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Any good options for headlights?


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19 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 24 September 2018 - 07:47 AM

Has anyone found any good options for lighting?  My 2013 has pretty sucky headlights.  High beams are "OK", but low beams are pretty darn bad.  The fog lights help a little bit close up, but it's to the point where I'm wondering if I could just leave the high beams on all the time and if they'd really be bad enough to bother any oncoming drivers.

 

I thought maybe they were out of adjustment since they seem extra low, but trying to follow the headlight aiming procedure, as near as I can tell it does look like they are about level at 25'.

 

Unfortunately I also noticed that the actual reflectors inside the headlight housings on both sides look discolored/burnt/overheated on the spots right above the bulbs.  I'm not familiar enough with reflectors to guess which parts of the reflectors light up which parts of the road.(do the parts of the reflector above the bulb light up the farthest portions outward?)

 

I glanced at headlight housings and that looks like a non starter since it looks like it's pretty much a $600 minimum for the pair(MAYBE $400 for used ones, who knows if they'd be any better).

And I'm assuming it would be a non-trivial job at the least to even think about trying to get the reflectors out/repaired/replaced...

 

So, I'm left with the best thought being some sort of auxiliary led lighting that would somehow be OK to leave on for low beams, and then maybe another set for high beams to help with the deer at the hours when there's lots of roads/woods and not many cars.









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#2 OFFLINE   fotomoto

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Posted 24 September 2018 - 04:44 PM

I will suggest skipping the additional LED lights as my experience with on-coming vehicles with those is very bad (especially trucks when they pull up behind me at a stop and leave them on).  

 

I would try higher quality bulbs with stronger output (prepare for a shorter life tho').  I added HID low beam bulbs to my wife's OutBack and it made a tremendous difference.  I did a driveway/garage door comparison on the beam patterns/height and didn't need to make any adjustments nor do we get "flashed" in actual use.  The regular high beams seem pathetic in comparison but we don't need them that much since the lows are so improved.



#3 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 25 September 2018 - 07:15 AM

Well, my concern there would be regarding the reflector already having an issue, but OK, I'm interested in the drop in LED replacement bulbs anyway...

 

AND then I come back to why I didn't do it the last time I looked...  My stupid DRL's...  No guarantees, but most likely nothing other than halogen is going to work unless I can get the DRL's turned off, which the last dealership I asked said they couldn't do...



#4 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 04:59 AM

WELL......  MAJOR KUDOS to JZCHEN!  This got me stirred up again, and after reading his success with Forscan I decided to dig out my J2534 adapter and see if I could get it to work with Forscan.  Initially I was met with the usual lack of success, mainly due to what I believe is Chinese stuff that's half hacked together because I think the working procedure was something like

-Insert the blank DVD with "FORD IDS 100" on it, then run the app that looked the most like a driver, which installed something, but then there was some other vague section for "Passthru", which then led about 3 more levels of vagueness of "install, run, something" before I believe it actually installed the driver that Forscan wanted.  Of course it still didn't work...  But then for kicks figured I might as well try a reboot.  Nope.  Well, wait it actually listed the driver when it tried to connect...  One more try.  BAM!

 

Then the usual scary stuff, of "Running service procedure" with relays and lights flashing just to read the settings, but sure enough, there's the ol' DRL setting in the BCM, and changing it to "Standard" something or other and writing it back...  AND...

 

OMG, I WAS ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO TURN MY HEADLIGHTS ***OFF*** IN MY GARAGE!!!!  I've never had that possibility before without the car being stone cold off!

 

 

So, now the question is how difficult it will be to install LED bulbs...  The issue seems to be that apparently even stock bulbs are computer controlled so things get upset when you put in LEDs and start flashing, etc...  Which they make some iffy "fix" devices of resistor/capacitor to get around...  Though there is some question that going back into Forscan and setting it to "HID/Alternative" or something might take care of that as well...  Wish I could find someone who has actually done it already...



#5 OFFLINE   RubyMax

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Posted 26 September 2018 - 05:23 PM

I'd like to try these.  Any Idea if they will work?

https://www.dealnews...g/17581664.html



#6 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 27 September 2018 - 05:21 AM

Uhh, did you look at the reviews on Amazon?  Based on those, I'd say there's about a 50% chance that the bulbs will both light up at all. and If they don't that the seller will reply.

 

I went with these:

https://www.amazon.c...duct/B06XHDYTGL

 

Hopefully I'll get them installed this weekend to give you a better idea.

 

But, here are the interesting bits of info I've found off the top of my head:

-The biggest question seems to be whether I can use Forscan to program the car to use the LED lights without flickering.  If not, then they probably need some Canbus flicker adapters(resistor/capacitor).

