By on January 11, 2012

 

Robin writes:

So when I get my next big check I’m getting me a Panther. On this you can depend. You’ve talked me into it! But that’s not the point of my email. Rather, I’ve seen these HID light kits and wonder if it’s a lot of hype or if there is some veracity to the upgrade?

Sajeev answers:

Oh yes!  How lovely to hear you will be joining us enlightened American auto-connoisseurs in the Land of the Last Land Yacht: Panther Love…Son!

Like I mentioned in the last Piston Slap, HID retrofits are usually a terrible idea.  Aside from their durability and inherent poor value, they are not a “bright idea” (sorry) when performing a headlight retrofit/upgrade to your non-HID car. A few notable exceptions include me, when I upgraded my 1995 Lincoln Mark VIII’s headlights with the factory HID system used on certain 1996 models.  It was all factory parts, and worked great…until time and orphan parts reared their ugly heads.

Long story short, there is no real scientific benefit to HIDs if you don’t have a headlight assembly designed for the HID bulb.  And sometimes, depending on headlight lense design and bulb choice, it’s more of a detriment. And the only Panther that can safely run HIDs are 2003-2011 Town Cars with the (optional) factory-installed HID lenses. Everything else throws out a ton of glare and is dangerous for fellow motorists. And yourself, if you encounter a lot of reflective signs on the road or drive in thunderstorms at night in urban lighting conditions.

Plus, most of these aftermarket kits are quite unreliable: from the quality of wiring, durability of relays, and design of bulbs, calling these HID retrofit vendors “hit or miss” would be an understatement.

Plus again, many of these kits are downright illegal.  Even if they are DOT approved, are they legal for use in your state?  Better find out before you buy.

One last remark: the non-HID’s on my father’s 2006 Town Car are disturbingly close to the general lighting quality of the HID’s in my 1995 Mark VIII. Who says these Panthers are old school? Their lighting pods are pretty darn high-tech!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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69 Comments on “Piston Slap: Of HID-retrofit Hatred, Panther Love...”


  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Sajeev,

    Shall we put you down as a “no” on HID retrofits? As for me, I hate all of them: OEM and aftermarket. They are dangerous to the other driver on a two lane road.

    • 0 avatar
      Hank

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      theirishscion

      Good lord, me too. The OEM instances are tolerable from a glare standpoint (more so in Europe where by law they have to be electrically height adjustable from within the cabin) but anything aftermarket, pretty much regardless of the install, is unacceptable. I’ll grant you there are enthusiasts who’ve built projector mechanisms into their HID housings that work pretty much as well as OEM, but they’re in the massive, massive minority.

      Were I just a little bit crazier, I think I’d quite enjoy following cars with terrible HID installs till they parked and then surreptitiously breaking their headlamps, grumpy-old-man-black-panther-style-e. I should clarify that I’m not that crazy, but it’s a nice thing to thing about as I’m trying to blink the blue streaks out of my field of vision at dusk when some aching cretin passes me trying to light up the canopy.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m totally fine with the factory setups. With a few exceptions, they all put down a conservative beam to my oncoming eyeballs. I think this is less about the bulb and more about the bucket in which it resides.

    • 0 avatar
      Vance Torino

      It better be a “NO!”

      I thought the whole point of “PANTHER LOVE” was the ultra-durable, cheap-ass hardware and repairs.

      “Blinging” up a Panther with more expensive, more complicated components kinda defeats the whole purpose of the Love, eh?

  • avatar
    relton

    I installed an HID headlight kit in my wife’s 2006 Mustang, from American Muscle. They work great, way better than the HID lights on my Mark VIII.

    The kit looked pretty high quality to me, and, for over a year, has worked without flaw.

    I’ve also used HID driving lights from aftermarket sources, with good results.

    But none of these are cheap.

    As to legality, I doubt that the average cop is enough of an expert in headlight fitment to tell the difference. I’d rather avoid an accident and take my chances with the headlight police.

    Bob

  • avatar
    mikedt

    I know the standard line is that hid bulbs in non-hid headlights don’t work. But I’ve found, at least in the case of my motorcycle, while hid in non-hid lights might not be technically optimal, it’s a huge improvement. Using seat-of-the-eyeball measurements, I get whiter and more light, and since oncoming traffic isn’t flashing me I have to assume they aren’t bothered by them. All this while using $40 dual hid kits straight from China. Quality halogen bulbs cost more.

