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What makes my headlights fade?

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.
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bguzz
Posts: 107
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:06 pm
Year and Model: 1998 S70 N.A.
Location: Upstate NY

What makes my headlights fade?

Postby bguzz » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:25 pm

I have a 98 S70 and the headlights are really not very powerful at all. I can drive with my brights on and nobody flashes me.

My bulbs are fairly new (within a year) and are the GE halogens they sell at wallmart. I have tried PIAA's and they aren't any better. I've read that the lenses could be the problem or the reflectors (they fade with UV exposure?). Since the lenses are glass, I would expect that it is pitting that causes the dimming of the light? I don't know if I buy the reflectors fading due to UV exposure, but I suppose it could be true.

Has anyone had any definitive experience on this as to what type of solutions works?
2008 XC90 3.2L - 70k
98 S70 N.A. 210K
93 Ford F150 4x4 134K
Sold 98 S70 N.A.@418K-still ran great!

C@lvin
Posts: 782
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:31 am
Year and Model:
Location: Knoxville TN

Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby C@lvin » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:32 pm

The lens is a common problem on our cars and most other kinds too. Some people report good luck with a lens polishing/buffing kit that you can pick up at auto parts stores or Wal-Mart. Others have posted here that they are very pleased with the Euro spec (E-Code) lens that is available from site sponsor FCP for $60 each before the 10% MVS discount or shipping. They also have an October promo for 10% off and free shipping for orders over $99 (use code oct99).
Calvin
98 S70
00 V70
Previous:
240,245,760,940,850 Turbo

bguzz
Posts: 107
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 6:06 pm
Year and Model: 1998 S70 N.A.
Location: Upstate NY

Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby bguzz » Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:46 pm

is it that the lens is getting pitted from driving? or does something happen to the glass over time?
2008 XC90 3.2L - 70k
98 S70 N.A. 210K
93 Ford F150 4x4 134K
Sold 98 S70 N.A.@418K-still ran great!

User avatar
BEJinFbk
Posts: 3079
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2008 5:32 am
Year and Model: '98 V70 R
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Flag: United States of America

Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby BEJinFbk » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:41 pm

bguzz wrote:is it that the lens is getting pitted from driving? or does something happen to the glass over time?

If it's pitted badly enough to affect your light output, I'd think you'd be able to feel it in the glass.
I've never heard of a polishing kit for GLASS headlights, just plastic.

I started with SilverStars, changed up to E-code glass and got reasonable, but not terrific lighting.
Short of jewels, HIDs would probably be my next step for improved lights.
But for now, SilverStars and E-code glass made a noticable improvement on the cheap. :wink:
'98 V70 R - Well Equipped for Life Up North... ;)

C@lvin
Posts: 782
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:31 am
Year and Model:
Location: Knoxville TN

Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby C@lvin » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:12 pm

BEJinFbk wrote:I've never heard of a polishing kit for GLASS headlights, just plastic.


My bad, I thought our lens were plastic. I thought I'd read some testimonials here about using the polishing kits, but I must be confusing it with the forums I participate in for my Previa and Odyssey. I am certain that they use plastic for the lens.

+1 for Silverstars. I get Silverstar Ultra bulbs from ebay or Amazon at pretty good discounts. I burn my lights on my daily driver S70 in the daytime as well and they last me about 6-9 months.

There is an interesting discussion about the whole bulb/lens topic with a couple of helpful links at this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=31709&p=145346
Calvin
98 S70
00 V70
Previous:
240,245,760,940,850 Turbo

User avatar
Red-Arrow
Posts: 449
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:07 am
Year and Model: 850 T5 1995
Location: Scotland.

Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby Red-Arrow » Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:14 am

You can compound the glass with a aggressive grit but I think your reflectors are probably shot and faded as well.

Its probably to expensive to have them electroplated in a vacuum chamber here in the US so I would just go for an after market replacement pair of reflectors. You can use the cheapest nasty bulb you can find and it will still give you a sharp crisp focused beam.

