Monday, November 27, 2006

VW - Dim 6v Headlightss

> Do I need to convert to 12V for bright lights?


Definitely not.

Six volt lights are just as bright as 12v lights. Or 24v lights, for that matter.

The problem is that the voltage loses due to accumulated corrosion are proportionally greater on low-voltage systems. That simply means you need to devote more time to your maintenance procedures.

Cleaning your contacts will cause a definite improvement but most of the corrosion (and thus most of the losses) will be in the switch and in the ground return path. In the VW many of the ground path connectors were riveted rather than spot-welded. Over time, corrosion builds up around the rivet -- often under the paint and completely invisible on inspection. Not only are such bad connections difficult to locate, they can be difficult to repair in that you need to get back to bare metal to ensure a low-resistance connection.

In the VW sedan, complaints of dim lights can often be traced to a high resistance ground path between the fenders and the body (!) That's because the grounding terminal for the head or tail-lights is attached to the fender... which is then bolted to the body. Providing a low resistance ground path in the form of a jumper from the light fixture to the body is often the best solution.

Converting to 12v usually results in brighter lights but it does not address the root problem. (It's a bit like taking a pain-killer when you have cancer -- you may feel better but it doesn't cure anything :-)

-Bob Hoover

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