Piston Slap: Submit Your Questions, Keep The Lights On

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap submit your questions keep the lights on

My supply of reader-submitted Piston Slap queries is running low! So in the coming weeks, please help re-fill the coffers. Just about anything goes! (Purchase queries go to Ask Bark.)

Email sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com lest I spend the rest of my days updating everyone on my passion project, a Fox-body 1983 Continental Valentino restomod.

While you brainstorm your questions, let’s discuss headlight upgrades — because there’s a right and wrong way!

That’s the Valentino’s header panel, propped atop my workbench for modification (angle grinder to the headlight buckets, for starters) to fit superior, modern(ish) Hella Free Form assemblies.

I purchased them from Daniel Stern. Those in the know might wonder why I chose an older H4 design over JW Speaker’s LED assemblies. While just as legal as Hella lights, that design is too aggressive, too overtly restomod for my tastes.

But what if subtlety and legality aren’t your style? Swing to the other end of the pendulum!

Just for giggles, I spent a whopping $8 (shipped) on an eBay LED bulb “upgrade” to my 2011 Ford Ranger’s factory fog lights.

Note the (warmer) factory bulb aims a long, slender beam parallel to the ground. The aftermarket, totally not legal LED unit (blue-white) sports a beam roughly double in width with a far brighter circular pattern to boot. More light is a great idea in theory, except most (all?) exterior automotive lighting is designed like a sniper rifle, not a sawed off shotgun.

It’s pretty clear which light is safe for on-road use. Now send me some questions to keep Piston Slap alive!

[Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Join the conversation
6 of 25 comments
  • CobraJet CobraJet on Jan 16, 2017

    I think the auto industry in general has a big problem with headlights. Any car over about 7 years old begins to lose light brightness due to clouding of the outer lens. This has nothing to do with the type of bulb. None of the lens restoration products completely or permanently correct the problem. Replacement is the only option. Unfortuney this requires purchasing the entire light unit since the outer lens is not removable. I've replaced the headlamp units on my 07 Impala. Fortunately they were not terribly expensive. But many people driving older cars can't afford to do this. They are forced to drive around with unsafe lights. I see many drivers of older cars in my rural area driving with high beams on just to be able to see anything at all.

    • See 2 previous
    • DenverMike DenverMike on Jan 17, 2017

      There's plenty of resto kits and DIY toothpaste fixes around, but I'll just take wet/dry sandpaper starting with 800 grit, end with 2500, then some mild polishing glaze, no power tools. Others will finish with a clear coat, but there's no need to ever drive around with yellowed or brown headlights lenses. I get impressive results for materials I already had laying around.

  • Quaquaqua Quaquaqua on Jan 17, 2017

    Isn't the whole problem with headlights that they used to be flat/vertical and partially shielded by a sort of eyebrow hood ridge on every hideous 70s sedan? Now they swoop up and are directly exposed to UV rays no matter what time of day, so they get cloudy from the top down.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Jan 17, 2017

      Old headlights were... (wait for it) GLASS. Honest to god glass. Glass doesn't cloud up. I'm happy the round headlights in my 1967 Mustang are a match to old glass Wrangler headlights. That should help ensure that I have a steady cheap supply.

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