Everybody loves a pair of bright headlights, except for probably the other drivers who get blinded by them. But jokes aside, good illumination is crucial in winter, when the night arrives abruptly and visibility often drops due to the weather conditions. The US Department of Transportation conducted research in 2022 and found out that about 24% of car accidents related to weather occur in snowy weather or when the roads are covered with ice and slush. And around 15% happen in snowfall and sleet.
Bad visibility paired with poor weather can drastically affect your safety on the road. The driving conditions reduce control over the vehicle and increase braking distance. This leaves you as a driver even less room for error. But dim light can reduce even that amount of time. The sooner you notice danger the better. That is why people often consider converting to brighter types of automotive bulbs like LEDs.
DRLs are bad neighbors
Daytime running lights are not necessary according to US regulations, however, they are still nice to have. They improve your car’s visibility to other people, drivers and pedestrians alike. Many cars are equipped with this type of car light by default. Yet, despite being so useful sometimes, DRLs can also become a source of trouble if you want to convert your halogen beams to LEDs.
As you have probably heard countless times, LEDs are the most efficient in terms of power consumption. However, they still need a constant stable flow of electricity to work. “What happens in cars that use daytime running lights, is a competition between them and LEDs”, explains Ben Collins, the content editor of the LightningLab project. This issue results in inconsistent output and flickering of your new set of LED bulbs.
To stop this from happening, you need to fix the power distribution problem. This can be done with a decoder. It will gently increase the power supplied to the LEDs to ensure they get enough when the DRLs are on. An alternative option is to use a wiring harness that will adapt your car’s system to the new type of light bulb.
LED conversion kits often have adapters that help you integrate nee bulbs. And they usually work well. However, if you pick an adapter as an afterthought, there is always a risk that it can be incompatible with the LEDs you have already purchased and installed. The same issue can occur if you buy a set of headlights that have drivers or adapters that obviously work with your bulbs, but not with the car.
In such cases, you will need to look for countermeasures like anti-flicker devices or different adapters. When searching for one, look for models that are compatible with both the light bulbs and the vehicle. Make sure to check not only the car’s make and model but also its year.
Wrong polarity for dual filament LEDs
If you just thought “Hold on, LEDs have no filaments”, you are correct, they don’t. What they use is a mock filament imitated by spreading the diodes in a way that looks like a filament. They are mostly used in home decor and as retrofits for headlights. Dual filament LEDs are just retrofits for assemblies that use the same bulb for both high and low beams and switch between filaments within it.
Be very careful with this possible issue, it can blow your new bulbs. Check the connections and then check them again to avoid reverse polarity.
Not everyone is born with a wrench and a screwdriver in each hand, people make mistakes. Your first troubleshooting step should be checking the connections. If the headlights don’t light up at all, flicker or you can only see one bulb working, that is your cue to check every possible connection.
It can be a power supply issue, a faulty fuse connection or a problem with grounding. If you have an adapter, check its wiring as well. Ideally, you should look at every connection you have created while converting.
Troubleshooting LED conversion issues
Nobody is safe from an error. And even if you were following the instructions something could go wrong. Troubleshooting of any headlight issues often begins with looking for loose connections. This issue is the most common and simple to deal with.
The next suspect is usually the fuse. If you have a faulty fuse, that can result in headlights not working. It can be blown or just poorly wired.
Polarity must be also inspected. Check if you installed everything correctly and reverse the input if you have to.
If you have only one headlight working and everything else looks solid, try swapping the light bulbs. This will allow you to see if the problem is in a faulty bulb or the socket.