 

-How much light you get and where seems to depend heavily on the individual headlights you put them in and how the LED's are oriented in the headlight assembly.

 

-Most of the LED lights have fans on the back that you will hear during quiet times.(The ones I bought are fanless)

 

-Lumens ratings seem to be a shot in the dark.  Basically seems to be numbers thrown all over, who knows what they really are and again, seems to come down to individual usage/headlights as to whether you see better, worse or no differently with them compared to halogens.

 

-Generally everyone seems to like the color better(whiteish, 5000K+).

 

-Reliability is definitely a question for a lot of these(like the ones you were interested in where half the reviews say that only one lit up and/or that they die within 6 months)  So, factor into this ones where reviews don't constantly mention problems, and/or the manufacturer offers a warranty and/or that the reviewers tell about how any problems are fixed without issue by the seller.

 

 

-On a related note, I see apparently these same sorts of issues happen with trying to swap out LED turn signals as well.  I found at least one video for using Forscan to edit a Fusion so that it doesn't monitor the turn signal bulb and therefore doesn't get the rapid flash on the dashboard that would indicate a dead bulb.

 

 

I'd like to try these.  Any Idea if they will work?

https://www.dealnews...g/17581664.html


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#7 OFFLINE   fredf

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Posted 27 September 2018 - 05:44 PM

My headlights work really well I found some on Ebay for 150-250 bucks you might want to check a local salvage yard locally they can check other yards too.



#8 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 28 September 2018 - 04:28 AM

I was looking at my lights(still stock) again last night as I was driving home on the highway and with lows/fogs and other vehicles around, they seemed ok.  I think it's mainly on the 2 lane roads in my rural area where on High beams they're kinda ok, but on lows with an oncoming driver they just don't seem to throw far enough, just kinda fades at the upper areas.  But, it also made me think maybe I need the high beams upgraded even more as well.

 

Also hoping there's some chance I can get the Forscan code I found for the Fusion to work on my C-Max that will allow me to keep the fog lights on at the same time as the high beams(They call it "Bambi" mode which is exactly the reason I need all the light I can get).

 

Found some other niceties on the Fusion site for software changes, including removing the double honk when leaving the car with the key, preventing the car from being driven without a key in it, increasing the number of flashes on the "flash to pass" function, enabling remote window close...

Sadly, hearing about the differences just from 2013 to 2014 on the Fusions, I fear these may not work in the same places on the C-max.  Now, if only I could figure out how to find where these items are in the C-Max BCM...



#9 OFFLINE   fredf

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Posted 28 September 2018 - 05:39 AM

You might want to try raising the passenger side light that will not blind other drivers and still provide a better throw.



#10 OFFLINE   olidx

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Posted 28 September 2018 - 08:38 AM

My headlights work really well I found some on Ebay for 150-250 bucks you might want to check a local salvage yard locally they can check other yards too.

 

Which headlights did you get? Different from your original stock ones? Any pics?



#11 OFFLINE   fredf

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Posted 28 September 2018 - 05:48 PM

Stock lights sorry on  mobile you don't get to see punctuation.

 

My headlights work fine.

Sounds like your reflector has issues

Check you local salvage yard for replacement reflectors



#12 OFFLINE   jzchen

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Posted 30 September 2018 - 12:35 AM

I am sorry I did not see this thread earlier, ie. before you ordered the LEDs.  They will be nothing but headache, as far as I guess.  Even the H4 and H7 Philips Ultinon (LED) headlight replacement versions available in other parts of the world are noted as NOT ECE approved/not road legal.

 

I think Levi that your bulbs being run in DRL mode may have hastily/prematurely worn them out.  I am in a household where HIDs abound, and we have LED in a '12 Prius v.  I did not find the C-MAX lighting inadequate.

 

Here is the Official Lighting Guru's, my personal name for the moderators there, answer to upgrading the bulbs on a halogen reflector version for the C-MAX:

 

https://www.candlepo...-MAX&highlight=

 

I hope those LEDs are returnable, you get your money back, and try these instead.  Virgil, has access to the lights themselves.  Practically all lights bound for US models.  And very aware of what is safe, and best......



#13 OFFLINE   jzchen

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Posted 30 September 2018 - 12:39 AM

I'd personally buy the "newer" version shipped and sold by Amazon, just to be safe.  But you can ask on that forum, they will answer which version is better, if one of the two, (older vs newer), is.....



#14 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 30 September 2018 - 04:16 AM

Well, here's where I'm at:

 

I got the LED's, hoped to at least get a chance to see if they flickered when plugged in as I suspected Friday aftenroon.  Nope, took one look and apparently never noticed that you can't "just" change a bulb.  Of course...

