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Old 07-12-2020, 12:59 PM   #1
darkmatter
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Question WRX/STI model years with quality headlights

Which model years of the WRX and STI saw significant headlight upgrades? I'm shopping for a new daily and will be driving mountain roads at night with lots of deer. Decent lowbeam headlights are always a plus.

I don't mind putting in aftermarket headlights if they are OEM quality and durable. Never owned a subie before, so I'm not sure what to expect.
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Old 07-12-2020, 01:39 PM   #2
altonka035
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My 2019 STI has LED and steering responsive headlights and are fantastic at night, zero complaints. I like them better than HID's I had on a previous car.
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Old 07-13-2020, 01:46 AM   #3
darkmatter
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Thanks! I have read that about the newer models. I should have specified I'm looking for something $10k and under, the new models are out of my reach.
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Old 07-13-2020, 01:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altonka035 View Post
My 2019 STI has LED and steering responsive headlights and are fantastic at night, zero complaints. I like them better than HID's I had on a previous car.
The more I think about these, the more tempting they seem.
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:42 AM   #5
altonka035
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkmatter View Post
The more I think about these, the more tempting they seem.
The steering responsive lights are nice but not some big game changer in my opinion, good LED bulbs in a quality projector style housing will be plenty.
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Old 07-13-2020, 01:32 PM   #6
darkmatter
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Originally Posted by altonka035 View Post
The steering responsive lights are nice but not some big game changer in my opinion, good LED bulbs in a quality projector style housing will be plenty.
Are aftermarket lights reliable in the older model STIs? I was going to put aftermarket lights in an old BMW i had, then I learned that the aftermarket solutions for lighting had very short lifespans compared to OEM.
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Old 07-13-2020, 07:57 PM   #7
altonka035
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkmatter View Post
Are aftermarket lights reliable in the older model STIs? I was going to put aftermarket lights in an old BMW i had, then I learned that the aftermarket solutions for lighting had very short lifespans compared to OEM.
Think it depends what you're looking for and as always, you get what you pay for. I personally have some Diode Dynamics products (not their LED bulbs) and have been very impressed with their quality.
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Old 07-13-2020, 10:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkmatter View Post
Which model years of the WRX and STI saw significant headlight upgrades? I'm shopping for a new daily and will be driving mountain roads at night with lots of deer. Decent lowbeam headlights are always a plus.

I don't mind putting in aftermarket headlights if they are OEM quality and durable. Never owned a subie before, so I'm not sure what to expect.
There is no such thing as decent lowbeams. Optics are a topic that you need to research more and think less upon. 100% of Subaru lowbeams will suffice in the use case of a deer and when they don't, that's where the high beams come in as you are out driving your low beams. Headlights are designed for a singular purpose: to illuminate that area where braking occurs. They do their job. Now if you want to increase the illumination, you have to consider higher capacity stock bulbs, HIR options, LED options or HID options. The cheap and easy route is one or two step up bulbs in stock housings as they are the easy button. Other options require a high amount of research and the odds of you messing up the research and being stuck with lights that need replaced every 4 minutes is pretty high.

Also, you don't even have a Subaru yet....the time for research is AFTER purchase as you might purchase something that makes your happy.
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Old 07-14-2020, 04:37 PM   #9
darkmatter
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Originally Posted by Unabomber View Post
There is no such thing as decent lowbeams. Optics are a topic that you need to research more and think less upon. 100% of Subaru lowbeams will suffice in the use case of a deer and when they don't, that's where the high beams come in as you are out driving your low beams. Headlights are designed for a singular purpose: to illuminate that area where braking occurs. They do their job. Now if you want to increase the illumination, you have to consider higher capacity stock bulbs, HIR options, LED options or HID options. The cheap and easy route is one or two step up bulbs in stock housings as they are the easy button. Other options require a high amount of research and the odds of you messing up the research and being stuck with lights that need replaced every 4 minutes is pretty high.

Also, you don't even have a Subaru yet....the time for research is AFTER purchase as you might purchase something that makes your happy.
Thanks! I posted the question because some other cars I've owned have significant headlight upgrades depending on the trim and model years. Modern WRXs are the same, you only get the good headlights if you get the premium trim (not in the track model with no sunroof and good seats). I got a mini in the 90s and was told by the sales person you could upgrade to the HIDs after purchase, but this wasn't true, at least not without major cost. My commute is on mountain and gravel roads, up to 90 mph at times, and aggressive turns. Also, there is traffic so high beams are often useless to have.

I'm kind of shooting for an older model, late 90s up to late 2000s, so if there are model year upgrades worthwhile I'm not married to the older model. I'll buy the WRX/STI for the headlights and seating position over the rest.
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Old 07-14-2020, 09:13 PM   #10
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Very nicely, please read this twice slowly and comprehend the words:

Headlights are designed for a singular purpose: to illuminate that area where braking occurs.

If you are going 90 on public city roads at night with other vehicles which preclude the use of high beams, you will soon take a dirt nap.



