up by an extra 200rpm @idle) as I had an extra 120 amp draw worth of sub amplifiers that were always on. Stock, that car got 28 mpg highway. Tweaked (lowered, synth. oils front to back, freer intake/exhaust, etc.) it would do 33 mpg flat highway (yes, a V8 with an auto- thank the coe. drag). With the 290 amp alt., it still did 33 mpg highway ;)

 

For drag racing, might as well pull the entire serp. belt and run an electric water pump....

 

LEDS are OK, unless you need the heat on the lens.


Edited by Bushwick, 13 April 2018 - 12:06 PM.


#18 Gloyale

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 12:32 PM

I've got a working set of bulbs from an 78 wagon that bubbled up in a wildfire (only thing left of the car)  And they still work.

 

OE tokico bulbs from 1978.

 

Show me the LED that will last that long and go through a raging fire that destroyed my fathers house and everything he owned.

 

Can't tell you how many LED flashlights I've had fail and start blinking or just glow dim/off color.  

 

And then my 4 year old Samsung LED TV died last week.  The LED backlights failed.....took the strips out and several individual "bulb" were burnt up.

 

Yeah I don't trust LED headlights.  I just don't.



#19 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 01:29 PM

Empirical evidence would suggest that the latest technology is much more reliable.

But frankly I replace a LOT of burned out incandescent bulbs. Headlights and others. The LED models aren't any more expensive than high output halogen and so either way if you are going to have spares the cost is basically the same. I would still take a low draw LED over a halogen - better output and you'll never melt down a bulb harness.

It's a win from all angles. You can retain full backwards compatibility, you get high output, proper beam, low draw, and the same price.

I don't see any drawbacks.

GD

#20 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 13 April 2018 - 02:28 PM

the prices on LEDs in general are good now. I put led in front marker positions a few years ago, had some left over from the purchase,  and last year failed inspection for rear license lights, put 2 in there.

 

they will probably outlive their sockets, be shining after I'm dead lol!

 

They 'were' seriously the best option for difficult to service applications and high vibration applications - perfect for transportation really. Now, they're good almost everywhere. So much better than CFLs - ugh.


Edited by 1 Lucky Texan, 13 April 2018 - 02:31 PM.


#21 Numbchux

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 09:59 AM

I just bought a '00 Outback to use as a winter beater. It's got 311,000 miles on it, and I will be receiving the cheapest parts I can find. It'll be getting those $40 LED headlights before it gets on the road, just like our '04.

 

 

No, you probably won't noticed an increase in fuel mileage or anything by switching. But, reducing the load on the system helps prevent burned wires/connectors, and reduces wear on the alternator.

 

 

LED lights turn on quicker. Use them in your brake lights, that extra millisecond might prevent getting rear ended.

 

 

I'm looking at doing them on my Celica, but requires a little modification, as they use a switched ground system, so you have to set up relays to reverse the polarity, and the high-beam indicator relies on the draw of a halogen, typical fix is a 194 marker light bulb. Also, being a sealed beam, I have to decide on conversion housings and bulbs, or housings with integrated LEDS. It'll happen, too. And since my 4Runner and XT6 both use 6054 sealed beams, I'm sure they'll get the same.

 

Also, every light in my house is LED, and most in my garage.


Edited by Numbchux, 16 April 2018 - 10:09 AM.


#22 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 10:21 AM

Also, every light in my house is LED, and most in my garage.

 

Same here. I'm right there with ya. The LED stuff is sooooo much better. I'm slowely upgrading all the lights in my shop also. 

 

GD



#23 scalman

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 10:34 AM

anyone have real comparison pics of those leds on 2nd gen outback? or at least tell how better they are then oem bulbs , i upgraded mine to osram night braker laser and its not so much upgrade over oem ones . do those leds any better in actual light on road , on wet , rain ? i have H7 in front as low beams. 

what kind bulb is good as brake in rear ? i tried ones and they worse then oem bulbs. 


Edited by scalman, 16 April 2018 - 10:37 AM.


#24 comatosellama

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 11:58 AM

I found the biggest upgrade for my lights was spending a day wet sanding them with 600 grit then 2000 grit and topping off with a clear coat. Made the car look brand new and the headlights are much better now. took me maybe 3 hours and $16. About once a week i wipe them with wd-40 to keep them nice and clear.

 

I think i use the 2nd "best" sylvania bulb but the cleaning was the real upgrade


Edited by comatosellama, 16 April 2018 - 11:59 AM.


#25 scalman

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 12:40 PM

toothpaste cleans lights good. its easy and fast to do . 






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