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2003 Forester XS
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

Not sure where to post this.
1. Both my headlights look like their inside is wet, plus fogged. SO I need solutions.
2. I'd like to put in LED headlights and foglights without doing any wiring or light mods, and without losing my Daylight Running Lights.
3. There are huge numbers of choices yet hardly any viable information on good choices so I do nothing.

Any specific suggestions greatly appreciated. I'm in the US, the car is maybe 80k miles, and despite a few crashes, is overall running very well. FYI, DID have cooling issues, head gasket leak, etc., but all that dealt with.

Thanks!
 

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04 Forester XT 5MT
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If you have water/moisture inside the headlight I recommend you replace the headlight assemblies first. The moisture is going to continue to give you issues with light output regardless of what bulbs you stick in there, and if you replace with halogens the moisture inside the headlight is just going to cause them to fail. Most LEDs are waterproof, but it just seems pointless to purchase a good set of LEDs that were engineered properly to then put them into a headlight that leaks, fogs up, and has moisture in it.

I would handle getting your headlights replaced before going any further. Let the LED headlights and fog lights be secondary to what is really most important - being able to see properly at night.
 
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Of you are putting leds in units that are only designed for halogen, you will blind everyone driving towards you, just fit decent halogen bulbs, you headlights don't need to be brighter than the sun....
 

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2003 Forester XS
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Discussion Starter #5
I will likely get new headlight units. Part of what I was trying to ask is what units I should get. I don't know if what was put in after the crash were from Subaru or not. But while it's all apart I really want LED's that don't need mods, do support DRL and both high and low beams. I can't stand halogen - they go from sort of OK to get dimmer and dimmer over time. Even when the current fixtures and bulbs were new they were never really bright enough. So back to the questions - what replacement headlight units should I get (I do need to keep the cost down but need good ones) and what LED bulbs should I get? Both the headlights and the fogs. Note, I'm not trying to blind oncoming drivers, but better light up the road - Long Island has plenty of dark roads with faded painted lines.

Thanks!
 

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I will likely get new headlight units. Part of what I was trying to ask is what units I should get. I don't know if what was put in after the crash were from Subaru or not. But while it's all apart I really want LED's that don't need mods, do support DRL and both high and low beams.
If/when you get new units, I suggest get OEM Subaru lamps.

I can't stand halogen - they go from sort of OK to get dimmer and dimmer over time. Even when the current fixtures and bulbs were new they were never really bright enough. So back to the questions - what replacement headlight units should I get (I do need to keep the cost down but need good ones) and what LED bulbs should I get? Both the headlights and the fogs. Note, I'm not trying to blind oncoming drivers, but better light up the road - Long Island has plenty of dark roads with faded painted lines.

Thanks!
LEDs in halogen headlamps don't light up the road better than high-performance halogen bulbs in halogen headlamps.

The dimming you describe is typical of long-life type halogen bulbs, which were designed for maximum life at the expense of brightness. New OEM headlamps and high-performance halogen bulbs go a long way. What you currently have on the vehicle are likely aftermarket headlamps (given your mention of several accidents) with long-life bulbs (given your mention of the gradual dimming). This is not a good combination. It's also not representative of what good halogen headlamps are capable of.

The solution for seeing the road better is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It's not to overhaul the lamps with LED bulbs, the standards to which haven't even been written. LED bulbs cannot (safely) directly replace automotive halogen bulbs, at least not yet, and it's not a trivial problem, given the fact that scientists, engineers, and private industry have been working on the issue for years. Keyphrase is safely replace. There are, however, plenty of people who will sell you whatever your heart desires, regardless of legality or safety.
 

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Both my headlights look like their inside is wet, plus fogged. SO I need solutions.
I've had this happen in the past. I removed the headlight and initially used a hair dryer to blow warm air through the bulb hole then left the headlight facing the sun until all signs of moisture had gone. Only had to do it once.; just make sure the bulb seal is good when reinstalling.

If you want to go to the trouble you can actually disassemble the headlight, clean it up, reseal and reassemble. It's a fairly involved process once written up by @Peaty and includes using an oven but if you want to go to the trouble I can try and find the process for you.
 

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I would consider "saving" the lamp by drying it out if it is an OEM unit. If it's aftermarket, eh, no point throwing time and money after something that was likely terrible to start with. OP, if you look at the front of the headlamp, there will be writing on the lens somewhere. Usually the writing is tucked in a corner of the lens. What does it say? If it's OEM, it'll likely say Ichikoh. If it's not OEM, it might say TYC, Depo, Eagle Eyes, etc. Let us know what the brand is.
 