  • avatar
    Lemmy-powered

    If the lights aren’t great with halogen bulbs, HIDs are probably going to give you a lot more light — in the form of glare. You won’t suddenly have fantastic, controlled light.

    While this may not be the case with our esteemed friend who submitted the original question, I am of the belief that most cases of inadequate lighting can be remedied by turning the instrument lights DOWN. Seems like many/most other drivers like to light up the dash like an old Eight Ball Deluxe pinball game.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Daniel Stern has basically written the book on this.

    http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/bulbs/Hid/conversions/conversions.html

    If you really think your lighting is that poor, try some GE Nighthawk bulbs, they’re quite excellent and are pretty cheap compared to one of these Chinese made so-called “HID conversion kits”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’d rather just buy a really high quality “regular” bulb. I replaced the bulbs in my fiances Vibe and went with a high quality replacement. Much brighter than the old bulbs. Oh and polish your lenses people!

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      Dan,

      polishing does not work. Lasted me only one winter. Then I went to the junk yard and got like new headlight assemblies that cost $100 for a pair (down from $150/ea., just bring cash and some beer). And I’ve installed Sylvania SilverStar Ultra bulbs. Wow, what a difference!

      P.S. Never touch halogen bulb by the glass as it will significantly reduce it service life!

      And it’s a good idea to replace bulbs every 2-3 years to improve brightness as they dim with age.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        +1 on the Sylvania SilverStar Ultra. I used these in a car a few years back and they were fantastic. My nightvision is bad enough to make me uncomfortable without contacts; my glasses work, but road signs are a challenge. When I went to SilverStars I had no issues.

        I’m thinking about upgrading to SilverStars in my car when one of the bulbs burns out.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        I installed some good Sylvania’s also on my sweeties ride. She was going to pay the stealership to install new bulbs. Ay Carumba!

      • 0 avatar

        I used to use Sylvania Silverstar Ultras and was very happy with them. Something changed though, because they went from lasting years to lasting about 2 months. I mentioned this to the guy at the auto parts store and he swore up and down that it was totally normal for any high quality bulb to only last a few months at the most. OK… sure, pal. He reminded me of the Monty Python bit where the mechanic said, “It’s a precision gearbox, you have to expect it to stick a bit, perfectly normal!”

        I had my indie shop put in Subaru OEM bulbs at my next oil change. Dunno what happened to the parts-shop Sylvanias. I guess it could have been my 11 year old car, but I have no hint of electrical problems anywhere else.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Aftermarket kits can cause all sorts of crazy electrical gremlins since they’re typically not well designed and for that matter not really engineered with a particular electrical system in mind. If you can get the correct HID housings to make the cutoffs proper I suppose it’s possible to do it safely but even then…not really worth it.

  • avatar
    mistermau

    I gotta admit, the relenting Panther Love is absolutely contagious!

    If there had been a Panther Wagon manufactured sometime in the past DECADE, I’d be ALL over it…

    • 0 avatar
      70Cougar

      It is contagious. I like small cars, stick shifts, and good gas mileage, but since I’ve been reading stuff on TTAC about Panthers being able to hit a curb at 60 mph and keep rolling and how they’ll go 400k easy and how they’re the last American land yacht, I want one. This despite my memories of my parents’ variable venturi carbed 1980 Colony Park that wouldn’t pull a wet string out of a cat’s ass, yet you could see the gas gauge plunge when you punched it.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve been so poisoned against American cars over the years that the Panther Love around here seems like it’s got to be an elaborate practical joke.

        I freely admit that my biases may be unfair. I’m just the product of my environment, an environment that was infested with terrible American cars. It’s hard to forgive and forget.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        It is contagious.

        The technical term is “social media influencers”.

        Kidding!

  • avatar
    turbosaab

    For ~$35 on eBay, try the HID kit. For my Saab I replaced the 9006 low beam bulbs only, and the difference in lighting output is amazing. Not quite as good as my other Saab which is factory-equipped with xenons, but much much better than stock.

    If aimed properly they will not blind other drivers. Are they legal? Who knows. If you don’t like the “blue” look (and want to blend in a bit more to local law enforcement), go with a lower, more yellowish color temperature.

