Headlight bulb upgrade - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-06-2010, 10:26 PM Thread Starter
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Headlight bulb upgrade

Please note: The post below refers to Headlights that are EURO spec.

I embarked on this mini project as :

1. I use specs to upgrade my eyesight !
2. Have poor nightime vision as a result of 1.
3. The headlight bulbs in my 560SEL came mismatched, i.e different brands
4. The bulbs did not provide good enough lighting at low beam for road signs, marking etc for city/suburban driving.

After considering my options, I decided to upgrade. This upgrade was to specially take into account that my lights are only going to be used at night !

The options were:

1. Upgrade to higher wattage
2. Replace bulbs to one brand only for both left and right

When I owned a 1992 300E I did a headlight bulb upgrade as well but used higher wattage 90/130 bulbs. Even after adjusting the beams, I still had people coming from the opposite direction flashing at me, and this was for city/suburban driving ! This was because I was carrying 90watts of low beam power. I didnt think this upgrade was as effective around city/suburban driving as I still had trouble making out road signs/markings etc until I was closer to these signs than most people needed to be. Even on the open road at night the higher wattage bulbs simply just went satisfying enough for my poor vision.

So, this time round I spoke with five different auto electrical shops and the representatives of the few different makes of light bulbs we get in New Zealand. I let them know what I was trying to achieve with the headlight bulb change. Four out of five electrical auto shops recommended the Philips range. Three warned me about blue vision bulbs saying that the light throw is not as good as equivalent normal wattage bulbs. I guess this has been covered here before. One suggested higher wattage with upgrades to wiring etc.

In addition I considered peoples opinions and browsed through a few non MB forums.

Anyway, onto the upgrade. I selected Philips as they have a good name, well supported locally, good reviews and recommended by people who have used Philips +50 and +80 bulbs. I found five people who have used the +80 H4's in their non MB cars and who also raved about the +80's. Three of these people also had used the +30's and two the +50's.

(examples of web reviews are :- Make Light of Winter | Products | Auto Express
Bulbs - We test 30 | Products | Auto Express )

The bulbs I used for the H3 driving lights (Next to the grille) are Philips +50's as +80's are not available in H3's here at the moment.
The headlight bulbs I used are Philips Xtreme Power +80's

The H3 Driving lights make a big difference specially when cornering or driving along roads that do not have luminescent post markings on the side or any markings at all. However, I feel that the +50 bulbs would still be inferior to higher wattage bulbs such as 100watt.

The Headlight bulbs in the +80 are amazing. They definately inspire confidence for normal city/suburb driving. Normally I would drive with the H3 driving lights on as well for city/suburban driving but I found that the +80's by themselves were well and truly up to the job. I will seriously look at changing out the +50 H3's and making the upgrade, wiring fuses and all to higher wattage bulbs for the driving lights for winter in a few months.

Asthetically, I prefer the old yellowed look as the lower amount of light throw gives the front of my 560 headlights and driving lights separation much like a US spec w126. The pictures do the talking for the before and after. I did find it strange that the old bulbs are thicker than the new ones.

I have not conducted any scientific tests but have simply taken the car for drives on roads I have been previously with this car at nighttime. For me the difference from the old bulbs and the new are like night and day. It should be considered that for the w126 the driving lights do most of the work, specially for city/suburban driving, therefore IMHO an upgrade to these bulbs will be of great benefit. I did the whole upgrade as my car is a weekend car and will lots of open road use. I prefer to drive at night on a long roadtrip so the headlight bulb upgrade was important to me also.
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Location check: Auckland, New Zealand

1989 500se, 1982 380SEL
and soon ...Return of the King

Non MB, 57, 67 VW Beetle, Toyota FJ62 Landcruiser, 65 VW Splitty, 1980 VW T25 DOKA

Previous MB cars: 90 560SEL 220kw/300hp 199, 78 MB 280E, 92 MB 300E, 93 190 2.3, 88 MB 300SE ASTRAL SILVER, 88 190 2.3-16 BLACK, 87 560 SEC, LHD 560sel W/ M119 parts car

Last edited by benzi; 01-06-2010 at 10:50 PM. Reason: Correcting picture sequence
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-07-2010, 03:00 AM
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I'm tempted to change mine. Does changing the bulbs trigger off your bulb out indicator on the dash though? Its really sensitive.

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'90 420SEC


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-07-2010, 03:20 AM Thread Starter
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The bulbs are the same wattage as factory. Any significant upgrade of wattage will set off the dash light unless controlled by a relay. I will get teh relay done if I decide to upgrade the driving lights wattage.

A note on those pics:

The first pic was taken around 6pm last week in a poorly lit area.
The second and third pics were taken yesterday around midday in bright sunlight.

This demonstrates the incredible light throw of the new bulbs over the originals.

