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#4625285 - 01/05/18 06:52 PM LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there
Cressida Offline


Registered: 10/16/02
Posts: 474
Loc: Joplin
I was starting to research some of the many LED headlight options now being marketed to the masses. I'm on the far downhill side of middle age so my vision at night isn't what it used to be, and as so many have already noted on these forums, there are already many vehicles that appear to be using these aftermarket headlights because the increasingly scattered light is making it challenging for on-coming drivers like me.

From researching one particle LED model that had many very positive reviews, it quickly became apparent that this is a marketing company in China that is pushing many of the right buttons to get the American consumer to believe they have a good product. However, upon further examination there are numerous descriptions and statements that don't stand up.

Some related to the materials used in the heat sink (they say it's aircraft grade "duralumin"; an obsolete and long outdated trade name but it sounds good on first pass and makes good marketing copy. Later I find the aluminum to be a 6063 alloy - perhaps a fitting and good product, but never having the much higher copper percentage that was used in duralumin.

Another area is the light output described as "Luminous flux of 4000lm" (is that number derived at 10 volts, (~13/14 which would be useful) 20, or 30 volts?) The lights are rated to work at all of these voltages and as anyone that has worked with LED's knows, your light output will change as you change the voltage. I suspect the lm at the 13/14 voltage will be no where near the 4000lm in the description.

However, their answering of questions related to the products as being DOT approved and street legal is all I need to know for now.

Title 49: Transportation PART 571—FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS, is the "law" that applies to headlights and transport lighting in general. It's a long and laborious read with the link at the bottom for those that are doing their research.

What I find of interest is that the China based sellers of the many aftermarket LED headlight options are saying that their headlights are "street legal", "DOT approved" (doesn't happen) or compliant (self certified). However there will be no "DOT" marking on their headlight. There are many hurdles for a headlight to be "street legal" but if there is no "DOT" marking then certainly they cannot be "street legal" in the USA.

You see, the regulation specifically addresses this in section "s11.1 Markings" and requires that: Each replaceable light source must also be marked with the symbol DOT and with a name or trademark in accordance with S6.5.

What is going to be your story after the accident when the other parties attorney ask when you put those illegal headlights on your vehicle? Maybe something else to think about...

Here is the link to all the code:

https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=se49.6.571_1108

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#4625308 - 01/05/18 07:12 PM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
djb Offline


Registered: 01/16/06
Posts: 725
Loc: Los Gatos CA
It's quite likely that the LEDs are actively controlled with a "buck" or "boost" circuit so that the LED operating current is independent of the input voltage. The circuit will draw more current at low voltage to keep the operating power constant.

The phrase "luminous flux" is where some of the cheating occurs. Many flashlights measure the intensity of the bright spot, round up, then calculate as if that brightness is over the entire angle of light, round up again, then exaggerate.

Another type of cheating is quoting the maximum light that the LED element can produce when grossly overdriven for a fraction of a second, and using that in the marketing as if that's really being produced in the finished product.

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#4625309 - 01/05/18 07:12 PM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
Rolla07 Offline


Registered: 11/05/11
Posts: 4740
Loc: MTL, CANADA
I think you are being a bit extreme about this... Most LED lights are not blinding. HID lights are blinding if not aimed correctly or using incorrect housings are more to blame. Regardless, I could be wrong, but I highly doubt that your "illegal" headlights will be pointed out as a cause of an accident. But I guess there could be a first for anything. I have LEDs installed and I dont think they are blinding. I have seen some HID's installed that appear like high beams in my face. I think there is a balance here, brighter lights aimed correctly, have little to no impact on oncoming drivers. I know for myself at 35 years old, that my LEDs are vastly superior to any other Halogen bulb. Its actually downright scary how bad low beam halogens are on the corolla.. goes from terrible to ridiculous if your lenses oxidize and get cloudy...
_________________________
2007 Corolla Red Pearl 155k miles
PP 0w20 & ST 4967


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#4625311 - 01/05/18 07:13 PM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
EdwardC Offline


Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1864
Loc: Chicago, IL
I would think that most of the LED modules out there use a switching type regulator where the input voltage really doesn't matter.

