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Old 11-26-2006, 05:45 PM   #1
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Wrench Dim Headlights

Now that the drive home from work is in the darkness, I have noticed that the low beam headlights are getting dim. When the car in front of you gets more light from those in the next lane, you know something isn't right. The bulbs are nearly new and didn't appear to be aged. I thought that maybe there is too little voltage at the lights. So I checked out all the material on www.danielsternlighting.com, the wiring diagrams in the manual, and bought some bits. I got the 40A relay from the Source from Circuit City (aka Radio Shack) and some wire, terminals etc. from Canadian Tire.

The power is taken off the stud on the Under Hood Fuse Block (UHFB). Then through a line fuse holder (20A) and to the contacts of the relay. From there to the lights (12 Ga). The wires were cut at the wires about 3" from the bulb holders. The power goes on the orange wire and the ground goes to the blue. The loom wires on the right side were taped off. The loom wires on the left were fed to the relay coil. There is an excellent ground stud on the body just behind the battery. The relay is mounted to the inside of the inner fender behind the battery.

Low beams are now as bright as they should be, and I can consider higher wattage bulbs.

Notes
- The headlight wires are very small, no larger than 18 Ga, and all headlight current goes through the headlight and dimmer switches. Do not use higher wattage bulbs without using a separate feed relay and heavy wiring.
- The high beams use a complicated circuit to switch between series and parallel with the DRL relay. To relay feed these will require two relays, one for each light. I didn't bother with this as you almost never use HB unless out in the boonies.
- Daniel Stern has some warnings about ground switched headlight systems. That applies to the L-Series.
- This mod will likely fix any cars that exhibit the "dimming headlight" problem.

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Old 11-26-2006, 08:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

You could have tried to isolate where your volage losses were at. I'd measure your + at the headlights using the switched ground and then the ground on the - battery. How many volts were being dropped?

You've came up with a good band-aid solution to the headlight problem. I just hope the headlight problem isn't the start of a larger problem that may give you future headache...

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Old 12-01-2006, 11:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

Yes, I could have. However, then I would simply find out what I already knew - that the lights were operating at low voltage. After the change, there is more than twice as much light. Same bulbs. The high beams are still the old dim yellow. Maybe I will check the voltage on those.

There are many places there could be resistance in the circuit on an older car. The circuit goes through the underhood fuse box several times and through the steering column light switch and dimmer switch. There are several plugs in the wiring harness. The real problem is that there should be relays for the headlights in the first place. Putting that amount of current through the turn signal stalk is rediculous.

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Old 12-03-2006, 08:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

WOW!!!!!! Finally someone has found the fix to the dimming light problem that Saturn says does not exist.


I may try it on mine but have gotten use to it. But it really sounds like it would work. I've always thought it was under sized wire pulling too many amps.

Thanks for the info.

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Old 12-03-2006, 10:01 PM   #5
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

I never had the dipping/dimming problem. My lights were just never bright. I am sure that they became dimmer over time.

If people are interested I could take some pix and make up some wiring diagrams.

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Old 03-06-2007, 08:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

In response to a request, I am attaching a wiring diagram sketch and photographs of the relay and in-line fuse installation.
Attached Images
File Type: gif Headlight Relay.GIF (143.0 KB, 130 views)
File Type: jpg DSCF0918.JPG (125.0 KB, 118 views)
File Type: jpg DSCF0920.JPG (118.3 KB, 114 views)

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Old 03-07-2007, 07:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

Quote:
Originally Posted by born again View Post
In response to a request, I am attaching a wiring diagram sketch and photographs of the relay and in-line fuse installation.
In another post I think you said you started to have the dimming problem was that before the rewire or after?

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Old 03-08-2007, 01:31 PM   #8
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

Before. I have only mentioned it in this post. They have been bright since then. I have not bothered to go with higher output bulbs, as the results were satisfactory.

