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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Upgraded headlights

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58 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_CincyBuckeye_*

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Posted 17 March 2001 - 01:11 AM

Well, since my favorite basketball team finished early from the tournament this year, I had some time to upgrade the headlights on our 1997 Legacy Outback wagon. I got the harness and bulbs from Competition Limited (they were very helpful). Perhaps the best way to describe the difference is "I once was blind, but now I see." I had no idea how well one could actually see with decent headlights!

It took me about 2 hours all told to install the new harness & secure all the wires, but I was being extra careful since I had never messed with headlight wiring before and would rather invest the time now to do the job meticulously and not have to redo it later.

I've posted some before and after photos:

Feel free to critique my photographic skills. I won't mind. I'll be out enjoying my new lights.

#2 Guest_Commuter_*

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Posted 17 March 2001 - 09:46 AM

I can vouch for what you say.

I too have a 97 OB and I too bought a wiring harness from Competition Limited. I am also running 80/100W bulbs that I bought from them as well.

The light output is MUCH better. Still, I'd say that I'm only a bit better now than most of the cars around me. Definitely not up to the level of those with HID lights.

I probably took even longer than you to install the harness. I was working in 23F temperatures at the time back in February. Most of the time was spent just mounting the relays, dressing the wiring and ensuring that I had good grounds. I didn't at first on the one side and the light output looked like a flashlight going dead. A bit of scraping to get a good ground and all was well.

I did have one bulb blow quickly (2 weeks), but I attribute this to shipping damage. One was loose in the package and rattling around. The top of the bulb was scratched up. Competition Limited replaced it no problem. Darn thing exploded though... gotta find a way to vacuum the bits out of the headlight housing someday.

I'm tempted to even try their 100/130W bulbs. I rarely use my high beams. Going from 80W to 100W on the lows would still be acceptable (to others on the road) I think, based on the result of going from 55W to 80W.

I do have one unresolved problem. My car is Canadian and has DRL's. It appears that this circuitry has screwed things up. When I turn on the foglights, the headlights switch from low to high. They tell me that something is backfeeding the relays. I will be taking my car into the dealer soon for routine servicing. I'm going to see if they can provide a work around, or at least get the wiring diagram and see if Competition Limited can help. I don't use or need my foglights very often, so I'm just doing without them for the moment. I don't want to get into some extensive rewiring, then find out that there is some easy work around. :)

Enjoy your better visibility!


#3 Guest_Amric_*

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Posted 17 March 2001 - 09:30 PM

Chris, great pics. Nice improvement! Are those are the clear bulbs - not super white, blue, or some other color? Also, how did you find the quality of the CL harness - wiring & relays, etc? I'm considering that one or the Painless harness. I'll probably use those bulbs too. Are you happy with them or would you try something else next time?

Commuter - good luck w/the DRL's, can't help you there. Maybe its time to retrofit a set of PIAA 520 fog's!

#4 Guest_CincyBuckeye_*

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Posted 17 March 2001 - 09:58 PM

The bulbs I installed are the Hella 80/100w clears. I also considered the clear krypton bulbs, and may still try them in the future. I also toyed with the idea of the 100/130w rally bulbs but decided I'd ease my way into the high wattage bulb scene rather than installing mini-nova's in each headlamp :) .

As far as the harness goes, the wiring is good quality solid, heavy-gauge wire. The only thing I wish were different about the harness is I like the rubberized sockets on the stock harness and wish the new one had rubber to keep stuff out of the connections. I think I'm going to look for a higher temperature sealant to coat the backs of the plugs to keep them clean. I am not familiar with the Painless harness, but if you have a link to where I can learn more about it, I would appreciate it. There are other Subarus in the extended family that I'm working to convince their owners they need better lights.

If I were to do it all over again, I'd do it the same way for now, but I'll keep the board posted with my results in terms of bulb life & performance, or if I go with a higher wattage bulb next time. I'm not likely to monkey around with other colors, since I actually like the clears.