Location check: Auckland, New Zealand

1989 500se, 1982 380SEL
and soon ...Return of the King

Non MB, 57, 67 VW Beetle, Toyota FJ62 Landcruiser, 65 VW Splitty, 1980 VW T25 DOKA

Previous MB cars: 90 560SEL 220kw/300hp 199, 78 MB 280E, 92 MB 300E, 93 190 2.3, 88 MB 300SE ASTRAL SILVER, 88 190 2.3-16 BLACK, 87 560 SEC, LHD 560sel W/ M119 parts car
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-30-2012, 01:46 PM
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Hi, thanks for this thread topic. Have you also cleaned your headlights from the inside?

Love Story

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-30-2012, 02:25 PM
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Interesting thread coming back to life . . .

I had thought about the Euro conversion as I was not impressed by the light dispersion with the US headlights when I bought the car, but backed away as I did not want to modify the wipers. What I found most beneficial was a new set of Sylvanias, internal cleaning (as Armadillo888 mentioned), and then let my indie shop go after alignment. New Sylvanias got me more illumination than the brand X bulbs that came with the car when I bought it, but still not good enough. The cleaning got me ~10% better light output (anecdotal guess as I did not use instruments, but *man* the rags were black from the first wipe) but still not an acceptable pattern on the road. Gave the car to my indie mechanic whom actually aimed a little higher than spec. End result was that I gained good output with the 55/65 watt bulbs and a road illumination that works well even for the night vision challenged relatives that occasionally drive the car.

And by the way, benzi the write-up is excellent and the job looks great!

91 560 SEL, Evans coolant, Amsoil fluids, resonators bypassed with straight pipe

Previous: 76 300D, 73 450SL
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 11-30-2012, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacobsja View Post
And by the way, benzi the write-up is excellent and the job looks great!
Thanks. I dont drive to much at night these days but have saved up 2 light lens. I will get these silvered locally.

My 67 VW Beetle has been running BLUE VISION bulbs since 2001 and these have worked a treat. It is the whiter light that makes a difference. So, once my w126 lens are resilvered I will likely seek out Sylvania or similar factory bulbs myself in the whiter light rather than +80's.

Location check: Auckland, New Zealand

1989 500se, 1982 380SEL
and soon ...Return of the King

Non MB, 57, 67 VW Beetle, Toyota FJ62 Landcruiser, 65 VW Splitty, 1980 VW T25 DOKA

Previous MB cars: 90 560SEL 220kw/300hp 199, 78 MB 280E, 92 MB 300E, 93 190 2.3, 88 MB 300SE ASTRAL SILVER, 88 190 2.3-16 BLACK, 87 560 SEC, LHD 560sel W/ M119 parts car
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-02-2012, 04:02 AM
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Hi, I bought Philips X brand +100's and it made a huge difference indeed. Paid 10EUR per piece. In the winter, we get dark very early in the day, around 4 P.M. so good lighting is necessary. Will try the cleaning soon too. If it makes around 10% as jacobsja says, it will be very welcomed. It should take less than one hour for the removal and installation (http://www.w124performance.com/servi...is/82-0052.pdf provided I will be handy with my Leatherman as I don't have any tools at home.

Benzi, I don't understand one thing.. you said you use your H3's as day lights. I thought H3's are there as fog lights? You should use you main lamps on the first knob position. If I'm wrong please correct me. Also, I have seen (82 Lights, Wipers, Radio, Antenna, Misc Body Electrics there were W126 Daytime running lamps too.

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Last edited by Armadillo888; 12-02-2012 at 05:47 AM.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-02-2012, 04:20 AM
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You do not want higher wattage. Wires go quite hot with 100W bulbs and the "light out" control light will be on all the time.

Osram Nightbreaker are the best bulbs (55/60) you can put it, but their longevity is lower than that of regular bulbs (the filament is thinner).

Check all wiring for resistance, measure the bulb socket - you may find out that much lower voltage is getting to the bulbs, and believe me every volt makes a big difference.

Also, quite common is the corrosion or dirt on the reflective surface on the headlamp - do NOT rub it with anything, you'll destroy it - use a foam cleaner and wash it with clean water and let it dry. If they the reflective coating is damaged you can either have that recoated (if you know someone who can do that) or just purchase a replacement - they were about $20 for one headlamp. Glass also wears out and becomes dirty from inside - wash and rinse. It can even be sanded and clear coated, but I doubt the longevity of this...
Or, you can buy a new euro headlamp (not sure about availability in states though) - about $50 here for a non-original one (which will work fine for a few years).

so, TL;DR in order:

1) check wiring, voltage drop, clean contacts
2) Osram Nightbreaker or other brand bulb (you do NOT want blue tinted light, and you do NOT want 100W bulbs)
3) clean reflectors (reflective surface with liquid only, glass can be refurbished, both can be gotten new)
4) replace headlights
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-02-2012, 08:41 AM
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The 126s are very susceptible to corrosion in the connectors even up to the switch and dipped/high beam control
I fitted a relay system and it helped mine enormously

Dr Nicholas Greene

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-02-2012, 09:48 AM
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Greeney: you fitted a relay system onto the relay system? :-)
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