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  • Missing a head light

    Posted on MrJimPhelps Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums Outside the box Fun Stuff Missing a head light

    This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Paul T 3 weeks, 4 days ago.

    • Author
    • #1918390 Reply


      It seems like almost every day that I see at least three or four cars with one of their headlights out. I’ve begun noticing this, because it wasn’t that long ago that one, then the other, of my headlights went out and I had to replace the bulbs.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1918899 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      Time to swap out those halogens for LED. A bit pricey though but the LEDs last longer.

      Win7 SP1 Home 64-bit

      • #1919075 Reply


        “A bit pricey though but the LEDs last longer.”

        Are you sure? When LEDs recently came out for home use I was happy because I remember LEDs from the 1970’s and they never burned out. But not true today.

        When LEDs first came out (recent sales) they were to have a 100,000 hour life. People bought them and after a year or two failed. The industry said we meant a 50,000 hour life. OK, people bought LEDs ($18 home use) and they failed. Consumers screamed again. Industry said, we meant a 25,000 hour life. Hummm. We have some 25,000 hour life LED bulbs and we shall see.

        The people of California got so upset with LEDs that CEC passed Title 20 & 24 (JA8) to guarantee the bulbs are made to a “minimum level of quality and performance from LED lamps needed to avoid consumer dissatisfaction”.

        In the automotive world I have seen countless city buses have portions of their new LED lights fail. One third to one half of the lamps-units were out (i.e. half the bulb worked). Now remember LEDs don’t “burn out” so why are they failing? They are failing from the drivers, the module or the solder joints.

        I was told by a lighting sales contractor that the little electronic package that makes the “Light Emitting Diode” burn is what fails. Another reason is a bad solder joint.
        The problem is consumers are buying these LEDs on the assurance that they WILL last longer and it then justifies the added initial cost. Real world, long life has NOT been forthcoming.

        I have had 4 name brand LED home use bulbs fail within 3 months of use. On failed within 2 weeks!

        The standard incandescent bulbs of my automobiles last years, YEARS before burning out. Some are still original being decades old! Granted, if I were a Taxi service and ran all night long, these bulbs would not be lasting 40, 20 or 10 years, but neither would they be burning out in 2 weeks.

        I am VERY disappointed in the LED world. I bought some LED bulb from Home Depot and when I got home I looked at the packaging very closely. In small print it said the life expectancy of the bulb was 2000 hours. What! I have incandescent bulbs that last 3 and 5000 hours and these “wonderful environmentally pleasing” LEDs are 2000 hours? This is an insult to the consumer and the environment.

        MrJimPhelps, the reason you are seeing so many headlights out is because everyone since the 1990’s are using Halogen cycle headlight bulbs. While they give a very nice white light it is by burning the filament at a higher temperature and the Halogen gas helps re-deposit the tungsten back on the filament. This is to try and create a longer life bulb and get more and whiter light. The problem is vibration. As you drive your car and hit bumps, it “jolts” the headlight and stresses the filament. Eventually you hit a bump and the filament breaks.

        I had a friend back in the 1990’s that immediately jumped onto the Halogen bandwagon for his car. He was burning out bulbs fast. The standard bulbs were not doing that. When Halogen car headlights first came out they didn’t accommodate the vibration and jolts they would have to contend with. They failed. Higher class manufacturers corrected this by strengthening the filament or adding support holders. Problem solved. So why are they failing now? Cheap or cost cutting made overseas for a cheap price and they don’t last.

        You want to have a fun eye opener? Go examine a Harley Davidson replacement bulb. They look like you can beat them with a rubber mallet and not affect the filament! Why, because Harley’s vibrate.

        I hope this answers some question you may have had.

        Have a nice day.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #1919590 Reply


          Very interesting, A.

          I wish we could go back to the rectangular glass headlights from the 1970s.

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #1919385 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      Certainly, how long the bulbs last is one factor.

