Improve Your Headlights!




Introduction: Improve Your Headlights!

Developing projects for HowToons @ Squid Labs.

If you have an older car, you may have sealed beam headlights. I did. I hated how my sealed beams were horribly dim, and didn't project at all. The low-beams were useless, and the high-beams weren't much better. I decided that it was worth some money to improve the headlights. Part of this decision was safety, which justifies the cost. My car has no airbags, and driving on Nebraska country roads there are often deer, which don't feel good on your car, and have killed people before.

I had a few options to upgrade my lights. I could buy some external driving lights from a company like Hella or KC. They are readily available in all shapes and sizes and are extremely bright. People often add them on their cars as additional fog lights, or even for off-roading. I decided that installing these on my car would be somewhat of a hassle. I would have to mount them, which involves drilling things. Then the new hole begins to rust (especially in the salty winters) and it creates more work. It would also put more load on the battery, and I would possibly have to install another relay.

I chose the second option, which was replace the sealed beam headlights with reflector enclosures. Then a normal halogen or xenon bulb can be clipped into the reflector and plugged right into the car's female plug. It was much less trouble, cheaper, and less things to go wrong in the future.

Step 1: Buy the Goods

I shopped around online until I found some good deals. I decided to go with a site called They were much cheaper than other places, and included free shipping. I ordered two conversion housings and a pair of bulbs. I ended up cancelling the bulbs because I found some cheaper bulbs at my local Napa auto parts. The total costs ended up looking like this:

  • 2 x Headlight Conversion Housings @ $22.68
  • APC Xenon Super White Halogen Bulbs (pair) @ $15.99
  • Total < $62.00

Step 2: Install

As soon as all of my supplies arrived, I began putting them together. Altogether, it doesn't take more than 10 minutes to change out the headlights.
First, I put the new headlight bulbs in the new headlight casings. Be sure to not touch the bulbs with your bare hands, because the oils will shorten the life of the bulb. The gloves are only to show this, and weren't actually necessary because I only held the bulbs by the metal bases.
Next, remove your old sealed beams and put the new assembly in place of it. They should simply plug in and fit exactly the same as the old. Obviously, it will be different for each car. For my car, I have to pull off the front grill to access the headlight screws. The new headlights were a hair bigger than the old ones, but still fit in the hole.
Look for other problems while you change the headlights. In my case, I noticed that one of my female H4/9003 connectors that plug into the headlight was deteriorating. The plastic had been crushed, so it didn't fit tightly on the new bulb. I have ordered a new female connector and will be fixing the problem. For now, I just have to be delicate with the loose connection.

The extra wires coming out of the headlight unit are for an additional bulb on the inside. I was not aware of this when I ordered them. There is a small blue light on the inside of the headlight that runs off of 12V. It looks kind of cool from the outside. I considered wiring them into my ignition wire and onto a switch on the dash. That way I could choose to have them on or off, but they would always be off when the car was off. I decided against it because they are very blue, not very bright, and probably illegal. The last thing I need is another ticket!

Step 3: Ironic Story

Of course, there has to be irony when doing something as trivial as installing headlights. Before I started this project, I knew I was going to Instructable it. So after putting together the new headlight units, I hopped in my car to go take pictures of the old headlights. I started it up and flicked on the lights. But behold! my left low beam had ceased working at this perfect moment in time. Regardless, I drove down to the closest non-streetlight lit place I knew. Nebraska has a riciculous amount of streetlights. Every road is fully illuminated. It isn't even necessary to have your headlights on to be able to see, and on many instances I have caught myself driving down the road with just parking lights. So to find a dark area, I had to drive down to some dirt roads by a group of ball fields.

Step 4: Test

After installing the new headlights, I drove to an empty parking lot to aim them. It was a good level surface, and there was a shed to point them at. I aimed them into what looked like a good pattern, but there is no way to know until you drive with them. It turns out that I needed to spread mine apart a little bit.

I am happy with the improved brightness of my headlights. The pattern is also better, and the high-beams spread much farther than the old ones. The pattern is still not terrific, though. There are some awkward lines in the low-beams. But, it is a 200% improvement over the old lights, and now I can safely see on non-lit roads.

Note: The pictures below are somewhat misrepresenting of the actual headlights. The camera slightly over-exaggerates the brightness of the lights. The color and pattern are fairly accurate. In particular, notice the whiter light on the new headlights and the spread of the new high-beams compared to the old high-beams.