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Old 03-08-2007, 01:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

I just noticed I said to solder and tape at the headlights on the sketch. Use heat shrink tubing over the solder joints instead. Tape eventually falls off.

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Old 05-27-2018, 07:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

I see this thread is 12 years old! However, I just got a 2004 L300. The high beams are normal & bright, but alas, the low beams are dim to the point of being unsafe. I 'buffed' the outer lens, replaced the bulbs with LED's, this helped a tiny bit, but still not anywhere near normal. I have read the 'Daniel Stern' links, looked at the jpegs & gif diagram posted here, and decided this might be the solution. Thanks for the post, that problem still exists. I will see if anyone has posted about how to raise the driver seat - ALSO, the factory keyless entry no longer responds to either of the fobs, new batteries to!!?? The car has 161,000 miles and drives smooth & straight. Decent older car!!!
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File Type: jpg 20180323_162951 50.jpg (95.2 KB, 5 views)

Last edited by skyeL300; 05-27-2018 at 07:26 PM..

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Old 05-27-2018, 09:32 PM   #11
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

skyeL300, some info may help you decide on choosing an upgrade from low beam lamps and/or wiring improvement, whichever proves best. If you had asked before throwing away money on led headlights, I would have alerted you to some caveats very few forums want to discuss. That is, how factory led headlights are configured physically and useless aftermarket led headlights don't address this issue. Useless once you're aware of how led lights work for headlights.

One member here admitted to how useless his led headlight upgrade was by simply declaring 'They're worse than the original halogen lamps!?" His thoughts were an led upgrade would improve low beam lighting when the exact opposite occurred.

Factory led headlights, if anyone actually examines them up close, are several led segments for two reasons - all led lights are narrow beams and factory setups requires several led segments angled differently from the other leds to cover the range of lighting needed for night time driving. A single led used as low beam for right and left (two) will never cover the wide angle frontal area as well as longer distance further out. The multiple segments of leds on right and left allows coverage. Retrofitting one led into either a regular reflector or projector light housing simply doesn't work. This only applies to low beams.

Your low beams are not reflector (conventional) light housings. They're projector light housings and made for HID lights. Yes, hid lights. I've converted mine from original halogen to hid without any wiring modification. Both DRL and night time lighting are using hid lamps without issues with the DRL circuitry. Our L300s came from Europe with mandatory DRLs but decided American L300s will use halogen lamps in hid projector light housings to cut costs. Factory low beam halogen lamps are 55 watts. I chose 35 watt HIDs to ensure zero glare and have never been flashed by blinded drivers. Original factory aimed lighting is retained. The DRL circuits use a resistor under the driver's fender, next to the battery. This resistor and bcm circuitry doesn't mind my upgrade to HIDs and ballasts. They do not draw more current than halogen lamps. (I did my homework). Whether L300s can use 55 watt HIDs has yet to be determined (some else can be the beta tester). The projector light housings have a cutoff plate within to eliminate the upper beam - without this plate the tiny projector light housings are effectively high beams and will blind opposing traffic. If you point your low beams against a wall you'll see the distinctive cutoff line as a result of the plate inside each projector housing. I posted a thread in these forums.

Polishing and clear coating the exterior light covers extends the life of old lights. Replacing them is the alternative. If your wiring is intact, not showing any signs of corrosion to connectors and the resistor is also intact, not cracked, getting rid of the led lamps for better halogen lamps or consider upgrading to hid lights. Examine grounds, there's one on the connector to the DRL resistor grounding to a nearby stud. Engine block and chassis are the two main grounds. My HID lights were literally plug n' play after locating room to mount the small ballasts. The low cost HID kit comes with non keyed plugs - they must be polarity correct to power the ballast from existing wiring (red to red, black to black).

The next time you have the light housings off the car, look into the low beam projector housing with a strong light. You should see the cutoff plate on the bottom, blocking off almost half the light. The bottom half of lighting is projected as the upper beam but blocked to prevent blinding opposing traffic. This is the key feature of low beam projectors with HID lights.

