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Brighter Headlights?


coastventures

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I noticed the other night that the headlights on my '99 Ranger XLT are not very bright at all. They are the standard replacement headlights you can get most anywhere. I kinda figured it would be no big deal cuz I could just buy a set of brighter (more lumens or wattage) lamps, but this doesn't seem to be the case. No one selling anywhere seems to indicate just what the brightness of their lamps are making it difficult for me to simply do the math and get some brighter ones. Seems like everybody is selling the same thing of many different brands with no brightness specs listed. I do know that from my experience in this case, stock replacement is just not gonna work if I want to see down the highway at night. So my dilemma is how to find brighter lights for the truck. Do you know any lights that might be significantly brighter on both low and high beam for a '99 model aside from adding fog lights? She runs the 3.0 six Flex engine; all electrical is excellent.
 


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Phillips Xtreme vision bulbs are MARGINALLY brighter than standard bulbs. The difference is not worth the extra price though (they are close to 40 bucks for a set).

You may want to check the voltage at the bulb harness to make sure you're not experiencing voltage drop from a corroded wire, ground, or connection.

Aside from that the only option I know of that will actually make a difference would be to upgrade to HID or LED bulbs. HID bulbs are rather expensive, and require new headlight housings. LED bulbs will fit the existing housings BUT I've yet to find a set that functions correctly in the stock housing. While the bulbs are massively brighter, the beam is not reflected right in the housing making them usually worse than the original halogen bulbs.

Adding fog lights can help add illumination to the area directly in front of the truck but won't help with lighting at any distance.
 

sgtsandman

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How does the housing lens look? If they are cloudy, it might be time to get a kit to sand and polish the lens. Be warned, it is not a long term fix. The only long term fix is to replace the housings.
 

coastventures

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Thank for your insights on the lighting. Like I mentioned, the electrical is fine. The housings are clear as a bell, replaced them a while back. I did see one light has much lower illumination that the other. It might just be time for new bulbs. I don't do much night driving but I like to be prepared. I saw some halogens, haven't come across any LED or HID, will look into it and decide what I need.
 

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You might consider just replacing the entire housing with an led set up.
The new housing is designed with proper reflectors for the led light. For a 1999 a set can be had for under $100 bucks.
Was thinking about an upgrade for my 2009, but headlight and turn are in one assembly, and a set runs over $225.
Just another option for you.
 

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I bought some LED replacement bulbs on ebay that have roughly double the lumens, so more like the modern HID or LED headlights on current cars. They make a big difference. You have to be careful to find the right ones though, as nearly all the Ford headlight assemblies use a donut shaped ring to hold in the bulb - many of the LED replacement bulbs you will find are too fat for this ring to slip over - so look carefully at the photos to make sure you will be able to install them and retain them. I have done this upgrade on the last 3 trucks I have owned and have never gotten flashed at but have been able to see much better.
 

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see the attached for the lumens & wattage rating for various auto bulbs. 9007 bulbs are not what one would define as being bright with their lumens rating being as it is.
 

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Just a word of caution, there are certain limitations one must be concerned about with head lights, driving lights, etc. Going brighter could be a violation of regulations and subject to potential tickets and fines. Probably not a huge concern most of the time but it's out there. Kinda like tires extending past the fenders too far or window tint that is too dark or on the wrong windoes. Most times one won't have a problem but one could get a ticket or fine over it if the officer can't find anything else to fine you for after pulling you over. Why leave an option open for them to take advantage of?
 

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Just a word of caution, there are certain limitations one must be concerned about with head lights, driving lights, etc. Going brighter could be a violation of regulations and subject to potential tickets and fines. Probably not a huge concern most of the time but it's out there. Kinda like tires extending past the fenders too far or window tint that is too dark or on the wrong windoes. Most times one won't have a problem but one could get a ticket or fine over it if the officer can't find anything else to fine you for after pulling you over. Why leave an option open for them to take advantage of?
I agree with this BUT the stock ranger headlights do kinda suck and I think there is plenty of room for improvement without getting into the illegal or annoying catagory. Definitely important to do your research by checking your state laws, and making sure any bulbs or housings you use are DOT legal though.
 

