By on October 20, 2015

2015 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT 4x4 6.2 (1 of 25)

A lawsuit filed in Southern California said that GMC’s headlights in their 2013 and 2014 pickups are too dim and that the automaker knowingly expanded the use of its headlights to other trucks and SUVs, despite customers’ complaints that the cars were unsafe to drive at night.

The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 19, was first reported by Law 360.

According to court documents, the trucks were fitted with a single bulb for low and high beams, rather than three bulbs normally used for fog lights, low- and high-beam lights. According to the lawsuit, the truck owner paid for aftermarket lights to make the truck safe to drive.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit aren’t alone either.

In the lawsuit, the complaint details many other complaints made by truck owners who reported similar low lights.

“The stock projector headlights on my new $60,000 GMC Denali 2500HD really SUCK! Could not see a damn thing 100 feet in front.”

“This truck is very dangerous to drive after dark. I wish that I would have read the complaints about the 2014 trucks. My dealer seems to have no fix.”

“My 1989 Toyota Pickup has better headlights then this $50,000 truck. Just spent over $150 to upgrade to LED lights and still not good enough. GM should take action now before someone gets hurt!!”

Complaints registered on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website mirror those in the lawsuit:

 HEADLIGHTS ON MY 2014 GMC SIERRA 1500 SLT ARE TOTALLY INADEQUATE ON HIGH OR LOW BEAM. THE LIGHTING DISTANCE IS INADEQUATE AND IS SO DIRECTIONAL THAT THERE IS NO SIDE FLAIR LIGHTING FOR TURNING LIKE YOU HAVE WITH CONVENTIONAL HEADLIGHTS. THIS IS A SERIOUS SAFETY ISSUE AND NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY BY THE NHTSA. I HAVE HAD THIS VEHICLE FOR 1 1/2 YEARS AND THE PROBLEM IS ONGOING SINCE I BOUGHT IT. THE DEALER HAS NO SOLUTION.

(NHTSA’s complaints are filed in all caps in case you want to hurt your eyes too.)

A spokeswoman from GMC didn’t immediately comment on the lawsuit.
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110 Comments on “GMC Hit With Lawsuit Over Sierra’s Headlights...”


  • avatar
    scottcom36

    How the headlights work is kind of a crap shoot when buying a new car. Not many people get to try out a car at night and reviewers almost never mention how well the lights work.

    • 0 avatar

      Headlights have always been a crapshoot. Back when we replaced sealed beams with H4 lights, you went from night to day, with a sharp cutoff.

      We suffered the 9004 bulb, the worst of sealed beams in a replaceable bulb, yet I recall a Volvo 240 which had a great pattern from this bulb. The light fixture was very deep, which may have saved the poor bulb. This was the only time I saw that bulb useful.

      My Acura MDX has HID low plus halogen highs. Best stock lights ever. Great lows, excellent reach on high.

      Interestingly, my BMW has a shutter HID high/low, and the center high beams are unused save “flash to pass”. The pattern for the shutter HID is exactly the same as the halogen-if you pull the flash to pass the shutter drops back to low beam only. Pretty much exactly the same. No, I haven’t figured out how to run the shutter up and the center halogens at once…it isn’t worth the risk of buggering it up. Excellent lights, but if you didn’t buy the HID, you weren’t suffering.

      The only problem with new cars is that mounting an auxiliary light is nigh unto impossible with today’s designs.

      The current 9005/9006 bulbs are at least decent, as is the DOT certified H4. Our patterns aren’t as sharp, but the days of darkness are pretty much over…

      I think a lot of the projector systems are a poor man’s attempt to do an HID without paying for it. The HID lights in a Q50 I drove recently were excellent as well…but that was a full HID system in a high end car.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      When I first purchased my Fiat 500 with its projector-beam headlamps, I felt much the same way as the complainants. However, I’ve since become used to them and find the more than adequate for the purpose. What these complainants are crying about is the simple fact that these headlamps use a shutter to keep the beams below the eye level of oncoming cars.

      However, being full-sized pickup trucks, these projector-beam lamps are mounted much too high on the nose of the vehicle and as a result would typically be aimed right in the eyes of oncoming traffic and need to be aimed (and shuttered) lower than a vehicle with a lower headlamp mounting. Interestingly, if you look at cars like the Jeep Cherokee, Nissan Juke and many others, the real headlamps are mounted just above the bumper or even in the bumper and subsequently have the lamps aimed a little higher without blinding oncoming drivers. Moreover, being mounted lower, the lights become more visible close to the front of the vehicle giving the impression of brighter lights. I typically drive my Jeep Wrangler with the fog lamps on for a similar reason–that the fog lamps light up the area closer to the nose of the truck and give an impression of brighter lights.

      The end result of this lawsuit is not going to be what the plaintiffs are demanding. The courts will determine that the headlamps are perfectly legal in all aspects but they and the NHTSA may demand that the lamps be mounted lower so their effectiveness is more visible to the driver closer in to the nose of the vehicle.