This is how my old reflectors looked on a 1990 Saab 900

Image


Image

A direct AB side to side comparison with the new Hella reflectors and lens.

Image

Image

This is how the new reflectors look behind the glass flash and no flash.

Image

Image
Life would be enjoyable if it wasn't so painful to live.

fasteddyT5
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:31 am
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Location:

Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby fasteddyT5 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:57 pm

I also have a 98 S70, our cars use H7 bulbs. Daniel Stern offers H9 bulbs on H7 bases, the H9's are rated at 2100 lumens at 65 watts as compared to 1450 lumens at 55 watts for the H7's. I have liked these better than other after market bulbs, especially since they don not have a blue coating like the silver stars due.

Also have you checked the voltage at your headlights? Mine reads something like 12.5 volts, as compared to the 13.8 volts at the battery. I am planning on installing a new relays off the battery to bring in the current on larger wires direct from the battery to the headlights.

The drop of a single volt from 13.5 volts to 12.5 volts reduces light output by something like 20%.

Warren561
Posts: 93
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:29 pm
Year and Model: 2000 S70 5sp Auto
Location:

Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby Warren561 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:06 pm

Red-Arrow wrote:old reflectors


That's quite a difference. I suspect that for our S70's there's no way to clean/polish the reflector. We'd have to just replace the entire assemblies? If that's the case you might as well pay a bit extra and get the jewels (reflector and lens)? Or can you just buy a new reflector (non-jewel) and utilize your existing (non-jewel) lens?

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kelvin6
Posts: 284
Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2005 6:26 am
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Location: San Francisco CA

Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby kelvin6 » Thu Nov 11, 2010 7:10 pm

I first upgraded my Volvo H7 headlights by using a beefier wiring harness (running 14 gauge wiring direct to the battery). This made a very noticible difference in brightness. The next step was to upgrade to the H9 on H7 base bulb, the Osram Rallye 65w H7 bulb. This made a major change in brightness. The heat output has no negative effect so far on my headlights. The upgraded wiring makes using this bulb very safe. It probably is safe to run it on the stock wiring as well.

I recently replaced my headlight lens with another DOT glass set, which were pitted like crazy, and now my light output is very good compared to no upgrades
1998 Volvo S70 T5 Auto

1995 Volvo 850 GLT <- RIP

MadeInJapan
MVS Moderator
Posts: 12268
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2005 2:14 pm
Year and Model: '98 S70 T5
Location: Knoxville, TN American but born in Japan
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Re: What makes my headlights fade?

Postby MadeInJapan » Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:43 pm

It's been a while since I've posted but found this discussion something I can relate to. Actually, I have a '98 S70 too and have had the same issues. Although the Silverstars were better, I was burning through them sometimes within a month, then I found the solution! And...it's fairly cheap!! Change our your whole set-up to HID light bulbs. You can buy the kit for the H7's here: http://www.ddmtuning.com/Products/DDM-H ... 35W-or-55W You'll have to use a 1 inch bit to drill the hole on the back side of your headlight cover and then just insert the new bulbs that have a rubber grommet to keep moisture out over the hole and then mount your ballasts to somewhere nearby- I used velcro (passenger side, behind the head light and driver's side onto the battery). Anyway, they work great- I didn't even upgrade to 55watts and it's much brighter now!! They look sort of fluorescent but much brighter and I have had none burn out (by the way- a life time warranty!). Check out the bulb color carefully- I stayed with as white as I could get- of course you could go towards the blue spectrum if you want but I found that they look cheesy, especially on a Volvo (personal taste).
'98 S70 T5 Emrld Grn Met/Beige Tons of Upgrades Mobil-1
'04 V70 2.5T Red/Taupe Some Upgrades Mobil-1
'07 S40 T5 AWD 6 speed manual! Silver/Black Stage1 Heico & Elevate
'07 S60 2.5T Blue/Taupe- my kid's Volvo


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