If headlights create bad visibility it’s not always technology that is to blame. Sometimes it’s serious mistakes. Unsuitable additives for the windscreen washer system, seemingly super cool tuning measures or incorrect operation cost a lot of light – and often money too.

Blue: If you want bluish light that’s easy enough to achieve. The Cool Blue lamp series from Osram provides as much blue as is technically and legally possible. Sadly that’s not enough for some drivers. To get even more of the cold light color, they dip the glass bulbs in paint which allegedly has been specifically designed for them. This will only cost a lot of light at best. Most commonly though the paint will vaporize over time and the headlights will go dull. And that won’t look so cool anymore.

Too much: It’s legitimate to want more light. And it sounds appealing to put in a lamp with a higher output. As a matter of fact, there are rally and off-road lamps with 80, 100 and even 150 watts. But their output can only take full effect in additional headlights specifically designed for this wattage. Standard series components would suffer from thermal and electrical overloads with lamps like these. Often this results in too high a voltage drop in the feed cables. And then there’s even less light coming from the headlights instead of more. Upgrade lamps such as the Night Breaker from Osram are an alternative which is unproblematic and also complies with regulations. These lamps achieve more light not through higher electrical output, but from higher luminance.

Too little: Popped into a petrol station to get a replacement for a burnt out lamp? Put it in and then got annoyed because the light was a bit pathetic? Then it may be a lamp for 24 volts. This can happen quite easily at truck stops because trucks have a 24-volt electrical system. The 12 to 14 volts of a car only get a maximum of a quarter of the light out of a lamp which has been specifically designed for a truck system.

Gray: When the sky is gray some people get depressed and do stupid things. This also includes headlight covers or lamps that have been dyed or painted gray, which some think is an enhancement of their car. But it should be obvious that just as much as a gray sky dims sunlight, the gray on headlights and lamps diminishes car light. Known as smoked headlamp covers in some regions, they’re not really cool.

Washed out: Headlight covers are generally anything but insignificant for the quality of car light. Unfortunately, they’re sensitive and are allergic to some cleaning methods. They don’t like being polished, and it’s better to use a microfiber cloth to clean them than a fly sponge. In cars with headlight washer systems the water additive is crucial. It should say on the packaging that the product is suitable for these systems. If not, the thin coating of the plastic covers may go dull.

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