Headlamp upgrades: Lighting the way to safety, style

by | Feb 6, 2020 | 1 comment

The next decade will produce one of the most dramatic demographic shifts we’ve seen in many of our lifetimes, as the Baby Boomer generation enters its golden years. There are many ways this will affect the automotive industry, but one of the most obvious is in the need for optimum lighting products, including headlamp upgrades. It’s an easy-to-explain way for older consumers – indeed, all consumers – to improve the performance and safety of their vehicles, and one of those promising maintenance items that produce an immediately noticeable improvement.

Today’s headlamp upgrades include options that enhance the appearance of the vehicle as well as its performance, at relatively reasonable cost.

Today’s headlamp upgrades include options that enhance the appearance of the vehicle as well as its performance, at relatively reasonable cost. The vehicle owner may not have the inclination or funds to make elaborate custom changes to their ride, but a cool set of headlamps can make an impression all on its own.

According to Chris McPhedran, Canadian national sales manager, Lumileds Automotive,  “Upgrade headlight bulbs make lighting better on the road, and that, in turn, makes nighttime driving safer and more comfortable. Most drivers do not realize that, just like wiper blades and tires, headlight bulbs wear out over time and start to dim. As that happens, the beam on road can dramatically reduce driver vision and visibility.

“Upgrade lighting can also provide drivers with styling options, by helping them to customize their cars and trucks and create a high-tech look that is often only available on high-end luxury and performance vehicles.”

However, upgrading is more complicated than just switching out halogen for an HID or LED bulb, as Ian Mackenzie of BrightSource points out. Even though the factory-issue headlamps on most vehicles are substandard, he says, it’s important that consumers understand there are strict regulations on what is, and isn’t, street-legal.

Also, “Some vehicles’ computer systems are sensitive to changes in bulb power draw,” Mackenzie observes. “Light-out messages can occur in some vehicles, which can be irritating.” Service providers should be sure to be fully informed on the regulations in their area in order to advise consumers on what is legal and compatible with their vehicles.

Osram Sylvania’s website has a wealth of information for consumers on every aspect of choosing, replacing and upgrading their headlights. “As halogen bulbs age, the glass walls haze, blocking some of the light. Also, the filaments become faceted and thin in some places, leading to irregular light distribution.

“Unfortunately, most drivers are unaware of this fact, not realizing they need to replace bulbs before they wear out. Or, drivers will only replace one bulb, even though the other bulb is most likely the same age and already worn, creating an uneven field of vision. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t remember the last time you replaced your headlights, it’s probably time.

“Tires, brakes, and wipers are synonymous with driver safety, but headlights and headlight replacement need to be part of the safety conversation,” Osram’s site concludes. “At night, your headlights define your field of vision. You can’t react to what you don’t see, which means better headlights lead to safer driving.”

Among the recent developments are LED replacements for classic round sealed beams, like these Tungsram LED Nighthawk Sealed Beam that can give classic designs current lighting technology.

Tungsram unveiled several new automotive lighting products at AAPEX last fall, designed and engineered to ensure drivers’ optimal performance, visibility and safety.  Nighthawk LED Sealed Beams provide crisp bright light, are long lasting and feature a three-year limited warranty. These lamps meet DOT regulations and directly retrofit standard halogen sealed beam headlights. Tungsram also introduced new LED Fog Lamps and announced it has expanded its line of miniatures to 16 lights, providing more fits for more vehicles. According to the company, this expansion creates a seamless total vehicle upgrade to LED from external lights to dome, door lights, dashboards and more.

What are some of the most important considerations that the service provider should discuss with the consumer regarding their lighting options, such as headlamp upgrades?

First, says Lumileds’ McPhedran, “Service advisors should encourage customers to maintain their lights, and check the customer’s vehicle when they are in for service. Vehicle lighting is one of the most underperformed of maintenance services in the automotive market, even though it is one of the most important safety features of a vehicle.

“Shops should be aware of the benefits of proper lighting and promote that to their customers,” he continues. “In addition to offering a free lighting inspection, they can also talk to their customers about how they feel when they are driving at night or in bad weather. This will help the shop to zero in on any lighting maintenance needs, and will go a long way not only boosting driver safety but also in creating a valuable opportunity for extra shop profits at the same time.”

1 Comment

  1. Bob Ward

    I agree that headlamps are overlooked. The problem I have is the advertising leads people to believe by just replacing the bulbs will improve the headlamps. NO Way will a replacement bulb improve a poor reflector design. It just throws more intense light all over the place. This is a safety issue for oncoming traffic due to the glare from the upgraded bulbs. The only way to improve the lighting is to purchase quality headlamps that focus the light where it needs to be, on the road. Manufacturers do offer upgraded lighting systems (HID and projector beam systems) for and additional charge. The worst for glare are LED replacement headlight bulbs. They should not be sold for use in OEM headlamps not designed for them. Unfortunately it is all about revenue for lighting companies.


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