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Old 05-21-2012, 07:06 PM   #1
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Headlight bulb replacement

I have a 2004 Navigator and find the stock headlight bulbs rather weak at night. Has anyone replaced their bulbs with aftermarket? If they have, what did they use?
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:49 PM   #2
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2-Nickels......I tried to improve my lighting years ago with different bulbs and replacing the lower driving lights with Hella driving lights. The Hella's were the only real improvement.

There is a guy named Daniel Stern who has a website about lighting. I've held onto his site info for years and finally decided to email him and ask how to improve my lighting.

He started by telling me my SiverStart bulbs are junk. His complete recommendation included replacing the lenses, new bulbs and heavier wiring.

I'm doing just that. It's an EXPENSIVE upgrade, (about $600.00) but I'm giving it a try. I bought new OEM lenses from GM (97-02 Buick Century $400.00), relay kit ($94.00) for installing heavier wire and and new Phillips high and low beam bulbs from Amazon ($34.00). Plus, using my own wire for the wiring. His kit will also turn the low beams on when the high beams are on, something the coach does not presently do.

Here is the response he sent me regarding my lights:

Dear Sirs…..I have a 2005 Monaco Diplomat motor home with what I believe are Chevrolet front light housings.

They're actually '97-'02 Buick Century items, but they're almost certainly Taiwanese aftermarket knockoff junk rather than genuine GM parts. This matters! All of the aftermarket lamps, whether they're original-looking or restyled, are trash. The low price is attractive (to end users and RV coachbuilders alike), but the quality, performance, and durability are all substantially and dangerously inferior to the genuine items. This goes for all the many brands of aftermarket lamp—TYC, Genera, Depo, DJAuto, ScanTech, etc.
Check your lenses carefully and I bet you will probably find one of these off-brand names on there!

There is no optical engineering behind any of these; they are headlamp-shaped toys made from physical copies of the originals, which is not even close to adequate. One might as well make a mould of your eyeglasses lenses and expect to be able to cast new working eyeglass lenses from the mould. The level of shape precision required to accurately focus the beam can only be achieved with optical engineering _from scratch_. Copies don't even begin to get in the ballpark.

Light distribution is way, way out of line with what it should be. Usually the DOT and/or ECE safety approval or certification marks are fraudulent or counterfeit.

"Perfect OE fit and performance" is often promised in the ads for the copycat lamps. This is an out-and-out lie. Take a look at http://www.capacertified.org/press/CAPALighting3.pdf , which is the report on a large government-sponsored test of OE vs. TYC and Depo versions of simple, cheap American-vehicle headlamps. Even though TYC is widely regarded as the least-awful of a pathetic bunch, still a complete failure by the TYC & Depo units (see page 21 and 30 if you don't have time to read the whole report).

So, step one, go get a set of real, genuine GM headlamp lens-reflector assemblies.

Many of these motor homes have terrible lighting and I believe the biggest issue is inadequate wiring as you discuss.

The top two causes are lousy low-quality knockoff lights and inadequate wiring, yes.

The high beam has a 9005 bulb which I replaced with a SilverStar bulb.

That's a downgrade. All of the "whiter light" bulbs such as the Sylvania Silver Star are a scam; they use blue glass to tint the light towards white, thus covering up the brownish light color that results from underspecified wiring. But that colored glass sharply reduces the amount of light leaving the headlamp!

The low beam has a 9006 bulb.

My headlight assembly has a large (silver dollar) sized chrome plate or I guess deflector/Bulb shield.

Its job is to block useless waste light that would otherwise travel directly from the filament through the lens without first being collected and focused by the reflector. This waste light can only cause glare and backscatter, it cannot contribute usefully to your ability to see.

I replaced the 9006 low beam bulb
with a 9005.


The 9005 puts out more light than the 9006, but putting the high beam bulbs in place of the low beam bulbs is not really a wise idea.

The 9005 bulbs have a very short lifespan relative to the low beam bulbs, because the 9005 is designed for high-beam use, which comprises about 2% of all headlamp use in North America. Rated lifespan of a quality 9005 is 320 hours, vs. 875 hours for a quality 9006. The Silver Star 9005 is a 175-hour bulb.

In addition, the shank of the 9005 is smaller than that of the 9006. Despite grinding the base tabs, the 9005 bulb rattles around in the 9006 holder. This occurs despite "fixes" like doubling up on O-rings. This improper fit causes a couple of problems: It shortens the life of the bulb due to vibration, causes beam flicker (more noticeable to oncoming traffic than to the driver, this) and it spoils the controlled breathing of the headlamp assembly, which in damp climates allows condensation to accumulate in the headlamp, eventually damaging it.