    I’ve had mine about a year and they have not failed yet. I bought a complete extra kit so that I have spares in the car when they do burn out.

    • 0 avatar

      No matter what you do, you can’t aim a shotgun and expect a path of a sniper.

      • 0 avatar
        turbosaab

        They do not blind other drivers. No one flashes their lights at me. I can see great. That’s enough for me. But, yeah, if you are in search of headlight aiming nirvina then you should probably keep looking

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        @turbosaab

        I stopped flashing my brights at jackasses with HID conversions ages ago because it does nothing. It’s not like the driver is going to realize what a poor decision they made and convert their lights back to stock or something.

      • 0 avatar

        If you have a SAAB with projector style headlights, upgrading to HIDs is a lot easier to do right. Its all the non-projector equipped vehicles where this is a big problem. I am sure your setup isn’t 100% legal and a lighting consultant like Daniel Stern may find flaws (shotgun/sniper) but your point is definitely valid.

        And thanks for sharing.

  • avatar

    Thanks Sajeev,

    I’ll file these HID kits in the same drawer as fart cans and ginormous wings.

    The GE Nighthawks look like they deserve some research.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    Good headlamps are one of those things most people don’t check when they buy a car, unless they test drive at night.

    I measure low beam worthiness by how many seconds of visibility I get at highway speeds over 100km/h. It can be spectacular (eg. 2002 ES300 and 1999/2003 Windstar both over 7 seconds) to awful (any 1990′s 626 or Caravan at 1 second), and most in the middle. Anything less than 3 seconds is mediocre and dangerous.

    Factory HID isn’t a panacea, but it helps. I’ve tried the ultra-white halogen bulbs, but the improvement in perceived light output is less than 10%, and they’ll burn out within a year versus 4-5 years on a regular halogen bulb. They do nothing to address the design flaw of the reflector.

  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    More light on the road = safer. That’s why I leave my brights on all the time. So many people flash theirs at me to thank me for being so safety minded!

  • avatar
    Dukeboy01

    I think your money is better spent buying a premium quality regular bulb instead of going through the additional expense of adding the kit.

    As far as concerns about the legality of the kits go and whether or not you might get pulled over, speaking from personal experience, I’m not going to waste time pulling you over for HIDs… unless I’m looking for a reason to pull you over because I suspect you being involved in some other more nefarious activity. A violation is still a violation.

    Sure, I could articulate a dozen reasons to justify making an investigative stop in order to determine if you’re involved in criminal activity, but it’s always easier to let your stupid, self- inflicted equipment violation make my probable cause easier.

    In 15 years of doing the job, I’ve never understood why people who are engaged in serious criminal activity (drug dealing, possessing illegal weapons, casing places for burglary, etc.) that could net them serious jail time insist on having illegal tint, illegal lighting, burned out taillights, and obnoxious stereos in their vehicles. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

    • 0 avatar
      alan996

      LOL, I did it for 37 years. If they were not so stupid we would not catch so many…Glad to see there is at least one other PO reading here.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      TTAC could use more PO perspective now and then. If you put together a top ten list of probable causes for stops (or other stupid stuff people do) it would probably make for good reading.

      Jack Baruth started out writing some pretty strange stuff but his perspective was interesting and his writing has become some of the most popular on this site. A cop perspective on the auto world might have the same effect.

  • avatar
    rickyc

    The main issue with cheap HID retrofits is that they lack the self leveling system standard on OEM applications. So at night they blind the hell of other drivers. Of course most of these kits are used by the aftermarket freaks also known as “The Fast and Furious crowd” or “Ricers”.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      A lot of cars don’t have the self leveling systems anymore. Partly because they wear out over time. I know older Audi’s and some MINIs had self leveling systems, but my G37 and my wife’s SHO doesn’t, and both have stock HID lighting.

  • avatar
    rkendle53

    so im a little perturbed about this because of one reason… the OP quoted a RETROFIT, which in and of itself means not just buying bulbs and slapping them in OEM housings, it also consist of using an HID ready reflector from a similar vehicle. i dont know about reliability over time, but when done correctly, retrofits give you almost factory quality results. spoken from a so called “ricer”. ugh.

  • avatar
    blocbusta

    The breakdown of the comments show that you just didn’t come down hard enough Sajeev.

