Head lights blowout


Hi all. We have a 1996 Acura RL with 110,000 miles. 6cyc,FWD, 4d sedan. The headlights keep blowing out on both the driver and passenger side. I would say we gone through two lights on each side in the last year. We have no other electrical problems that we know of. When installing the light we’ve been very careful not to touch the bulb with our fingers. We’ve been using Sylvania Xtravision lights. 9003/HB2/SV/2. Looking at the package it states they are 12.8v 60/55w. I will check this with the owners manual. However, any ideas as to whats going on? Thanks in advance. Jason.


This may be perfectly normal. Many of these extra-bright aftermarket bulbs have rather short lifespans. The packaging may even be marked with a statement such as “100 hours of use” and few customers, if any, bother to figure out just how short that really is.

If you are tired of replacing headlight bulbs, buy the normal or standard lightbulbs. They typically last ten years or so.


Most likely the only problem is the lamps you are using. The claim 50% more light or something like that and they are maintaining the same power 55W. To do that means you burn the lamp hotter to gain efficiency, but doing that decreases the life of the lamp. The extreme example of this is the old photographic flash bulb that last about 1/2 second total. The old photofloods were actually a closer example, putting out about twice the amount of light of a standard lamp for the same wattage, but only lasting 3 to 6 hours.


Since the supply voltage has a big effect on service life check the voltage of your charging system at the battery and while reving the engine to around 2,500 RPM. Make sure it isn’t over 14.8 VDC. Also look at the AC component. It should be less than .25 volts.


It may not be electrical at all. It may be a mechanical issue.

Slamming the hood can break headlamp filaments. Even slamming doors can break them. Hitting really severe bumbs and potholes hard, bottoming the suspension can lead to short headlamp life.


You don’t have water in the headlamp assemblies do you?


I use Xtravision bulbs exclusively, and do not think they are prone to early failure. They are not “aftermarket” or “high-power” bulbs, they are just replacement headlight bulbs. I’ve only had ONE Xtravision bulb that failed earlier than I thought it should, and I use these bulbs in both of my cars.

Twice a year is WAY too often. Once a year is too often. Something is causing this early failure. I’d start by checking the electrical contacts where they connect to the bulbs. Are they clean and shiny?

As Cougar suggests, checking the voltage to the bulbs is probably a good idea, too.


I checked again. They claim a 20% increased illumination (that may not indicate more total light) and The added benefit of an 850 hour light source, twice that of standard sealed beams

It would seem they are not providing that this time. I am tending to agree with mcparadise. Check that voltage.