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Brighter headlights

I own a '93 Toyota Previa van and I’m interested in upgrading to a brighter headlight . Any advice would be a big help .

Any increase in brightness usually results in a shorter bulb life according to most tests and opinion. The Silverstar bulbs for instance burn at a higher temperature, but some people report bulb failure in under a year-quite expensive. The closest thing to an upgrade without getting fancy is the Extravision bulbs which I believe are sold by Sylvania-a minor but useful upgrade. They’ll last a long time and should burn brighter than the bulbs in your 93 Toyota, but don’t expect a big change. Good luck.

Generally the government governs how bright headlamps are allowed to be by restricting the wattage. To get more light without going for more wattage, means shorter lamp life. More wattage can mean melting parts in the light assembly as it will cause more heat.

Now let me guess. If you go out and look at those headlamps, and look at the lens, are they a little yellow and or hazy? If so that is your problem. You may need to polish or replace the lenses.

Frankly you don’t really want to go brighter than the law says. You don’t want to blind the oncoming traffic.

I should also add that if the lights are not properly adjusted, they can appear less bright and reduce your vision.

Watch out, I’ve seen far too many MELTED head lamp plugs from high draw bulbs.

I’ve had excellent results from Sylvania SilverStars. They don’t draw any more current than OE bulbs. I can’t say how long they last because I don’t own the vehicles I had them in. But i never had one burn out in over two years of use.

That being said, Joseph makes a great point about hazy or yellowed lenses. Cleaning those up (or replacing them) will give you the best results.

Some vehicles have less than adequate wiring for the headlights. You could consider rewiring the current bulbs with a relay and stouter wires directly to the battery and a good ground. You can check to see if this will benefit you by comparing the voltage at the headlamp connector to the battery post voltage with the lights on. Be sure to fuse appropriately.

I use those Sylvania halogen high intensity lights too in one car. I noticed the difference in the brightness with them. Had them for two or three years and still fine. Other than that, except cleaning the yellow off the cover, not much else you can do.

Only other thing to check is that they’re aimed at the upper limit of the reasonable range. My '96 ES has a very low cutoff on low beam.

I would compare the current draw of the original headlamps against any replacement lamps. More current means more heat and this can lead to burned sockets, wire connectors, combination switches, etc.

You could also consider the addition of some driving (not fog) lamps. My Lincoln Mark is one of those cars with chronic lousy headlights which produce a mostly dull yellow glow. The high beams are not too bad but the low beams flat reek in spite of a bulb change. Polishing the lights with Meguiars accomplished very little.

I installed a pair of driving lamps last weekend and it’s a night and day difference; almost 3x the light. The one modification I made was complicating the wiring a bit. Instead of a simple on/off switch I used a couple of relays, a diode or two, a small green LED indicator lamp, and wired it differently than recommended since I did not want to operate the steering column switch and another switch for oncoming traffic.

I wired it up so I can use the headlamps by themselves, low beams with driving lamps, high beam with driving lamps, etc.
Simply set the switch for the desired mode and control everything with the steering column lever.
Maybe now I won’t be plowing into those overgrown rodents referred to as deer anymore. (3 times and counting, although one was apparently suicidal and killed itself by jumping into the side of the car)

Of course, if you go this route make sure the lamps are adjusted properly so as not to blind oncoming traffic in the event you fail to turn them off.

The color of the light affects how well your eyes can perceive the illuminated image. The trouble is that the bluish light that makes it really easy for you to see is VERY annoying to oncoming traffic.

I have been pleased with Silverstars. I have them on three of my cars and none has burned out yet. I think the oldest ones are just over 3 years old. The silverstars are not blue, just a bit whiter than the original bulbs. The difference, however, is not dramatic, you might not even notice it.

When halogen bulbs first came out, they told us that halogens would not dim with age the way conventional bulbs did. This turned out not to be true. Halogen bulbs do yellow and dim with age. Therefore, any new bulb you put in will look a little brighter.

Make sure that the grounds are good on your headlights, and polish or replace opaque headlight covers.

The real solution is a good set of projectors with HID headlights. The lights on my wife’s new car will burn the hair off a cat at 60 yards. However, those are very expensive. I would not even consider retrofitting HIDs on to one of my older cars due to the cost. I dread the day one of hers burns out, but I have heard that HIDs last a very long time.

Some states regulate the replacement bulbs. I’m not sure that HIDs can be used as universal replacements. Ryder180, if you do buy brighter bulbs, make sure that they are legal. If not, the state police may give you a ticket and force you to change them. It is possible that they would fine you as well, but I’d guess that they would give you a warning for a first offense. You would have to go to a police station to show that you replaced the illegal bulbs and mail the certification to the ticketing authority. Again, I’m not sure about your case. You just need to make sure for yourself.

HID bulbs supposedly last 10 times as long as halogens. Good thing- the cheapest I’ve found for my Pacifica are around $200 each. They also draw less current than halogens.

Beware of cheap so-called HID direct replacement bulbs. They aren’t HID or if they are (and come with the required circuitry and cost big $), they will melt headlight housings designed for halogen bulbs.

See if there are any E-code headlights for your vehicle. I would not recommend putting brighter bulbs in an older US-spec vechicle since all you will get is a brighter blob of light (and annoy lots of other people).

If they are not available, then I’d add driving lights.

I bought a pair of Sylvania silverstar ultras on ebay for my '92 Previa. They are brighter than the original bulbs and I was pleased with them. Then the passenger’s side light shorted so that both the dim and bright are illuminated at the same time resulting in a very dim light. At first I thought it was a bad bulb, but when I bought a regular bulb at Wal-Mart, it did the same thing so I’m sure it’s a short. I’m not sure where the short is occurring or if it is the result of using these bulbs. What did you end up doing and did you have any similar problems?