Tag: headlights

By on April 25, 2019

headlight restoration kit

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


You’ve all seen them – sad, yellowed headlights on the nose of a vehicle offering all the illumination of two fireflies in a couple of jam jars. There are several theories as to why some cars end up looking as if they should be extras in a 1970s French movie: exposure to ultraviolet light, constant assault from road debris, and just general poor quality plastic are some of the leading explanations.

With the majority of headlights on modern cars made of polycarbonate plastic, it’s inevitable that some of them – particularly those on entry-level machines – will wind up in this sorry state.

We’ll leave the ‘why’ for another day. This post is meant to give you a hand with restoring those yellowed headlights to their former translucence. Not only do the things look bad, there is the ever-present risk of poor lighting, creating a potentially dangerous situation for both the driver and other vehicles sharing the road. It’s arguable they’ll also decrease the value of your car, as curbside buyers and used car managers alike always look for any excuse to lowball sellers.

Rounding up eight selections, we learned there is no shortage of options for this DIY job on the market today. And, no, toothpaste doesn’t really work well despite what that video on YouTube says. Bin those fireflies for good and check out these eight potential solutions to restoring your car’s headlights to their showroom glory.

(Read More…)

By on February 18, 2019

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. It helps you to make informed decisions when buying gear for your car. Plus, posts like this helps to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works


Before jumping into this episode of The Buyer’s Guide, a heavy dose of caution is warranted. Aftermarket HID headlights can improve nighttime vision and allow you to see farther down the road … if they’re installed correctly. And, for a lot of people, that’s a big if.

The headlamp housings in the vast majority of cars, especially ones at the Mr. Noodles end of the price spectrum, simply weren’t designed to properly reflect and refract the light produced by HID bulbs. It also doesn’t help that most amateur installs tend to end up with one headlight illuminating the Soyuz 2 spacecraft while the other searches for nightcrawlers.  (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2018

2018 F-150 Power Stroke Diesel, Image: Ford

A collective groan must have echoed through the automotive industry a couple of years back, after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began testing headlight performance. Early results showed that most headlights, even those on expensive vehicles, fell well short of optimal performance. Most fell short of acceptable performance.

Since then, improvements have begun — slowly, but surely. It’s in an automaker’s best interest to slap a couple of bright peepers on the front of their vehicles from a PR and marketing perspective, but there’s cost issues to be considered. Still, no vehicle can take home that coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating without good headlights.

In its 2018 testing, some 32 models offered standard or available headlights worthy of a “good” rating. That’s out of 165 models. (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2018

Unless you’re still tooling around in a hand-me-down rig donated by your grandfather, chances are good you’re not in possession of a car outfitted with sealed-beam headlamps. That car might also have real 5 mpg bumpers, further insulating you from lofty repair costs.

For owners of newer cars, plenty of pain awaits after a fender-bender, though advances in passive restraints have relegated most of that pain to your wallet. After smashing through potentially thousands of dollars of camera and sensor gear housed in your bumper and grille, the next thing damaged in a low-speed, front-end impact is your headlamps. New figures from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveal what you’re likely to pay for a replacement. (Hint: it’s a lot.)

However, if you’re one of the few people who shelled out for a new Lincoln Continental this year, there’s good news here. (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2018

8700 Evolution-J on Jeep JK Wrangler, Image: rubitrux.comSajeev writes:

Apparently the ears of noted lighting consultant Daniel Stern begin to burn whenever Piston Slap discusses lighting upgrades. While I gave an analysis of the current LED-landscape to the best of my knowledge, I am honored to publish his insights on Jeep JK headlight upgrades.

And those of us with old-school halogen reflectors get a little feedback, too. Stick around for that.   (Read More…)

By on October 29, 2018

by Steve Johnson car headlights

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced earlier this month that it was willing to considering changing the rules that govern automobile headlights. Now in a comment period before its official review, the proposal would permit automakers to install and enable adaptive driving beam headlights on new cars sold in the United States. While some automakers are preparing themselves for the change, most have been ready for ages.

One one hand, this proposed change should help lousy drivers from burning out your retinas on a lonesome country road. But, by the same token, you may no longer have the delicious opportunity to blast them with the brights once they’re within a few feet of your car to let them know to lower those damned high beams.

Just kidding, that would be illegal. Federal mandates require all drivers to dim their headlights when approaching within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle or when approaching a vehicle less than 300 feet ahead. Of course, nobody we know has ever witnessed this law being actively enforced — even though it’s probably as dangerous as moderate speeding infractions. Regardless, it’ll gradually become a non-issue if the rules change.  (Read More…)

By on October 26, 2018

Mopar LED 7-inch round headlights Jeep JK, Image: MoparTTAC Commentator Anchorman33 writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve read with great interest your columns on aftermarket HID conversions for various cars that have composite headlights. I have a similar, related question that hopefully has enough daylight (pun intended) between those responses and this question that it’s worth your time to answer.