    Such kits are strictly the domain of the ‘Fast and the Furious’ set. These truly are the lighting equivalent of a 4+ inch exhaust tip. If you have either you should feel a creeping sense of shame. Forget the legality, these look like garbage, ALWAYS.

    As another commenter pointed out, Daniel Stern article is really the go to source on HID retrofits.

    • 0 avatar

      More to come soon, from the Great Mr. Stern himself.

      And its not just the Fast and Furious set…its anyone with an older car who buys parts for it on eBay, or from local places that stock said eBay junk. I could go further into socioeconomic headlight purchasing habits, but then I’ll sound like a bigot, or worse.

      • 0 avatar
        turbosaab

        Yes, if you do that you probably will sound like a bigot or worse, for good reason. Personally, I bought the “junk” kit (which works great, by the way) because I like to be able to see well at night… if you want to try to twist that into some kind of socioeconomic BS, that’s your issue.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Can I ask, since we’re chatting about lighting, what is the deal with the pinkish-purple headlights? I’ve noticed these and they always send me into seething fits of rage. Is there any safety benefit, or are these just d-bags who want “something different”?

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC, they are super-wicked HID bulbs of a certain Kelvin rating. You will also see them in purple-blue colors.

      One thing: when I say super-wicked, I mean super illegal and annoying.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      D-bags who wants something different.

      The lower end of the kelvin scale is yellow. Higher kelvin ratings turn purple first, then I think pink. Some people install HID bulbs in their foglights, typically using bulbs rated at 3,000k (yellow). That is one extreme on the spectrum. If the light is turning pink, it is probably up around 10,000k. I think 6,000k is probably the most popular color for after market bulbs, appearing slightly blue.

      There is no safety benefit to the higher kelvin ratings. Visibility is actually worse. I will leave it to Daniel Stern’s website to articulately explain why.

      OEM HID bulbs are supposed to be 4,300K. I’m not sure if all manufacturers use that color temperature though. With the BMWs and a Lexus I have been in with OEM HID bulbs, the color is not much whiter than halogens. Whenever I see Acuras coming my way, they seem to have more of a bluer tint – and more glare.

  • avatar
    jco

    there’s just no way you’ll get acceptable beam pattern and anything less than atrocious amounts of glare if you wire up an HID kit in halogen-designed open reflector housings. I do remember that the original Lincoln systems weren’t projector-based. the original Mercedes versions were reflector-based as well. So the housing was designed to shape that type of light. And yes, I see junky HID kits in reflector housings all the time. it just looks cheap and wrong. there are usually huge hot spots at the top of the housing, specifically throwing glare at others. i don’t think there are any OEMs using HID in a non-projector housing.

    I installed a well-made (it came with a wire harness with in-line fuses and directly plugged into my headlight harness. it takes the stress of the increased startup power away from the factory wiring) HID retro kit in my truck. But my truck already has projector housings for the low beams. though the lenses are not optimized for that type of bulb, they work about 90% as well a true OEM setup. and i spent time adjusting the level on the beams. i have driven another car in front of my truck at night and it’s not glare-y at all.

    some people will take an open reflector housing, pull it apart, and install OEM projector components. if you’re skilled with a dremel tool you can probably do that in just about anything. it’s still gonna look weird in there, but you’ll have a better performing light setup. that’s beyond the level of most people who just buy a kit from ebay and plug it in.

    edit: also watch out for the new eBay trend, the me-too LED eyebrow strips. coming to a Cavalier near you.

    • 0 avatar

      Brilliant post.

    • 0 avatar
      Acubra

      Example of such kit

      http://www.theretrofitsource.com/product_info.php?products_id=237

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I should have read your post before I posted mine, you said most of what I was trying to say.

      I will add though, a halogen projector housing isn’t 90% as capable as a true HID projector, besides the lense differences you already mentioned, the reflective properties are different. Yes, its better than a reflector, and I would guess its probably not different enough to justify the difficulty in replacing a projector. It is a lot easier to put a projector into a reflector bucket, no dremel required with the retrofit kits, with a projector you have to rebuild the entire bucket. It is good that you aimed it, I think thats also where most people fail, they dont aim them right or at all.