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    46 Discussions

    Few days ago I noticed that my cars headlights light concerning function was not working properly.I decided to change the part(LEAR 7189312) from Thanks God issue is resolve now.

    Nice instructable. The only thing I would add is that these H4 conversions are often available in two flavours: DOT pattern and Euro "E-Code". If your locale allows (Canada does), E-code lamp housings are a better choice. E-code housings more tightly control how the beam is presented, especially with regards to opposing traffic. This is great if you're going to a brighter bulb. More of the light goes where it's wanted, and less ends up in the face of another driver.
    I converted a motorcycle over to motorcycle E-code pattern (7 inch round housing), and even with a 35 watt halogen it's head and shoulders above the original 55 watt sealed beam.

    Two wrongs don't make it right...haven't we all heard this? Blinding someone for blinding you is like screwing for virginity. If you are that annoyed, follow the person and tell them about their "blinding others" issue. Half of the people who get flashed more than likely don't even know that their Aux lights are on. And yes DOT does state that any and all Aux lights should be turned off while on public roads but honestly how many people sit down and read the manual. Education helps more than punishment when the person doesn't know they're in the wrong.
    Good job on the 'able

    I cannot stand people who drive around with fog lights on, along with their headlights, so I drive past with high beams. Since, foglights and headlights are somewhat comparable to high beams. If the person is sitting behind me like that, i will either pull over and blind them, or turn on my left turn signal for a few miles.

    13 replies

    1) If a police officer sees you do this you can be arrested for for trying to cause some to have an accident.
    2) You leave yourself open to lawsuit if you do cause some to have an accident and a witness happens to get your license plate number.
    3) If said witness call the police if you think of taking off after you CAUSED an accident you can and DEFINITELY be CHARGE with fleeing the scene of an accident which has some SERIOUS repercussions.

    So I hope this gives you the idea to NOT do stuff like that.

    First of all, if you are worried about Yerboogieman blinding an oncoming vehicle because they are running their auxiliary lights...then what do you think they are doing to him? Some of these brand new Chevy, Ford and Dodge trucks will actually hurt your eyes and give you a headache when you meet them and their auxiliary lights on! By the way, what you see on most new cars and trucks are called auxiliary lights…fog lights are amber in color to help drivers see thru the fog. Running the white auxiliary lights only makes it worse when in fog.
    Try driving for 10 or 11 hours straight and every third vehicle you meet have their auxiliary lights on! Talk about causing eye strain and fatigue. If most drivers would read their owners manual and check out their state traffic code, they would find out that they should treat their auxiliary lights as though they are high beam head lights. If you meet other vehicles, you should turn them off since they don’t have a dimmer switch for them. Most auxiliary lights are brighter than low beam headlights and they only illuminate about 20 feet in front of the vehicle using them…but they cause an irritating glare. I have been using my high beams for years on drivers that run with their auxiliary lights on all the time. I don’t know why they think they are so cool when they aren’t. wrksnfx and lunchbox9864 both most likely run around with their bumper lights on blinding everybody and when someone throws the brights on them they get their feelings hurt because they can’t be cool if they have to turn them off. All I have to say is if you can’t see the road unless you are running those stupid auxiliary lights all the time…you need to stay home after dark and quit blinding everybody you meet on the highway! As for using my high beams to give you a taste of your own medicine…so be it. You get what you give!
    Keep up the good work Yerboogieman and maybe those who think they are the only one's that matter will get the message...I am right there beside you giving it back to them! If they run off the is probably because they were distractracted trying to figure out how to bright light you back and couldn't find the switch since they run around all the time blinding other drivers with those stupid bright bumper lights on!

    I have a C.D.L. class A license, so I know all about driving 11 out of the 14 hours that you are allowed on the road per (Department Of Transportation [D.O.T.] Rules). If you want to whine about traffic codes and enforcement, you would see that you can end up being the one charged if by your actions of aggressive driving also called road rage (which includes flashing your high beams at oncoming traffic) cause an accident and if it is seen by law enforcement officers or if the general public gets your plate number and report you to the police. I have family in law enforcement at the Local, State and Federal levels and I know whereof as I speak.

    If the headlights of D.O.T. approved stock vehicles are to bright for you then that means you should either if your headlights are hazy then they need to be recondition or upgrade your older vehicles stock headlights to the newer brighter headlights or both this will offset the brightness of visible light of oncoming traffic w/o blinding them and cause you less eyestrain & headaches.