#5 Guest_CincyBuckeye_*

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Posted 17 March 2001 - 10:12 PM

I found this relay harness from Painless:

It looks similar, but costs about twice what I paid for the one from Competition Limited. The one feature the Painless model has that I like is in-line fuse system vs. the fusible links on the CL harness (personal preference, less wrench work if the fuse blows vs. need to replace fusible link wires).

#6 Guest_Dickens_*

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Posted 18 March 2001 - 04:04 AM

I'm curious about any long-term damage people notice from high-wattage bulbs. The poly lenses are not cheap to replace and I certainly wouldn't want to melt it down with the headlights :-(

Also -- quick tip if you're lazy like me -- turn down your instrument lights. The lights get a bit "brighter" if you aren't getting blinded by the speedometer. :-)

Also -- for the painless system, I assume the part# people are using is #30815 (Headlight conversion/extension harness).

#7 Guest_Commuter_*

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Posted 18 March 2001 - 09:56 AM

I concur again with CincyBuckeye.

The harness was fully sheathed. The fusible link portion attaches via a connector. There is even a connector at the battery. About the only disappointment was the open connectors on the back of the headlight sockets as he mentions.

I bought the clear Krypton Quartz bulbs from C.L. These are suppose to run cooler with the mix of gasses that they use. C.L. claims on their website that they have never had a lens problem. I know that I have read where others say that the lenses may yellow, or melt in the extreme case. I figure I'll just take my chances... driving with poor lighting is also taking chances!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed on bulb life. While the price of the bulbs isn't bad, they are still about 2 or 3x's the price of regular bulbs. No where near the price of the PIAA's though that I tried.


#8 Guest_remarcable_*

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Posted 19 March 2001 - 09:34 AM

I have to keep my instrument panel lit up all the way all the time 'cause I can't see it with my sunglasses on otherwise during the day when I'm under trees or in the shade! And at night I usually forget to turn them back down.

I *really* wish my Outback had the white-faced gauges....

#9 Guest_Commuter_*

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Posted 19 March 2001 - 09:53 PM

I'm beginning to wonder about these bulbs... Or if I have a further incompatibility with the wiring harness and the DRL's that my Canadian bred car has. I just had the OTHER bulb blow on me. 2 weeks on the first bulb, and about 6 weeks on the second. I changed this one immediately, so the glass was not shattered, but there is a big bubble in it and it is black.

This is not good... Darn!

(Ticked off) Commuter

#10 Guest_Legacy777_*

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Posted 19 March 2001 - 11:16 PM

Hmmm. I wonder if these bulbs are sucepticle (sp) to blowing from bein under powered. Do you know if the bulbs run at a certain percentage of power for the drl's? It could be that there needs to be sufficient voltage/amperage to allow the arc to jump through the gas. With lower voltages it may not be enough, and is very prematurely wearing the bulbs out.

#11 Guest_Commuter_*

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Posted 20 March 2001 - 12:24 PM

The wiring harness simply uses one of the original sockets as a 'trigger'. That's how it was explained to me.

In stock form, the DRL circuitry uses a reduced output on the low beam. With the harness in place, the DRL's work (the signal is sensed), but I get full low beam light output. There is no 'perceptible' difference between lights being on via DRL, or turning the lights on via the switch.

I'm not knowledgeable on headlight relays, but it seems to me that the new ones don't know any difference between a low power signal (DRL) and the full power signal (switch on). It is only suppose to be a trigger signal as I was told, so this makes sense.

I hadn't considered underpowering as a possible problem. I was actually wondering the opposite since the harness draws directly off the battery. *shrug*

I haven't called C.L. yet. We'll see...


#12 Guest_CincyBuckeye_*

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Posted 20 March 2001 - 07:17 PM


I'm sure I can't compete in terms of driving hours (based on one of your earliest posts I remember you drive a great deal each day). Nonetheless, I'll try to keep you & the board posted about my bulb life results. We don't have DRL's, but we leave our switch in the on position, so if the car's on, the lights are on. We're running the Hella clear 80/100s now, but we only put about 40 minutes/day on them. I'll try to estimate the odometer from Friday so we can know how many miles we're going on a set of bulbs. One of these weekends we'll have a longer road trip to really let the bulbs heat up.