      But, from personal experience, newer cars are being designed in such a way that there is no easy access to reach many of the bulbs. It takes a rocket science decree to figure out how to reach these buried bulb fixtures.

      I have a 2013 Chevy Silverado. The owner’s manual states that for some of the bulbs, you need to bring your car into the dealer to have them replaced if they burn out. Right! That’s $100 -$150 dealer fee to replace a $5.00 bulb! I think there’s a reason some folks are not replacing their burned out bulbs quickly.

      The front headlight assembly has bulbs that can not be reached from within the engine compartment. One has to remove the whole assembly to reach the running light, the parking light, the side marker light, and the blinker light. Thankfully, one can reach the actual headlight from the engine compartment.

      If you do not have a service manual that explains the procedure to remove that assembly, you would probably have a difficult time succeeding. Turns out you have to remove the front wheel well shroud to reach two mounting screws that are behind the light assembly (the service manual suggested removing the front wheel for access–I was able to reach things without doing that–barely). And then even if you have found those screws, the clearances are so tight (and not well engineered to actually *fit*), that I had to actually sacrifice (i.e.–break off) an alignment tab to finally coach the assembly out of its mounting hole in the front fender. The assembly did not slide out easily–it had to be twisted and turned to funny angles to actually succeed, and forcefully squeezed through a tight area once that necessary twist was achieved.

      And it’s not just *USA* car brands (assembled in Mexico!)–similar problem with a Japanese car, a 2003 Subaru Outback (assembled in the USA–go figure!)–the rear back light assembly does not allow easy replacement. Once again the User Manual says you need to take it into the dealer for bulb replacements (running light bulb, and brake/blinker bulb, and side maker bulb). Once again, two buried nuts behind the interior decorative panel which are in such a tight space that it would be best for the size of a child’s hand. And, after loosing the nuts–the most likely event, because you can hardly reach the nuts with a wrench, you will drop the nut into the area below where it then disappeared through a crack–and they can not be reached (yup–off to the hardware store for replacement nuts). After that event, I stuffed a towel into that interior space so the nuts could not fall very far! That actually worked–can’t tell you how many times those nuts fell onto that towel while trying to re-mount that assemble!

      So, yes–I can see why bulbs might not be replaced quickly!


      No question is stupid ... but, possibly the answers are 😉 !

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1919436 Reply


        NightOwl, Excellent post! You have some great ideas and stories. Your other post helped bmeacham #1914933. Good ideas.

        I am shocked to read your stories. I guess I have been lucky with older cars and one could get to them from the engine compartment, trunk interior or exterior screws.

        I think people here (MrJimPhelps) are getting the idea of why people have burned out lights.

        One just mentioned to me “what about the safety issue? If people do not want to spend the money or time to replace a bulb what about lighting safety? Yep, good point.

        Thank you again for your excellent posts you do.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1919597 Reply


      Thankfully I was able to quickly change my two headlight bulbs with a tool I bought at the auto parts store – a very long pair of needle-nose pliers with a circular end – I was able to turn the bulb assembly with those pliers so as to remove it from the headlight assembly.

      I had no idea how difficult it was to change headlight bulbs on some cars.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #1919602 Reply


      You’d be amazed how many DUIs are caught due to 1 headlight

    • #1919850 Reply


      MrJimPhelps, it is OK. We can make it home on one headlight. dot com/watch?v=Zzyfcys1aLM

      (dot com so it won’t autostart)

    • #1924978 Reply

      Paul T
      AskWoody MVP

      Time to swap out those halogens for LED

      You can’t easily swap out halogen for LED because the heat dissipation characteristics are completely different and the LED may not be able to dissipate the heat it produces.
      Also they may not produce light from the same position / direction as the halogen, causing the headlight to be misaligned and dazzle oncoming drivers.

      The front headlight assembly has bulbs that can not be reached from within the engine compartment. One has to remove the whole assembly

      This is becoming more common as light unit shapes change to match styling and space requirements. A quick youtube search usually give a nice demo.

      cheers, Paul

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