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Old 11-26-2019, 02:32 AM   #1
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Default Would Like Brighter Headlights

As I (we) age I think it helps to have brighter headlights. The headlights on my Chevy Roadtrek are OK but it would be nice to have some more lumens out there. What headlight upgrades have worked well for you?
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Old 11-26-2019, 02:47 AM   #2
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Me too. I'll be watching this thread.
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Old 11-26-2019, 03:49 AM   #3
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+1.

I also need to replace the cloudy, sun-damaged lens in addition to the bulbs. Wondering if the $70/ea. China ones are as good as the $225/ea. GM ones.
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Old 11-26-2019, 03:58 AM   #4
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+1.

I also need to replace the cloudy, sun-damaged lens in addition to the bulbs. Wondering if the $70/ea. China ones are as good as the $225/ea. GM ones.

We have heard quite a bit good about the Chinese replacement lamps over the years, with only minor complaints about not quite as nice a fit as OEM. It is fairly likely that the new ones from GM are also aftermarket as GM often turn this kind of products to Delco pretty early. Of course the van are still in production, but the replacement parts sold ones could be Delco.
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Old 11-26-2019, 12:50 PM   #5
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On the bulbs themselves, Daniel Stern Lighting has been recommended on various forums.

For those of you whose older rigs were born with halogen headlights, I do not recommend any of the aftermarket LED replacement options. Every single one of them that we've tried had burned out literally within a matter of hours (T1N Sprinter), no matter what the guarantee on the package. It became a running joke for us, to the point where we switched back to crappy halogens for the time being.

Here's a pic of our van as it sat awaiting an annual state inspection. On this day, I didn't even manage to drive 3 miles from our home to the inspection station without a headlight burning out.

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Old 11-26-2019, 01:08 PM   #6
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+1.

I also need to replace the cloudy, sun-damaged lens in addition to the bulbs. Wondering if the $70/ea. China ones are as good as the $225/ea. GM ones.
They are good.... for about a year or two...

I also tried HIDs but didn't like the glare they produced so went back to the good ole Silverstars. Am considering adding on extra lights.
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Old 11-26-2019, 01:22 PM   #7
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There are a couple of things that might make the existing lights better.


Clean and lube all the connectors at the lamps and on the harnesses to them. Clean and tighten the ground connections which may be hard to find as many use a long ground wire in the harness to ties points.


Lots of people I know, especially in the older cars and restoration stuff, have added large new wire feeds from the battery and grounds to headights, using the old wires to control the relay. I think much of the newer stuff may already on relays, but may have less than ideal wire size.



Of course, replacing the lamps so you have clean reflectors and non foggy lenses can be a huge improvement.
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Old 11-26-2019, 01:58 PM   #8
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....

Lots of people I know, especially in the older cars and restoration stuff, have added large new wire feeds from the battery and grounds to headights, using the old wires to control the relay. I think much of the newer stuff may already on relalys, but may have less than ideal wire size.

...
To follow up a bit along this line a check for voltage drop at the headlight when it is on would clue a person in on whether a relay system is required. A half of a volt drop can make a sizable difference.

I have done this with my motorcycles in the past with very good results. When I was still working my morning commute was through the countryside at 4 am, in the dark on skinny county roads so I wanted all of the light I could get. IIRC, I gained about 1.5 volts on the two that I did this to.

Unless you have a separate lighting scheme for lighting, an automatically resetting circuit breaker would be a good idea for the new power source.

I'm thinking of checking out my 19 year old Chevy RT cuz the headlights appear to be not quite what they should be, even with new China housings.
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Old 11-27-2019, 09:10 PM   #9
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There are a couple of things that might make the existing lights better.

Clean and lube all the connectors at the lamps and on the harnesses to them. Clean and tighten the ground connections which may be hard to find as many use a long ground wire in the harness to ties points.

Lots of people I know, especially in the older cars and restoration stuff, have added large new wire feeds from the battery and grounds to headights, using the old wires to control the relay. I think much of the newer stuff may already on relays, but may have less than ideal wire size.

Of course, replacing the lamps so you have clean reflectors and non foggy lenses can be a huge improvement.
Do you know if the Chevy Roadtreks use a relay for the headlights?

