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2003 Forester XS
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Discussion Starter #21
Ok. So I looked up the Philips H4 Vision Plus. Also a lower version. Both had only 300 hours life, which from what I can see from ratings and calculations will only last 6 to 12 months (not counting Daylight Running Light usage). They do seem well liked for distance viewing, and that's a good thing. If I buy them I imagine I should always have a spare set on hand, though I've no idea how hard they are to change. Supposedly a bit harder to change than most H4's.

BTW, unless any of you know a non OEM source of a good headlamp assembly (if so which?), what should right and left assemblies cost for my 2003 Forester XS?
 

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2003 Forester XS
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Discussion Starter #23
Changing bulbs ought to be easy - when I could still see well and had good hands and touch, I did it all the time. But I took the time to price out the assemblies and what they take to install. An OEM right or left assembly runs from 2 to 3 hundred bucks. And replacing the assembly requires removing the front bumper - something I can't do. One FB video on this was interesting - the person showed an OEM assembly full of water! I'd like to think that they eventually fixed this.

Over the weekend we'll examine the headlights and see if one or both need replacement, plus try to see if we can find the name of the maker.

Now given how easy it appears to change bulbs (is it so on both sides), maybe it makes sense to go with a fairly short lived bulb that's brighter / throws the beam farther. What I saw - open hood. Unplug cable from back of lamp. Twist to unlock and remove the rubber retainer / seal. Pull out old bulb. Being careful to not touch glass, put in new. Also make sure new bulb is oriented same way old one was and push in - should sort of lock in place and not be able to turn unless you knock it loose. Reinstall the rubber retainer / seal. The connector has 3 prongs - the middle one is on the top. Reconnect it. Start up car and test.

Person on video I watched only changed left side. Said you don't need to remove the battery or anything else. I'm assuming the same is true on the right side.

I'm guessing that changing the bulb should not require adjustments?
 

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2003 Forester XS
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Discussion Starter #25
So we check the assemblies and get the one or both done as needed. Then, as someone said, we can try out new bulbs.
 

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2004 Forester XS 5MT
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664 Posts
Good assemblies can be had online, got mine off Ebay, removal is pretty straightforward, originally I used Sylvania Silverstar bulbs which worked very well for me in the new housings. You may break a few push connectors, so might want to get some before doing the job.

Something like-


Just keep in mind you may need to "massage" some spots to make it fit, being aftermarket some clip holes were in need of slight enlarging, and also had to transfer the clips off the old ones, just go slow.
 

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If the aftermarket headlamp's external mounting points weren't exactly the right size, I wonder what else they cut corners on. The alignment of the bulb with regard to the headlamp must be precise, sub-millimeter precision matters. Being just 1mm off can negate the effects of whatever bulb you get, even if it's the best bulb in the world:



About Silverstar bulbs...there are better options on the market. There are halogen bulbs from other manufacturers for ~1/2 the price. The cool thing about these other bulbs is that the manufacturer doesn't publicly admit that their bulbs might cause headlamps to fail minimum legal standards.

528658
 

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There are lots of good and not so good options out there. 3 years no issues happy with the output, same as in my OEM housings but better as those were aged and the lenses dveloped cracking.
 

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2020 Limited
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In my experience I would echo a lot of what Joan Claymore has said.. fix the housings that are robbing/scattering light and install a high quality H4 blub ie. the aforementioned VisonPlus bulbs or OEM (and buy a spare for the glovebox). Like Jon Claymore alluded to higher quality bulbs tend to have better manufacturing tolerances. Also adjust the headlamps too. I am not 100% about the 03 Forester, but most cars of that vintage should have adjustment screws (both vertical and horizontal) Chances are they need to be re-adjusted, especially if the car has been banged around. You can do this on a dark deserted road but I find it easy to point your car a wall with your headlights. Look at the pattern on the wall, you should be able to tell any hot spots, holes, alignments that are needed. You also may need to do some trial and error to get this right.

my bonus 2 cents...

Halogen bulbs to avoid are higher wattage bulbs (ie 100w vs 55w) or any colored/tinted bulbs (blue tinted). Higher wattage could burn out your stock harness and any tint, film blue coloring on the bulb will reduce output in exchange for a "cooler" color temp. (reducing light on the ground)

The issue I have found with aftermarket LED/HID bulbs (besides poor quality) is when installing them in cars with a reflector housing (like a 03 Forester) is that light scatters all over the place, blinding other drivers and making rain/snow driving even harder on yourself. LED/HIDs generally have higher output (lumens) but reflector housings do not control the light very well, putting light everywhere. And any light that escapes above a certain level will blind on coming drivers AND reflect light back in your eyes in rain, snow and fog. This is akin to using your high beams in inclement weather, not very effective, the light needs to shine down on the ground.

Check out the light scatter in the pics on the superbrightled link:

The bottom of the trees should not be illuminated like that, that is what blinds other drivers and yourself.

Cars with OEM LEDs/HIDs are generally designed with projectors or reflectors with a sharp cut off to prevent the light from scattering to address these issues. There just are certain limitations with the stock halogen housings. Refitting halogen housings with LED/HIDs tend bring other compromises.

The aftermarket is full of junk but not all of it is... for example.. my Hella 500 Fog lights made me realize that most fog lights (housings and bulbs) car manufacturers put on their cars are purely for decoration. Function follows way behind form.

Finally, beware of when online sellers of such bulbs using photos to show the "brightness and colors" of the light, the photos can be deceiving (whether intentional or not). Cameras sensors are designed to "balance" the exposure. Unless you set it to full manual and have consistent exposure settings it is often comparing apples to oranges.

hth!
 
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