Cheapest way to make W124 headlights bright

d215yq

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So I need a cheap idea to improve my W124 ligthts which won't affect losing the holy grail that the (original) lights work and still pass the annual inspection.

I've cleaned the lenses with toothpaste and it helped but they now give about 10-20 feet of brightness dipped which is way less than all the other cars... And surprsingly the adjusters still work so this is with them at their highest setting. The built in fog lights go just as far and expand the width which helps at low speed but not at 50+mph. There's no cats eyes here and so it's not great; I've just completed a 2leg 1000 mile night journey and I think the first time I've thrown caution to the wind and not seen as far as I needed for the 65/75 I was doing.

On a different note, I've realised how much mist the diesel fumes make in the headlights of following cars at night. Is this also normal? When I accelerated off in the wing mirror you could see the smoke (see nothing in the day). MPG still 49 so about what I'd expect this time of year/speed for the journeys I've been doing, no notable drop.

Thanks for any advice/anecdotes, ben
 

LostKiwi

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Check the bulbs are correctly fitted. If the bulbs aren't fully seated the pattern will be screwed as will the range. Its easy to get them slightly out of place.
If the lenses are plastic (I don't think they are on the 124 - they aren't on the 129 which is based on it) then any cloudiness or yellowing must be removed.
When you say adjusters do you mean the dashboard ones? If so there are other adjusters under the bonnet. Set the dash one to 0 then adjust the ones on the headlights themselves (usually a small socket, hex key or philips screwdriver required). If possible do this on a beam setter.
Finally if you haven't already up the light output with better bulbs such as Osram Night Breaker ultimates or Philips Vision Extreme +130s.

Good info on beam adjustment here:
https://www.pelicanparts.com/techar...C-Headlight_Assembly_and_Bulb_Replacement.htm

Picture 11 shows the adjusters.
 
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d215yq

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Thanks LK for quick response. Not sure what you mean - what would lenses be made of other than plastic? - they look plastic and are no longer cloudy after I scoured/polished them with toothpaste but happy to be corrected. Lenses are original and left is cracked on fog light but not on headlight bit.

Re. adjusters I mean they work on dashboard adjuster going up and down, but fully up they are still very short - like 20 ft or so (that's an estimate, not measurement). So do I just need to adjust with hex screw under bonnet? Or could that make them fail MOT equivalent (which they've always passed both for brightness and direction)? It's not that they seem wrongly adjusted, they go to right (LHD( as you would expect just not very bright/far)

It's original bulbs that came with it. I recall my 2xUK W124s before being a lot better though it could be that the catseyes/reflecteors on UK roads made the big difference ?
 

LostKiwi

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imageproxy.gif Lenses (as on the 129) can be glass not plastic.

Yes to fix the headlight aim adjust the screws under the bonnet.
Fill the tank with fuel and empty the boot.
If you can't get a beam setter find a brick wall with a flat level area in front of it. Drive the car up to the wall and chalk mark the centre of the headlight on the wall. Reverse straight back about 5 metres and adjust the flat section of dipped beam to be about one brick lower than the chalk mark with the point where the beam pattern kicks up at the right being directly below the chalk mark.Image above is for RHD - yours is a mirror image of that.

The spec for the aim of the lights is about 2% below horizontal. I.e for every 100 feet from the car the beam should drop 2 feet. Replace the bulbs with night breakers as well and you should be sorted.
 
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Craiglxviii

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Additionally, shell out £15-20 and buy a set of Osram Night Breakers in your form factor. That’ll significantly increase light output.
 

umblecumbuz

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Like me, bulbs deteriorate with age.
So a change of bulb as above will make a huge difference to light output.
Wish my problem was as simple!
 

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Also make sure the bulbs are the correct way up. I found out the hard way on my s204 that it is possible to put them in upside down, resulting in crap lights! There's a tag on the bulb and a matching recess in the mounting, I needed an inspection mirror to see where the recess was, fiddly but got the bulbs correct way up and lights were much better - and as above, Nightbreakers are a distinct improvement on ordinary, I find the NB Ultimates are best value, better than NB+ and as good but cheaper than NB Laser.
 

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You could also check and clean the earth point. The stud can rust badly (on the OSF inner wing)
 

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Cleaning the inside of the glass, and very carefully the reflector, makes a big difference.
 

EmilysDad

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Cleaning .... very carefully the reflector, makes a big difference.

IME the coating on a headlight's reflector will come off just by looking hard at it ;) There was a time when component parts were available separately ..... I once bought one for my Senator
 

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Kent Bergsma has a good vid on YouTube showing how to carefully clean the reflector without damaging them.
 

rayhennig

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So I need a cheap idea to improve my W124 ligthts which won't affect losing the holy grail that the (original) lights work and still pass the annual inspection.

As others have said, change the bulbs to one of the new super-bright ones they've mentioned.

W124 lenses are glass. Unless some aftermarket alternatives are installed.

Regarding adjustment, I recently went to my local MOT (Controle Technique - I'm in France) and asked the chap to adjust the headlamps. This he did, free of charge. I slipped him €10 as a hedge against future requirements.

In fact, I need him again since I made the mistake of taking the car to him with a laden boot. Stupid of me and the upshot now is that the aim is too low with an empty boot.

RayH
 
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d215yq

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Thanks for the suggestions. Coming to think of it when I was driving it at night with 250kgs of tiles in the boot the headlights were still just as rubbish - so I presume it isn't an alignment problem as such as that should have raised the lights substantially?

On inspection one headlight has a crack all along the fog light bit and a huge stone chip near the edge of the light and has condensation. I'd buy another unit if they weren't over 100€. That said the other one that has no damage is no better. On both the inside glass appears blackish/with a darkish films o I think removal/cleaning will be best.

I can see from the excellent link posted above how to remove the headlight but then how do I take it to bits to clean inside it? And can I clean the inside with some toothpaste like I did on the outside? I assume order of work is remove, take to bits, clean, put in night breaker bulb and put back together and fit to car. Then if it's still bad play around with the adjustment?
 

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The metallisation on reflectors inside is incredibly flimsy. Toothpaste will remove it. You can replace it by spray painting the reflector in bright silver and then high temp lacquer over that though.
 
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d215yq

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The metallisation on reflectors inside is incredibly flimsy. Toothpaste will remove it. You can replace it by spray painting the reflector in bright silver and then high temp lacquer over that though.

i meant the inside of the glass, I think I'll leave the reflector alone unless it is obviously pitted/dirty. As an aside, can just the glasses be bought and not the whole unit? I can't find any on the normal spare sights - they just sell complete units.
 

rayhennig

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i meant the inside of the glass, I think I'll leave the reflector alone unless it is obviously pitted/dirty. As an aside, can just the glasses be bought and not the whole unit? I can't find any on the normal spare sights - they just sell complete units.
I'm 99% certain that just the glass is available.

Try to find the part numbers (Hella/Bosch) and then Google search for those. You'll probably find them from suppliers like Oscaro.

Try this link:
https://www.oscaro.com/glace-striee...e-3-0-i-220cv-boite-auto-14-5431-2713-gt#2713

That's Oscaro in France. Just an example for my headlamp lenses.

RayH
 

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