I’ve recently married into a Jeep family. It’s a 2016 Wrangler Unlimited Sport that’s basically stock… for now. Eventually it will be getting the typical steps, wheels and tires and some cosmetic alterations. For now, it’s used as a daily driver and rarely sees terrain much rougher than a poorly maintained dirt road. It’s fine and my new wife loves it. The biggest problem is the headlights. When we go out, I typically drive and it’s getting to the point I dread taking her vehicle if there’s a chance the sun will set before we go home. As noted basically everywhere, the headlights are atrocious and border on dangerous. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2018

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration might soon grant automakers a long sought-after wish. On Thursday, the agency put forward a proposal to allow adaptive driving beam headlamps on U.S. passenger vehicles.

ADB lights would solve two problems at once: insufficient roadway illumination, as well as headlight glare. Despite the existence of automatic high beams, automakers currently have to find a happy medium in the amount of low-beam light thrown ahead of the car to prevent blinding oncoming motorists. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which recently added headlight performance to its ratings criteria, plenty of new cars fail to find the right balance. (Read More…)

By on January 26, 2018

2017 Ford Edge, Image: Ford

Chris writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Love the column, it’s one of the things that keeps me coming to TTAC daily. I recently purchased a 2017 Ford Edge SEL AWD with the 2.0-liter Ecoboost. I love it so far but there is one glaring issue. The projector beam halogen headlights are simply awful, I can’t believe they left the factory this way. What are my options? Brighter Halogen bulbs, LED Bulbs or an aftermarket HID kit?

Help! I’m almost totally in the dark here! (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2018

2019 Ram 1500

Truly, this is a momentous year for trucks. Not one, not two, but three completely revamped or wholly new domestic pickups greeted us in Detroit last week, ready to capitalize on America’s unyielding hunger for vehicles that can haul, tow, ford, climb, traverse, and commute daily with a single occupant.

While we haven’t yet had an opportunity to put the 2019 Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, or Ford Ranger through their paces, we’d hope to find an increase in refinement and capability in returning models. Over at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, there’s a different testing regimen planned. Let’s just say it’s a hard-hitting one.

And if Ram or Chevy wants to get into the IIHS’ good books, those trucks had best perform better than their so-so predecessors. (Read More…)

By on December 31, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas headlamp

Even though headlights have evolved from uniform circles illuminating the roadway in largely the same way to diverse units that look and function very differently, their overall performance has improved immensely. Nobody is going to jump from a 1955 DeSoto to a 2018 Dodge and think “Wow, these headlamps are just terrible.”

However, the International Institute for Highway Safety has been on a two-year mission to make modern headlights look bad and there are two possible explanations as to why. Either the IIHS genuinely believes the current offerings from manufacturers are unsafe, or it’s trying to promote competition within the industry to produce a better bulb. The truth, as usual, is likely somewhere in the middle.  (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

SUV Headlight, Public Domain

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been systematically tearing apart every segment over inadequate headlights for the past year. In its most recent study, midsize SUVs took a beating, with only two models garnering a “good” rating for their illumination capabilities. The other 35 continued a trend of providing lackluster performance from a safety standpoint — especially non-luxury offerings.

Lousy headlights are something the IIHS seems hellbent on calling out, especially after years of avoiding any heavy scrutiny. This is the fourth segment the institute has evaluated since it began rating headlights in 2016. Its newly established headlight ratings have resulted in fewer cars being awarded an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, as headlights must rate in the “good” or “acceptable” range to even be considered. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2017

BMW E60 Angel Eyes, Image: Wikimedia Commons

TTAC commentator idesigner writes:

Sajeev,

Last night during my drive home I saw something I see all too often: In the year is 2017, there are still cars and trucks that don’t have all their driving light on! Instead, they’ll only illuminate their front lights (and I can imagine dash light as well) but not tail or side lights.

What’s up with this? Aren’t auto manufacturers smart enough to fix this phenomenon? Why isn’t there a sound like the seat belt chime that tells you your lights are not on?
(Read More…)

By on May 3, 2017

2002-Chevrolet-TrailBlazer-SUV_Image-08-800

Following a raft of complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has once again turned its attention to the headlights of pre-bankruptcy era General Motors vehicles. Apparently, the first two recalls for the exact same problem might not have culled all of the automaker’s wonky low beams.

The 312,000 vehicles involved in the NHTSA investigation span a fateful period for the automaker. While GM’s future at the time wasn’t bright, neither were its low beams. Owners have complained the lights can shut off unexpectedly, sending one driver on a date with a creek. (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2016

1995 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC HID headlights, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

George writes:

What can I do about the low-beam headlights on my 1996 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC? Does anybody make replacement parts for this car?

Please help!

(Read More…)

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