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H.I.D. conversion kits

I have a 1996 Toyota Camry and a 1998 Subaru Outback, both with dim headlights. I am wondering how well the H.I.D. conversion kits work and is this a good option to brighten them up? I have seen them on-line for $50-150.

If it were me I’d first make sure the headlight lenses were clean (polishing kits are available for that). If I still needed to brighten up the lights I’d get some Sylvania ‘Silverstar’ (thanks edb) replacement bulbs. HIDs for $50-$150 sound really cheap, and I mean that in a bad way. More for show, I’d bet.

I agree 100%.

I’ll add that I’ve had excellent results with simple polishing compound (not to be confused with car wax) using a drill mounted sponge buffing pad and plenty of water. Everything is available at any parts store.

Ever since Detroit decided that fancy looks were more important than real lighting efficiency, getting rid of glass lenses and substituting plastic, we have seen a lowering of lighting efficiency.

Follow texases and the same mountainbike.

There are some problems with aftermarket HIDs. The biggest is that none of them are street legal. (However, most police don’t seem to care.) The reason is that the reflectors in your cars are designed for halogen bulbs. HID bulbs have a different light output pattern, and as such require a different reflector to put the light in the right places.
If you put a HID bulb in a halogen reflector, you will become one of those who are blinding the rest of the drivers.

It honestly has nothing to do with “fancy looks.” It has to do with being cheap. My CRX has “fancy looking” headlights, with the socketed bulbs and all, but the fronts are made of glass and they still look as clear as they did new. If they’d make the lenses out of glass instead of the plastic, it wouldn’t matter how fancy they made them look.

Try a lens restoring kit and new bulbs first. This may well brighten everything up enough to suit your needs. Headlight bulbs don’t just randomly burn out, they grow dim over time. If your current bulbs are more than a year old, simply replacing them will probably make a significant difference. There are brighter bulbs out there as well. Someone mentioned Sylvania Silverstar bulbs. I have used them before, and they are very bright, but they are also somewhat expensive ($40-50 a pair) and burn out frequently because they burn so bright. Your HID conversion kits are not street legal. The ones that are usually cost upwards of a thousand dollars and are more for show than anything. I say try restoring your headlight lenses and installing new bulbs. Aiming your headlights may also help. Any decent mechanic can do this for you.

I agree with texases, polish the lenses and purchase the Sylvania SilverStar (sic) bulbs. I’ve used them on my Blazer for years, they are a bit brighter than the OEM bulbs, but not bright enough to annoy oncoming traffic.

Ed B.

I appreciate the responses and have checked the alignment of the lamps. I have tried ‘brighter’ bulbs that did not measure more foot-candles with my light meter. I will look into polishing the lenses.
I still would like a response from someone who has installed these on their vehicle.

I don’t believe it’s possible to convert either of your cars to true HID headlights, especially for $150 or less.

I have a '96 Subaru and a '97 Acura, and have seen noticeable improvement in headlight performance on both with the use of Sylvania XtraVision bulbs. I’ve been using them exclusively for many years and I continue to be happy with them.

I tried just about every legal and illegal bulb that would fit the standard headlights. The illegal, higher wattage bulbs WILL give you more light, but they don’t last very long and they really annoy oncoming drivers. The XtraVision bulbs seem to be a good compromise.

For more than you ever wanted to know about automotive lighting, and perhaps some answers to your questions, please consult

I don’t think any of the regulars here have installed these headlight upgrade kits, mainly because they think blinding other drivers with extremely bright headlights is rude and unnecessary.