I got some improvement, but was still overdriving my lights at 60 mph. I eventually removed the fog/driving lights and replaced them with Hella FF75’s. These gave me a substantial improvement in seeing down the road.

There is nothing such as a "fog/driving light" (except for a few combination units that have two separate miniature optics in them, each with its own bulb; these are useless toys).

"Driving lamp" or "driving light" is a widely misunderstood term. People use it to refer to all kinds of different lights. In fact, driving lamps are auxiliary high beams. They are effective, safe, and legal only for use with the vehicle's main high beam headlamps on dark, empty roads (or off road). Never with low beams, never by themselves, and never in traffic.

Even good fog lamps, which are relatively rare, are of very limited use to most drivers. Fog lamps should be turned OFF most of the time. They are meant to be used in foggy (or
rainy/snowy) weather to help the driver see the edges of the road close to the car so s/he can safely make progress through foul weather at very low speeds. That is _all_ these lamps are designed, intended, and able to do -- and most of the ones available as factory or optional equipment or in the aftermarket aren't even capable of doing that. Leaving the fog lamps on at all times does not improve lighting safety performance, though many people do so in the mistaken belief that they can see better this way at normal road speeds in dry weather. See http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/lights/fog_lamps/fog_lamps.html
for more information, and while I tend to stay off the internet forums myself, there's a good thread (with a link to good, valid data in post #4) at
http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=260292 .

I still think I can do better. I’m guessing that relays for the high beams, low beams and fog lights would improve the lighting.

Yes. Relays, good lamps, good bulbs, and proper aim will get you where you need to be.

Do I need just the relay kits or do I replace the entire socket on all four headlights.

The relay kit contains all relays, brackets, terminal blocks, terminals, plugs, sockets, fuses and fuseholders. You supply your own wire (or your mechanic does) and use the
parts from the kit to build up your own wiring harness. Specific instructions are provided, and the concept is explained at
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/relays/relays.html
. Parts are specially made premium-grade items (e.g. ceramic headlamp sockets) that accept large-gauge wire; this is not the "consumer grade" junk you can find at the parts store.
The in-car switches continue working normally, and you will not need to cut or otherwise disturb any of the vehicle's original wires.

In order to quote you the correct kit, I need to know whether your RV is presently wired so the low beams stay lit when you switch to high beam, or do the low beams turn off when you go to high beam?
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:26 PM   #3
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Wow! I finally located a passenger side TYC lamp for about $40, and your post says it's junk.... Wouldn't you know,it is the OE on my motorhome; I know because I bought the rig new. Well, I figured it was too good (that is to say too cheap) to be true. Back to the drawing board, eh? Thanks for the websites, I'll try them for a better solution.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:49 PM   #4
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steelheadbluesman.......My OE on my Monaco was the TYC, the first one on his list of junk. I have the new lenses in place and I made my wiring loom already, but I'm waiting for the relay kit and new bulbs. Last night I turned on the headlights with the new lenses and old bulbs and I can see that the pattern on my fence is already cleaner/crisper. Hopefully it will make a difference farther than the fence line.

I did look carefully at the old (TYC) lense and the new GM....there are a couple pf subtle differences in the design of the reflective background that the GM has and the TYC doesn't.

I promise to give an honest review when I'm done, even if it means looking stupid for spending $600.00.
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:03 PM   #5
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I replaced my bulbs with SilverStars years ago. Still doing just fine.
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Old 05-22-2012, 11:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diplomat Don View Post

I promise to give an honest review when I'm done, even if it means looking stupid for spending $600.00.
I'm glad I saw your post, because I assumed all OE lamps are top quality (apparently I'm a little naive about auto parts), so I was about to locate the same item as a replacement. As usual, I'm learning all the time from others' experiences, and I certainly appreciate it.

I'm going to slow down on this one to gather more complete information, so I will appreciate any follow-up from you.
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Old 05-24-2012, 12:53 PM   #7
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Wow....

That guy is arrogant enough to possibly know what he is talking about.....

Headlights are on my list, first replacements for the 7" sealed beams and cheesy fog lights on the jeep, then later some decent lighting for the knight
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Old 05-25-2012, 07:24 PM   #8
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As my headlights from the factory were inadequate, I tried the Sylvania SilverStar and got slight improvement.

Then I tested voltage to the bulb with coach running -10.9 volts. So, I installed a relay to supply the headlights with fused battery power - 13.6-14.2 volts. Great improvement.

Next I tried the Sylvania SilverStar Ultra bulbs -better yet.

And finally changed the bulbs to HIR (not HID) bulbs used in the Viper and BMW's. HIR Headlight Bulbs

I have no more headlight issues. I no longer over drive my headlights. And yes, I still have my factory TYC housings. Not a problem with them.
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