Author Topic: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .  (Read 7575 times)

GuitarStv

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Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« on: September 11, 2013, 08:58:12 AM »
The headlight bulb for my 2005 Toyota Corolla has burned out.  I figured I'd try my hand at replacing it this weekend.  Is there much of a difference between the bulbs available at the auto store?  I'd like the replacement bulb to be a bit brighter than they were before if possible, as I've had trouble seeing stuff a few times while driving on dark back roads.  They seem to range from 10 - 40$ a bulb.

fuzzed

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 09:04:25 AM »
I am not sure aobut the replacement bulbs, I typically just buy one and replace it, pretty easy to do.

One thing you can check out as well is your lenses on your lights.  If they are at all "foggy" you can get a "3M Lens Renewal Kit" from Canadian Tire.  I did this last year and the change was unbelievable.  All you need is a drill and an hour of your time, but the effort is really worth it.


madage

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2013, 09:21:25 AM »
I'd like the replacement bulb to be a bit brighter than they were before if possible, as I've had trouble seeing stuff a few times while driving on dark back roads.

Consumer Reports liked the Philips replacement headlights (I think the CrystalVision line) which provides a whiter, brighter output. Don't expect HID-like output, but they should be brighter than OEM bulbs. I haven't tried them myself, as I'm still waiting for my most recent replacement bulbs to burn out. They are, unfortunately, about twice the price of OEM replacement bulbs, and may not last as long.

Daley

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 10:05:36 AM »
Fortunately, swapping bulbs in Toyota headlight assemblies is pretty darn easy.

If you deviate from OEM bulbs, you should make a point to replace both at the same time, even if the other bulb is still good. Also, remember that they're halogens, so don't handle the bulb and get your fingerprints all over it when you replace these things.

GuitarStv

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 10:15:31 AM »
Why replace both bulbs at the same time, just so they match?

Daley

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 10:27:19 AM »
Why replace both bulbs at the same time, just so they match?

It's so the light temperature and brightness is evenly matched. This benefits your own night vision as the driver, and the drivers of oncoming traffic.

Technically, you're supposed to do it with OEM bulbs as well as bulbs will dim with age, but I've personally never seen enough of a intensity difference in the past when replacing like-for-like to bother... but I also don't do a lot of night driving and all of the headlights I've personally replaced have met a premature death, so it colors my advice for the more reckless. That said, if the bulb died from old age and heavy use, the other is likely not much longer for the world, either. The bulbs are cheap, and functioning headlights are too important a safety feature to cut corners with just to save ten bux.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 10:29:30 AM by I.P. Daley »

amicableskeptic

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2013, 10:48:18 AM »
Before you buy the 3M Lens Renewal Kit try the toothpaste method http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-Headlights  If that doesn't work go and buy some Brasso, I used that when my headlights failed inspection and it worked great.  It was cheap and easy to just go pick up at my local hardware store.

As for headlights, I did one in my Versa a few months ago.  Google for a youtube video of someone doing it for your car to see how it is done, that'll help a lot.  It was hard for me to get my hand in the headlight housing correctly when I did it and so it took me maybe 30 minutes.  Now that I've done it once I bet I could go back and do it again in 5-10 minutes.  I only did the one and am keeping the other bulb in my glovebox so I can throw it in when the 2nd burns out, when I look at the light they produce I don't notice any difference between the original on one side and replacement on the other, but if I did I would probably have replaced both.

Finally I would say that the regular headlights are the best deal by far.  Look at the specs of regular vs bright

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/parts/Sylvania-Headlight/2007-Nissan-Datsun-Versa/_/N-jpqrtZ8ihzg?itemIdentifier=946947_167897_19974_

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/parts/XtraVision-Headlight/2007-Nissan-Datsun-Versa/_/N-jpqrtZ8ihzg?itemIdentifier=723044_167897_19974_

I selected the cheapest "bright" option, but they still cost 5 bucks more than a regular pair.  Both produce 910 lumens though, but look at the Rated Life.  The regulars last more than twice as long (370 vs 150 hours) so the "brights" are well over double the price.  This was the cheapest bright option, when you go up you can get to 4x or 6x the price pretty quick.  Obviously the brights look different, but are they really better, and if so are the 4x better?

BlueMR2

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2013, 03:55:44 PM »
Technically, you're supposed to do it with OEM bulbs as well as bulbs will dim with age, but I've personally never seen enough of a intensity difference in the past when replacing like-for-like to bother... but I also don't do a lot of night driving and all of the headlights I've personally replaced have met a premature death, so it colors my advice for the more reckless. That said, if the bulb died from old age and heavy use, the other is likely not much longer for the world, either. The bulbs are cheap, and functioning headlights are too important a safety feature to cut corners with just to save ten bux.

I used to do both at the same time, but I now do one at a time.  From a safety standpoint I don't like the idea of both headlights being the same age and about to fail at the same time...