Here is a good article analyzing weak headlights. Looks like resistance in the relay can be one problem source. Article also mentions ground problems. The diagnosis process is helpful also.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/car...a4246/4314662/
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Old 11-27-2019, 09:14 PM   #10
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Do you know if the Chevy Roadtreks use a relay for the headlights?

Here is a good article analyzing weak headlights. Looks like resistance in the relay can be one problem source. Article also mentions ground problems. The diagnosis process is helpful also.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/car...a4246/4314662/

I think the do work on relay in the Chevies, based on the momentary pulse to go to high beams, but I would have to look at the service manual to be sure.
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Old 11-28-2019, 02:06 AM   #11
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I went and checked my 2000 Chevy headlight wiring. I show a 1.5 volt drop at the low beam wiring, did not check the high beam.

I have a Haines manual with a wiring diagram that does not show relays for '02 and earlier but shows a 40 amp fuse for the headlights plus individual 10 amp fuses for each individual headlight, all in the under hood fuse/relay block. For some reason there are no 10 amp fuses mounted, even though the diagram on the fuse/relay block cover shows the spots for them.

The 1.5 volt drop would be enough to explain the dimness of my headlights. I seldom drive in the dark so I don't plan on putting in an auxiliary harness what with the wiring not matching up between the diagram and the actual wiring.

One alternative for the low voltage dilemma would be to install LED bulbs with a wide enough voltage range to compensate for the low voltage. I may look into this.
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Old 11-28-2019, 03:40 AM   #12
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Headlights are optical instruments with 3 critical components – a reflector, a front lens and a light bulb. All 3 are engineered to provide good light pattern for the driver while preventing blinding upcoming traffic. Changing just one of these 3 elements will change desired light pattern. Most likely this new pattern will cause either an insufficient illumination for the driver or will blind upcoming traffic. Daniel Stern wrote many articles in the past, worthwhile reading material. Back to the subject, a tungsten filament in a halogen lightbulb has completely different size and shape than a LED bulb or an HID bulb so changing original bulb to a different one will result most likely to unacceptable pattern.

Changing existing headlight into a COMPLETE and new LED, or High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlight make sense.

Back in the mid-seventies I helped my friend with weak and very yellow headlights on his Lamborghini by adding a direct battery connection via relay controlled by the steering wheel switch. Word spread quickly and few folks in LA ask for help. Certainly, 1.5V drop is huge.
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Old 11-28-2019, 03:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peteco View Post
Do you know if the Chevy Roadtreks use a relay for the headlights?

Here is a good article analyzing weak headlights. Looks like resistance in the relay can be one problem source. Article also mentions ground problems. The diagnosis process is helpful also.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/car...a4246/4314662/
On my 2010 RT190P (2009 Chevy Express van chassis), the wiring diagrams in factory service manual show relays for each of the low beams, high beams, and daytime running lights in the underhood fuse box which is in the left front corner of the engine compartment. Not germaine, but just for completeness, there is a relay for the parking light circuit in the body fuse box, located under the driver's seat.
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Old 11-28-2019, 04:41 AM   #14
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Headlights are optical instruments with 3 critical components – a reflector, a front lens and a light bulb. All 3 are engineered to provide good light pattern for the driver while preventing blinding upcoming traffic. Changing just one of these 3 elements will change desired light pattern. Most likely this new pattern will cause either an insufficient illumination for the driver or will blind upcoming traffic. Daniel Stern wrote many articles in the past, worthwhile reading material. Back to the subject, a tungsten filament in a halogen lightbulb has completely different size and shape than a LED bulb or an HID bulb so changing original bulb to a different one will result most likely to unacceptable pattern.

Changing existing headlight into a COMPLETE and new LED, or High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlight make sense.

Back in the mid-seventies I helped my friend with weak and very yellow headlights on his Lamborghini by adding a direct battery connection via relay controlled by the steering wheel switch. Word spread quickly and few folks in LA ask for help. Certainly, 1.5V drop is huge.
Agree on the light patterns, sort of. I've had good luck with three different motorcycles, all LED's have a nice cutoff for low beam with very little glare issues. But that was them and this is a Chevy. Iff'n I get to that point, research and experimenting will be required, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to spend much time or treasure on it.