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2003 Forester XS
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Discussion Starter #9
Can I see this without trying to take it apart? I've got poor eyesight for that sort of detail.

In a note to those who hate LED and suggest high output Halogen, I can't afford to constantly replace them, nor what happens when they burn out far from home. I can't believe that there isn't a decent LED with hi/low + DRL for the headlight that will give a better output than long life halogens and work reliably. I just have no idea what to choose.

Next time the car goes to our mechanic I'd like to have him work on the headlights. The current set were put in by a body shop and were supposed to be either OEM or high quality. Even if they were, those guys took shortcuts here and there - since the inside of the headlight lamps are wet I assume they were not properly sealed (based on comments above). So I'd ask his guys to see what's really going on, and either dry and then seal them or replace them.
Thanks!
 

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Taking apart headlamps is generally not recommended. It's hard to achieve an acceptable seal again.

Additionally, I doubt that most mechanics would bother to crack open headlamps for you, as that's not a generally recognized repair procedure. Some lamps are sealed together extremely well and require cutting tools. Only real way to find out how easy/hard it is to crack open your lamps is to first physically remove the headlamp from the vehicle. At that point they might as well sell you on a whole new replacement assembly.

The present-day tradeoff is 24/7/365 objectively poor illumination from retrofit LED bulbs, or 8-12 months of objectively better-than-stock illumination from high-performance bulbs. You'll just have to take your pick.

If the body shop took shortcuts as you described, then they probably used non-OEM parts. As I mentioned, non-OEM parts are generally not high quality. If you look at your headlamp and tell us the brand printed on the lens, then we can identify whether it's OEM.
 

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I agree, Kevin, plus opening headlamps generally requires a (large) oven...how many mechanics do you know with a kitchen in the shop ;)?

LEDs: none.

H4 halogen: Philips XtremeVision is nice.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
OK, we'll check what we have, but it's pretty clear I need new headlamp assemblies.

I'm confused about LED's. I know some are junk. Wired poorly, cooled poorly, etc. Yet I've read huge numbers of good reviews for them. So what's the problem with them? Are some better?

In terms of Halogens, sure, bright is good. But bright Halogens burn out pretty quickly. My daughter does nearly all the 'night' driving, but I don't ever want her to be in the position of suddenly having a dead headlight while driving to or from work or somewhere else in the dark. Long Island roads tend to be pretty bad and many are quite dark. And these headlights are just not bright enough for these roads.

So besides installing good headlamp assemblies, what do I do?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I recently lost my job. I don't have the money to start doing big changes on my car. But it would be neat! :)
 

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Yet I've read huge numbers of good reviews for them.
Keep in mind that these automotive LED bulbs are illegal to import and distribute in the US. Major companies won't put their name on it. Smaller companies, with no name recognition, don't care about the laws and import them for sale mainly on Amazon, since AutoZone won't sell stuff that'll get them in major trouble.

Without name recognition, the only way these "brands" of LED bulbs rise above the 2 million other "brands" on Amazon is through fake reviews. This is a good example. Note that Amazon has "removed" over 5,000 reviews for this bulb alone. Amazon doesn't remove reviews randomly. Amazon deletes fake/shill reviews. Yeah, think about that: this company paid for over 5,000 fake positive reviews on this bulb. These reviews get left up for a few months until Amazon finally gets around to deleting it. It's a profitable enterprise.

I agree that having a lamp suddenly burn out while on the road can be pretty hazardous. But if the company needed to forge 5,000 reviews for its LED bulbs...I think that reliability is, at best, questionable.

What I would do is focus on taking this project one step at a time. New, OEM headlamp assemblies with no moisture issues will help more than any bulb. Water in the headlamp damages the reflective surfaces and is sometimes indicative of an aftermarket headlamp. Simply switching from aftermarket headlamp to OEM nets you a giant improvement in many cases; if you are interested, this is a good example.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That's good to know. And I wasn't aware that no US firms make them (though the US doesn't make much of anything anymore) or that import is illegal. One would think that Amazon wouldn't sell illegally imported anything.

FYI, I found the following and was curious as to what you think of it. I've not made any decisions yet.


Ignoring the link, what would be the best overall halogens to use balancing decent life and brightness?
 

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Philips H4 VisionPlus.

Amazon sells too much stuff to effectively police.

The "dual-color" H4 you found might look pretty in the provided (and likely Photoshopped) pictures, but the design is extremely poor. Not something I would put in anyone's car, much less my daughter's car. The fundamental issue is that you're attempting to find a safe and working product before experts have even defined the technical requirements. This is just a wild goose chase and akin to asking people in 2003 if they have an "iPhone."
 
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