      Projector beam headlamps are a significant change from the old sealed beam and open-reflector styles in that they put more light farther out while putting less light into the eyes of oncoming drivers. Like any other style, they have their strengths and weaknesses. Putting brighter lamps in the housings will improve the low-beam light somewhat and make a notable change to high-beam range–but will also be far more dangerous to oncoming traffic as drivers with projector beams already have a habit of ignoring their dimmer switch in traffic. Best solution? Make ‘driving lamps’ (fog lights) standard on all vehicles mounted low enough to illuminate the road to maybe 50 feet out and lower the projector beam housings to just above the bumper on all vehicles in either a vertical or horizontal stack for multiple lamps. Regretfully, I have to recommend this as much for Jeeps as for any other tall vehicle because while it will disrupt the ‘look’ of the Jeep, it is safer in the long run.

  • avatar
    FalconRTV

    I rented a 2014 Mustang fitted with projector headlights while visiting the US in March. Frequent trips over Mt Tamilpais between Stinson Beach and San Francisco at night enabled a good test of the lights. Utter rubbish, no depth or lateral illumination. Projector lights are a fancy sounding marketing con.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      Pretty sure 13-14 mustangs have HIDs standard, though it being a rental does complicate things.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      FalconRTV,
      I do know that the US can still adorn the vehicle with more chrome and shiny bits on the front end more than EU and Australian vehicles.

      The US also has harsher regulations regarding headlights.

      Maybe if they remove all of that unnecessary chrome from their vehicles they could have brighter headlights.

      I read an interesting article regarding the use of chrome and other highly reflective material on the front of a vehicle and the increase risk of an incident/accident occurring. It was quite educating.

      My mother’s us Focus also has pi$$ poor headlights.

      Even the use of driving and spotties on a vehicle on a public road is prohibited in NJ. I not so sure of the other states.

      It’s great to be able to drive and see 500m in front of you at night.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        “My mother’s us Focus also has pi$$ poor headlights.”

        I will 100% agree with you on the terrible light output from the 2012-2015 US Focus headlights. I went from a GLI with HIDs to a Focus and it was terrible. The lights on the refreshed model are better, but the headlights on the base Fusion are better than any Focus that doesn’t have HIDs (ST2+ and RS only).

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          bball,
          I have yet to drive a vehicle with HIDs, I did consider HID driving lights, but I chose halogen KC Highlighters instead.

          I don’t like the quality of light from LED lights. At work we have the requirement to perform what we call “white light” inspection on metal components. This for the detection of imperfections, ie, cracking.

          Work ordered in some LED lights. They are very bright, but the quality or the spectrum of the LED light makes it harder to detect imperfections.

          I found also the quality of the LED driving lights to be the same. You just don’t get to “see” everything.

          So, I stuck with the power hungry quartz halogens.

          HIDs I don’t have enough knowledge of or experience in. I do know they run at quite a high voltage and can give a nasty shock.

          But the quality of the light is an unknown.

          This is/was important, especially driving at high speeds with lots of wildlife around.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I like LEDs for shop lights. No, they aren’t perfect, but they are way better than the fluorescent lights I replaced them with.

            As far as automotive headlights, I have been very happy with the HIDs on my wife’s Lincoln. They do well on rural highway stretches that we often drive in the summer because they are bright at good distance, turn with the wheel, and the high beams turn on and off automatically. I’ve avoided hitting deer on numerous occasions because of the headlights. I’m sure the KC halogen lights are better, but most people don’t add those to a CUV/wagon thing. You probably drive in more sparsely populated areas as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            bball,
            I’m currently running our maintenance night shift and the airfield where I work is on the outer fringes of Brisbane’s urban sprawl.

            So since reading this article I gave my headlights a bit of a work out to actually produce a better assessment of my lights.

            Low beam is great when a vehicle is approaching and in a street lighted urban area.

            High beam is good for driving at up to around 100kph.

            My KC Highliters are great. On an open stretch of open highway I can light up the reflective freeway signs that are over 1 kilometer away. The glare from the signs when they are within 400m is significant enough that you don’t want to look at them as it is uncomfortable on the eyes.

            Then I went back to high beam which seemed worse than my low beams.

            Here in Australia we can use driving lights wherever you can use high beam, so long as you don’t blind and oncoming vehicle.

            You do know when you have accidently left your driving lights on. An oncoming vehicle will let you know sometimes 800m away.

            I’m a big supporter of driving lights, they do aid road safety significantly.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Well if Ford sells the Ranger here, I’ll buy one and put some KC Highlighters on it. I’ll even buy the diesel option if they offer it.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            bball,
            The new Ranger and Everest look great, but the pricing is high.

            Ford has done much better with the Ranger presenting it as an alternative to the Hilux.

            Ford can now do a Toyota and increase the prices of them, people are buying them.

            The Mazda BT50 is for people like me. The BT50 is essentially a Ranger, but with a better interior and ugly front end that can be hidden with the aid of a bull bar.

            The BT50 is also cheaper. So if I was to buy a Ranger here I would look at how far I can push the salesman into lowering the price using the BT50 as a benchmark.

    • 0 avatar
      Signal11

      That road between Stinson Beach and SF via is Golden Gate is one of the true great driving roads in the US. Don’t miss a chance to do whenever I’m in the Bay Area. Certainly helps that SFO Hertz and Avis have a nice stock of good vehicles to do it in.