I have ruled out a ground issue. Very close readings either to a ground at the radiator support vs the neg at the battery. I do have full voltage at the main headlight fuse so it's somewhere after that in the circuit. Without the low hanging fruit of relays and with the wiring diagram and actual wiring differences, it could get real ugly.
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Old 11-28-2019, 04:56 AM   #15
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Agree on the light patterns, sort of. I've had good luck with three different motorcycles, all LED's have a nice cutoff for low beam with very little glare issues. But that was them and this is a Chevy. Iff'n I get to that point, research and experimenting will be required, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to spend much time or treasure on it.

I have ruled out a ground issue. Very close readings either to a ground at the radiator support vs the neg at the battery. I do have full voltage at the main headlight fuse so it's somewhere after that in the circuit. Without the low hanging fruit of relays and with the wiring diagram and actual wiring differences, it could get real ugly.
On my Honda ST1300, after killing fortunately a small Bambi, I replaced the NA headlight with the EU one, it was a different driving at night.

During the sealed beam days, I replaced my headlights with the EU ones if it was possible. Once you get accustom EU pattern it is difficult to get used to a very different pattern of NA. I tried to replace halogen bulbs with HID on my VW Jetta but had to switch back to halogen, light was more powerful but pattern was unacceptable. I have never tried LED bulbs, but they have a very different shape and size from either HID or incandescent tungsten filament so I have my doubts.
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Old 11-28-2019, 05:39 AM   #16
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On my Honda ST1300, after killing fortunately a small Bambi, I replaced the NA headlight with the EU one, it was a different driving at night.

During the sealed beam days, I replaced my headlights with the EU ones if it was possible. Once you get accustom EU pattern it is difficult to get used to a very different pattern of NA. I tried to replace halogen bulbs with HID on my VW Jetta but had to switch back to halogen, light was more powerful but pattern was unacceptable. I have never tried LED bulbs, but they have a very different shape and size from either HID or incandescent tungsten filament so I have my doubts.
I fitted LED on a '99 Connie, "98 KLR and most recently on a '15 650 Versys. I noticed an excellent cut off line on each. The biggest improvement is on the Versys. The halogen was scattering the beam into several different hot spots. The LED really cleaned up the pattern. I virtually never have oncoming traffic flip the high beams unless I'm loaded up for camping and forgot to adjust the rear suspension. (oops!)

I used a brand called Revtek. There was a several month project to get the beam right. There is a long thread on ADVRider detailing the project.

But yeah, I've seen some really glare-ingly bad examples of LED headlights. See what I done there?

Sorta off topic, sorry.

Relating back to the RT, I did a bit of research at Headlight University and it appears that there is no plug in bulb that will work well for this van.
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Old 11-28-2019, 02:01 PM   #17
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General comment re: the observations on changing headlight parameters and the potential to blind oncoming drivers --

That horse has completely left the barn, to the point where law enforcement could never impact the resulting situation no matter how fervently they might wish.

The day before yesterday, I drove about 160 miles into deep east Texas after dark, on a 2% moon, in foggy conditions - it was blacker than black. About 50% of the vehicles on the road had headlights that were blinding on low beam. Maybe that ratio is not as high in urban areas where street lights saturate the environment and people are not as motivated to upgrade their headlights, because the need is so much less there. But in rural areas, the practice of upgrading to "illegal" headlights is already out of control.

So what are the police in those areas going to do about that - ticket half of all drivers?

It leaves me with the urge to fight fire with fire. THEY are already blinding me - I'm not the instigator here; that damage is already done. The best I can do in terms of a defensive response is to upgrade my own headlights to improve my recovery times after each successive blinding.
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Old 11-28-2019, 02:51 PM   #18
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Hi InterBlog,

You are a risk taker, so I understand the weapons now. Me, I would avoid this:

"I drove about 160 miles into deep east Texas after dark"

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Old 11-28-2019, 02:52 PM   #19
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I think a lot of the factory lights are equally blinding if you are driving a fairly low car, as so many of the new stuff sits higher and have the headlights high up. Even with a perfect horizontal cutoff if the oncoming headlights are higher than your eyes, you get blinded. Throw in that most vehicles don't have a perfect cutoff and all the taller stuff gets you.
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Old 11-28-2019, 02:58 PM   #20
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If you're into watching YouTube videos, try those by Headlight Revolution. Here's a recent video comparing 25 LED headlight bulbs.

https://youtu.be/LT-s4Eg7cyw
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