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Old 05-28-2018, 11:19 AM   #12
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

For the most part fdryer is right on the money. The only thing that is not correct is the info on the projectors. The projectors in the 2003-2005 L series is in fact a halogen projector. HID projectors are made of metal whereas halogen projectors are made of plastic or plastic type material. Also the halogen projector is the L series does allow light to shine up. There is a small opening in the cutoff shield to allow this. It's basically designed to light up higher road signs. I agree that 35 Watt hid systems should be OK with the stock L projector.

This is what the stock projector shield looks like. As you can see there is an opening that Leta light shine up to light road signs. My problem with the stock projectors and hid bulbs is driving in heavy snow, rain and fog. I live out in the open country and when driving in these conditions the brighter light makes it look like you're driving at light speed (think star wars LOL). I did take the projectors apart and sealed the opening with jb weld to prevent the glare. Overall the hid lights are a great upgrade, but depending on where you drive and the climate you drive in it might not be great. Also I would recommend 4300k for light color. I have found that to work well.

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Old 05-29-2018, 01:09 PM   #13
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

For the record, the original Bosch headlight lenses on my '00 LS1 have never been polished and are still crystal clear. The car has spent most of its life outside in direct sun. I think this is another example of how some early features of the car were de-contented during the first year. Note that I have two other newer cars that need lens polishing every two years or so as they go yellow/cloudy.

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Old 05-29-2018, 06:49 PM   #14
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

My feelings on yellowing, cloudy light covers are from following others paving the way. Mine were polished several times but I wasn't aware of spraying clear coating after polishing. The last polish was clear coated to delay clouding. They remain cloud free the last two or three years. Mine are yellowed but clear enough for DRL and night driving. I bought 4k or 5k hid lights that emit a blueish white light thru the yellowed light covers. As far as I'm concerned as long as the hid lights show the road and signs (very well) I care less about yellowing - it's cosmetic and doesn't throw any hint of yellow light since the slight blueish light offsets it. Mine are coming up on a year of use without any hint of failure, yet. If I can have three years of trouble free low beam lighting, it paid off. More would be a plus.

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Old 05-30-2018, 05:04 AM   #15
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

I buy all my hid stuff from The Retrofit Source. I used Morimoto brand projectors and hid components when I retrofitted projectors on my 02. Their 35 watt kits are great and anytime something dies they ship out the replacement quickly. I also don't worry much about fogging lights. The hid kit does it's job well.

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Old 05-30-2018, 07:05 PM   #16
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

Thank you all for the quick responses! And a 10+ year old thread at that !!! I did start by buying new Philips H11 55watt bulbs - no change in brightness. For kicks I thought I'd try LED's. I have replaced many interior and marker lamps on various vehicles in the last 8 years with LED's & have been very impressed. The LED's are just a tiny bit on the blue side, over 6K, I prefer around 4-5K max. Anyway, the cutoff pattern is identical to the halogen bulbs, with little out of bounds glare that completely goes away within 50ft of the car. I adjusted the pattern vertically. All before I found this forum. I even shopped aircraft LED landing lights to mount to the bumper! I will check into the HID & the ground contacts. I live in rural Texas, so high beams are usually used. I also had an issue with the blower fan running slow until I would make a right hand turn! Took it out to check free play and bearing noise - none - put it back in and now it works normal. I'm guessing that refreshing the connector contacts may have helped. Thanks, again. I will post whenever I get a chance to install HID's or try the relay thing....
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Old 06-10-2018, 02:21 PM   #17
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Default Re: Dim Headlights

Installed a plug&play rely harness for the low beams only. Direct 12v & 2 new ground contacts - absolutely ZERO change in brightness. (would have mitigated a ground issue if there had been one as the install required 2 more new grounding points!) Too bad. Will consider HID projector conversion now. Seems like this type of factory assembly from GM was/is an issue for many years, is it still? see-ya...

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