• This topic has 41 replies, 25 voices, and was last updated 1 year ago by Yak.
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  • Car h7 headlight bulb replacement, led or standard?
  • MadBillMcMad
    Full Member

    I bought some super bright h7s a year ago, first one has just died. Definitely brighter and miles better than the normal.

    Do I just get another similar set, or shall I try some of these plug and play led lights?

    It is for a 2017 passat if that makes a difference.

    Recommendations please.

    jimw
    Free Member

    Since 2021 it’s an MOT fail to have LED bulbs in a reflector designed for halogens, but How well policed I don’t know.

    Section 4.1.4 now states the following:

    “Existing halogen headlamp units should not be converted to be used with high intensity discharge (HID) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. If such a conversion has been done, you must fail the headlamp.”

    This is a brand new update that seems to only focus on headlights.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    As above, it’s an MOT fail.

    But ……. how would they know? My MG has OSRAM LEDriving H4’s in halogen housings (the original were 7″ sealed beams). They give a really sharp cut off, and at least as much light as the supermassivelasernightsmasher3000’s or whatever they were previously. Unless you look up into the headlight from below you can’t see the bulb because like most cars it’s behind the inner bit of the reflector.

    Avoid cheap ones like the plague. The bigger the emitter the less focussed the beam is and the more ends up in oncoming drivers’ eyes. And like bike lights the lumens figures can be wildly optimistic.

    TheGingerOne
    Full Member

    The brightness and colour of the light are quite different, so I would say it’s quite easy for the tester to know.

    tractionman
    Full Member

    I hate LEDs, they’ve ruined nightime driving and I’m not alone

    “Being unable to see for one second while driving at 60mph means a driver would travel around 13 metres (more than six car lengths), but being blinded for six seconds would see them covering an enormous 160 metres (the equivalent of 40 car lengths), which suggests headlight glare could be compromising safety on the roads.”

    https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/car-industry-news/2022/03/07/car-headlights-too-bright-as-drivers-increasingly-dazzled

    hot_fiat
    Full Member

    an led in a reflector or even a projector designed for a filament is a big no-no. They simply don’t emit light at the same location as a filament and so cant focus as well. when I’ve done led conversions I’ve changed the whole unit out, at massive expense. The replacements are a totally different design
    and use a mask to produce the cutoff rather than the shape of the reflector.

    If you have to go LED (and who wouldn’t, VW undoubtedly fit the worst halogen reflectors known to man) look at morimoto who make quality, legal, aftermarket units that are relatively easy to fit.

    CountZero
    Full Member

    Some of the very worst for dazzling when oncoming are trucks and vans, which not infrequently have the offside headlight set far too high.
    Over the last year or so I’ve had a very real problem with dazzle from oncoming vehicles of all types, in my case it’s been due to my developing cataracts, my right eye being the worst. I’ve since been lucky and had my right eye treated due to a cancellation, and it’s made a huge difference! While many lights are very bright, and possibly not as well aligned as they could be, I’m not getting dazzled like I was, which is a huge relief. Now hoping I can get my left eye sorted quickly – from my experience so far, I might be able to do without distance glasses for the first time in around thirty years, and make night driving much easier than it has been for a couple of years.

    fruitbat
    Full Member

    The rules have changed again and it’s no longer an automatic fail when LED or HID lamps are fitted.

    Thusly, from the MOT manual:

    From March 22 2021, not all motorcycles and vehicles will fail the MOT test if their halogen headlamp units have been converted to be used with high intensity discharge (HID) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Headlamps must still comply with all other requirements of the test and headlamp aim.

    jimw
    Free Member

    it’s no longer an automatic fail when LED or HID lamps are fitted.

    The change is to allow for class 1 and 2 motorcycles and other vehicles first used before 1986
    cars and vans will still fail if first used after 1986.

    Class 3,4,5 and 7 vehicles
    For class 3,4,5 and 7 vehicles, the defect ‘Light source and lamp not compatible’ only applies to vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986.

    Should a vehicle be presented for an MOT test with conversions before 1 April 1986 they must not be failed with immediate effect.

    Vehicles presented with converted halogen headlamp units first used on or after 1 April 1986 will continue to be failed.