Left

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2013, 09:07:31 PM »
i used this site to help change my camry's light last week http://www.carcarekiosk.com/

vern

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2013, 10:10:57 PM »
Don't touch the glass on the new bulbs with your fingers.

Also, toothpaste is a cheap way to polish the lenses...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QwzHOO-3lk
« Last Edit: September 11, 2013, 10:12:46 PM by vern »

GuitarStv

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2013, 06:36:23 AM »
I've heard the not touching the glass thing before (supposedly shortens bulb life), but never really understood it.  If you get oil on a bit of glass, the oil isn't an insulator, it's a conductor.  The area surrounding the glass is still air at the same temperature that it would have been whether or not you touched the bulb.  The glass should therefore cool at about the rate it did before you touched it.  Oils from your skin won't eat into the glass . . . How does touching the glass shorten the bulb life?

(FWIW, I've heard the same thing about vacuum tubes for guitar amps, and it's never made much sense in that application either.)

Vilx-

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2013, 06:49:55 AM »
Don't know about your specific Toyota, but some general advice:
  • If they are standard halogen lights, you can change them just fine yourself. But if you have Xenon lights, you'll need to go to a repair shop. They operate on some seriously heavy voltage (25,000 volts I think), and you could get major electrical injuries if you mess up. Now, in truth, I don't really understand how this applies to changing bulbs when the car is turned off, but - better safe than sorry.
  • Putting in brighter bulbs than recommended might not be the brightest idea (pun intended). The problems won't be so much on your end (you'll see better, yes) as for other drivers - you might blind them or at least make their driving highly uncomfortable. This is why, for example, Xenon lights all have mandatory automatic-adjusters (at least in my country - Latvia) - they're just too bright to risk anyone getting them straight in the face. Also, every year there are some people who install Xenon lights themselves and then get fined because their headlights were not meant for that and are seriously misaligned.

Chris

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2013, 09:57:13 AM »
I've heard the not touching the glass thing before (supposedly shortens bulb life), but never really understood it.

I can't speak for headlight lamps, but I used to do stage lighting. Those bulbs were halogen as well, but ran at 750W. They also had the "no touching" rule. I found several examples of lamps that had been touched and subsequently failed early. The heat output is very high, and as the oil on the surface heated, a blister would form, followed by a "pop!" and then darkness.

GuitarStv

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2013, 10:20:08 AM »
I've heard the not touching the glass thing before (supposedly shortens bulb life), but never really understood it.

I can't speak for headlight lamps, but I used to do stage lighting. Those bulbs were halogen as well, but ran at 750W. They also had the "no touching" rule. I found several examples of lamps that had been touched and subsequently failed early. The heat output is very high, and as the oil on the surface heated, a blister would form, followed by a "pop!" and then darkness.

I don't doubt that it's true . . . just can't figure out why it would make a difference.  Air is what cools the bulb, and the air is the same temperature all around it.  Even if the oil is a superconductor, the rate of heat transfer would be limited by the air around it (air is a pretty good insulator).

Daley

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2013, 10:56:15 AM »
I don't doubt that it's true . . . just can't figure out why it would make a difference.  Air is what cools the bulb, and the air is the same temperature all around it.  Even if the oil is a superconductor, the rate of heat transfer would be limited by the air around it (air is a pretty good insulator).

Uneven thermal heating on the quartz (it's quartz crystal, not glass) envelope occurs from the presence of the oil which has disparate thermal conductive properties from the quartz. As different substances release heat at different rates, this alters the rate at which heat is released into the air at the location of the envelope where the oil rests from the remainder of the bulb. This causes an uneven hot spot on the surface, weakening the envelope structure. The salts in your sweat can also etch the quartz over time with the prolonged high heat exposure, weakening the envelope structure. Either way, it's not an issue of the bulb "burning out" faster, it's an issue of an incredibly hot burning light source that causes fires when the casing ruptures potentially doing just that when mishandled.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 11:35:11 AM by I.P. Daley »

GuitarStv

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2013, 11:32:17 AM »
I see where my reasoning was flawed, oil appears to store heat . . . I had assumed it was a better conductor than qhatever the bulb was made of.  Quartz has a thermal conductivity of 3 W/mK, I've been unable to find the thermal conductivity of sebum or sweat online, but butter has a thermal conductivity of only .2 W/mK, so it'll cause temperature swings.  :P

Daley

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Re: Car headlight replacement bulbs . . .
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2013, 11:37:48 AM »
I tweaked my answer a bit (making it more vague), realizing that I might have turfed the thermal conductivity bit between quartz and oil without properly researching and just operating on the fact that the quartz on halogen bulbs will blister at the contact point. This could be caused by the oils either retaining more heat, or reflecting the heat back into the quartz, or a bit of both which stands to reason. My napkin physics are just good enough to be dangerous.

Either way, it causes a hot spot.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 11:43:51 AM by I.P. Daley »