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Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!!  
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - NeilT
I can't believe after all this time of HID Xenon lamps being available on a lot of cars these days that dealers (sales in particular) are not aware that you have to adjust them to drive on the right in Europe.
Having looked at a Skoda Superb and a Ford Mondeo, both of which offer Xenon lamps, I was hit with the same response from the salesman when I asked if the adjustment could be made from inside the car, or whether like the VW golf/Passat it requires an expensive bumper removal.

They were totally clueless, and although the Skoda garage looked in the workshop manual, the Ford place insisted on arguing that you can't adjust it!!!

I know that height adjustment is automatic, but I think that sales should make buyers aware of such an important issue when ordering with Xenons as normal light deflectors do not work.

Has anyone here had these problems too, or in the case of driving abroad, found an easier way then removing the bumper on a VAG car to adjust them for driving on the right?

Neil T
SEAT Leon TDi 150, Toledo 20VT Sport, Various Montegos...

Tags: technical issues driving abroad new cars automatics

Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - smokie
It's only important if you wish to drive abroad. Many drivers don't I guess...
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - jc33
I too had this problem on my Focus ST170 when I went abroad last year. The handbook says that you have to take it into a dealer to have them make the adjustment - they told me they would charge £50 (can't remember whether that was per light or for both, but it was certainly once before the holiday and once again when I returned to England).

After a bit of digging I was able to get hold of some technical drawings of the headlight design from someone I know who works for Ford and I did it myself. It involved unscrewing the headlight assembly and removing the rear cover in order to get access to a little switch inside that just flicks the bulb over. Not very difficult if you know what you're looking for but I agree that its not exactly convenient and I was not told this before I bought the car.

Very happy with the car overall though.

Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - No Do$h
Can any representatives of the manufacturers explain why this switch is not more accessible on all HID equipped cars, possibly with a suitable warning light on the dash for the first 30 seconds of light activation to remind the driver they are set to LHD?
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - NeilT
The trouble is, just because maybe only 40% of the HID equiped cars go abroad once in their life, that?s still a huge amount. I travel to Holland on average once every 6 - 7 weeks to our training centre, and quite often see at least 1 or 2 HID equiped English cars (normally Mercedes or BMW) over there. I believe some manufactures (Volvo??) have an internal switch under the dash. My point was that as more and more cars have HID as std they should do something about it.

In the case of the Focus ir doesn't seem to bad, unfortunatly for us VAG owners, you have to remove the bumper on most models before the head lamp bolts are accessable??.. My Leon has 25 screws holding the bumper on, so I guess the HID equiped Superb/Passat/Golf etc will be the same.

Neil T
SEAT Leon TDi 150, Toledo 20VT Sport, Various Montegos...
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - daryld
Can any representatives of the manufacturers explain why this switch is
not more accessible on all HID equipped cars, possibly with a
suitable warning light on the dash for the first 30 seconds
of light activation to remind the driver they are set to

Answer (average cost per car sold): Because it will cost £1.50 to add the bulb, £0.45 to add the wiring, £7.00 to change the existing dashboard design; £0.70 to add any software changes; £4.80 to change the vehicle documentation, £4.90 to translate the changes into other languages where the car is marketed. Total: £19.35. Multiplied by, say, 100,000 vehicles anually then that is a lot of money.

I work in this industry-if no one complains then do not fix it.
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - No Do$h
Then a spot of DIY is called for.

If your Seat with HID lamps is often heading overseas, bypass the switch on the back of the lamp and fit one of your own in the cabin.
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - RoadDevil
This wouldn't work as the switch is a mechanical shutter to mask the flare to the nearside and possibly on some cars raise a flare on the offside so you can see Johnny foreigner?s pavement correctly.

This issue isn't strictly HID lights, its projector lights which can also use halogen bulbs, conversely, some HID equipped cars use conventional reflectors, i.e., Laguna II's and C5's as well as most MB's until recently, all of these can be masked conventionally.

As I understand it all European spec projector lights must have a mechanical adjustment to remove the flare, it just seems that when they drafted the rules they forgot to also make it a rule that the adjustment should be so easy that your granny could do it! I don't suppose individual manufacturers will sort this out until they are forced to by a redraft of the rules. What about a new rule that says that each headlight should have a yellow knob on top with three settings, flare to the left for UK, no flare and flare to the right for Europe? Wouldn't the manufacturers save money too as they wouldn't need to supply headlights as either LHD or RHD?
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - cabsmanuk
Why all this fuss about dipping headlights to the other side? Why not do as the french do and not bother. Whilst waiting for the ferry to France I always glance at other cars to see if they have put deflectors on or are taking them off depending on which way they are going. The vast majority of LHD cars don't bother whilst the vast majority of RHD cars do. As usual it is the Brits that seem to obey the rules whilst the continentals ignore them.

Keep upright

Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - No Do$h
Valid point, but unlikely to cut any ice with the pragmatists' favourite pragmatist, the French police officer......
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - Jazzmag
Well said cabsmanuk! I drive to see my folks in Prague every year in my ancient Pug 309D (that?s a whole adventure in itself!). So that means a trundle across France, Belgium and Germany and then on into the Czech Republic. For the first few years I religiously attached the plastic ?beam benders?, but as you stated, I noticed that our cross Channel friends never seem to bother.

