A repeat of my post over at USMB. Thought it might be of benefit here (where a search engine actually finds things
Upgraded headlights followup (odd results)
For those of you following the headlights threads last spring...
I didn't post much, but did follow them and ended up getting a Competition Limited wireing harness and 80/100 watt bulbs in April. As I posted then, this made a HUGE difference in light output.
After about 15,000 miles (yes, since april), both bulbs have failed. Now here is the interesting part
Since we in the middle of Tenessee, and driving through the night when the first one went, I dug out one of the OEM bulbs (I carry them as spares, in case this happened) and stuck it in... and it was almost impossible to tell the difference (in fact it was impossible from in front of the car, and on anything but perfect conditions, like fresh clean concrete)
When I project the lights on my white garage door, I can tell the OEM bulb from the high powered (HP) one, just barely. I can also see a big difference in the precision of the beam pattern (crisp cut off, smooth even light). The OEM one is much better.
But for real world driving, there is no difference
The other bulb went out last night (about two weeks later)
So I have two conclusions....
a wireing harness that provides full voltage (I mesured 1.5 volts less at the OEM harnesses compared to the battery) and good ground is more important than high wattage (which is what research told me, but I didn't belive)
HP bulbs get *significantly* dimmer toward the end of thier lifespan (should be true, now that I think about it), nessessitating a (prohibitivly expensive ) "change early change often" philosophy for HP bulbs.
It would be "enlightening" (pun intended) to compare a new HP bulb, to an old one and an OEM one, with a good wireing harness.
I cooked one of my sockets with *stock* wattage (Narva Rangepower 55/65) bulbs. It sounds like the same thing you and SmashPDX are describing, intermitant outage, jiggle the plug and it comes on, the middle contact had melted out of its plastic slot, both side contacts were fine.
Fourtunatly, I don't have DRLs (I leave my lights on anyway). Do your DRLs go out when you pull the e-brake (and get the dash indicator)?
and BTW, where did you find Hella 80/100s? I need some
I would not go any higher wattage, I have noticed that the "glare shields" on my lights are discolored from the heat.
The more I think about it, I am convinced both of my theorys are correct
"Halogen lights, when operating at 100% voltage, produce 100% of the designed light output. At 95% of the voltage, the light drops by more than 15%; at 90%, it drops by a third! With a typical 12-volt system operating at 13.5 volts, loss of a mere 1.35 volts is 10%. "
So in my stock setup, 55watt a bulb was only putting out 36watts of light, and 80watt bulbs would only put out 52watts of light. So if your car is the same, your 80 watt lights should look about like most cars (actually, most cars have the same problem more or less)
So rather than running expensive 'overwattage' bulbs (and cooking my reflectors and who knows what else), I am going back to the High Quaility Narva bulbs and retaining the CL harness.
Everyone should read:
"Want More Light From Your Headlamps?"
"High Performance Headlights"
"PIAA's wattage equivalence claims ("55w = 85w", etc.) are very misleading."