    • 0 avatar
      Aquineas

      That’s interesting. My wife’s 2013 Ford Fusion had the worst headlights on any vehicle I’ve ever seen. I felt like I could have done better by taping a couple of cheapo flashlights on the hood.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The ones on the 2012-15 Focus were worse. I recently had a Fusion SE rental and I thought the headlights were okay. Going up into a D-platform vehicle will give someone even better headlight options.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    “THE LIGHTING DISTANCE IS INADEQUATE AND IS SO DIRECTIONAL THAT THERE IS NO SIDE FLAIR LIGHTING FOR TURNING LIKE YOU HAVE WITH CONVENTIONAL HEADLIGHTS”

    Are we serious? First of all, most cars don’t have “side flair” lighting. Some do. My Golf SportWagen has a corner-aimed light in each headlamp assembly that it switches on when I have that respective indicator on and slow down or start to turn, and am below a certain speed. My X5 uses its fog lamps, which I find to be a worse implementation because, to other drivers, it looks like one of my fog lamps is broken. But not all cars have that.

    Second, any successful lawsuit is going to require testing, and really, just proof that GMC failed to meet whichever regulations the US DOT has put into place regarding headlamps. People complain all the time about their headlamps being too dim for no good reason.

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      ” I find to be a worse implementation because, to other drivers, it looks like one of my fog lamps is broken.”

      So the problem is not functional, but rather what someone might or might not think about the driver/car? Oh the horror! #firstworldproblems

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        The irony of complaining about first world problems via a hashtag. I know that when I have been in the third world and villages have third world problems like cholera in the water supply they often take to twitter and utilize the hashtag…like #crappingmyselftodeath, or maybe #malariablows or #intestinalparasites.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I like “According to court documents, the trucks were fitted with a single bulb for low and high beams, rather than three bulbs normally used for fog lights, low- and high-beam lights”.

      Fogs should be OFF, except in fog.

      Lots of vehicles have had and have two filaments in one bulb, for high and low beams; I’ve had such systems in several cars and they’ve worked very well.

      If there’s a problem, it’s the reflector/lens design, not the fact of having a single bulb.

      • 0 avatar
        bjchase55

        I use fog lights when I want to be seen but don’t need headlights on too see. This also turns on the rear lamps to better be seen. I don’t use the headlights (which are HID) unless I need to see as the fogs don’t glare/blind oncoming traffic like HIDs can.

  • avatar
    redliner

    This is not a GMC issue, but rather a GM issue. Chevy Volt owners have been dealing with similarly useless bi-halogen projector lights for years. Except nobody cares when Chevy Volt owners complain …But these are trucks… Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of the profit making truck sales, so I expect this issue to be resolved post hast.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      The issues of all 7 Volt owners are hereby noted. Yes, it must be all about profit…couldn’t be that, I don’t know, they trucks outsell Volts by a rather large margin. Let me put it in a language you can easily understand:
      #9264VoltsAnd740ELRsSoldInAllOf2014
      #ChevySold53725SilveradosInAdditionTo19754GMCSierrasLASTFREAKINGMONTHALONE!
      #nobodygivesacrapaboutvoltheadlights

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    This article has filled me with aggravation this afternoon.

    First off, the 2013 Sierra which is mentioned as part of the suit comes with separate low and high reflector housings. I can find no evidence that any of the bi-halogen equipped current gen was sold as a 2013 model.

    Secondly, fog lights aren’t required vehicle lighting, and in most cases should never be used (Dan Stern is a leading auto industry lighting expert, and well regarded for helping enthusiasts legally upgrade their lighting) http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/lights/fog_lamps/fog_lamps.html
    So, saying that a “3 bulb setup” is superior is really a red herring. The presence or absence of fog lights has absolutely no bearing on the quality of a vehicles headlamp system.

    Third, bi-function projectors, regardless of light source (HID, Halogen, LED what have you) aren’t better or worse by default than any other style of headlamp, just like HID’s aren’t automatically better than halogens. Good headlights are good if they are well engineered. Bad headlights are bad because they are poorly engineered. In bi-function projectors, the low beam is formed by a cutoff shield, and the high just exposes the full beam. Now, I will admit that my personal preference is for a steady burning low and an overlaid high beam (four bulbs, regardless of projector or reflector, my current ride has halogen low projectors and halogen high reflectors), but the problem here isn’t that the headlights are bi-halogen projectors and only have one bulb, the issue is poor optic design.

    The last thing, the owners are ignorant of the fact that his LED “upgrade” is nothing of the sort, and he has just made his truck’s lighting substantially worse. This article is regarding the cursed HID drop-in, but the fact is that headlights are designed around the light-source, and changing the light-source completely invalidates the optical engineering that DID go into it by the OEM.

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

    I also hope that these guys aren’t buying full aftermarket headlamp assemblies, as those are worse. These guys use off the shelf projectors or injection molded junk that has almost no optical design, the reflection surface doesn’t have the same optical properties as the stuff the OEM uses, they say that its compatible with halogen and HID, which is physically impossible, the polycarb lenses don’t have the same quality UV resistance clearcoat, the wiring fails with startling regularity, they really are junk.

    Sorry to rant guys, but if the OEM headlights are indeed crap, that’s just a part of the issue here.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    I am going to sue Nissan…my S model Frontier didnt even come with fog lights…I added them after market because the giant blank off plates where they would have been really annoyed me. And I cant recall owning anything after my 68 Cougar that had a separate bulb for high and low beams and I wanted to ditch the high beams on it for a thunderbolt style intake anyway.

