"let there be lights

I’ve been driving with those “old fashioned” sealed-beam headlights for 50 years, and they’ve worked just fine even on our darkest, rainiest nights. I could replace them in 10 minutes for five bucks! When a headlight went out on my wife’s 2003 Acura CL, it was an $800+ job…$150, for the HVD(?)lamp.and over $700 for the unit that houses it. The parts house told me these were “dealer only” items. I was also told that the unit is stamped with a notice of a life expectancy of about 1200 hours. I wonder how many people would buy a car knowing that replacing an essential safety item might require selling their blood at the local plasma center. Why are these new kinds of lights supposed to be so good anyway, other than for melting on-coming retinas, and giving dealers a nice “locked-in”? profit

Luckily I was able to replace my o3, regular lights without much trouble, I heard replace them in pairs, I did not, 2 weeks later I did the other one. Had a 3 month difference for brake lights, oh well.

Take a deep breath. Relax. It’s only money. If your wife likes the car you better get used to it, because there’s another headlight on the other side.

By the way, it’s HID (High Intensity Discharge), not HVD. I don’t know what HVD stands for.

HID headlights are expensive to replace. Something to consider when buying a vehicle so equipped. I always keep this in mind when shopping.

As far as sealed beam headlights go, I’m glad we finally got past them. The newer, halogen bulb headlights are far superior in my opinion, and the bulbs are not expensive. I’m not talking about HID lights.

I’ve never driven a vehicle with HID headlights, so I don’t know whether or not they are any “better” than standard headlights, but I never want to go back to sealed beams.

Joseph E. Meehan, on the other hand, loves sealed beams, and will probably have something to say about this.

Yea mcparadise was right. I do believe the old sealed beam lamps were far better overall than the expensive stuff we have now. For $5.00 or less and a screw driver or two you could replace them and align them in five minutes and have time left over.

While most things are better on today’s cars, the head light system is not one of them.

I do agree that most headlights are considered an afterthought in terms of replaceability. My 99 civic requires me to move the brake fluid container out of the way to even be able to reach the housing for the bulb. I put in a CAI, then removed one of the tubes and now have an SRI. I think that’s helped quite a bit of the stock air box when I’ve had to replace that bulb.
I think it was a CX-7 forum I read that you have to go in through the wheel well just to reach the housing to change the bulb.

That lights are sealed beam and replaced in total with lens intact may be a convenience, but is it more expensive than just replacing the light emitting element as lens design gets more expensive ? If the argument is for “incandescent” lighting as opposed to say LEDs, that is a tough argument to win with the advantages of newer light sources…TV monitors are going through the same transition and with technology increasing exponentially, we don’t expect an easy standardized solution anytime soon.
Bean counters rule !!!

Joseph, Ah, . . . Those Good Old Days . . .Valve Jobs, Tubes In Tires, Sealed Beams, Link & King Pins, Choke Adjustments, Oil Bath Air Cleaners, Voltage Regulators, Carb Floats, . . .

For $5.00 or less and a screw driver or two you could replace them and align them in five minutes and have time left over.

Add to this: You’ll need 2 or 3 pairs of vice-grips, penetrating oil, a couple of screw drivers, an elctric drill with a couple sizes of sharp bits, 3 self-taping screws, a six-pack, antiseptic, band-aids . . .

I remember it a little differently. Just kidding Joseph (I understand your frustration), but I did really have to use all of this and more when the three little retaing ring screws “became one” with the headlight assembly. I live in the salt belt. Usually a sealed beam replacement required my being parked near my tool box and 120 volts.

Now I carry a spare bulb in the glove compartment of each of my newer cars. A change on the road takes less than 2 minutes. By the way, I still have 2 cars with sealed beams. I like them, too. I don’t drive them in salt, though.

Looking back, I guess I should have replaced those little screws with stainless, eh?

In defense of your “sealed beam argument” I really hate the fact that the newer plastic aero-lenses fog up and discolor so easily. Something needs to change, there! Maybe sealed beams would be a good solution.


