Only two out of 37 tested SUVs received a rating of ‘good’ for its headlights. Eleven rated as ‘poor.’
Let there be (more) light.
That is the recommendation of a 2017 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that found many midsized SUVs need to do a better job of illuminating the road ahead. According to the study, only two vehicles among the 37 SUVs evaluated earned a rating of “good.”
While 12 were rated “acceptable,” the majority – 23 SUVs in all – received only a “marginal” or “poor” rating.
“We continue to see headlights that compromise safety because they only provide a short view down the road at night,” said IIHS senior research engineer Matt Brumbelow.
The dimly lit problem is not unique to this segment. IIHS has also tested midsized cars, pick-up trucks and small SUVs.
“We found essentially the same problems in each group – headlights that are poorly aimed at the factory or designs that don’t do a good job for other reasons, including producing too much glare for oncoming drivers,” said Russ Rader, IIHS’s senior vice president of communications in Arlington, Va.
“Federal [U.S.] government standards are based on laboratory performance and don’t adequately assess how headlights perform on real roads,” he added.
Today, halogen bulbs are most commonly used for headlights. However, high-intensity discharge (HID) systems introduced in the early 1990s are gaining ground. These bulbs use closely spaced electrodes and a gas capsule to produce light.
The increasing popularity is linked to the issue that many SUVs need to resolve: greater illumination. In the aftermarket, jobbers can boost sales by ensuring shops are recommending better lighting options.
“HID produces a much more powerful beam and a more vivid and bright light compared to halogen bulbs,” said Marcel Ayasse, senior product manager with Bosch Automotive Aftermarket in Broadview, Ill.
“Traditionally, HID bulbs are brighter and produce a whiter light, more similar to daylight,” he added. “Halogen bulbs will not be as bright as HID, but will normally have a longer lifespan.”
“LEDs create a very brilliant light that’s made to last.”
— Dawn Gonzalez, Lumileds
But before HIDs even get the chance to become a market leader, they could be usurped by light emitting diodes, or LED, technology.
“It’s very popular with the motoring public and probably the best technology in use at the moment,” said Dawn Gonzalez, Rochester, Mich.-based marketing communications manager, automotive aftermarket, with Lumileds, the supplier of Philips branded automotive lighting products
“LEDs create a very brilliant light that’s made to last,” she explained. “They also feature an advanced and robust design that makes them highly resistant to extreme heat and vibration.”
While aftermarket suppliers cannot correct the problem of poor headlights, such as experienced by many SUVs, they can help to improve the situation, said Gonzalez. Products are available, for example, that can substantially enhance the light source and keep headlight lenses from clouding up.
Greater emphasis on lighting is smart business, she added. “There are many selling opportunities available for lighting because it’s a fact that lighting maintenance in general is an underperformed vehicle service.”
Read the full feature in the November 2017 issue of Jobber News