Headlight conversions can be dangerous and illegal

For headlights with filaments, you will find a North American SAE code or a European E code on the lens that starts with an H...

Could you perhaps comment on poorly focused high-intensity illegal conversions done to forward lighting on vehicles asks a reader. He has had many of his friends comment on how newer vehicles with high-tech headlights have made night driving uncomfortable and unsafe for them.

I’ve noticed that some of these conversions are also difficult to look at during the day as well.

All of the components of the lighting system must be marked by the manufacturer to show that they meet standards.

For headlights with filaments, you will find a North American SAE code or a European E code on the lens that starts with an H. The filament bulbs meant for use in these headlight housings will also start with an H. The newer gas discharge headlights similarly start with a D.

It is both dangerous and illegal to mix these, and the most common conversion is to put a D type discharge capsule into an H type housing. This results in significant glare for other road users because the housings can no longer focus the light from the lamp properly.

It also means the loss of ability to switch between high and low beam for vehicles with only one headlight on each side.

Beware, some “good deals” on eBay and through less scrupulous suppliers are marked with SAE, DOT or E markings, but are counterfeit and do not do the intended job properly.

Inspection facilities have reference material to help the inspector determine if a fake is being used and when they are found the vehicle must be failed. This effectively removes the vehicle from the road until satisfactory repairs are carried out.

For more information on this topic, visit www.drivesmartbc.ca. Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to comments@drivesmartbc.ca. Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.