Headlights: Projector Type and Standard Type

I drive early dawn when the moon is still shining or moon less night, and at times on streets that are not lit. I find it difficult to drive on those conditions and a on streets that are not lit or well lit with my current fogged standard headlights.

Car: 2005 Mitsubishi Galant ES
Current headlights: OEM Mitsubishi Standard
Headlights condition: white fogs on upper half

Is it worth the money to change to the OEM projector type headlights? Are there any difference in driving experience on using projector type over standard type headlights during the night time and or early dawn; or on roads that are not lit at all?

I found no difference between my '07 Civic with standard halogens and my '10 Insight with projector low beams.

The fogged over headlamps aren’t helping things any but first try some new bulbs. They deteriorate over time and don’t shine as bright. If that doesn’t help then try to have the lamps restored or just replace them. The headlights were fine when the car was new, right?

Try changing the bulbs to Sylvania Silverstar bulbs. They’re available at Walmart or any parts store. Look at the back of the packages and you’ll see that Sylvania sells four levels of bulb, I think they’re called “standard”, Ultra, Silverstar, and Silverstar Ultra. Each step up provides more light in a more projected beam. The tradeoffs are the cost and the life; the Silverstar Ultras, which I use, cost 3X as much as the standards and are only rated at 250 hours as opposed to the standards’ 1000 hours.

But I’ll tell you what, try the Silverstar Ultras and you’ll never go back to standards. Even the second level up, the Ultras, makes a big difference. I replaced a friend’s bulbs with Ultras recently and she was amazed at the difference. I started using Silverstar Ultras a few years back when cataracts were robbing me of my ability to drive at night (I ultimately had to have surgery on both eyes). Which brings up a good point: if you haven’t had your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist recently, get them checked to be sure they’re not part of the problem.

@asemaster … yes, the headlights were fine when it was newer-reaching farther distance than what it covers on current condition.

Does the life of a restored headlights the same as replacing it with newer ones?

@“the same mountainbike” … thanks for the advice… I have the anisometropic amblyopia so my left eye is working hard twice everyday to compensate for the bad vision on my right eye. So if possible, I would like to get the “best” lighting as possible when driving.

“Restoring” the headlights means polishing the oxidized surface off of the polycarbonate (plastic) lenses. That’s a great idea too.
Replacing the headlights actually means replacing the lamps, the bulbs behind the lenses that actually provide the light.
Deterioration of lights is referring to the degradation of the filaments over time that happens to all incandescent bulbs (bulbs that use filaments) with use. The bulbs create light by heating a tungsten filament, and the heat causes changes to the filaments. No way of avoiding it.

Try the Silverstars and let us know how you like them. I’m confident that you’ll be amazed.

@"the same mountainbike"‌ Does the bulb type matter? I checked the Sylvania Ultra and it has many bulb types. Is 1 filament better than 2 filaments? Or any will do?

You need to get the correct bulb for your car based on the application guide. The different numbers are for different cars. Your car’s design determines whether it has one or two filaments (one if it has a separate high beam and no daytime running light, two if it has both the high beam and low beam in the same bulb or in many cases if it has a DRL). But don’t make this decision yourself, it’s already been made by the designers. Use the application chart to select he bulb.

And for each part number, there’ll be different bulb levels. For example, my cars uses 9006 bulbs. There are four different levels of 9006 bulbs.

To help you, I’ve attached the link to the home page for the Sylvania headlight bulbs. It’ll give you lots of good information as well as the application guide, which will give you the correct part number for your car. I strongly urge you to visit the site. You’ll learn a lot there.

these generic assy’s cost $25. yes they are not direct fit but they have simple glass lenses just like the brand new cars have. the chrome reflector is for looks. it does nothing for light output. we have owned 3 new cars since 2007 and all had projectors and they all were much better than any older reflector lense car i have owned.

I think terminology is getting confused here.
“Projector” headlight bulbs are a description of the shape of the beam projected out of the lighting unit lens. They have a lens in the center that focuses the beam. They come molded into the polycarbonate lighting modules setup for quartz-halogen (incandescent) bulbs, in sealed-beams, for High Intensity Discharge lamps and even LED lamps. Prices vary wildly depending on what you’re doing.

And even among the bulbs there are variations. As I’ve described in the Silverstar bulbs, they come in four different beams, four different lamp designs that use different filament sizes and are designed to reflect the light off of the unit’s reflector from a different “point in space” for a different ultimate beam shape. You can actually find them in five different beams if you look, but Sylvania is now only producing four variations, so those will be older models… not lesser models, but older versions.

In summary, we need to be careful to recognize that there are two different contributors here, the lamp and the lens. “Projector” refers to the lens, which might or might not be in the bulb’s design. The type of lamp refers to the design of the lamp itself, how it produces light. We need to be careful to also recognize that different lamps have different characteristics. You cannot simply plug an HID bulb into a standard lighting system without problems… maybe even a fire. They require a lot more current to create the arc than an incandescent bulb requires to heat the filament. And they require extra hardware, solid-state ballasts to create the proper startup and operating conditions for discharge lamps.

My recommendation is to simply replace the OEM bulb with a higher output direct-fit bulb using the bulb manufacturer’s reference information. You can upgrade your lights without risk, and this is the way to do so.

By the way, the reflector absolutely does matter, but in the interest of brevity I’ll skip that dissertation.

If the lights worked to your satisfaction when the car was newer, find an auto shop or body shop that can buff-out or “restore” your headlamp lenses to better condition and install some new bulbs. That should get you back to good vision with a minimum of cost.

You might also look at the reflector surfaces of the headlamps. If they’re burnt or tarnished light output may not be very good even if the lenses are polished.

In a case like that a pair of new stock lamps may put things back to normal.

I’d do both- polish the lenses and get the Silverstars. I wouldn’t put in projectors. I had them, not any better than regular reflectors.

I agree, Texases, .
Sincere thanks for summarizing for me. I mean well, but I do get wordy at times.

I enjoyed your explanation TSMB, just thought I’d add my vote.


I’ll just throw in that while I have no idea how good the projectors are for your car, I doubt it would be worth the time and money to retrofit your car with them.

However, when it comes time to replace your car, check out one with HID lamps. You will never willingly go back to driving a car without them. (at least at night) At least I wouldn’t.

i replaced a slightly obscured housing assy on our grand prix with a $50 version. sure it looked nice. it was new. but it put out less light than the older headlight on the other side of car. this was an oem style reflector light assy. we did put a hid kit in a 2000 truck my kid bought. it worked great. we sold truck after 6 months and took out the kit and he sold it to a friend.

Absolutely agree with @oblivion Lack of HIDs would be a deal changer for me.