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Hagerty Employee

Adaptive LED headlights finally U.S.-bound, all good on Super Bowl lowriders hoods, Macan goes Touring

Intake: Love driving with your high beams on, but wish there was a way to tailor the amount of light to the road ahead? Luckily for you, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration moved quicker than expected (over a year in advance) in legalizing the use of Adaptive Driving Beam headlights for new vehicles.
Intermediate Driver

Regarding the adaptive LED headlight story - We do have really good options to upgrade the lighting in our classics. I have done this with our 71 Chevy C 20, 88 Grand Wagoneer, and 66 GMC K2500.

There are European lights that accept H4 bulbs available in 7" and 5.5" round and the 7 x 5 rectangular. Buy these as light only without bulbs. Then buy LED H4 bulbs (I like Cougar Motor) and install them in the lights. These are direct replacement lights and the LED bulbs draw a fraction of the wattage as the original sealed beams, so no wiring upgrades are needed.

This has made a huge improvement in lighting versus the dim, yellow T3 original equipment sealed beams. (Put these in a box in case someone is going for the full concour competition some day.) I drive my classics, and this makes them a lot safer to drive at night.

I put an LED bulb in my 1979 Yamaha. The headlight really isn't much better than the excellent pattern and brightness of the original-type halogen, but it sure draws less amps: I can tell by the tach not dropping nearly as much, when selecting the bright setting at idle.

Your experience is not atypical. An LED may be slightly brighter than a halogen, but not necessarily. It may be more "white," (a higher color temperature with more of a blue, rather than yellow cast). But LEDs achieve their best performance when paired with a light housing designed to take advantage of them (and usually more than one LED bulb).

Glad to hear the cars' hoods are OK. That sure was the worst Superbowl halftime show ever, though.

I can think of at least 10 worse half time shows
Pit Crew

I personally liked the show. Very fast. Energetic. Not the typical fare you get at SuperBowl. Different is good.

Good to hear those adaptive beam headlights were approved; they have a lot of potential to improve night visibility, without blinding oncoming drivers. Of course, Jeep Wranglers will probably still be blinding, but maybe not other vehicles!

Sure, the robots and the tech will know "when" to turn the lights down so nobody gets blinded lol. The lights in all my imports have been several times better than any domestic headlight in any vehicle that I have owned. That being said, if you slow down and pay attention, you don't need special lights. How much is this going to raise the price of already staggering vehicle costs? I can not remember a single person that I know ever saying their headlights were too dim. What they all say is how bright everybody else's are and that they get blinded by the jacked up trucks and suvs though
Advanced Driver

I know my comment will have many who disagree but I wish the LED headlights were outlawed. Oh, sure, they do a great job of lighting the road ahead but they are blinding to oncoming traffic. That is my complaint and a problem that needs to be addressed. It is not so much when a vehicle equipped with them is coming straight on but the glare from them is blinding when on a slight curve, a slight rise in the roadway or topping a hill. The halogens on my 2010 F150 light the road just fine without blinding oncoming traffic as have other cars I've driven with them.
Then there is the ghetto cruiser look of so many cars with them decorating the fender lines but obviously there are those who like the gaudiness which is their choice. Not to my taste.

People driving around with their retina searing aftermarket headlights blazing really make me ill. If people flash their brights at you all the time with your LED drop in bulbs in non-led housings, you're being a jerk.

Just as bad when I'm being tailgated. I'll be mounting a mirror at the top of my rear window which is coincidentally the same height as all these trucklet headlights.

I never liked the backup lights on my vehicle, too dim and made using the mirrors and backup camera difficult at night in tight spaces, so I mounted a pair of 60w LED pods in the back to provide wider and brighter illumination in reverse. That said, I "may" have made sure the beams overlapped a little ways behind me (and wired a manual switch in addition to being in the reverse wiring) so that I can "hypothetically" blast them into the eyes of tailgaters. Much more satisfying and safe than brake checking, hypothetically of course.
Advanced Driver

I now feel much better about the halftime show!
Intermediate Driver

It has been said many times, many ways, but...
The issue with LED bulbs is when they are used in a housing that was either not designed for an LED light source, or a housing that was poorly designed. LEDs in automotive applications don't glare because they are LEDs, they glare because they are installed in a housing designed for a bulb. The right LED design, in a housing that is well-designed for that specific LED light source will provide an excellent light pattern without glare.
If I get a couple of LEDs and put them in in a housing designed for a halogen bulb, they won't work well (meaning I might have a worse light patterned will glare).
Think of it this way. If I put diesel fuel in a car that is designed to run on gasoline, it won't work well either.
If you want to find the best option for your vehicle's lighting go to Daniel Stern Lighting on line. I have no affiliation with him, other than I am a satisfied customer for many years.

The LED light deal has driven me crazy. 

So many forums are filled with how to upgrade lights and so many people really have little clue what to do or how much so many of these bulbs vary in quality. This is not like upgrading from a sealed beam to Halogens. 

The quality of LED is all over and most are crap. Lower tech and no ability to index really compromise their ability. Most housings are not designed for them either. 

Yes you may get a brighter white but not much more vision than you really had. It also can mess with other drivers in negative way. 

as for trucks and wranglers lifts and leveling kits are the cause of blinding. They lift but do not adjust the lights. 

These new lights will work fine and may help on coming drivers more than the car they are on. The main trouble is they will take a $1400 light and make it $4100 to replace. Yet they can’t make a lens that will not pit, fog or seal out water. 

LED envy has taken root since the first Audi appeared with them. People upgraded like they did when the third brake lights appeared or fake cell phone antennas on car. 

Most lights today are fine and light all you are going to see. It is not like the old seal beam 6 volt days even on a Halogen lights most work fine. 

What cars lack in lighting often are due to the housing design itself. 

If you find a need to upgrade make sure to read up before you spend the money. To do it right is not cheap and there are things you need to know before you start changing bulbs. 

There are so many cheap kits from China that just are not worth the money. 

And if you have a truck or Jeep please get the lights aligned as the life you save may be your own.  


New Driver

I'm pretty sure I had a 2021 E450 with the exterior lighting package that had this adaptive LED feature described.  Best headlights ever.  Meanwhile I agree with the rest of the comments here, that most aftermarket LED bulbs should be banned if not used in an appropriate housing.  Meanwhile I'm leaning toward an aftermarket LED headlight upgrade for a 1967 MB 250S that has original sealed beam headlights that are not even as powerful as a modern flashlight.  


I believe that projector lens light housing is suitable for LED bulbs.  If anyone has any advice, I'd love to hear it.