#13 Guest_CincyBuckeye_*

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Posted 01 April 2001 - 11:05 AM


I was wondering about your DRL situation with the foglights. I too have only a peripheral understanding of relays, but I was wondering if perhaps your DRL circuitry was sending a low signal to the relays under most circumstances, then when you turn on the foglights, the DRL's switch from low power to full power and the relays interpret this as a switch to high beams?

Maybe you could test this by using the original harness for a few minutes (shouldn't overheat that fast) and seeing what happens when your DRL's are on & you add the fogs.

Or perhaps you could circumvent the problem by driving with your lights in the switched on position all the time and not using the DRL low power mode at all. Of course, you may already be doing this.

Let me know if any of these ideas make a difference.

#14 Guest_LBSC_*

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Posted 02 April 2001 - 06:25 AM

I assume you know that halogen bulbs must be kept absolutely clean?
Don't touch with your bare hands; handle with a clean cloth only.
The least amount of dirt or oil on the surface is enough to make them

#15 Guest_subaru4u_*

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Posted 06 April 2001 - 09:05 AM

hey ne 1 know about replacing fog lamps with hella lights. ever tryed or should i just get better bulbs for the fog light themselves. any comments would be great wana brighing things up a bit for night time offroad and residential and highway driving

#16 Guest_dscottf_*

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Posted 06 April 2001 - 09:31 AM

I am going to attempt this very trick, replacing the fogs with hella 500s or Piaa 520s

I don' t expect a lot more useable light, the position is just too low to be much help for driving lights. But *anything* will be a help. Not to mention in that location the cops most likely won't realize they are not legal.

> hey ne 1...
please don't do that, I'd hate for this to sound like an aol chat room ;-)

#17 Guest_subaru4u_*

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Posted 06 April 2001 - 10:09 AM

i look at ne1 as a lazy typest...if it bothers u sorry, if you have time in the future you can help me w/ my lazyness: )

hey let me know how it turns out. the only [problem i saw was that the hella lights were a bit bigger that the stock opening. dont know

#18 Guest_Gus_*

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Posted 06 April 2001 - 10:49 AM

FWIW, I always stop at Autozone and pick up a pair of 100W halogen bulbs to replace the 55W bulbs in the factory fog lights on the way home from picking up my new cars. It provides adequate lighting and I have yet to melt anything down <knock on formica> including my '98 GT wagon.

Now if someone could lead me in the right direction for tapping into the factory harness in my '92 Turbo legacy so I could add some driving lights, I might actually be able to see where I'm going in that thing some day, er, night. ;)


#19 Guest_AWD Yahoo_*

Guest_AWD Yahoo_*
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Posted 07 April 2001 - 11:52 AM

If you are looking for a good place to get power for extra lights on your 92 turbo hook them up to the battery using a relay to turn the current on/off to the lights

....then use the little blanking plate for the switch for the air suspension to mount your light switch and take power (used to power only the relay) from the cig lighter, the lighter has lots of power and turns off with the key (no leaving them on by mistake and kill the battery).

it works on my 91 turbo


#20 Guest_CincyBuckeye_*

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Posted 29 April 2001 - 06:58 PM

Well, on our first (semi) extended trip, we lost our first Hella 80/100W bulb. Looking back at the date of my first post, it looks like I just missed the 30 day warranty by a couple of weeks. Bummer. Next time I'll try ordering new bulbs & putting them in just before a longer road trip to stress test them.

I've had zero other problems, but then again my lights/car are rarely run beyond an hour at a time (city driving for the most part).

I've also installed a harness & 80/100's in my mom's '99 Legacy (special edition), and Dad's '96 Legacy L. I'll get bulb life data from those installations as well.

#21 Guest_Commuter_*

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Posted 01 May 2001 - 09:58 PM

Give C.L. a call. The warranty is 90 days. They've replaced my failed bulbs without a fuss.

I had my third bulb (Krypton Quartz) blow last week. I got 7 weeks on that bulb (so 2, 6 and 7 weeks... not good). Granted, I drive 3 hours a day... but still... regular bulbs had at least 2 years on them an were still going...