Regardless, I agree. Most LED retrofits are not legal and shouldn't be used on the street, particularly when the users can't be bothered to aim them properly. When I went looking for an LED replacement for my motorcycle, I ended up getting a Truck Lite branded unit that was specifically DOT marked. http://www.truck-lite.com/webapp/wcs/sto...p;storeId=10001

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#4625321 - 01/05/18 07:23 PM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
skyactiv Offline


Registered: 03/02/13
Posts: 4405
Loc: The Midwest
I rented a 2016 Toyota Corolla last year when my car was in the body shop. All 2014's + have LED headlights. BEST headlights of any car I've driven.
Regarding people who install the kits on their vehicles, it seems more popular with younger people that still have good night vision and wanna make their Civic look special. Scenario: You are behind a school bus on a winding 2 lane road hauling high school football players back to the school at 11:15 PM. The bus drives off the road down a ravine and kills 6 students. You stick around to help. You have $360K in the bank you recently inherited and plan on buying your first house. The attorneys do a discovery and inspect your car with a fine tooth comb and learn you knowingly installed illegal headlights.

Your insurance only covers so much. Kiss that $360K goodbye. Even if you had a balloon policy.
_________________________
Wife: 15' Audi A4 quattro 6 speed manual
Me: 13' VW GTI 3 door 6 speed manual

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#4625371 - 01/05/18 08:22 PM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
Mr Nice Offline


Registered: 09/12/04
Posts: 21209
Loc: Orlando, FL
Yeah the Corolla really has nice bright LED headlights.

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#4625384 - 01/05/18 08:35 PM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
ctrcbob Offline


Registered: 01/01/06
Posts: 614
Loc: Mount Dora FL, Penfield NY, R...
My 2018 Sonata 2.0T has "LED Intelligent System" . I HATE these LED's. Hate their Color Tempersture (6000k or 6500k). Too white/blue and the human eye is least sensitive to blue. Would like them better if they were around 5000k or even 4500k. Also, very little difference between "high beam" and "low beam" with this single bulb system. (Don't know if separate high and low bulbs would be better).

Never had problems with HID or Quarts Iodine, Quarts Halogen.

Did I mention I hate these LED Headlights and see no advantage over the above mentioned lamps.
_________________________
Bob CTRC USN Ret.
Mount Dora FL,
Penfield NY
Roswell NM

2018 Sonata 2.0T Limited
2015 Sonata Sport 2.0T Limited

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#4625459 - 01/05/18 10:29 PM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
PeterPolyol Offline


Registered: 03/06/16
Posts: 1345
Loc: toronto
OEM LEDs are purpose built, properly cooled and well aimed- they perform very well; light spread but not CRI as mentioned. I can't imagine getting aftermarket retrofit LEDs to work correctly in any halogen housing unless the light from all emitters were funneled through a concentrating lens positioned at the precise point that the filament of the bulb would be. (That's doubtful) There are a ton of completely bogus retrofits out there for sale. Heat management strategies are lacking to non-existent on some of them. Beware

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#4625598 - 01/06/18 07:51 AM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: skyactiv]
AZjeff Online   content


Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 2656
Loc: PV Az
Originally Posted By: skyactiv
Scenario: You are behind a school bus on a winding 2 lane road hauling high school football players back to the school at 11:15 PM. The bus drives off the road down a ravine and kills 6 students. You stick around to help. You have $360K in the bank you recently inherited and plan on buying your first house. The attorneys do a discovery and inspect your car with a fine tooth comb and learn you knowingly installed illegal headlights.
Are you saying the bus driver claims he was blinded by your lights in his mirrors and drove off the road? Seems improbable but whatever. It has to be proven you were responsible and you were convicted of wrongful death.

Originally Posted By: skyactiv
Your insurance only covers so much. Kiss that $360K goodbye. Even if you had a balloon policy.
Maybe you mean umbrella policy? Insurance only covers to the policy maximum amount, umbrella max included, period, whatever that is. As for civil liability, the days of suing a guilty party penniless and homeless are long past although you'll probably lose 360k cash if responsible for 6 deaths. Been there on the victim's side.

If your point is that the illegal LED headlights aren't worth the liability I agree.
_________________________
86 Samurai 1.3 leftovers
14 RAV4 2.5 5W-20 PP *gasp*
16 Silverado 1500 4.3 Ecotec3, DI, AFM 5W-30 PP

Why know when you can guess?!