So I thought ?stuff it? and for last couple of years just haven?t bothered. And yes, I have been behind French and German police cars for many, many miles on their motorways (a fully loaded 309D doesn?t exactly put you in danger of breaking too many speed limits!). Never once been stopped.

In the Czech Republic of course it?s a mixture of town and motorway driving. Once again, never spoken to the police. Apparently coppers there don?t speak English ? so it?s just too much hassle to stop a foreigner. As long the car looks basically roadworthy you?re left alone. That?s not too difficult in an east European country! You?re guaranteed to see some great relics, easily over 20 years old.

Got me thinking: we really are mugs in this country; constantly being told we need ABS, power steering, electric windows, AC, xenon headlights etc etc. The Czechs ? apart from generally not being able to afford brand new cars ? see far more adept at defying the forces of corrosion! No mean feat considering winters get down to ?30C and summer hits 40C. And I guess with less expensive ?toys? to go wrong, there?s less to repair?Still, that?s another topic!
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - Bob the builder
Well said Cabsman & jazzmag. Try a site search under "Xenon headlights abroad" - this subject was dissected only last June/July. I too belong to the "What's all the fuss about ?" brigade. I have driven in nearly every country in Europe since 1964,at that time with parents, and since 1971 by myself/family. In all that time (with much night-time driving) - travelling fast/slow/with trailer/caravans etc. I have been stopped precisely twice. Once in Germany for speeding (I got a DM25 on the spot fine (about £6 in 1977) and once in the Czech Republic because the nosy copper wanted a good look at a right hand drive vehicle. After two minutes looking at my paperwork he waved me on. No-one has ever bothered about headlamp bulbs !! Johnny Foreigner comes over here with his juggernaut / car etc, flouts all our regs and never gets a ticket cos our plod is too busy catching us on camera. We go over there and most of us seem gagging to buy any gadget or spend hours agonising over the most trivial matter because some foreign plod may/just may pull us. My advice (FWIW) is forget it and enjoy your time looking at the scenery !!
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - No Do$h
Right. I have purchased my last beam deflectors. Come February I shall cock a snook at the Gendarmerie and drive through to Les Contamines Montjolie undeflected.

I'm still trying to get the goo off the polycarbonate lenses from the last trip in August.
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - PR {P}
No Dosh, if you travel on the continent a lot, Alfa sell some headlight guard/beam deflector type things for the non xenon lights.
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - RoadDevil
Is this problem not partly Churchill?s fault? I seem to remember reading/hearing somewhere that serious consideration was given in the early 1950?s to changing to driving on the right, but was vetoed by Churchill, or have I imagined this?

I?m sure I also heard/read somewhere that up until maybe the late 70?s / early 80?s all motorway junctions were built so as to work the other way round without major engineering alterations (on slips are usually longer than offs?) to leave the option open to change. I can?t see how this could ever be achieved now if we had the inclination to do so, it would cause utter chaos and increase the death toll exponentially until everyone got used to it and swapped their car for a LHD.
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - terryb
Should still be simple to do. But I think you'd have to phase the change in, HGVs one week, PCVs the next, cars the next and so on :o)

Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - Mike H
Don't forget that there are two parts to this debate.

The first is not blinding oncoming drivers, which will happen if the headlights aren't touched at all. Taking away the vision of those driving towards you is not a very bright idea. You get the idea if you drive toward someone parked on the nearside facing you with dipped lights on in this country - blinding on occasion.

The second is that, by reversing the flare to conform to driving on the right, it provides better vision of the nearside. I accept that masking alone won't achieve this, but the HID lights properly adjusted will make a considerable difference to forward vision.

I wrote to the Chief Constable of Hampshire some years ago on this very subject, regarding the many vehicles piling off the ferries at Portsmouth with unadjusted lights, and he wasn't interested - his view was that if correctly adjusted there wouldn't be a dazzle problem. The laws of physics clearly show there is.

My old Renault 12 with the P45 bulbs had symmetrical headlamp glasses, and a little switch in the bulbholder. Three minutes work & you were all set for RHD or LHD.
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - NeilT
I have 2 points in reponce to this:

1. I don't use reflectors, I use the beam height adjustment, how do you know the France aren't doing this?

2. The european police are a lot harder on UK drivers than UK police are on the foreigners. I know of people being pulled up for having no GB badge, or wrongly adjusted lights. Un-adjustsed Xenon headlamps can give you a massive fine in Europe? is it really worth it!!!
Also, I would get really p*ssed of having every 2nd car flashing me as I blind them!!!

Neil T
SEAT Leon TDi 150, Toledo 20VT Sport, Various Montegos...
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - PR {P}
Short of measuring your beams, how would they ever know? If you told them you'd taken it to your local dealer in the UK who said they'd done it, how can they do anything.
Also, you may take the trouble of getting them adjusted and still get done for it because there will be no outward sign!!
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - Colin M
Given the amount the light beam rises into the nearside when in the UK, I doubt even the most acute downward beam angle adjustment will help before it's completely knackered your own view of the road ahead.

Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - Bob the builder
"unadjusted xenon headlights can give you a massive fine in Europe" - Oh yeah ?? How much ? Which country(ies) ? Who do you know has been done ?? I'm sorry, I just don't get this "foreign plod will do Brits for next to nothing" bit !! Do you seriously think French/German/Italian etc plod, are waiting at borders checking every Brit's headlights ??? I concede that if you get done for something serious they may add that on at the end to rub it in, but if you tend to be the respectful, polite mind-yer-own business tourist, I doubt you'll have any bother. Well, I certainly haven't anyway. As for blinding other drivers, well, height-level adjusters on my car (allied to a bit of insulation tape) do the trick. Then again, I haven't got xenon headlights !!
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - NeilT
OK, I'll give you an instance of picking on English drivers?.

A few years ago my nan was driving in Germany to visit her family (she is German), It was very bad weather, with rain, spray and mist. All the other drivers had rear fog lamps on which seemed like a good idea as you couldn't see the cars without them.
After about half an hour a police car cut in front of her and pulled her over (he had fog lamps on also). Being a native german she asked what the problem was, there reply?.. You should not have rear fog lamps on, even though the visability was near zero. My nan told him that everyone else including the police had them on? their reply: "no, these are rain lights" !!!! He said he would normally give an on the spot fine, but in this case would wave it.

Well, upon getting to her family, no one in Germany had heard of rain lights, only fog lamps!!!! Now tell me they don't pick on UK registered cars!!

Now, on the other hand, I have not had any problems over the past 2 - 3 years where I have been going out there every 6 - 8 weeks, but having delt with French poilce when parking on a yellow line I know how they pick on the English, the other french drivers got away with it!!!! In the end I don't want to chance a 100 Euro Fine (possible more in Holland) for a simple act of disrespect for on-coming drivers.

Neil T
SEAT Leon TDi 150, Toledo 20VT Sport, Various Montegos...
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - MrWibble
The Dutch police are far less likely to pick on English drivers - they prefer to pick on German drivers for other offences real or imagined.

Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - Bob the builder
NeilT : I have no wish to enter into a "tit for tat" argument, which in any case the mods don't usually tolerate. However, it seems you can't give specific details about anyone getting done in any mainland European country for having un-adjusted headlights, be they xenon or any other kind.
On the broader issue of foreign plod supposedly "picking on" Brits, I wish there was some REAL evidence as opposed to hearsay. The following are facts : I have lived and worked in Austria and Germany whilst running a UK reg car. I have motored abroad since 1964 and have driven (Scandinavia apart) in nearly every European country. I have yet to be "picked on". I have many, many friends colleagues and acquaintances who have also motored abroad and the only one who has been fined is one, who, like me, went through a radar trap and had a small on-the-spot fine. A fair cop I'd say. I would go so far as to say the foreign plod I happen to have met have been unfailingly courteous and helpful, (which is more than I can say about British plod) and given the aggro they have had to tolerate from British soccer thugs over the years, speaks volumes for them.
I am more than happy to be put right over these matters if only someone will give me hard fact as opposed to the " someone told me a friend of a friend of a friend once got done " type.
Rant over !
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - Colin M
Bob, I agree, I have driven extensively all over Europe for the last 20 years and have never been stopped by the police anywhere.

Over the last couple of years I have enjoyed safe sprints across Germany and Holland in performance cars and only felt intimidated when driving out of the tunnel onto our scamera infested roads.

Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - PR {P}
I also agree BTB, infact it can even go the other way. Last year I was driving back to the house from the beach in Gaeta, Italy. A policeman with a red "lollipop" signalled me to pull over for a roadside check (quite ordinary in Italy). As I began to pull in, he noticed the reg and promptly signalled me to carry on!
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - ajuk
Sorry to digress. I will be driving to Bulgaria in March 08 and will not be returning for many years. I own a new honda CR-V 2.2 iCDTi ex with the safety pack. It has xenon (HD) lights which turn 20 degrees to the left and right as you turn the steering wheel. How the hell will I go on with these?
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - Screwloose

Fit LHD units?
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - IanJohnson
Have similar experience in Roanne (France). Team of Gendarmes out doing vehicle checks, was pulling us in but waved us on as soon as he saw the number. Was actually looking forward to a chat with them!
Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - R40
I've never had a problem when driving in Europe (I do so two or three times a year) and when required to stop for a Gendarme was met with unfailing courtesy.

Edited by R40 on 06/12/2007 at 13:41

Driving in Europe with HID Xenon lamps!! - rtj70
So if a Xenon unit can be made to change the "flare" on the other side of the unit for driving in Europe - doesn't that make it illegal in the UK? So after the dealer visit you're breaking the law here.

... Or does it block some of the light pattern thus reducing the performance of the lamp unit both in the UK and Europe?

I'm still surprised the switch if there is one is not accessible. And had not thought it was all projection style lamps and not just HID.

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