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How Did We See With Halogen Headlights?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2019

As you may know, I recently bought a 1999 Mercedes-Benz G500 Cabriolet, which is an automobile that came from the factory with halogen headlights. This shouldn't surprise you, of course -- many vehicles from this era came from the factory with halogen headlights, and they were pretty normal at the time. The big question I have, though, is ... how?!

It's actually quite unbelievable, in my opinion, when you use halogen headlights today. Pretty much all of us have now been in a car with LED headlights, or at least high-intensity xenon headlights, and they're an unbelievably massive step up above halogens. With that in mind, it's incredibly hard to go back.

Indeed, when I first drove my G500 at night, I was absolutely shocked -- and mortified -- to discover the quality of the halogen lights. They're unbelievably awful, and you can't see a thing, and I truly can't believe that we, as a society, once considered this the norm.

Instantly, I replaced the halogen headlights on my G500, and I got new LEDs that do a far better job illuminating the road and everything else. I made the same upgrade in my 1997 Land Rover Defender when I bought it about three years ago, and I'm absolutely thrilled that I did. You can actually see things at night.

The problem, however, is that it isn't always so easy. The G500 and Defender both have 7-in round headlights, which was a headlight standard used on many cars -- from the original Austin Mini to the AM General Hummer -- for decades. Replacing the halogen headlights with LEDs in normal cars is more of a challenge since some custom work is involved, and it doesn't always work out so well -- meaning most older cars just simply don't project enough light at night.

Of course, when they were new, we thought it was enough light -- but I'm truly shocked at how dark it looks now, in 2019, when better headlights have become the norm. And truly, I can't believe we ever lived -- and drove at night -- in the era of halogens.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
How Did We See With Halogen Headlights? - Autotrader
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