    The fix to this is of course to take this out of the hands of the automakers and BRING BACK THE SEALED BEAMS BABY!!!

  • avatar
    Lack Thereof

    Projector headlights have always sucked.
    Compound reflectors are only marginally better.

    The best headlights we ever got were the optic plate lights in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Ever since, light quality has been suffering for the sake of style.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      @ Lack Thereof

      Can you give some examples of the good ones please? My Suzuki Swift was a great great car except the headlights, which forced me to install aux lights.

      When I think of that time period, I have flashbacks to the soap bar headlights in the 1993-1997 Camaro; and those sad dim molded things on the Intrepid, and bubble ChryCo minivans of that era.

      The Guides on our 1990 Sunbird were surprisingly excellent.

    • 0 avatar
      chrishs2000

      For those that want to experience a benchmark for headlight performance, Acura HID’s are fantastic and commonly used for HID retrofits. The new LED lights are even a tad bit better. My former S2000 had incredible projectors with an unreal sharp cutoff but the low ride height limited their reach; my TL’s aren’t quite as sharp but the reach, clarity and brightness is so good that the 65W halogen high beams dont even make a difference for visibility. as someone who drives 40k miles a year, many of them in the dark, headlights are tremendously important and I don’t understand how most people don’t consider this when purchasing a vehicle. Complaining about it to NHTSA or suing is even less understandable. It’s like not turning on the radio during the test drive then suing because the stereo sucks. If they meet FMVSS standards, it’ll be a quick court date.

    • 0 avatar
      Jezza819

      Pig_Iron I also thought of the Intrepid lights when I first read this article. The housings were too small to begin with and they hazed quickly. I remember we had complaints about the headlights on those cars for a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      OMG_Shoes

      Um…yeah, that’s not true. Not any of it. There are many “projector” (poly-ellipsoidal) headlamps that give phenomenally good performance. There are many complex-reflector headlamps that give phenomenally good performance. Of course, there are also pathetic poly-ellipsoidal headlamps and pathetic complex-reflector headlamps. There is no magic in any particular optical technique that makes it “lousy-proof”. Anything can be made well or badly, depending on how carefully it’s engineered and built, and how much money is put into it (or taken out of it!).

      It is categorically false that the late-’80s/early-’90s “optic plate” (lens-optic) headlamps were the best ever. There were some good ones, and many poor ones, and most of them were somewhere in between.

  • avatar
    TCragg

    Do the lights meet FMVSS/CMVSS 108? If the answer is yes, good luck with the lawsuit.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    You had one job to do…
    Automobiles have only been using some form of road lighting for a bit more than one hundred years. And, during that time it isn’t as if materials and technology haven’t made great progress. So what kind of company puts inadequate headlights on its vehicles for years?

    My old Kustom Kar Lucas Lights from the Sixties threw better light than some of the new cars.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    If you think GM headlights are dim, try a Dodge/Ram. Mine low beams were so dim I found I could drive around with the high beams on and never get flashed.

  • avatar
    klossfam

    The RAM 1500 has no such issues…had a 2014 with standard assembly (non projector) and they were great – separate high and low beams…and now have a 2015 with the projector style and they are even a little better…I agree that there is no excuse in this day and age for inadequate lighting. Simply engineering laziness not to have this very important area covered…especially in fall when the deer and other critters are active at night…

  • avatar
    Onus

    Domestic automakers GM in particular are known to make horrible headlights. Do they meet FMVSS yes. Does that mean they are good? No.

    Lets have these complainers drive around in a sealed beam equipped car…

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Stupid complaints as well. “The dealer has no solution.” Really? You mean the guy who sold it to you can’t whip up a set of headlights to your satisfaction? Gee, who would have thought? If illumination is important to you, you owe it to yourself to make sure your test drive takes place at night.

      The FMVSS doesn’t guarantee useful illumination yet the powers that be cling to it as if it came on the third tablet. God forbid we consider the standards those furriners in yurrup use. NIH, you know, America.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        Europe has its share of bad lighting as well. Companies really just need to take the time to make good lighting be it FMVSS standards or ECE standards.

        The Japanese based automakers usually have good lighting for what its worth.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      While pre-halogen sealed beam headlights weren’t good, the Sylvania halogen sealed beams of the ’80s for quad applications would show fashion headlight buyers what they’re missing.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I had a ’96 Camaro using those Sylvania halogen sealed-beam headlamps in a quad configuration and I flat got tired of having to replace the low-beam lamps every single year, no matter how much or how little I used them. The high beam bulbs never burned out even after eight years and 160,000 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Sealed beams are easy! Drop in a Hella [or equiv.] H4 bulb replacement, with a really nice DOT-approved lens design and reflector, and you have the best of both worlds…

      Did that on both my old W115 Mercedes and my Toyota pickup, never regretted it.

