Low beams are both out
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This is a discussion on Low beams are both out within the General Maintenance, Troubleshooting & Accidents. forums, part of the Tech & Modifying & General Repairs category; Tonight I noticed my headlight low beams are both not working. I had to drive home alternating between fog lights ...

  1. #1
    Registered User Geo-Aggie's Avatar
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    Low beams are both out

    Tonight I noticed my headlight low beams are both not working. I had to drive home alternating between fog lights alone and high beams alone, which probably made me look intoxicated.

    Anyone know of problems the '10 WRX would have that would cause this? I pulled one of the bulbs and it looks... okay? I think? I don't know. What does a halogen bulb look like when it burns out? It's certainly possible one has been out for a week or so and the second one burned out tonight. Or should I start with something else like the relay? (Both low beam fuses are fine.)

    The car is stock. Previous owner used aftermarket HID's. I removed them when I bought the car in 2011 and placed these standard halogen bulbs in them. They've worked fine since.

    All other lights are fine. Fog lights, high beams, interior lights, dash lights, everything is fine. I guess I just need to know how to tell if it really is my low beam bulbs that died and not some other issue. What would cause them to both die at (or near) the same time?
    2010 Subaru WRX

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    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    I would check the fuse first. Typically if the bulb burns out the filament will be broken. If the fuse is good, check the relay. From there I would test voltage at the fuse, then at the bulb itself (and check the ground). If everything is good there, I would try replacing a bulb..

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    Registered User Soobvirgin's Avatar
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    I've replaced both bulbs in my wife's Outback in the last year, though not at the same time. But, on neither occasion have I been able to see a broken filament. Which I thought was kinda' strange.

    I think I'd be inclined to go to Autozone (or somewhere similar) and ask them if you can try installing a new bulb right outside the shop. If it's not that, then they might just let you return the bulb to them without having to pay. At least, my local store are pretty good about things like that.
    Last edited by Soobvirgin; 01-08-2014 at 12:24 PM. Reason: Smelling pistake.

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    Registered User Geo-Aggie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies.
    I checked both fuses (there was one for left low and one for right low) and they are both okay.

    How do I get at the relay? I see which one it is, but it seems like I'd need some special tool or telekinetic powers to remove it...
    2010 Subaru WRX

  6. #5
    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    Usually they can just pop right out.. you could just listen to it as you switch the lights on and off, it should make click when the circuit closes.

    You might just go get a bulb and replace it in the parking lot of the store to see if that does it.. if not, I think most places would let you return it. Both bulbs on my Forester burned out within a month of each other.

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    He simply abides. SD_GR's Avatar
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    So far all I can conclude is that you're both over- and under-thinking this.

    What a bulb looks like is irrelevant. Whether the filament is intact is all that matters. To check, you can either see if the bulb works when there is a known good circuit, or use a volt meter.

    If I had a volt meter, I'd use that on the bulbs and on the sockets. That'd give me answers. If I didn't, I'd buy two bulbs, install them, and see what happens. If they don't work then suspect something else.
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  8. #7
    Registered User Ingo's Avatar
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    Let me fix that for you:
    Quote Originally Posted by SD_GR View Post
    ...
    If I had a volt meter, I'd use that on the bulbs and on the sockets. That'd give me answers. If I didn't, I'd buy a meter.... (only $3-5 at HarborFreight, when on sale, heck, they even GAVE them away).
    There, isn't that better?
    You can't have everything - where would you put it?

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    Registered User Geo-Aggie's Avatar
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    I do think I'll purchase a multimeter. Considering the sun goes down at 5:17pm and I do need my car it may be beneficial for me to do this today rather than ordering online.

    Any advice on where I can/should pick up a multimeter in person? Auto parts store? WalMart? Sears?
    2010 Subaru WRX

  10. #9
    Registered User Ingo's Avatar
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    Harbor Freight has dirt cheap, Chinese made. If you blow it up there's almost no loss. Good meters cost into the hundreds - there is a HUGE span. But the cheap ones do fine for automotive work. I'd say look for one that does DV Volts and resistance/continuity. Amps are nice but not required. AC stuff (Volts, amps) is fine for other uses, like around the house... Accuracy is fine with even the cheapest meters. WalMart may not have any, AutoZone and such certainly but may be expensive. Sears kind of the same, but maybe a bit better.
    You can't have everything - where would you put it?

  11. #10
    Registered User Miggs's Avatar
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    Like mainframe said you can check to see if the relay is working by listening for clicking when you engage the circuit. I use 9V batteries for this. If you buy new bulb I recommend doing the H7 conversion. Much better output. I can give you specific details if you are interested. If you have a friend with an H11 handy, you can test the circuit pretty easily.

  12. #11
    OMG WTF MainFrame's Avatar
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    Lots of local stores should carry a decent DMM.. I think I got mine from Radio Shack for something like $15, has worked great for years.

  13. #12
    Registered User Geo-Aggie's Avatar
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    Well, it's fixed.

    Last night before buying a multimeter i decided to pull the other bulb (the one behind the battery) and see how that looked since the one that's easier to get to didn't look damaged. The filament in the driver bulb was destroyed. I assumed this meant there was some sort of micro-fracture in the passenger bulb and replaced both.

    Turned on my lights and bam! Light!

    Thanks for your help everyone.
    2010 Subaru WRX

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