Billy1980

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If you go for LED's try the 15,000 lumens and 6500 kelvin temp. Anything higher lumens will glare oncoming traffic.
 

gaz

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coastventures,

Here is another option, it is what I'm currently doing yo my 87 Ranger and preparing to do to my 87BII. I went this path do to Washington state headlight laws:

1) It is not legal for me to install LED headlights on my trucks
2) It is not legal for me to have headlights more powerful than 55w/65w
3) It is not legal for me to have auxillary lights more powerful than my headlights

What is legal is replacing the small, old wires in my stock headlight harness with new larger wires (larger = better conduction, new = no corrosion); so that is precisely what pI decided to do to resolve my weak lights.

The wires used in your harness will be either 16g or 14g, by installing either 12g or 10g wire fused directly from the battery through a relay controlled by your stock headlight switch, your lights will be as bright as possible.

I chose to use cheaper halogen Hella Standard bulbs @ a whopping $2.99 ea but with 10g wires as stated above.

To resolve this we can purchase a premade, drop in, improved harness or you could do as I am and build your own.

So far going firm the stock bulb to the Hella Standard 55/60 the LUX value increased from 540 LUX from the standard bulb to 1740 with the new bulb, as measured with my cell phone sensor using the LUX app.

I was waiting for all the components to arrive to build the new harness adapter. I now have all the parts, so I can provide further perfomance measurement upon completion.

In summary, I suggest determining if the problem is your bulbs or your wiring; for my rigs it's both but so far, a set of $6 bulbs made a measurable difference.
Running new wire with 60% more conductivity potential, strait from the battery will yield increased measurable improvement.
 
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Shadowrider6661

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I replaced my original headlight assembly with ones I found on Amazon. The inside of the units are crystal clear with a mirror finish, even if you install bulbs that are what's considered legal in your area, you should get a much brighter headlight. It's something you might want to look into. I hope this helps.
 

racsan

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Im not sure if its still the case, but a few years back (well maybe 10) I had a ‘93 taurus with marginal lighting, I bought “better” syvania bulbs but noticed afterwards on the back of the package that the better the bulb, the shorter the service life (and the “best” bulb out of the 3 choices was double the $ of the standard bulb!) I had tried re-aiming to no avail but one foggy night I noticed the aim was way high even though my adjusters were at the limits for “lowest aim”. turns out my rear springs were so weak that the car was way lower in the back then it should be, I found a way to add helpers (I was too cheap to just get new coil springs for the rear struts) and I was able to get the adjustment right and see better at night.
On my ranger I do have a small light bar on the grille guard that I use when theres no oncoming traffic, its a big improvement over my stock, old cloudy 94 plastic light assemblies. I miss glass!
 

rubydist

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It turns out that quality led bulbs that you can buy on ebay and elsewhere are no brighter than the led bulbs that the new vehicles all have - that is one of the main reasons that you can see better at night with the led lights in the new cars. So, I have found that as long as the led bulbs installed in the headlight housings are adjusted correctly, no one notices that they are double the brightness of the original factory ones - they just think you are driving a nearly new vehicle with its brighter lights. The only downside to the led bulbs is that they do not heat the housing enough to keep ice from building up on the housing if you are driving in snow or sleet conditions.
 

88workcar

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It turns out that quality led bulbs that you can buy on ebay and elsewhere are no brighter than the led bulbs that the new vehicles all have - that is one of the main reasons that you can see better at night with the led lights in the new cars. So, I have found that as long as the led bulbs installed in the headlight housings are adjusted correctly, no one notices that they are double the brightness of the original factory ones - they just think you are driving a nearly new vehicle with its brighter lights. The only downside to the led bulbs is that they do not heat the housing enough to keep ice from building up on the housing if you are driving in snow or sleet conditions.
Can you give us the part numbers for the 9006 replacements?
 

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