Most headlights considered poor quality… study
A study by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found headlights on a third of medium-sized vehicles sold in the US do a ‘poor’ job, and it’s probably the same here too.
A STUDY IN THE US is shining light (sorry) on what many Australians are also beginning to ask questions about, and that is the quality of standard-fit headlights on entry level vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US looked at 31 medium-size cars on sale in the US and assessed their headlights for illumination quality and whether they “create excessive glare for oncoming vehicles”.
Many of the cars tested are on-sale in Australia and, so, would theoretically carry the same lighting issues. The IIHS carries a lot of weight in the US with consumers and so you can guarantee that many of the makers scoring ‘poor’ rankings will be working fast to improve that score going forward.
Of 31 medium-size vehicles it tested, 11 earned an ‘acceptable’ rating, nine were rated ‘marginal’ and 10 were ‘poor’. The Prius v was rated good when equipped with optional LED headlights and a feature that turns off high beams when there is an oncoming car. Here in Australia these LED headlights are available on the Prius v i-Tech. The entry-level Prius v, which only gets halogen headlights, as it does here too, received a poor rating.
According to the IIHS, many luxury vehicles have poor-rated headlights, and many cars only get higher ratings with cost-option packages, or higher grade models.
But, the IIHS said that one of the main issues was in the way the headlights were being set either at the factory or in dealerships. And this is something Practical Motoring discovered not long after the site was launched when we were running an Hyundai i30 as a long-termer. Many readers contacted us to say the headlights on their i30s (and these readers lived in rural areas) offered poor illumination on main beam. It turns out the headlights hadn’t been adjusted to local specifications; and once they had been, the readers claimed a marked improvement.
Before contacting PM, many of them had toyed with beefing up the bulbs in their headlights, which is not something we recommend as if you exceed manufacturer recommendations you can, one, void your warranty and, two, in extreme cases actually melt your lights.
“Many headlight problems could be fixed with better aim,” said IIHS engineer Matthew Brumbelow.
Question: Should ANCAP start to consider headlight performance as part of its safety testing regime? We say, yes, and the ANCAP equivalent in the US, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agrees, confirming that its “revised new car assessment program will give incentives for automakers to improve headlight performance”.
See you in the comments.