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#4625600 - 01/06/18 07:53 AM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: ctrcbob]
DBMaster Offline


Registered: 09/18/12
Posts: 5323
Loc: DFW
Originally Posted By: ctrcbob
Never had problems with HID or Quarts Iodine, Quarts Halogen.


I think you mean "quartz." "Quarts" is what 32 fluid ounces is called.

I had to say it. Sorry.

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#4625611 - 01/06/18 08:03 AM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
MrHorspwer Offline


Registered: 12/18/06
Posts: 1423
Loc: Michigan
Lamp housing and bulbs are kind of like eyes and eyeglasses.

I wear eyeglasses. They are manufacturered specifically for my eyes. They change my eyesight from a muddled mess to perfect vision.

What happens when you put my eyeglasses on? I mean, they should help you see better, right? They help me see better, why wouldn't they help you too? In abstract, the increased magnification should help you.

Of course we all know that's not the case and we accept it because we understand how eyes and glasses work and we can very easily verify this by trying on someone else glasses.

The relationship between eyes and eyeglasses is really no different that of a bulb and the light housing, lens, and reflector. The bulb is the eye and the housing/lens/reflector is the glasses. The performance on the whole rely on them working as a designed pair.

A bulb is a specific physical size, has a filament of a specific size in a specific location, and uses specific means of blocking or shaping the light (like a painted capsule tip or the low/high beam "spoon" in an H4 bulb). The housing/reflector/lens is designed around these specific traits. They work as a pair. Change those bulb attributes and you're now working outside the intended design of the housing/reflector/lens... you're wearing someone else glasses.

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#4625621 - 01/06/18 08:14 AM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
AZjeff Online   content


Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 2656
Loc: PV Az
Good analogy MrHP. Dropping in LED bulbs and calling it better is wishful thinking. Likewise non-DOT headlights may or may not be correctly designed. More likely not.
_________________________
86 Samurai 1.3 leftovers
14 RAV4 2.5 5W-20 PP *gasp*
16 Silverado 1500 4.3 Ecotec3, DI, AFM 5W-30 PP

Why know when you can guess?!


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#4625729 - 01/06/18 10:09 AM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Cressida]
DoubleWasp Offline


Registered: 05/21/12
Posts: 5236
Loc: Fort Lauderdale, FL
I would not count on any court or officer to find liability based on lighting. High-beam lawsuits have been tried unsuccessfully many times.

Judges, juries, and cops just don't seem to be open to these "excuses", or any other sort.

If one loses control due to lighting, they can expect a citation for careless driving or failure to maintain control vehicle, and to hear nothing else on the topic ever again.

In the school bus situation, no lawyer is going to give two hoots about some random citizen's money. That bus company and school are going to have much deeper pockets and insurance and will be prime targets. The only way we get to this point would be by the driver of the bus admitting he was the cause of the crash, via lighting. They'll run a train on the driver at that point and ignore his deflection, true or not.

How willing is a lawyer going to be to make an argument reducing the liability of bus/school in order to go after the assets of a private citizen via a lighting argument? Zero. Especially since the car driver's lawyer will be guaranteed to dance around claiming the driver's car must have come that way and the poor driver never knew any better.

Accident lawyers are not Perry Mason. They're going to beat the soft target to death, especially if that target happens to have a good cash cow behind it.
_________________________
07 Lincoln Navigator M1 0w-40/FU
68 Charger R/T / Supercharged 440 VR1/DBL7349
07 Ram 3500 4x4 / Cummins 6.7 /DBL7349
17 Maserati GranTurismo Cabrio

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#4625743 - 01/06/18 10:20 AM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Rolla07]
SubLGT Offline


Registered: 01/31/06
Posts: 2646
Loc: Idaho
Originally Posted By: Rolla07
I think you are being a bit extreme about this... Most LED lights are not blinding...


I disagree. My experience is that most LED headlights (OEM and aftermarket) have excessive glare. For OEM headlights, much of that glare is due to improper aim from the factory, and the absence of full-time active aiming.

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#4626435 - 01/06/18 09:32 PM Re: LED headlights- it's still the wild west out there [Re: Mr Nice]
A_A_G Offline


Registered: 06/13/08
Posts: 325
Loc: D-town
Originally Posted By: Mr Nice
Yeah the Corolla really has nice bright LED headlights.


The low beam only ones were quite awful in terms of light output and color hue (too blue). I believe the new bi-led ones are much better.

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