 

So Friday night I decided to tackle it, thinking I might be out Sat morning before sunrise.  OMG, do I hate this car.  I was feeling better about Max this week after finally conquering the ability to get the headlights to be off.  The biggest issue is the stupid headlights themselves.  I watched a couple different videos on how to remove the entire headlight assembly(because of course, why wouldn't you? I should be thankful I didn't have to remove a bumper and fender, right?!).  Well, after 4 bolts, a trim plug then...  Yeah, still just the front edge gets a bit loose, but nothing comes out.  I'd say after about half an hour I got the driver's side free.  Still not sure how.  Never did get the passenger side housing free after another half hour(and I have no idea how I didn't end up cracking/smashing/otherwise breaking it), though I did manage to get the bulb changed.

 

So as for the actual bulb change...  Just plugging in first to check for flicker...  Nope, indeed Max will not even do ANYTHING with the LED bulbs plugged in.  They look dead as a doornail.  So go get the laptop...  Forscan, And beyond the normal BCM where the DRL setting is and into the Central Config and Engineering mode.  In there you can edit the headlights.  I thought I had seen some sort of alternative/HID option, but I guess not.  There is some sort of "GDL/camera based turning/aiming headlights or some such thing".  Anyway, setting the headlights from Halogen to "Not Cofigured" and then Bam, LED's are lit up no problem.

 

So, on to actually putting the LED bulbs in.  As suspected the issue is the big heat sink.  Which actually wouldn't have been that big of a deal, but of course there is a plastic tab inside the headlight assembly(but NOT inside the actual headlight/reflector portion) that is in the way and apparently has zero function(my best guess is maybe they used it for assembly on a machine in some way...) I ended up getting a pair of small diagonal clippers in there and chipping off a couple pieces(this was a lot harder on the passenger side headlamp that I couldn't get out).  Once that was out of the way, the LED's pop in  just like the Halogen bulbs.  The harness plugs into the existing harness no problem and there's plenty of room inside the headlight assembly to tuck the cord in and put the dust cover back on.

 

 

As it is, I haven't taken it for a real drive, but for a check in the garage and a quick pop on the road my initial impressions are "eh".  About what I expected but hoped I would be pleasantly surprised...  Which is to say, the light output looks about the same, the color is much whiter(of course it's all mixed with the fogs or high beams on since those are still the yellowish halogens).  I have dropped my energy usage from 55W to 20W each.

 

 

 

In summary, we shall see what I think as I actually get more real life driving with them  But if you want the whiter color and lower power usage, hey why not.  I would go this way if my old bulbs were dead, but in hindsight I wouldn't have done this as I just did in hopes of more light.  But I knew there was a good chance to begin with.

And if anyone can tell me or point me to someone who can accurately tell/show me how one is supposed to get those headlight assemblies out the please do!  I would be in a much better mood if I hadn't spent more than an hour just yanking, shaking and yelling obscenities at those stupid things!


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#15 OFFLINE   jzchen

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Posted 01 October 2018 - 09:35 AM

Hi Levi,

 

So sorry to read about your challenging experience changing the low beam bulb.  When I replaced the engine anti-roll bracket, I went here for instructions:

 

https://www.motorcra.../Home/Pricing/7

 

Cost me $21.95 for 72 hours worth of digging around.  (This is honestly where I would go if I had trouble)....



#16 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 01 October 2018 - 09:52 AM

Is this just the factory service manuals?  I have a copy of them, I haven't looked in there, but my experience is that they tend to be about as informative as the owner's manual, which does explain how to remove the headlight assembly.  Which is to say, it says to simply remove a couple bolts and push the assembly towards the center of the car or something. 

 

My experience is that there's some sort of learned technique of exact sequence/application of source or some such thing.  Much like my experience with the cabin air filter and/or engine cover/air filter.  Things that seem to be put in a bit tighter than they should be so that there's not any straightforward way of doing the job that the manual very simply explains.  You end up having to fold the filter in half and shove it some place you can't see, or pulling/bending plastic cover pieces and forcing them to fit between the engine and body...

 

I just can't haven't quite gotten the hang of whatever it is for the headlight assemblies.  I was hoping someone on here had already done it a few times and could somehow better explain the secret technique to me.  Especially if I end up back in here replacing the high beams with LEDs or something as well.  I'd REALLY like to throw something awfully bright in those high beams, but would really just as soon not deal with splicing in relays, melting housings, etc...

 

 

Hi Levi,

 

So sorry to read about your challenging experience changing the low beam bulb.  When I replaced the engine anti-roll bracket, I went here for instructions:

 

https://www.motorcra.../Home/Pricing/7

 

Cost me $21.95 for 72 hours worth of digging around.  (This is honestly where I would go if I had trouble)....