This is how professionals do what you say you are doing. And you think some bulbs on eBay will help?
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Old 07-14-2020, 11:04 PM   #11
thatgarrett
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A proper retrofit with quality HID specific projector housings and lenses with oem ballasts and oem bulbs can be a viable option. STI trims came with HIDís in America starting with blob eyes and also Hawkeyes (2004?-2007). Cars101.com has the details you can look up. What that means for you is you can pick up used (or new if youíre feeling fancy) OEM HID systems that will plug right in with minimal modification requires with proper light patterns for the bulb and US roads. Youíll just disable DRL and maybe do a harness (though there is debate if that is necessary with OEM ballasts). I recently swapped in OEM STI HIDís on my 2007. The halogen H7 projectors were more than adequate (though at night in the rain they might struggle a bit) and were far better than my 9006 Camry reflector lights I had before, so I donít think itís necessary, but they are definitely an upgrade.

But, low beams are low beams. They simply canít (and shouldnít) illuminate certain parts of the road or distances away. HIDís, from my very limited experience, serve best for a wider field of vision and illumination, along with (at stock ~4300k temp) better contrast on what is illuminated
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Old 07-15-2020, 12:10 AM   #12
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Real Funny
Most everyone talking about low beams/HID’s/steering responsive
All that crap doesn’t mean a thing when EVERY headlamp lens is made out of plastic that fades/glazes over time

Best headlamps????
Ones that lenses were made out of glass.
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Old 07-15-2020, 10:57 AM   #13
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Unless you drive alot at night or in the rain, regular old lights work just fine. Somehow there is a pissing contest over who’s lights are brighter or bluer. Yellow lights are so much better on a persons eyes. Now with all the new lights we are blinding everyone, with the exception when they are set up correctly.

Having driven my old halogens in my 04 WRX and new HIDs and LEDs, there is a difference but nothing overwhelming for DD. My parents who can’t see as well think it helps a bit more, but if your eyes are good, it’s not as big as you think.

Most do it for looks, which is funny because you don’t see your car when driving with the lights on.

I know people will put on a ton of pics showing how much better it is and It does look like it, but in practical driving the difference is not as much. How did we survive all these years with yellow halogens. It’s not like these better lights have reduced accidents or deaths.
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Old 07-15-2020, 01:31 PM   #14
Norm Peterson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest View Post
Unless you drive alot at night or in the rain, regular old lights work just fine.
"Just fine" is wide open to question, though some OE low beams are better than others. And nearly all OE low beams can be made better simply by staggering the vertical aims a little (with the passenger side aimed a little higher than the driver side - I'm speaking of left hand drive, right side of the road driving here). This makes the illumination more even and less tiring by keeping darker regions in the patterns from fully coinciding. Fog lights can also be used to provide additional fill-in light up closer to the car for a similar benefit.

I've never bothered to take any pictures, but I've been working to improve the headlight performance of my cars since the early 1970's, back when H4 halogen lighting was "unapproved" and technically not legal for street use (but you could buy H4 conversions). Over time, I've found a few things that worked and a couple of things that did not live up to their implied promise.


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Old 07-15-2020, 03:06 PM   #15
YungBoba
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest View Post
Unless you drive alot at night or in the rain, regular old lights work just fine. Somehow there is a pissing contest over whoís lights are brighter or bluer. Yellow lights are so much better on a persons eyes. Now with all the new lights we are blinding everyone, with the exception when they are set up correctly.

Having driven my old halogens in my 04 WRX and new HIDs and LEDs, there is a difference but nothing overwhelming for DD. My parents who canít see as well think it helps a bit more, but if your eyes are good, itís not as big as you think.

Most do it for looks, which is funny because you donít see your car when driving with the lights on.

I know people will put on a ton of pics showing how much better it is and It does look like it, but in practical driving the difference is not as much. How did we survive all these years with yellow halogens. Itís not like these better lights have reduced accidents or deaths.
If you're comparing halogens with HIDs/LEDs in the same housing/lens, then you're right, the HIDs won't make a drastic difference in terms of actual light output. But a proper retrofit will do wonders for lumens output, range, and having a sharper cutoff. The problem is when people throw HIDs in a projector designed for halogen bulbs or even worse, in a reflector housing. That's when you get tons of wasted light output as well as glare, which other drivers will surely love you for

You are right about the blue lights pissing contest though. 4300K-5000K is the sweet spot as far as a combination of having the most usable light output as well as a visually appealing color. Most OEM HID/xenon bulbs will be somewhere in this range if that tells you anything. Anything higher is just for aesthetics and will actually decrease the amount of usable light.

Don't even get me started on green/pink/purple headlights

https://www.xenonpro.com/hid-xenon-t...eadlight-guide
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Old 07-15-2020, 05:52 PM   #16
oichan
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I definitely like my 19 WRX Limited's LED + adaptive steering headlights over the ones that came with my 16 STI. But I never drive my STI at night so it doesn't really bother me.

I turned off the factory DRL's on the STI and run Subispeed DRL's on the fog surrounds which look cool.
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Old 07-29-2020, 08:28 AM   #17
altonka035
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Took this the other night, may be helpful.

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