    Source:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/special-notice-01-21-headlamp-conversions/mot-special-notice-01-21-headlamp-conversions

    5lab
    Full Member

    I’d be surprised if a 2017 Passat is still using reflectors? My old 2005 Vectra already used projector lights, surely VW have caught up in over a decade?

    Check that first (projector lights look like a sphere inside the casing, reflectors you can clearly see the bulb), and use that to guide your decision

    fruitbat
    Full Member

    @jimw – thanks for the clarification.

    nixie
    Full Member

    The basic models will still be using reflectors because cheaper. 2017 almost certainly reflector unless one of the top models or light upgrade specified.

    OP buy brighter normal bulbs again. LEDs don’t work as replacements for normal bulbs in cars. They need proper heat management. The brighter normal bulbs will almost certainly be brighter.

    dmck16
    Free Member

    I’d just stick to a decent halogen – happy enough with the Philips set I fitted. Yes, more light would be nice but the amount of glare from cars with unsuitable replacements can be so dangerous.

    martymac
    Full Member

    I’ve used osram nightbreaker bulbs in my last 2 cars, 65w, which is totally illegal.
    Never, ever got flashed, because i made sure they were correctly aimed. Far better than standard bulbs.
    I also, many moons ago, had 100w dipped halogens in my old volvo, which were, no pun intended, brilliant.
    And I didn’t get flashed in that either. Far, far better than standard bulbs. No problem passing several mots in any of the 3 cars.
    I’ve watched YT videos where guys have fitted led to headlights designed for a halogen bulb, none of them recommended it.

    MarkyG82
    Full Member

    Also make sure the lens is clean on the outside. Makes a surprising difference.

    a11y
    Full Member

    If you have to go LED (and who wouldn’t, VW undoubtedly fit the worst halogen reflectors known to man)

    IME Ford give them a close run for that accolade. Main beam on my Transit Custom is brilliant(!), but the dipped beam is utter gash. I’ve fitted the brightest legal halogen bulbs possible and it’s still not great. Frustratingly, Ford added LED headlamps as an option when they facelifted the van in 2017/18.

    VW seem to have upped their game for LED headlights though. Passed a new VW T6 Cali last night and dipped beam was putting out a lot more light and better spread than my dipped, yet still wasn’t a glarefest after I’d passed them.

    rickmeister
    Full Member

    Osram and Phillips now make legal LED bulbs to retrofit giving the correct cut offs….

    https://www.osram.de/am/night-breaker-led/index.jsp

    a11y
    Full Member

    Osram and Phillips now make legal LED bulbs to retrofit giving the correct cut offs….

    Can’t speak for Osram, but the Philips Ultinon ones are still not road legal: https://www.philips.co.uk/c-e/au/car-lights/headlights/ultinon-pro9000-led.html – clearly states on that page. They were also shite in my Transit Custom projector headlight when I tried them briefly on my, ahem, private driveway out of interest.

    P20
    Full Member

    I think they’ve been approved in Germany, hence the link above, but not cleared in uk yet

    hot_fiat
    Full Member

    @a11y I think it’s a German thing. My dad’s senator was dreadful on dipped beam as well. My first night drive in my old t5 I had to pull up to the side of the road and check someone hadn’t fitted the lamp incorrectly. The OEM LEDs on my t6 are indeed awesome, though not as good as the matrix LEDs on a mate’s merc which will pick out things like cyclists and parked cars as you’re driving along.

    Matrix lights

    BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    Osram and Phillips now make legal LED bulbs to retrofit giving the correct cut offs….

    https://www.osram.de/am/night-breaker-led/index.jsp

    Not legal in the UK though?

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    it’s no longer an automatic fail when LED or HID lamps are fitted.

    The change is to allow for class 1 and 2 motorcycles and other vehicles first used before 1986
    cars and vans will still fail if first used after 1986.

    Class 3,4,5 and 7 vehicles
    For class 3,4,5 and 7 vehicles, the defect ‘Light source and lamp not compatible’ only applies to vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1986.

    Should a vehicle be presented for an MOT test with conversions before 1 April 1986 they must not be failed with immediate effect.

    Vehicles presented with converted halogen headlamp units first used on or after 1 April 1986 will continue to be failed.