      BTW, I think you can replace your lense with proper HID lenses if you felt like making the effort.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Our Mini Cooper had factory HID lights. They were the option that kept on giving, to Mini. My girlfriend loved the little calisthenics they did each time you switched on the lights, which wore out the self leveling motors in less than 3 years. By then the original bulbs had both been replaced at our cost, which was about $180 a piece. The replacement bulbs didn’t live the 18 months that the originals did. Maybe it was the car as much as the lighting configuration, as our Mini Cooper love died a death by a thousand cuts and the headlights only constituted about 6 of them. Our Acura TSX is 7 years old and I don’t think the HID bulbs have caused trouble. IIRC, the headlights were recalled and replaced due to some instances of water leaks though, so I don’t know how old the bulbs are. Perhaps the dealer replaced them with the headlight assemblies.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    For all of you considering GE Nighthawks, Sylvania Silverstars, et al, let me say this (verifed by simple Google searches and Amazon reviews): you are trading a bit more brightness for A LOT of bulb life.

    If you get even one full year out of these higher-performace bulbs, you’ll be lucky (depends how often you use your headlights, but here in rainy, cloudy Seattle, I pretty much have them on day or night). Some people get less than six months of life before one burns out, with Silverstars seeming to be the worst as far as short life goes. The Nighthawks ($40/pair retail, OUCH) in our minivan just failed after 13 months, within a week of each other! I will not use them again.

    Personally, put me in the camp of using a standard, high-quality halogen bulb that will last 2-3 years and costs a fraction of what the “high-performance” bulbs do. I have been Amazon shopping lately and you can get genuine Hella 9003/HB2 bulbs (H4 “equivalent”) which fit most Hondas for around $5 each! Stock up on those and carry a spare (I use an old plastic prescription bottle with a paper towel inside as a spare bulb carrying case).

    If you want to go a step up from that, go to the Xenon bulbs – a Hella Xenon 9003/HB2 bulb is just under $10 at Amazon. But expect shorter life.

    YMMV

    Oh, and for those of you who think HIDs are so darn great, I hope you never have to replace the auto-leveling controller in your Lexus. Over $1000 dollars, just for that one module, cha-CHING!

    • 0 avatar
      RobAllen

      I’ve experienced the same thing. I used SilverStars to replace both headlights after one of the OEM lights blew on my 08′ Versa. I have my lights on whenever I am driving, just force of habit I guess. BOTH SilverStar headlights blew out on the same morning when they were 4 old. I brought the car in to have the electrical inspected because I just couldn’t believe that 2 bulbs with that little service time in could blow like that.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      I’ve had good luck with Nighthawks, even with my Impreza, which has DRLs. I expect a shorter lifespan and that’s fine.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    To all the aftermarket HID owners who aren’t getting flashed: are your lights bright enough to see the gestures the motorists in front of you? Believe me, we’re making them. I often wonder that, whenever my retinas are getting tattooed by y’all.

    The one positive aspect of loud fart cans and 14″ woofers coming down the street is, while they portend to crappy taste in after-market modifications at least they don’t imperil other motorists safety.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I have done a lot of research on this, and I think most of the posters (and even Sajeev) are confusing an HID bulb “kit” with a true retrofit kit.

    A proper retrofit includes replacing the halogen reflector or projector with a proper HID projector (there is a difference in projectors). The HID projector has the properly designed optic properties, along with a proper HID projector lense, along with an HID bulb.

    The eBay HID bulbs that are designed to be installed into regular halogen sockets are bad, I agree. They blind oncoming traffic and only marginally improve night lighting. But a proper retrofit can be just as good as any factory HID. You can retrofit actual factory components, the supposed “hot setup” in retrofits is the Acura TL HID projector and lense, those go for big bucks. But obviously, not all factory HID setups are the same, and the aftermarket HID projectors are probably middle of the road in capabilities. The ones I was looking at are designed to be fitted into the factory buckets, they have the full “dual-HID” ability, with a blocking shield so low beams are cut off properly to not blind traffic, they fit standard OEM HID bulbs (the exact same bulbs I buy for my factory GTI HIDs), etc. I can buy cheapo eBay HID bulbs for my GTI as well (but the price isnt all that different from OEM), that doesn’t have anything to do with a retrofit.

    One key thing… they do not self-level. This means if your car experiences a lot of load changes, the aim might be off. But most cars do not carry a lot of cargo, my MR2 doesnt carry any cargo, just 1 or 2 people. You do have to aim them properly, and check them regularly to ensure you are not blinding people. But all the rest of the features included with factory HIDs are there.

