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The Vehicle Lighting Buying Guide

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by: Cody Burkhart

Vehicle Lighting

Lighting is one of the coolest and most functional mods you can do to your vehicle but there are so many choices to choose from! At Sonic Electronix, we carry HID Lights, Daytime Running Lights, Fog Lights, Driving Lights and Accent Lighting. In this Knowledge Base article we’ll break each of these categories down and tell you why you need (or want) each one and what to look for before buying.

Click the links below to view a specific section or scroll through and read it all!

1. HID Headlights

2. Daytime Running Lights

3. Fog Lights

4. Driving Lights

5. Accent Lighting

 

 

HID Headlights

HID Headlights

What Are They?

HID’s replace your stock headlights and stand for High Intensity Discharge which basically means “really, really bright lights.” HID’s create this ultra bright light by igniting an electrical discharge between two tungsten electrodes inside a quartz capsule filled with a gas such as Xenon and a metal salt. When an electric current is sent through the electrodes in the bulb the reaction occurs and the metal salts are evaporated forming a plasma, which both intensifies the light, and also reduces the energy consumption of the bulb. Since there is no filament in the bulb like with your normal halogen bulb, this also makes the HID bulb much more durable and longer lasting.

What To Look For When Buying

Color- Color is measured in Kelvins (K). When you see something like a 6000K bulb, the “6000” is letting you know the color of the bulb and NOT the brightness—a common misconception. The lower the Kelvins, the more yellow the light is. 3000K is completely amber, 4300K is a yellow-white. The higher the Kelvins, the whiter and bluer they get. 6000K is pure white, 10,000K is dark blue and 12,000K is a blue-violet color.

Bulb Size- When you see a model number like 9006-6K-G4, the “9006” section lets you know what size the bulb is. 9006 is the most common but make sure you check the owner’s manual for your vehicle to find out what size bulb your car uses; or use our handy bulb finder tool: http://www.philipsautolighting.com/selector.php

Low Beams or High AND Low Beams- Do you want to replace your normal headlights with HID’s, or both your High and Low Beams? Low Beams are the most commonly replaced headlights since they get used far more frequently than high beams. However, if you replace your Low beams only and you use your High beams, you’ll notice your HID Low beam lights are going to provide more visibility than your halogen high beams. You can use our Guided Browsing tool on the left hand side of the HID page to filter out Low Beam or Dual Beam headlights: http://www.sonicelectronix.com/cat_i1204_hid-headlight-kits.html

AC Ballasts- All of the HID series we carry (at the time of this article) have AC Ballasts with the exception of the Vision Extreme Series. DC ballasts do not run as efficiently and run much warmer than AC ballasts. They are perfectly suited for show vehicles and vehicles that do not get driven as much; but if you plan on installing HID’s in your daily driver, spend the extra couple bucks and get yourself a kit with an AC ballast. You’ll thank us later.

CANBUS Compatible- Many newer vehicles use a CANBUS system which is basically a computer system that monitors and controls all the functions in your vehicle such as, but limited to: Air pressure, engine performance, burnt bulbs and sound system functions. Unfortunately, when replacing your headlights with HID’s, CANBUS systems cannot detect the different voltage from the HID’s and will think you have a burned out bulb. The G4 series have built in circuitry that interfaces with your CANBUS system and avoid any issues associated with incompatibility. Take a look at the chart below to see all the benefits the G4 series offers.

Series AC Ballasts Anti-Flickering Capacitors Warning Light Cancellers Radio Interference Protection Circuitry Slim Ballasts Made In The USA Warranty
Vision Extreme             12 Months
Elite           18 Months
Elite Slim         24 Months
G2       24 Months
G4 36 Months
A. G4 KIT Required on 09 and up Dodge Ram, Charger, Challenger, Dart and Chrysler 300. Required to prevent stability control, anti-lock brakes and TPSM from turning off.
B. Vehicles with Bi-Xenon Bulbs (H13/9008, H4/9003/HB2, 9007/HB5, or 9004/HB1) will require both the [[relayres, RELAY-RES]] and one of either the [[hilocanch13,HILOCANC-H13]], [[hilocanch4, HILOCANC-H4]], or [[hilocanc9007, HILOCANC-9007]].
NOTE: Select few vehicles, even with a G4 Kit, may require the [[relayres, RELAY-RES]] This includes, but is not limited to, 2000 and up GM trucks/SUVs. FOR A BULLET PROOF INSTALL WE ALWAYS RECOMMEND A G4 KIT ALONG WITH THE [[relayres, RELAY-RES]] and Hi/Lo canceller if needed.