C.L. felt bad for me after the second bulb blew and sent me a pair of Hellas. I haven't put those in yet. From your comments... I probably won't fair any better.

To answer someone's earlier thoughts... I always run with the headlights on. I do NOT use the DRL position. I really feel that this is a bulb problem, not a wiring harness problem. One way to test would be to put stock bulbs in, but I really don't want to go back to that wimpy light output.

And yes, I know not to touch the glass. I've never had an issue with any prior standard bulbs that I've changed.

I suspect that a summer project is coming up whereby I'll be adding some driving lights. I just can't afford bulbs at this rate. And I would like to have the use of my foglights again. I'm still chicken to run 80/100W bulbs on the stock wiring.

C.L. has been good. I have no issue with them. It just doesn't seem to be working for me.


#22 Guest_jtoark_*

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 01:30 PM

Eaglite xenon bulbs are available from the Midnight Moose at www.midnightmoose.com/home.htm.
These are the best lighting I have ever used including Phillips aftermarket HID. HID's are highly over rated, in my opinion, as they are ONLY high beams and most of the time we drive with the low beams on. These bulbs cost only about $16.50 US. Have been using them in several cars for a long time with no trouble at all! Use 100/130 watt with stock wiring in an Impreza with perfect reliability. You will not melt the light housing! I first used the 80 watt then the 100 and now the 130's which really give proper lighting. Don't know how long the bulbs will last as none has ever quit. Midnight Moose says 2-3 years average. They are high quality. Midnight Moose is run buy a girl named Monica. They have excellent service and can't say enough good things about them. She has a good deal of common sense information on the web site concerning lights. I have used Cebie, Hella and PIAA and I much perfer these lights. Wait till you see the quality of the box they come in! Personally, I think the blue look best as the light is truly white and the lights look identical to HID to approaching cars. For the price you cannot beat them. Anyone want a $515 set of Phillips HID highbeams?

#23 Guest_Nicolas_*

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Posted 07 May 2001 - 03:38 PM

HID headlights as fitted stds to luxury cars are for low beam only. Main beam is by means of a "normal" unit.
I have to disagree with you on HID performance. When fitted std, the quality and intensity of the light is much better than any conventional headlight, even with a 100w bulb. I found that the best combination is HID on low and 100w bulb on main unit. Incidentally, HID is so powerful that it must come with a dynamic height adjustment and headlamp washer jets to prevent dazzling incoming drivers.

#24 Guest_Commuter_*

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Posted 23 May 2001 - 08:24 PM

Sigh... (see my earlier posts in this topic)

My fourth bulb just blew. It seems I cannot get more than 6 or 7 weeks out of these C.L. Kryton Quartz bulbs. Granted, my driving time would equal about 3 times that (calendar timewise) for most people. Still, I consider that an unacceptable life.

So... next project will be driving lights it seems.

I will have to check out the information on the bulb mentioned in the post above. Perhaps an option.

I really have a hard time understanding how people get away with running high wattage bulbs with stock wiring. Sure, there is a margin of safety to the wiring, but a margin of 100%, or more??!! I suspect that older cars probably had more "margin" than newer ones. Things are probably more closely 'engineered' today (gotta save a few pennies for those bean counters). Quite a few people on this board have posted that they have put in high wattage bulbs without problem, while others have melted the wiring. I don't know what to think.

I'm about to throw in the towel though on the C.L. harness and bulbs. Drat... I really wanted it to work.


#25 Guest_SmashPDX_*

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Posted 24 May 2001 - 09:09 AM

I have 80/100s in my '95 LSi, stock harness, drive with the low beams on all the time, and have been running the higher wattage since... wow, maybe about a year by now. No harness or plug damage that I'm aware of (knock on car).

However, Rich Rubel (Unofficial Outback website) ran 90/100s on his '96 Outback and melted the plugs earlier in his history.

I attribute the difference to the 10W spread on the low beams, and I am assuming that if I got crazy enough to drive with the high-ones on for any substantial amount of time I'd probably toast the thing.

Can someone give prices on a harness upgrade? And how do they work-- they plug into existing or is it more effort?

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