#17 OFFLINE   fotomoto

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Posted 01 October 2018 - 03:56 PM

 

 

Here is the Official Lighting Guru's, my personal name for the moderators there, answer to upgrading the bulbs on a halogen reflector version for the C-MAX:

 

https://www.candlepo...-MAX&highlight=

 

 

 

These type of bulbs were what I was referring to in my first reply.  Nearly 40% of all feedback (3 stars and less) are mostly for short life.   The old adage, "The light that burns twice as bright lasts half as long" still holds true.  Carrying spares is good advice for those who do a lot of night driving.  I do that when I install a (illegal) 55w low/80w high beam bulb for motorcycle trips out in west Texas.  



#18 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 02 October 2018 - 06:32 AM

Time will tell what happens with these LED's.  That reference to the halogens being better is nearing 2 years old.  From what little I've seen the incandescent bulbs haven't changed too much in many years.  the LED's on the other hand I'd say are closer to modern technology that's seeing decent sized upgrades a few times a year, so 2 years of LED development is a lot.  I would agree, back then LED's seemed to be early adopters and usable, but not necessarily great.

 

Now, I think they're closer to the LED's in houses.  Which is to say it seems that the quality ones are basically a match for the incandescents in the good ways and use less power and last longer than the incandescents.  Now lasting longer still seems to be a pretty decent question in automotive usage.  

And from my personal experience, finding the "good" ones is the biggest question.  Like for the house lights.  I've had good luck with the Sylvania lights.  I've also tried the "Supertech" lights that Lowes sells in both LED and Fluorescents and that's largely a crap shoot.  They usually come in 2 packs and I've had one be perfect and the other turns on very dimly, bad color, warms up slowly and dies in a short period of time.

 

I'd tend to think the most common vehicle LED's with fans are going to die sooner based on the moving parts issue.  Which is why I went with a set without the fans.

 

And I'm crowdsourcing the info on Amazon.  So, when there's a deal on a pair of LED bulbs for $26 but there are only a handful of reviews and they are generally bad, I'm not likely to try those.  I'll pick the ones I did where thousands of people have reviewed and kept them above 4 stars.  But yes, I do note a couple people saying they died 6 months out.  Hopefully that's the minority, but it's not going to be a huge surprise if it happens.  But overall, I believe the LED's I put in are about twice what the ones reviewed above are/were back in the day.

 

 

Another thought that just occurred to me is that if nothing else, by switching to these LED bulbs I've potentially freed up some available wattage so that I could theretically mount something like one of those LED bars on the bumper and simplify wiring...


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#19 OFFLINE   jzchen

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Posted 02 October 2018 - 09:40 AM

Regarding the air filter, I got it out noting the orientation displayed in an image in the manual.  I think rotating the assembly counterclockwise 45 degrees.  (Left the manuals with the car).  Yes, there is access to the service information, as sold by Helm in CD-ROM format.  That is true, the instructions are not quite complete at times, from my experience with the bracket.  But I was able to get the job done, and possibly there might have been hints there.  I did not know there was instructions in the Owner's Manual regarding removing the headlamps.  Maybe look at the pictures, if they provided any, for a hint.  The image of a rotated air filter assembly was a big hint for me.  Was able to remove it quite quickly with that image/orientation.

 

Yes, fotomoto, you did mention the higher performing bulbs, AND they do have a shorter, maybe a lot shorter, lifespan.  I think they are a good upgrade if you are having difficulty seeing with the original bulbs.  I was actually happy with them personally.  My point regarding the LEDs was that even though there have been improvements, even the most reputable manufacturers haven't reached a point where they replicate an incandescent filament properly.  The Philips Ultinon bulbs being my example, are not ECE approved.

 

Lots of detailed info regarding legality, safety, and performance on the candlepowerforums Automotive section.  To sum up what I got from it:

 

Best, and first thing to try, is to get your headlights aimed, or replace the bulbs and then aim, more specifically with an aiming device, not just using a wall.

The amount of increased lighting needed for the eyes to detect an improvement is so great that there is no way it would be safe, ie. glare increase beyond safe/legal limits.

Sometimes the eyes are deceived into feeling better, lots of foreground lighting, but this constricts the pupils, actually decreasing visibility down road.

Pictures can not display what is truly important, need a fancy machine that makes an isoplot.

 

Levi, I do hope they serve you well!  And you get every possible use out of the ForScan software.


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#20 OFFLINE   Levi Smith

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 05:01 AM

Just thought I'd post an update after having a couple morning drives right around sunrise...

 

There's something interesting going on...  I *think* it has more to do with the color, but I'm not sure.  In the dark, it seems like they are at least as bright and the white color seems nice.(they feel better than what I had before)  But as the drive goes on and the sun is coming up, during that twilight time, it seems like the white/daylight color of the lights doesn't show up as much...










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