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Discussion Starter #1
My ML430 has the dark privacy glass which makes it difficult to see when backing up at night. Also, people tend to zoom on by when I am backing out of a parking spot. Replacing the standard 21 watt type 1156 backup (reverse) lights with brighter bulbs should help in both cases.

I have read a few snippets here and there on this subject and this is what I have so far:

1. The 50 watt replacements are possibly overkill and run the risk of heat damage if one remains in reverse for an extended period of time.

2. The 35 watt type 796 halogens are interesting but I am concerned that a halogen bulb will have a hotter base temperature than a standard bulb. Is there a risk of charring the light assembly?

3. The 28 (29?) watt type 3497 bulb seems like a safe choice. Is it bright enough to make a difference?

There is a problem with the 3497's as some of them are spec'd at only 21 watts (like the ones from Sylvania). This confusion is confounded by the fact that the manufacturers do not list the wattage on the product packaging.

Who has actual experience with any of the three options above? I was going to try the Wagner 3497 bulb sold by NAPA Auto Parts, but again the wattage is not indicated on the packaging.
 

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I've had the 35Watt halogens for a couple of years now and not experienced any ill effects.

I used 35watt halogens with a G4 base (cheap to replace) and an adaptor from the standard BA15s socket to G4 base.

All obtained from 1stlinks.co.uk (with whom I have no affiliation, other than being a satisfied customer).

The adaptor moves the halogen filament to roughly the same place as in the standard bulb which has the advantage of maintaining the optical qualities of the reflector; some halogen bulbs with a BA15s base are much shorter than the standard bulb and the light is not properly focussed.
 

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How long do you expect you'll continuously have the car in reverse?

I've had the 50 Halogen backup bulbs type 1156 for over 7 years and have not replaced them or had any problems ever. They are much brighter. Unless your going to be in reverse non-stop for like five minutes I can't imagine even the possibility of a problem.
 

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I have two 65 Watt low profile rectangular fog lights mounted in the back bumper of my Sentra. There is a three way switch on the dash for On, Off, and Auto (comes on only in Reverse).

I'm planning on doing the same to my ML, when I get a roof rack, so I can mount the back up lights there, instead of under the bumper.

If you just upgrade the bulbs to 50 watts, you might be fine, but that's not something I'd risk. You may only back up for 15 seconds at a time on average, but there may be that rare occasion where you have to back up a ways out of a one way street in complete darkness; if your wires fry then, you're really in deep trouble. Personally, I would get brighter external lights, because changing out the backup light wiring harness is a real pain in the ass.

The 28 watt bulb will maybe make a slight difference, but they probably will not be bright enough to meet your needs. 35 watt should not be a problem, but then again there is a slight risk.

Personally, I'd do something like this:


 

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Discussion Starter #5
Perhaps it's a bit rash to say that there is no possibility of a problem with more than doubling the original power draw. I am curious if you ever have had your reverse lights on for more than two minutes.

DelJ




bigcatny - 2/19/2005 4:08 PM

How long do you expect you'll continuously have the car in reverse?

I've had the 50 Halogen backup bulbs type 1156 for over 7 years and have not replaced them or had any problems ever. They are much brighter. Unless your going to be in reverse non-stop for like five minutes I can't imagine even the possibility of a problem.
 

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'00 ML320 Elegance
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DelJ - 2/20/2005 11:11 AM

Perhaps it's a bit rash to say that there is no possibility of a problem with more than doubling the original power draw. I am curious if you ever have had your reverse lights on for more than two minutes.

DelJ
I wouldn't worry too much about it either. I've had mine (the Designtech 50 watt halogens) since the ML was new and it's been 5 years since with no issues. It is not so much the power draw that you have to keep in mind, but more the plastic lens melting; mind you I have my Parktronic system drawing power off the reverse circuit, as per the instructions!

That said though, someone here in our forum left his reverse lights on for 3 minutes and while the plastic got extremely hot, it didn't see worse for wear. That said, I wouldn't keep it on for more than 2 consecutive minutes
 

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Delj

Goes back to the question, do you expect to have your backup lights on for several continuous minutes? If yes, I'm curious, what are you doing?

Also if you need that much light for that long a period then you should consider supplemental lights.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
First of all, I am not about to make a change to my ML430 that will pose a fire risk if accidentally left on for more than a minute. That is not being smart.

I have in the past used the backup lights to provide rear illumination while someone else (I had my foot on the brake) closed and locked a gate behind the vehicle in a very dark situation. I als often have to wait for traffic to clear before backing out of driveway or parking spot. Finally, sometimes other people drive the vehicle, such as service technicians, who will not know not leave in reverse for more than a few seconds. Just not a good situation.

My gut feeling is to go with the 35 watt type 796 bulbs. BTW, the 796 bulbs put the filament exactly at the correct position. This is a lot simpler than adding aftermarket lighting fixtures.

Is anyone else using the type 796 bulbs?

DelJ





bigcatny - 2/20/2005 8:59 PM

Delj

Goes back to the question, do you expect to have your backup lights on for several continuous minutes? If yes, I'm curious, what are you doing?

Also if you need that much light for that long a period then you should consider supplemental lights.
 

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DelJ - 2/21/2005 6:43 PM
My gut feeling is to go with the 35 watt type 796 bulbs. BTW, the 796 bulbs put the filament exactly at the correct position. This is a lot simpler than adding aftermarket lighting fixtures.

Is anyone else using the type 796 bulbs?
DelJ
The 796 bulbs look ideal, however, I could not find a supplier in the UK. Do you buy yours on the internet? and if so, from whom?
 

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DelJ - 2/21/2005 1:43 PM

First of all, I am not about to make a change to my ML430 that will pose a fire risk if accidentally left on for more than a minute. That is not being smart.

I have in the past used the backup lights to provide rear illumination while someone else (I had my foot on the brake) closed and locked a gate behind the vehicle in a very dark situation. I als often have to wait for traffic to clear before backing out of driveway or parking spot. Finally, sometimes other people drive the vehicle, such as service technicians, who will not know not leave in reverse for more than a few seconds. Just not a good situation.
Delj
Thanks for the answer.
Of course what you do with your ride is completely up to you.

I can tell you that my experience is that I have had my backup lights on for at least 2 minutes continuously without any problems usually backing up one floor then all the way to the back of the parking garage when it's really full or perhaps up and off the highway overpass on ramp as is not-uncommon in New York City. Of course since we only have parking lot jockeys here I couldn't tell you what they do to my ride but again never had problems.

That being said I've heard about people using way overwatt bulbs in the headlights and having melting problems but that's also cause the lights can be on for hours.

Good luck with the 35 watt bulbs.
 
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