I personally liked the days when the cars had the headlights mounted on the radiator shell instead of incorporating the lights into the front fenders or grille. One changed a bulb and it was easy to do. However Ford and the Chrysler Airflow began incorporating the headlights into the fenders in the mid 1930’s and it spread to all the manufacturers. I remember my dad converting his 1939 Chevrolet to the sealed beam units which became standard in 1940 on cars. He thought the sealed beam units were a real improvement. Now we have gone back to the bulb, but the modern bulb arrangement does seem to give more light than the sealed beam unit. I do remember in the 1950’s equipping my bicycle with a Delta sealed beam headlight so I could ride at night.

I would bet that light emitting diode (LED) headlights will be coming in the next five years. A friend of mine bought a battery operated LED music stand light. The cost was $300, but it practically lights up the whole orchestra pit. I’m betting that the price will come down to the point where LED headlights are feasible and sealed beam units, bulbs, etc. will become a thing of the past.

People fall for these “great new technology” accessories when buying vehicles -ALL-THE-TIME ! Of course it’s your choice ( if you know in advance ) when buying but always remember ;

The fancier the technology, the bigger the repair bill. Or, as they say , the difference 'tween the men and the boys is the price of their toys.

Also think of Automatic temperature control, Automatic air suspension, electric everything, moon roofs, etc.etc.etc. computerized control and sensing of every breath , whew ! The price of these ‘‘conveniences’’ and the price to repair them begs the question, just how necessary are they ?
. There’s an older lenthy post about the auto industry possibly saving themselves AND us by stopping all of this forced technology infusion ( just because they MAY does not mean that they MUST ) and getting back to basics when building cars.
I didn’t even concede to buying power windows untill my 92 Explorer.

On the 03 Acura, was a plain halogen beam headlamp even an option ? ( if you had known in advance.) Or is this another classic example of the car companies forcing ( or fooling ) us into buying these high priced accessries that we wouldn’t buy if we special ordered our vehicles ?

At one time sealed beams were “fancy technology”…gas lanterns were as well.
Air conditioning, heaters, automatic transmission, car radios etc. are all items we’re willing to do without as well ?

And those foolish air bags, energy absorbing steering wheels and passenger compartments, power disc brakes, safety glass,…oh fuel injection; bring back those lovely carbs; even though the repair bill for injection has NEVER come close to carb adjustments on my old cars… and do away with anything controlled by a computer.
BTW…the sealed electric rear latch on my 4Runner has been trouble free compared to the manual exposed one on my previous one which was a constant chore to maintain in winter salt conditions.
Oh…fancy inner fender liners and plastic cladding to stave of parking lot dents are all “fancy tech” we can do W/O too.

This is why I endeavor to have my current vehicle (1992 Ford Tempo) to be my ‘newest’ vehicle I own. If I can’t open the hood and physically ‘see’ the engine I don’t want anything to do with it. When I ‘upgrade’ I’ll buy a sweet 1980’s Camaro. Even with this car I had to make a MAJOR technological change, to fuel injection, (which is actually a 'good; concession to make) however I don’t plan on ‘upgrading’ much further.

-still haven’t conceded to antilock brakes
-still haven’t conceded to airbags
-still haven’t conceded to electric windows/anything else
(except mirrors…damn)
-still rock am/fm/cassette
I replaced a headlight about a year ago. It cost me $10 (because now they sell headlights in pairs for some reason…listen if you drove around with 1 light long enough for the OTHER one to go out, maybe you shouldn’t own a car)
-It took me less than 5 minutes, it was awesome.
-This car supposedly has A/C, however it ran out or freon, and now freon is illegal, so I guess I cannot get any more ‘freon’ for my A/C. It’s okay though, it’s never more than 40C here anyways.

Man if I was still driving the '88 corolla I would be living in the technological past in every way.

  1. It would be carberated
  2. Power steering and power brakes, that’s ALL
  3. It didn’t have a RADIO. No radio. When was the last time you had a car that didn’t have a ‘radio’ as standard equipment.

Yes, I am willing to go without A/C, and automatic transmissions (next car is going to be a stick no matter WHAT)
I used to have a car without a radio…gives an interesting perspective on driving, I like it, and now often drive with the radio off.