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Buy HID Lights

 
 

Daytime Running Lights

Daytime Running Lights

What Are They?

Daytime running lights, or DRL's, are lights that are meant to always be on during daytime driving and may be dimmed or turned off at anytime, but usually only at night. These are important because it increases your visibility to other drivers on the road. These lights in some studies have been shown to reduce the rate of accidents on the road by up to 18% by increasing the amount of time a driver has to react to your vehicle during emergencies, and by allowing other drivers to see you more clearly when doing things like merging or turning.

What to Look For When Buying

Style-Manufacturers offer varying styles of DRL’s. You have individual bulbs like on the Racesport Accessories RS-EE-Green, a line style like on the Hella 010043801 and even module chains like the Hella 01045881. Each style will require different installation methods; if you want to do a simple install then a single bulb style is your best bet; if you want something a little brighter and nicer looking, go with the line style; and if you want complete customization then go with the module chain.

Power Consumption- This determines the current draw on your vehicle’s electric system. If you already have a sound system and extra accessories that run if your charging system, you’ll want to use more efficient daytime running lights that won’t be as much of a burden on your battery. The higher end Hella products use as little as 6 watts of power. Of course, you can always upgrade your Big 3 and upgrade your battery and not need to worry about that.

Housing Material- You’ll notice a wide variety of prices when it comes to DRL’s and one of the main factors in that are the materials that are used. Less expensive brands and products use plastic or heavier metals like stamped steel on their housing. Higher end brands use durable and lightweight materials like aluminum and magnesium. Not only are aluminum and magnesium housings lightweight and durable, they dissipate heat much better than steel and plastic, which adds to their longevity.

Lens Material- Just like in the point above, pay attention to the lens materials. Less expensive DRL’s use plastic lens and higher end ones use glass. Plastics can warp and discolor over time and are not as impact resistant as glass which will stay transparent and hold their shape.

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Buy Daytime Running Lights
 
 

Fog Lights

Fog Lights

What Are They?

Fog lights have a specially designed beam pattern that is specifically meant for rain, snow and fog. Typical headlights (including HID’s) have an unfocused beam pattern because they are meant to cover as much area as possible using a wide spread pattern. This will cause a glare or reflection which will reduce your poor visibility even further in these conditions. Fog lights use a focused beam pattern in order to pierce through the water droplets in the air to prevent that glare and let you see much clearer.

What To Look For Before Buying

 Basically, you’ll be looking for the same things as Daytime Running Lights: Power Consumption, Housing and Lens Material. The main thing you want to pay attention to with Fog Lights is their mounting style. Some are meant to mount to the roof of your vehicle on a light rack, some mount in stock fog light locations if your vehicle has them, and some are meant to mount under the front end of your vehicle.

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Buy Fog Lights
 
 

Driving Lights

What Are They?

If you live in a rural area, you may find that your stock headlights just can’t cut it on those long dark stretches of road. It can dangerous using your stock headlights that have a limited visibility because you might not have enough warning time to avoid animals, dangerous curves, or other obstacles on the road. That’s why we offer upgraded driving light systems!

What To Look For Before Buying

The same as with Fog Lights (see above): Power Consumption, Housing and Lens Material. Be sure to pay attention to the mounting style. Not all vehicles will be able to accommodate a driving light set up.

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Buy Driving Lights

 

Accent Lighting

Accent Lighting

What Are They?

Last but certainly not least, we offer lots and lots of accent lighting to trick your vehicle out with. Accent lighting is more for looks than functionality but some do serve a purpose like the Puddle lights from Racesport Accessories. These are primarily designed to light your foot pathway so you don’t step in a puddle or something worse when getting out of your car. And they come in cool designs too like vehicle manufacturer logos for those of you who really love your car, to Transformers Decepticon and Autobot logos. Of course, you can install these lights pretty much anywhere you like. We also have LED light strips so you can cut your own designs and mount wherever you like such as along your floorboards, glove box, side pockets… The possibilities are endless.

What To Look For When Buying

Type- Like I mentioned above, pay attention to what type of accent light you are buying. LED strips, puddle lights, security lights… We even have full underbody kits! Make sure you know what you’re getting!

Color- We carry all different colors like red, blue, green and alternating. Have them match the interior of your vehicle or mix it up. Have fun choosing your colors!

Remember, vehicle lights are subject to Department of Transportation rules and regulations. In addition, your local and state laws may vary on the legality of different types of lights. Always double check with DOT regulations and local laws before purchasing any type of vehicle lighting.

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Buy LED Lights
 

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