    Source:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/special-notice-01-21-headlamp-conversions/mot-special-notice-01-21-headlamp-conversions

    Reading that it would imply it’s still always a fail, because nothing pre 1986 would have discharge or LED lights. It’s just that they can’t say it’s a fail unless it’s approved, because pre 1986 there wasn’t a way to get them aproved.

    But as I said, for my car at least they objectively more light and the same or better cut of, if anything it’s sharper, you can now see the individual elements of the lenses rather than them diffusing together. And it’s passed it’s MOT even though it doesn’t need one.

    They also in theory will never need changing, which for a lot of cars is as much of an advantage as anything else 🤣.

    I’ve watched YT videos where guys have fitted led to headlights designed for a halogen bulb, none of them recommended it.

    Got any links out of interest? The only one I found at the time was from someone testing unbranded ones that looked more like something you’d put in a gaming PC than a car headlight. Like testing an Argos BSO and saying cycling’s rubbish.

    GlennQuagmire
    Free Member

    I thought cars fitted with LED headlights also had to be self-levelling to avoid dazzle?

    a11y
    Full Member

    @a11y I think it’s a German thing. My dad’s senator was dreadful on dipped beam as well. My first night drive in my old t5 I had to pull up to the side of the road and check someone hadn’t fitted the lamp incorrectly. The OEM LEDs on my t6 are indeed awesome, though not as good as the matrix LEDs on a mate’s merc which will pick out things like cyclists and parked cars as you’re driving along.

    Matrix lights

    Those matrix LEDs are pretty cool tech.

    Old T5 lights were really bad. Ours originally had the ‘van’ version with a single bulb that did it all – I retrofitted California units with 2 distinct round lamp units per light and modified the wiring such that dipped beam stayed on with full beam. Apparently a headlight wiring harness upgrade replacing the van wiring would’ve improved things further too.

    First drive in the dark and wet in our Transit was (not) enlightening – I expected far better from a much more modern/newer-designed vehicle. Much jealousy when I passed that T6 last night!

    benp1
    Full Member

    VW T6 here, headlights are WOEFUL. I mean really, really terrible. They’re H4 bulbs which are worse than H7. Was previously driving an E class with fancy HID lights that turn as you drive, they were excellent

    I replaced the front light units and now have LED lights as my dipped beam and nightbreakers as my full beam. All legal and MOTable. Also recoded the headlights so dipped beam stays on with full beam.

    It’s very dark where I live, it’s nice to be able to see when driving. I used to struggle on longer, straighter roads where putting my fulls on would dazzle but my dipped beams weren’t enough to see

    hot_fiat
    Full Member

    This is what I ended up building for my T5. They were as good as the OEMs are on my t6. Shame nobody took the same care and attention assembling the rest of the heap in the factory.

    HIDs have to have auto levelers and washers, LEDs just washers and even then only over a certain power.

    a11y
    Full Member

    @hot_fiat, I’m interested – was that using the universal projector units from morimoto inserted into standard VW headlight units? https://www.morimotohid.com/morimoto-m-led-2-projectors?quantity=1

    Ah, thinking about it I’d fall foul by not having headlamp washers on my Transit Custom. I see the ones on your T5 above.

    hot_fiat
    Full Member

    yep that’s the ones, you then add shrouds of your choice. I’m a tart so went with the Panameras and their glorious integrated DRLs. Washers are not that difficult – I fitted my (mum’s) uno with them back in 1992!

    BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    I’ve watched YT videos where guys have fitted led to headlights designed for a halogen bulb, none of them recommended it.

    I fitted Philips H4 Ultinon ones to my Mk2 Golf GTi. They were actually great in that car with no-frills, Hella round hedlights. A really defined cut-off, lots of light where it was needed. Counter-intuitively although they were great on dip, they were actually a little less impressive on main beam. I’d trust people like Osram and Philips to know what they’re doing. I wouldn’t buy some random bulb off eBay and expect it to work. And yes, they aren’t legal in the UK, though the above link to that Osram bulb suggests it’s pretty good if it meets German regs.

    Fwiw, the same bulbs in a standard H4 T5 headlight were a bit pants. Brighter than the original, but not an even beam pattern, which underlines just how poor the T5 headlight design actually is. I keep meaning to fit Caravelle lights then spring springs and I forget again.

    hot_fiat
    Full Member

    @badlywireddog ^^that’s a Caravelle^^ if the regular T5 is worse then wow, because the velle’s standard units were bloody awful.