  • avatar
    Rudolph

    I forget whether Hella or Cibie 7″ motorcycle lights were in my 1973 Grand AM .
    The high beams turned night into a white day •
    The low beams had a cutoff and a sharp arrow beam running up the right shoulder •
    One dark rainy night on a recently blacked top road with NO markings , a black boy wearing black clothing on a bicycle with NO lights , NO reflectors was seen due to the sharp arrow beam •
    He would have been hit had I been using factory lights •

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I remember 4X4 guys putting those on Jeep CJs at the end of that era – along with weird visors, mesh screens, plastic bubbles, and so on. I remember the lights were a noticeable improvement especially in winter, but the rest of that stuff was just gimmicky.

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      The 7″ Hella’s are much better then the standard sealed beam. Had one that I pulled from a junkyard on my ’83 Toyota pickup and it was great! Don’t ever buy the cheap plastic ones on Ebay, absolute garbage.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        I’ve had both the 5″ round Hellas (off-road spec) and the 7″ ones (DOT-spec which didn’t light up the signs on the side of the road like the off-road ones did). Worlds better than what they replaced, with a very sharp cutoff. I also used a relay harness to keep the added current off of the stock headlight switch/wiring (since I was using 80W/100W bulbs). Awesome light and I miss it since selling those vehicles.

        That is one disadvantage of modern cars – you are more or less stuck with whatever the OEM gives you, without a lot of modification.

        For those who still have cars that use sealed beams, I definitely recommend the high-output Halogen ones – XtraVision for Sylvania and Nighthalk for GE. They definitely are worth the small extra cost.

        For the rest of my cars, I just use the standard 9003/H4 bulbs – all of the high-output ones ($40-50 per pair) don’t even last a year! I burned through about $150 worth of bulbs over a year and now just buy the standard-grade $7 bulbs and they seem to last about 3 years on average.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The Cibie 7″ round housings are widely accepted as the best of the current H4 housings. I run them on both my Jeeps and the performance is phenomenal. My daily driver has factory HID lamps, and I would put those Cibies up against those HIDs any day. It proves the point that others have made on here that HIDs don’t necessarily = best performance. Having said that, as far as HIDs go, they aren’t the worst I’ve seen, nor are they the best, but they are pretty good overall. I personally think they are aimed a little low from the factory.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    A nice set of new old stock KC Daylighters will fix things right up.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Old (U.S. made) KCs were semi-decent, but honestly there are better choices out there. While hard to find, Cibie Oscars are much better lamps, Hella Rallye 4000s are also much better lamps if size isn’t an issue. You can also buy 5.25″ Cibie high beam headlamps, put them in a Grote PAR46 housing and mount them as auxiliary lamps on the cheap and end up with a much better lamp than any KC, old or new.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    My company recently bought a 2012 Audi A7 with LEDs. Is three years and 35K miles their life span? They’re so dim hey make the halogens in our other vehicles look like 747 landing lights.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I worked a year in aircraft maintenance (those techs are first rate). I used to think the above KC Daylighters were bright, but nothing I’ve ever seen compares to those landing gear lights; they’re unbelievable.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        In his hellraising days, my father had a friend who put landing lights (110,000 candelas or something just as insane) on the front of his almost-new Power Ram (early ’80s) and would then proceed to go bombing through pastures chasing deer. But he would only keep them on for so long because the old incandescent bulbs had a really short life, apparently.

        “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.”

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Friend had landing lights (not from a jet though) in his ’70 Challenger. They threw daylight at least an eighth mile. Rather freaky in town, nice on a 2 lane. Then the wiring burned…. so many crispy fried wires and connectors. Might as well have been hit by an EMP tuned nuke.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Consumer Reports rates the Sierra as “Good” on the headlights category. If they were really as terrible as the suit claims, they’d be rated lower.

    Off topic, but the HIDs in my 2007 GTI were nothing impressive – though the price to replace them was eye popping when I hit a deer. The old-tech reflector style headlights in my 2010 4Runner were amazing. I basically agree with Dave above. The tech you use largely doesn’t matter. The engineering does.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I own an Audi A5 with the standard HID Xenon projectors and I can honestly say that they are by far the very best headlights of any car I’ve ever driven. They are simply awesome. I also own a 2015 Grand Cherokee with HID Xenon projectors and they absolutely suck. The light pattern is splotchy and seems very dim compared to my Audi. It’s crazy that Audi can get it so right and Jeep/Chrysler can get it so wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Which year is yours? The A4 and A5 were both facelifted for 2013, IIRC, and each received new light units. I don’t think the A4 has standard projector-beam/HIDs like the A5 does, either.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Mine is a 2011, so pre-facelift. Terrific headlights. I’d guess the facelift headlights must be just as good.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        BTW, when I say standard, I meant for Premium Plus or higher trim cars. You can get a base model with non-xenon headlights, but those cars also don’t come with the LED DRLs either. I’ve seen maybe one or two A5s without the LED DRLs. Very uncommon….

  • avatar
    14Tundra

    Clearly the plaintiff hasn’t driven a JK Wrangler at night. Now those are terrible headlights.

    • 0 avatar
      karvanet

      Yes, my child was complaining that her nightlight was too bright. So I just parked my Wrangler up to her bedroom window with the high beams on. She said that was much better.

      Seriously though, one of the first things I did to my Wrangler was replace the stock headlights with a set of LED KC headlights.

      • 0 avatar
        IAhawkeye

        Really? I just went from an 04 Silverado to a 2010 Wrangler after my truck had an unfortunate collision with a deer on the way back to school a few weeks ago. Compared to my trucks, the JK’s headlights are awesome, maybe it’s just the fact that they don’t shake like my trucks did idk.. huge improvement either way.