    Before you whine about my vehicle's is too old to do this on it my response is bull, because I own a 1979 Ford Ranchero 500 and I installed brighter lights on it in the STOCK headlight buckets, without any problems and yes it did cost a little more than old stock headlights a worthwhile investment but if you want to argue about it then look at this way.

    Cost of newer headlights vs. less eyestrain & headaches = less eyestrain & headaches

    First of all, I was talking about the improper use of auxiliary fog lights with white lenses...the little lights on the bumpers of most newer vehicles. Most everyone thinks they are so cool running around at night with both the headlights on and the bumper lights on. A lot of states have laws stating if you run the bumper lights you are to treat them the same as high-beam headlights and turn them off if you meet other vehicles. More states will pass laws against blinding oncoming traffic with too much light. I didn't say anything about changing out headlights to the more brighter headlights of today but if you are using headlights that are too bright just so you can see better while blinding oncoming traffic then you are a very inconsiderate driver and what goes around comes around. As far as causing an accident when I bright light an oncoming vehicle for blinding me with the glare from their bumper lights...get real. I have been doing this for 15 years and no accidents have been caused and no cop has ever pulled me over. A school bus driver has to have CDL's to drive their 50 miles a day and just because you have family in law enforcement doesn't make you an expert on traffic code or traffic courtesy. You drive around blinding others with auxiliary fog lights (white lenses) and if you meet me you will get what you give and I don't care if you have your city, state, or federal cousin with you or not. Both of you better have your sunglasses on is all I have to say!

    I see you don't respond to reason so I'll be the mature person and leave, I don't argue w/ people of such deficiencies as yourself.

    I didn’t know we were arguing…I thought we were exploring two different opinions. You opinion is that it is alright to blind oncoming traffic if it makes you feel safer…and I don’t think it is a courteous practice to follow and I let other drivers know their auxiliary driving lights are too bright. As far as me not responding to reason…that is why we are having this conversation. You think it is reasonable to blind oncoming traffic and I don’t. You are reasonably minded? I think not. And by the way, you have never met me so you have no clue as to what kind of deficiencies I have or don’t have. I have just been stating the facts and if it bothers you, then you are the one with deficiencies such as being inconsiderate to other motorist you share the road with. If you travel a considerable distance this Thanksgiving you will notice all the vehicles you meet and just how many run the glaring auxiliary driving lights on their bumper. It is a big problem and causes increased fatigue. Otherwise…I hope you have a great Thanksgiving! :-)

    I never said it was right or reasonable to blind oncoming traffic, but isn't that what you are doing to others yourself? I travel about 40+ miles a day and have never had any problem with people with them having on auxiliary driving lights, I have however had other drivers flash me their high beams when I just have on my regular headlights on because they think my stock headlights are to bright on my stock height pickup truck, which is beyond my control. May you have a safe and good Christmas yourself.

    It's not only that, but those lifted trucks with improperly adjusted headlights. If I ever got into an accident with one, I would want to see reciepts for the upgraded brakes as it is rule of thumb that when you upgrade your suspension, wheels and tires, to also upgrade your brakes to be able to stop all of that.

    So you go around intentionally blinding other drivers because you "cannot stand" those with fog lights? Good show old boy! So you'd risk the lives of EVERYONE on the road by "blinding" someone on purpose because you're intolerant and should no way ever be inconvenienced in any form or fashion? Congrats for being the reason everyone's insurance rates are so high! Thanks for that.

    Making peoples insurance rates high? How about be safe and responsible and don't get into wrecks? I'm the guy who doesn't always have their foglights switched on and without HID lights. I also didn't improperly lift my truck 10 feet in the air with stock brakes and an open differential and improperly adjusted headlights.

    Look at me, I have a big lifted truck to make up for other short comings in the bedroom.

    Well my truck is stock NOT lifted at all. If you don't like the fact that I drive a pickup truck, then it sucks to be you.

    I think he meant by "blinding" that he gives someone a signal that his/her lights are too bright to be used when confronting other cars and to be turned down till no one is in front of you. I was taught this at driving school.

    The blue light could possibly be for parkers. Or for adding a blue tint to the regular halogens. I'm not saying it *IS*, just thinking of possibilities.
    As for the colour, guess it will depend on the local laws - some states/countries will let you do it, some won't. I know those washer nozzles with blue LEDs are popular over here in Australia, but I know someone who asked a police officer about them and was told they're a flat NO because they distract other drivers at night (or so they're saying - guess that means truck drivers with vast arrays of LEDs on the side need to take them off, huh?). You'd be best asking your local authorities about them