    Someone already posted the link, but check it out for nice detailed explanations of the technology and terminology:
    http://www.theretrofitsource.com/trs_tech.php#tech_info

    • 0 avatar
      blocbusta

      Indeed, kits such as what you posted are vastly better than slapping something in a reflector. However the initial cost added to labor and due care required to not make it not look like garbage still produces a middling, highly illegal result.YMMV of course. But even the best efforts I’ve seen in this regard look shabby.

      And in our ever-increasingly litigious society would you really like to have your insurance company leave you for dead, after an accident, because you chose to expensively retrofit illegal lights on the car?

      Calling it a “true retrofit” tips your hand that you falling for ‘market-speak’. Whatever thing you do that alters from original design spec, regardless of how well thought and executed or not, would constitute a “retrofit”.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Not falling for any marketing, I am simply using words to clarify the differences. Also, I am not attempting to say that MOST people don’t go through the effort I would be going through. Plus, yea, I admit, mostly the converted headlights look dumb, especially the HUGE buckets on my MR2 headlights, I know they will look weird with the projectors in them, but I am willing to sacrifice that for the improved night vision. They simply suck… I have tried Silverstars… no noticable improvement. If I dont mind the look or the work involved, who cares??

        As for altering the original design spec, YES, I am MODIFYING the car. Would you apply your logic to the Revo flash I have on my car? Aftermarket wheels? What about an aftermarket exhaust? Engine swap?? My insurance company isnt going to leave me for dead because I swapped out my headlights, especially if I do it right.

        By nature, this is an upgrade or modification, if you are the type of guy who thinks you should never modify anything on your car, then this definitely isn’t the discussion for you.

    • 0 avatar
      blocbusta

      ..Shrug.. I’ve modified every vehicle I’ve ever owned. To conflate what I typed with an anti-modification statement is a big jump.

      When you tamper with an essential, federally mandated safety component of a car you are playing with fire. Fire that could financially eviscerate most of us. I’m glad that you have such an understanding insurance company.

      If you simply wanted better visibility then there any number of aftermarket driving lights that accomplish just that. At much less cost/effort/dubiousness.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Your quote: “Whatever thing you do that alters from original design spec, regardless of how well thought and executed or not, would constitute a “retrofit”” is how I made that jump… you are talking about a modification.

        Now you bring up the fact that its a federally madated safety component. OK, but its an inferior design, and the only mandate is that it meets minimum requirements, most of which are not geared towards lighting for the driver, but to not annoy other drivers. HID lights were available on other Toyotas, just not MY Toyota. Upgrading the performance of my lights isnt the same thing as replacing my seat belts or airbag with something different. My daughter wrecked her car twice, both at night, no one from the insurance company cared enough to examine the lights, they checked the damage and wrote us a check.

        all that being said, I like your other suggestion. What other lighting could I add that would greatly enhance nighttime visibility? I have always been under the impression that “driving lights” do not adequately light up the road in a manner that would not blind other drivers, they are too low and too wide. I thought adding good driving lights would be worse than doing a good quality, properly aimed HID “modification”.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      mm4ever,

      About driving lights, your description of their beam being too wide may not be accurate as driving lamps are more like the rally lamps that are mounted grill height to augment the high beams for improved lighting and were designed for just that, rally’s. As such, are generally not needed, nor should they be used in urban areas or areas of lots of apposing traffic.

      Fog lamps, on the other hand, whether they are selective yellow or white DO cast a wide, shallow beam of light. Their purpose is to light up the road’s sides so one can more easily see the edge of the road and are often required to be used with one’s low beam headlights at the same time. These types of lights should NOT be used in dry weather as they can cause problems for both driver and others on the road by increasing near field lighting for the driver as it increases contrast of bright and dark areas and causes excessive glare for others in the opposing direction.

      Fog lamps are ALWAYS mounded below the bumper and have a sharp upper cutoff so they don’t shine up, but are aimed towards the road’s surface to aid one in snowy or foggy conditions only.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        I don’t get the issue with fog lights causing glare. I have never had a problem with oncoming traffic using fog lights in any kind of weather.

      • 0 avatar
        ptschett

        One of my biggest automotive pet peeves is misuse and abuse of fog lamps.