      • 0 avatar
        whynotaztec

        what was the degree of difficulty on the KC install? I just got a 15 JK and I know something happens when I switch on the high beams (because there is a flicker)but there sure isn’t any more light.

  • avatar
    sastexan

    Sigh. NHTSA has all these regulations on headlights, yet they seemingly ignore height of the lamp from the pavement as a critical element not just for the driving vehicle, but just as (or more) importantly, other vehicles. The ur-a-pea-enns have figured out that consistent headlight height, no matter the vehicle height, reduces glare and increases safety for all vehicles – not just the short (or tall) ones. I am sure someone will tell me that there is a regulation on height of headlamps (the actual projecting beam), but I see no possible way that if there is a height regulation it is enforced on any daily-duty vehicle (which includes the article’s offending 1/2 ton pickups).

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=se49.6.571_1108

      Standard 108 (lighting) specifies an allowable range of heights from the road; 22-54″.

      It’s there, it’s enforced on new vehicles, it’s just *very broad*, with a 32 inch range.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    Who are the lighting suppliers for GM? Anyone know? I’ve got Koito/NAL lighting on my 2007 4Runner (original bulbs still working!!!) and Koito on my 2010 911 Carrera. Excellent performance and long life. I’ve had problems with Valeo and Hella- very short life span. I’m curious who’s supplying GM…

  • avatar
    agent534

    My father in law has a 2014 GMC. The only “issue” with the lights is there is a sharp cut off on the lights, and there is a distinct line 1/2 way up the windshield where the light ends, so much so that he was scratching his head for very short time wondering if the windshield had a tint at that level and above. I’ve noticed the exact same thing when riding with him at night. After he pointed it out, it couldn’t be unseen. I forget if it was on high, low or both, but it was there. Not sure either of us would think it was a law suit level thing though. Nor do I recall if he ask the dealer to re-aim them at all. All in all, its good truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      It’s supposed to be there! It’s to light the road, but not glare-out oncoming drivers.

      The road should be sharply illuminated (with a tick up to the right to light signs), and oncoming traffic barely so.

      (Halfway up the windshield is kinda vague, since how the lit road appears in that context depends on driver height and seating preference – how far *out from the car* did it illuminate?

      Low beams are for near-field illumination, after all.

      High beams are for distance vision.)

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The sharp cutoff is familiar to anyone who has driven European cars with the typical beam pattern they have been using for decades over there. My 7″ round halogen Cibies have every bit as sharp a cutoff as the HIDs on my daily driver.

      All modern projector beam lamps, whether they are bi-halogen or bi-xenon (HID) and whether that are DOT compliant seem to have this same sharp cutoff. It’s a byproduct of the fact that the light intensity doesn’t change from high to low beam, it’s just a shutter moving in or out of the light path to create a “low” and “high” beam pattern.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    RX-8 with XID Xenon option has best color (very white, not blue-ish), brightness and beam pattern of any car I’ve owned, by a wide margin, and I usually eschew too many options, yet would not go back to conventional headlights again.

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    The stock projectors in my 2014 Accord with the factory H11 were average at best. It is very easy to drop in an H9 bulb and add almost 1,000 lumens per bulb (an H11 has 1,350 lumens while an H9 has 2,100). The H9s last slightly less and draw a minimal amount of additional power, but make an enormous difference.

    Halogen projectors are designed for halogen bulbs. Adding in HIDs wasn’t something I wanted to do when H9s work great and cost under $15 in total.

    If the Sierra uses H11s, I bet an H9 upgrade would make a huge difference.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      My bro has a 2014 Sierra. On his behalf I contact the moderator at candlepowerforums.com Automotive lighting subsection. Sadly, its not cut and dried.. Your Accord and my Verano took an H9 in place of the H11 with no issue, but in the Sierra he recommended buying a high quality H11 such as the Phillips Extreme Vision.

      He is an industry expert, I trust his recommendations, but sadly I don’t know the criteria that makes certain H11 projectors suitable for the H9 and others not.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    The halogens on my ’04 BMW 325i are just awful. When driving through my not very well lit suburb, I feel better with the fog lights on. Otherwise I’m afraid of sideswiping a curb or car. There just isn’t much light to the left or right.

    The Xenon headlights on my wife’s Mini Cooper S are just great – though the passenger side doesn’t always fire right away, and initially appears to be a different shade of blue. Ah well.. it’s Mini right? It’s supposed to have er, quaint issues.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    That is interesting, I just assumed that most modern HID lighting systems worked very well. As blinding as many of these trucks are to oncoming traffic, I expected them to work well. Maybe since they are mounted so high, they have to be pointed downward too much to light the appropriate distance.

    I have found that the previous and current BMW Adaptive Xenon and now LED are really great, previously thought that the Porsche Cayenne possibly had the best lights ever.

    My Infiniti HIDs are decent.

    What I have found though, is that as I age my ability to see in the dark has dwindled significantly. My daughter can sit in a dark room and read a book, while I can barely make out that there are lines of text on the page. Based on that, a 1990 Ford mustang seemed to have good lights in my memory, I was in a friends mint condition LX 5.0 (with non-yellow headlights) recently and was amazed that the road looked like it was lit by a couple of dim candles.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      As a side note, a 1990 Mustang, today, has 15 year old headlight wiring.

