We’re often asked about things that should or shouldn’t be done, either for safety or for improving the life of the components of our kits. This post addresses some of the more common items, but regardless of how you treat your lights, we have a number of customers that have over 200,000 miles of trouble-free lighting! That’s over 200,000 miles without replacing so much as a bulb!
Can I leave my lights on all the time?
Yes. In fact, we recommend this for a couple of reasons. First, it’s easy–if you leave the switch on with a second-generation Volvo truck, the lights come on and go off with the key. No forgetting to turn them on at dusk, no dead battery for forgetting to turn them off. Second, while the trucks in many cases have daytime running lights, they don’t do anything to increase the visibility of your truck from the sides or rear. Third, when using flash-to-pass to signal other drivers, you’re not cycling the bulb on and off–you’re just operating the shutter. That decreases the wear and tear on the ballast and bulb significantly. The shutter also operates much faster than a bulb (normal halogen or xenon arc-discharge) can light up. That means a sharper, more attention-getting flash. Finally, there’s really no downside to leaving them on.
Is there anything I should do during installation to make the lights last longer?
Make sure your hands are clean, and avoid touching the glass on the bulb. Oils and dirt on your fingers can damage the surface of the bulb and increase the likelihood of it cracking. Take a close look at the bulb before installation, especially if you’ve dropped it or knocked it over, looking for signs of damage to the electrode return wire. Otherwise, avoid putting your fingers on optical surfaces–the projector lens, the reflector bowl, etc.–you don’t want to have to look at it when you’re showing off your lights. And it doesn’t hurt to clean around the bulb access covers before opening the light up.
Will I know if a bulb or ballast isn’t working?
On a 2004 or newer Volvo truck, YES! The light control module will display a fault showing an open circuit condition. Verify that the light actually isn’t working, and let us know. It could be as simple as a loose connector, or something more complicated. We’ll help you troubleshoot the problem either over the phone or via e-mail, and get any replacement parts out to you right away, wherever you are.
Should I carry spare parts with me?
Only you can answer that question. To date, we’ve sold lots of replacement bulbs–but most of those are with or shortly after an initial order. That can make a lot of sense, as we charge a lot less than the average bricks-and-mortar auto parts store. But we’re also not aware of anyone having to replace a bulb yet–and that includes a number of bulbs that have cracked the 200,000 mile mark. We’ve also had zero ballast failures. But if there’s something you’d like to carry a spare for, just let us know.
One thing we do recommend is to carry the stock projectors and bulbs with you, at least for a little while. If there’s a problem with a part or if you’ve installed something wrong, it’s easy enough to drop the stock projector back in and finish the trip. It’s also not a bad idea in the event you have a bulb go out. Instead of buying spare bulbs, or paying $100 at a parts store for a new one, in 15 minutes you can put the old projector back in long enough to order a replacement bulb.
What are the most common mistakes during installation?
From our experience, there are a few that occur pretty regularly:
- By far, the most common is plugging the low beam input connector in backwards. It will generate a short-circuit fault, but do no harm. Reverse the connector and re-connect paying attention to the markings and problem solved. We’ve reduced the occurrence of this one by adding colored marks to both sides of the plug.
- Forgetting to connect the high beam solenoid wires before mounting the new projector. Again, no harm done, but you’ll have to pull the projector back out to get to the connector. It’s possible, but extremely difficult to get to the connector with the projector installed.
- “Tinkering” with the wiring harness. If something doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work right away, contact us. It’s a lot harder to figure out what’s going on if you’ve moved pins or connectors around. If you’re wanting to do something custom, let us know–we can probably point to where you’re likely to find trouble.
- Install the bulb before installing the projector.
- Work with the headlight right-side-up on a tall table. If you drop one of the screws, it will be a lot easier to get out of the housing.
- Test that you’ve got everything working before re-installing the light housing. You can lay the light between the side of the radiator and the hood and reach the electrical connector. If you’ve forgotten something, you’ll save yourself 5 minutes or so.
It seems like there’s a lot of stuff here, but it’s really an easy process. If you want to read more about the installation process, you can always watch the installation video here, or read the printed instructions Volvo VNL Retrofit Installation Instructions 2014-12-18 v2.0.