        -I see SO. MANY. vehicles being driven around with the parking lights + fog lights turned on, without the low beams, in conditions where low beams would be more useful.
        -Also far too many people drive around with the low beams + fog lights combined in inappropriate conditions. In particular it seems to be mandatory to use low beams + fog lights on GM full-size pickups and SUVs, which are not only popular but also are among the worst vehicles for low beam and fog light glare from my view as an oncoming driver. (I almost prefer gazing into their high beams… almost.)
        -Last, most vehicles’ fog light control seems to be ‘set and forget’, turn them on once and they’ll be on with the parking lights forever (or at least until you hit the switch again, however many restarts down the road that is.) If I could be automotive lighting czar of the day I’d require that the fog light setting is forgotten upon engine shutdown, so that if the driver wants the fog lights on then they have to select them on each restart.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        You pull over and interview every oncoming driver?

        Fog lights are not intended for use in clear conditions, and they are damned annoying in traffic. Knock it off.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        @Steve65

        You misunderstood my comment. I am not using my fog lights.

        I am not bothered by oncoming traffic using their fog lights. I don’t have a problem with it causing any glare, even with wet pavement.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        OK, that makes sense, I was mixing up fogs with driving lights. But there is my problem… niether of those “auxiliary” lights will help me see better in general driving; around town, in traffic, low-beam only situations.

        Thats why I am looking into upgrading my headlights properly. I guess I could strap a set of rally lights to the hood of my MR2 Spyder, kinda might look cool even, lift it a few inches, etc! If I aim them properly they shouldnt be worse than an HID retrofit. :)

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Oh, and I think real fog lights work that way, but most cars today come with fog lights just for appearances, they dont seem to be strong enough to actually annoy anyone. The only ones on oncoming cars that bother me are the ones people installed themselves from Pep Boys that arent aimed right.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    I did an aftermarket HID kit on my 2004 grand cherokee after trying countless halogen “upgrade” bulbs.

    Every time my wife complained she could not see well at night.

    I polished the lenses and they look great – that helped a little.

    Finally I did the HID upgrade and I re-aimed the lights to minimize glare to oncoming drivers and to project light onto the road.

    I have to say that the upgrade has worked very well. I went for a 5000k bulb to avoid a blue light tint.

    Admittedly, I am one of the few people I know who has reliable HID ballasts. Mine are going on 4 years old, and they still work great. I’m on my second set of bulbs due to color shifting of the first ones after the 3 year mark.

    Yes, I realize the reflectors are not designed for HID light sources, but in my case, the upgrade has been a dramatic improvement.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    HIDs in reflector housings designed for halogens are a terrible idea. Mostly because people get on eBay and buy 10000k temp bulb kits that emit this awful blue lighting that is just awful on the eyes. I wish the cops would crack down on that more because they’re damn near always aimed like high beams.

    I have a Taurus SHO and a G37, both with HIDs and projector housings. Even at the factory temp bulb of 4300k, my eyes get tired if I’m driving for along distance. The halogens in our 08 Explorer with yellow fogs are much easier on our eyes at night.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I’m in complete agreement with others here that say, don’t convert to HID kits without proper research.

    As stated, using these bulbs in a parabolic optical reflector type of headlight is asking for potential trouble as a lot of these systems are not well designed to start with as their beam patterns can vary greatly from excellent to pretty poor.

    I know as the beam pattern in my 1992 Ford Ranger truck leave a lot to be desired. The beam pattern is pretty spread out and not very bright, no matter what and leave too many areas kind of in the dark. These are NOT composite plastic, but are of actual glass so they aren’t fogged up and used regular 9007, I think bulbs, forget now since I’ve not had to replace one in a few years.

    I’ve done some research and have concluded that projection headlights are MUCH better at light distribution than most parabolic optical reflector systems as they rely on the orientation of the bulb for proper dispersion, and even then, the design may leave a poor dispersion and potentially increased glare, despite adhering to headlight regulations here in the US.

    Fiat offers the Infrared H1 bulbs, ie, the H1R2 bulb in particular in what is known as a bi-halogen projector setup whereby the shutter moves up to block the lower portion of the light to create the low beam, and drops out of the way to create the high beam. I hear they work very well.

    As Sajeev says, if you have projector units, using HID bulbs is less an issue but then again, the laws in your particular state may say otherwise about their use.

    I’m thinking of going with the infrared halogen bulbs in my next car.


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