      Any wee resistance means voltage drop means dimmer lights (especially since the stock wiring usually runs all power through the headlight switch and back to the lamps, through like 20 gauge wire); this is why old cars often have relay-control conversions from stock wiring for the headlamps.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This issue reminds me of late-1990s Chrysler products having less-effective headlights. Many of their cars had very small headlight due to styling cues.

    Our 1999 Dodge Stratus had those small headlights, and at night I did notice a big difference going through our neighborhood as we don’t have street lights.
    Apparently, the stylists have had their way once again over safety, and GM is guilty this time.

    FWIW, my 2012 Impala’s bright lights aren’t as good as our 2002 CR-V’s bright lights, but my ditch lights make up for it. That – and as I get older, especially with only one good eye, well, my night vision isn’t as good as it used to be, and those ditch lights are a real help by lighting up the road in front of the car.

    I’m certain that the good General knows this and their experts will address this minor issue post-haste!

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Even the physically larger lamps on my second-gen Stratus (2003) I used to own were absolute dreck. There was a headlamp comparison test from CR circa 2006 that proclaimed the Stratus/Sebring lamps on the 2006 model they tested (last year for the “JR” series cars) were the some of the worst headlamps they had ever evaluated.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’m suing GM too! My Saturn Relay has no fog lamps.

  • avatar

    I’ve only owned one car with crap headlights, and that was my ’95 Explorer. Those 9007 bulbs were poor with the standard bulbs, and the upgraded aftermarket bulbs (Silverstars) made a big improvement, but was still pretty mediocre. It was bad when driving my ancient ’77 Chevelle with quad sealed rectangular beams, that car can light up the road for a good distance, light up signs a mile away on high beam, and give decent spread, and it made that Explorer look like it was muddling around in the dark.

    My current driver a 2004 Buick Rendezvous, has excellent low beams, but the high beams are aimed too high, and shut off the lows so you lose the near field.

    My 2000 Contour was pretty good as well, even my 1986 Pontiac 6000-STE with its 9004 bulb in all 4 positions was ok, I wired the high beam side of the low beam positions to come on when the high beams were selected which helped quite a bit.

    The Explorer was still the worst one of the small group I’ve owned for lights though.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/bulbs/blue/good/good.html

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        To be fair, he said Silverstars, and only the “ZXE” ones in that range have a stupid blue filter [and to their credit, Sylvania seems kind of embarrassed by them and admits it’s only “style” … but, you know, money.].

        On those, they jaw about “style” and “appearance” … on the *other* Silverstars, they talk about light output and brightness.

        The not-poser ones seem to be pretty decent lamps.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Any and all Silverstars available at the local autoparts stores here are all blue tinted. Are you able to purchase clear Silverstars where you live? I know they sold clear Silverstar branded bulbs in Europe, where they are just a +50/70/90 whatever bulb like a Phillips Extremevision or GE Nighthawk, rather than a blue tinted style bulb.

          • 0 avatar

            at the time, they were the only ones offered, now I see that they offer two more levels above what I got, what I have is the entry-level Silverstars. They made a big difference on the Explorer, on the Chevelle, not so much – but halogens in place of the original incandescent Guide lamps was a huge upgrade.

        • 0 avatar

          These were the non ZXE ones, they have a purplish tint to the glass when off, but put out a whiter light than the standard bulbs. Right now my ’77 Chevelle has one standard halogen and one Silverstar H4656 low beams, the standard bulb is a touch more yellow than the SS.

          I would not even consider the ‘blue’ bulbs to be worth installing, they don’t work at all for me judging from other cars with them.

          • 0 avatar
            OMG_Shoes

            No, Silver Star bulbs do not put out a “whiter” light — that is a bogus marketing claim. Yes, they are blue tinted. It’s a big scam, and Sylvania got whupped in court about it…to the tune of $30,000,000 (thirty million) for their BS “upgrade” claims on their Silver Star bulbs: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?388252-Sylvania-taken-to-task-for-their-false-claims-of-headlamp-superiority

      • 0 avatar
        OMG_Shoes

        Or http://www.acarplace.com/cars/headlights.html

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Domestics love combo lights. If they could run the headlights and tail lights with one bulb they would. To hell with turn signals

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Im willing to bet that even if the headlights were fine, owners would still tint them and then complain about it.

  • avatar
    ktm_525

    Worst headlights of my former rides: Volvo V70R

    Incredible considering it was a “performance” model and Volvo wraps themselves in the warm fuzzy blanket of safety. The Bi-xenon HID reflectors were horrible. Most of the problem was due to Volvo converting the halogen high beam pencil lights into DRLS. You could overdrive the lights at 50 MPH. Well done Volvo.

  • avatar
    roverv8i

    Also, no one has mentioned that this is relative to the person driving. My eyes are on the sensitive side to light. Just yesterday I noticed that I had on sunglasses and found the morning light too be very glaring but the person driving was not bothered. So, yes i notice different quality lights but don’t have any real complaints about any being to dim. The dimmest I have experienced is probably my fogged over 2002 Grand Cherokee lights. My 73 MG has 90’s halogens on it so they are better. I also have a 05 TL and a 13 TSX. I find the TL’s lows to have to much of a cutoff when on dark back roads.