    IHN
    Full Member

    Old T5 lights were really bad. Ours originally had the ‘van’ version with a single bulb that did it all

    Mine still has the original single bulb headlamps, they are absolutely appalling. The headlamps are slightly crazed with age which probably isn’t helping, I keep meaning to get one of those lamp polishing kits. I’ll have a look at those Phillips/Osram bulbs too.

    timba
    Free Member

    I think they’ve been approved in Germany, hence the link above, but not cleared in uk yet

    If we’re still talking about LED bulbs as opposed to LED headlamp units (I’ve lost my way a bit :)
    They have to be either BS-EN or e-marked to be legal in Europe (includes UK) and a LED bulb intended as a halogen replacement cannot be BS-EN/e-mark tested. Simples
    Looking through a headlamp lens from outside is easy and LED replacement bulbs are obviously LED and should fail the UK MoT if fitted in an halogen headlamp unit
    Germany is one of the stricter EU countries and doesn’t allow the sale of non-e-marked bulbs, even for only off-road use. Some manufacturers have taken the view that if they can sell in some EU countries then they can sell in Germany, caveat emptor

    timba
    Free Member

    I’ve fitted uprated Philips halogen bulbs. They’re better made than OEM and gain output from more precise focussing (it says) rather than mega-wattage. Gone through two MoTs now without a problem

    a11y
    Full Member

    ^^that’s a Caravelle^^ if the regular T5 is worse then wow, because the velle’s standard units were bloody awful.

    I can confirm the regular T5 of the 2004 era were much worse than the Caravelle units I swapped mine for. Think I sprung for genuine Caravelle units rather than Heko pattern ones. It’s an improvement well worth doing.


    @hot_fiat
    , thanks for the info re morimoto. I’m supposed to be having less projects, not more, but the idea of building some headlight units with the dipped beam projecters swapped out for those is rather appealing.

    jamesoz
    Full Member

    Reading that it would imply it’s still always a fail, because nothing pre 1986 would have discharge or LED lights. It’s just that they can’t say it’s a fail unless it’s approved, because pre 1986 there wasn’t a way to get them aproved.

    It’s a bit vague. Does ‘first used’ mean when the car was available, built or registered? It reads to me as when the light was first used. Which strikes me as pointless as stated before, there was no such headlamp in 1986.

    I’m interested as my 944t has 1985 parts and was first available in the UK in 1985 but was registered in August 1986.

    The headlights aren’t bad, (same as a Golf of similar age), but being followed by wankpanzers in traffic, the difference in lighting is hilarious. I’m pretty sure I can see a shadow of my car in front of me sometimes. Being low obviously doesn’t help

    Sandwich
    Full Member

    Since 2021 it’s an MOT fail to have LED bulbs in a reflector designed for halogens, but How well policed I don’t know.

    Can confirm that it’s well policed at the testing station. My 2000 Saab failed as it had LED lamps fitted, H4 replacements are like candles in comparison.

    BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    @badlywireddog ^^that’s a Caravelle^^ if the regular T5 is worse then wow, because the velle’s standard units were bloody awful.

    The base level H4 headlights are appalling as others have said above. They’re appalling even with the same Philips Ultinon LED bulbs in which are excellent in a Mk2 GTi, which means that it’s not just a voltage drop thing, there’s something, deeply, optically wrong with them. Corrado headlights are similarly not very good btw, but still better than the T5.

    fossy
    Full Member

    I have LED stop/tail bubs which are fine and have pssed many many MOT’s. Would not pop LED in the headlamp. Remember,these ‘brighter’ bulbs just don’t last as long. I’ve go some ring Pro H7’s in at the moment and they are great (bought 3 though when on offer – a spare if one goes). Fortunately, nissan got the lenses right on my car and they are nice and bright using standard bulbs.

    martymac
    Full Member
    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Yea, I’d not touch something called ‘lasfit’ either with a barge pole, but that’s not been my experience with the Osram ones.

    Presumably because Osram actually make car headlight bulbs, not sell anodised headlight bulb shaped objects cheaply on eBay?

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