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I REPLACED MY CAR / TRUCK HEADLIGHT BULBS AND NOW THEY ARE VERY DIM

 

These are notes from our successful efforts to sus why the new bulbs in installed on our 2011 Subaru Outback / Legacy were pretty much 'non-existant'. And, Oh yes, it’s as much ‘fun’ as everyone talks about. Someone in the ‘design’ phase of the car should have been required to replace the bulbs in the headlights before letting this off the drawing board.  Yes, you have to...
This also applies to pretty much any vehicle utilizing modern HID / LED / 'Newer' style bulbs.

 

         


 

I REPLACED MY CAR / TRUCK HEADLIGHT BULBS AND NOW THEY ARE VERY DIM

I replaced my car / truck headlight / low-beam bulbs and now they are very dim. Seem about as bright as a half drained flashlight.

I did the same thing on our 2011 Subaru Outback. Oh yes, it’s as much ‘fun’ as everyone talks about. Someone in the ‘design’ phase should have been required to replace the bulbs in the headlights before letting this off the drawing board.  Yes, you have to remove the inner fender well liners (at least remove and likely break most of the plastic retaining clips to allow you to bend the plastic fender well liners out of the way enough to insert your arm). I’m not sure too many vehicles make this process easy. My Chevy 2500HD / Duramax is difficult as well to change the bulbs.

     Anyway, due to the small space to work in it is difficult to get your arm / hand where it needs to be. There are plenty of Youtube ‘How To’ videos out there on this so I’m not going to go into much of the minutia / details on the actual ‘how to’ process. What I will say, and the ‘crux’ of this writing is to say that if your vehicle utilizes the modern type bulbs such as the HID’s, Quartz-Halogens, or LED’s by Osram, Sylvania, Philips, etc, IT IS IMPERATIVE (that means ‘really, completely, absolutely, most important’ for you ‘Carp fishermen’) that the bulb base be FULLY and CORRECTLY SEATED!!!!!!!!

     As it’s so difficult to impractical to ‘see’ what you’re doing while you’re trying to get the bulb seated, and get any sort of ‘stupid, fiddley, lame-ass, etc’ retaining clip re-installed, it’s easy to figure that if the bulb ‘feels’ like its ‘landed correctly’, and you can get the clip back, it’s “good to go”. WRONG Cupcake!

I thought I had mine properly seated too. Then when driving the car, the ‘low beams’ were pretty much ‘non-existent’. If you looked at them from the front, they looked as though they should be bright enough. I wasn’t aware of any way to aim them, and assumed that since they had a ‘flat flange’ on them that as long as that was ‘seated’ all should be “right with the world”. Nope. After a year (yes, really, a year), I had a couple of folks that seemed to know what they were talking about insist that I didn’t have them seated correctly.

     Finally the planets lined up to allow me to revisit them this weekend. Sure enough all was “NOT right with the world“.  The right / passenger (Starboard for you non-land lubbers) bulb had two issues. The flat mounting flange on the bulb was not all the way down in the ‘recess’ and was ‘up’ on the ‘ring’ around the recess on one side, which meant that the bulb was ‘canted’.  The ‘wire retainer’ had enough ‘forgiveness’ to allow for this error and still be re-clipped. Also, there’s a ‘locate tab’ on the mounting base that was a few degrees off (about an ‘hour’ if you think of a clock face’). I removed the 12V connector, got a good view, unclipped the retainer clip, and carefully put the bulb in the position that REALLY felt correct. In slowly removing my fingers, it felt like the bulb would stay in place without the clip so I could get a better visual on it this time. Still hard to see (much due to my poor vision of detail at the 14-16” range. I have to wear reading glasses, and for any close work fairly strong ones. That doesn’t help, especially when looking with one eye thru the slit between the fender, the fender lining, your arm, any work-light, and into the small opening where the bulb sits. When I looked at the bulbs while doing their installation a year ago, they looked “fine”. (Shoulda’ looked more carefully then), but it did look good, ie; “seated flat” and the key seemed to be in the only notch / space that made sense. I reached back up

 

 carefully so as not to allow the bulb to be bumped and reinstalled the clip.  The other side (drivers / left / ‘Port’ for you ‘old Saltys’) was seated ‘flat’, but the ‘key’ was away from the notch by about a ‘half-hour’ (not much). Same process completed on that one and “viola’”. No aiming needed, no cleaning of grounds, no checking voltage, nothing ( I knew none of that was an issue as the lights worked perfectly till the one blew that was the reason for the change in the first place). Sure is nice to have functioning ‘low-beam’ headlights again.

 Notes:

     If you removed the wheel and entire fender lining (taking all proper safety precautions obviously) it would make it somewhat easier.

     I opted for the ‘standard / OEM / cheapest’ bulbs they had at the auto-parts store (Pep-Boys Auto Parts store if I remember correctly). NOT because I buy or look for the “cheapest” products. Quite the opposite. Normally I start at the ‘top quality / high end price’ of things, then justify going towards the lower end from there.  In the case of these bulbs (and later replacements for my Chevy HD2500), I noticed across the board (until you get into the ‘hundred dollar LED’s’) that the more you spent (up to about $75 at the time) you did get higher output in Lumens and color temps closer to ‘daylight’ (which would both be nice), but the ‘lifespan’ was sometimes cut in half from each lower / cheaper model. Seemed like the only way to get the longest 'lifespan' was to get the ‘lower output and color temp’ bulbs (makes sense as the filament isn’t burning as intensely). Given the difficulty to change these things, I want to put that off as long as possible, thus the ‘cheaper’ bulbs.

 




 


 

     
 

The information contained here is simply my personal findings and is not intended for anyone / or any entity to use to make any decisions to repair, disassemble, modify, or do anything. It is strictly for entertainment value. Please do not email any responses or call with any information related to it. It is also likely to change as new / additional information comes to light, or I change my mind or opinion. So There!




 


 

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