    Back to my point I don’t need these supposed brighter lights and find many approaching cars lights are to bright and make it hard for me to see when they are passing. So, you have to allow for many variables with lights. I have not driven one of the GMC’s at night but would bet I would find the lights just fine. Not sure where I would fall in a graph of light sensitivity compared to others but I do know I can see a lot better in low light than my wife. I have been told by my eye doctor that people with lighter colored eyes are more sensitive. Also, in my case the outside of my iris is brown but they are light blue on the inside making me more sensitive..

  • avatar
    JDM_CU4

    I love the output and sharp cutoff of my Acura TSX OEM headlights, way better than a bmw/mercedes

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    I have the [email protected] Silverado twin of the Sierra and I have no issues with my illumination; its plenty bright with good coverage. Although I have separate bulbs (low-beam = halogen projector, high beam = halogen reflector).

    The Cadillac STS had amazing lighting.

  • avatar
    OMG_Shoes

    I wonder if the pinhead filing this dumb lawsuit tried having the factory fix ( http://www.duramaxforum.com/forum/2011-up-non-powertrain/598297-2015-poor-headlights-tsb.html ) TSB applied before he started throwing around ignorant baloney about how he can’t see because his truck only has one bulb per side. In case the link doesn’t work, the title of the service bulletin is PIT5374: Headlight Performance (BCM Calibration and Bulbs) – (Feb 27, 2015). And yeah, so-called “LED bulb retrofits” in halogen headlamps are a giant leap downward. See http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?384923-White-wall-amp-lux-comparison-LED-H11-LL-H11-100-H9 for a very well illustrated presentation of same.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    GM has had chronic problems with the headlights not working. Now they work, but are weak. They got their assemblies from Delphi, and probably still do. This is what happens when you use a third tier supplier.

    • 0 avatar
      OMG_Shoes

      Um…not. Delphi isn’t a “3rd tier” supplier; they’re a Tier-1 supplier. That word “tier”, in the auto industry, does not mean what you appear to think it means. But even if it did, you’d still be wrong; Delphi is a highly reputable worldwide supplier. Oh, and the other thing wrong with your argument: Delphi doesn’t make headlamps. Never has. Electronic control units for headlamps, yes, but not lenses, bulbs, housings, or assemblies.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        @OMG_Shoes: This site now has so many earnest, sincere, essentially humorless commenters now that I regularly include satire/sarcasm in my comments. Pay close attention to the weirder comments, somebody might be pulling your leg, or trying to ‘get your goat’, to coin a phrase. Then again, a certain percentage of commenters on every site are often described as “full-blown, bat-sh*t crazy, and still holding down a steady job”.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I known this car is a favorite whipping-post on here, but the factory HID lamps on the Dart Limited I used to have were phenomenal. They were well engineered units made by AL, the former joint venture between Bosch and Magnetti Marelli, now wholly owned by MM.

    My current DD has some Korean sourced HID lamps, and while they are decent, they are not as good as the lamps on that Dart.

  • avatar

    I think there is something to this beyond the fact that the headlights on these trucks are too high off the ground. It has been my experience that GM vehicles of just about all makes have crap headlights, as evidenced by the fact that a good 50% of them seem to have their bright lights on continuously after dark. GMC and Chevy trucks, Buicks and Chevy cars seem to be the worst offenders, regardless of age of the vehicle.

    Nissan drivers do this a lot, as well, but are a distant second. Everyone else is just noise.

    To me, it doesn’t matter whether or not their lights are DOT certified and meet all applicable guidelines, if the users of these vehicles are going to run their brights all the time and blind all oncoming traffic, there IS an issue that needs to be resolved.

    Why the police don’t stop and harass these people on a regular basis is beyond me; they *never* respond to a headlight flash by dimming their own lights. It’s “f-you, I gotta see.” Where I come from, people who tend to drive with the brights on are more likely to be drunk drivers, yet I doubt drunk drivers only drive GM product.

    And while we’re examining the safety and efficacy of headlights in cars, can we please convince the automakers to spend the tenth of a penny per lens to coat them in something protective so they don’t turn yellow and fog up after three years’ exposure to sunlight? Fords of a certain vintage are the worst in this regard, although my VW lights are damn near as bad. And they can’t be fixed with a polish because the fogging is on the INSIDE of the plastic lens as much as it is the outside.

  • avatar
    shedkept

    Having had all the updates done the lights in my 2500HD are still poor at best. The lights cast patterns and shadows and the peripheral lighting is poor. I owned a 2014 2500HD and the the lights were far better than these as they were a standard 2 bulb system. For $65,000 you would think GM could have done a better job. Chevrolet still uses a 2 bulb system which imho is the only way to make decent light on a tall vehicle like a truck.
    For now I’ll wait and see because unlike some folks I don’t think it’s my job to fix their problem. I’m not buying into he aftermarket HID or LED kits because GM should fix this.

    GM also has an issue with the turn signal marker lights on the drivers side mirror which will blind you at night. They came up with a fix for that as well which is better but shouldn’t have ever been an issue to begin with. It is quite dangerous imho.

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