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No one test drives a car at night but I wish I had. In central Ohio, there are rolling hills on secondary roads. The cutoff is too low. While ascending or descending a hill, vision is cut to 30 yards and that's where the deer enjoy jumping out. I need a smidgen of vertical adustment. I'll keep raising it until opposing drivers flash me. Articles on adjusting the vertical are always on older models. Is the Rav4 2016 headlight adjustment the same as the older models? Any help would be appreciated.
 

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In my experience, this is a rather common problem with the modern design of headlight beams. In order to prevent glare to on coming drivers, the makers of headlights have decided that a sharp horizontal cutoff is best. European headlight design is way ahead of the US. I know this because I have played with headlights since the 1970's. The European style lights had a sharp cutoff toward the left, with a 15 degree rise beginning at the middle of the beam. This provided more light on street signs on the right of the road, as well as more visibility, and a glare reducing cut off on the left side of the car. Many light beams are just straight across the top and this does cause the sharp light/dark line you are talking about. Some higher end cars have active headlights that slightly turn and/or level depending on what is happening with the car. These lights are VERY expensive as you can imagine. HID lights have a metal 'shutter' over part of the bulb that makes the cutoff. When the lights are switched to high beam, the shutter is flipped out of the way. When trying to adjust the headlight, make sure that you have the car level, no extra weight in the back, and that the tire pressure is balanced. Be about 10-15 feet away from a flat wall. There are specific guides on how to do this that discuss distance. You might try changing bulbs to another brand. They do vary somewhat and a less controlled beam may suit you better. By the way, it is impossible to get better lighting performance by simply changing the bulbs from halogen to HID. The reflector of the lamp AND the focus point of the bulb have to be designed together. There is a YouTube video of a (German, I think), direct test of some HID bulbs put into the stock headlights of a car, and ALL of them put out a very uncontrolled beam pattern. One can change to HID but the light bulb and housing have to be changed. I am sure that some are better than others.

I have long thought that manufacturers of lights should make the reflectors and beam patterns asymmetrical. The left side beam is different than the right. The right side should have a longer reach down the shoulder of the road (like a modified driving light, with a sharp cut off to the left. The left should have a sharp cutoff on the left with a 15 degree rise to the right.

Also, the fog lights on the RAV are TERRIBLE. I am changing mine out.

I have also experimented with changing out the stock Sylvania 9005 with a Phillips NightGuide 9005. The patterns are slightly different, with the preference to the Sylvania.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Jeff...

Thanks for the reply. It's good to get a reply from someone so knowledgeable. I need to make a change because I'm going to wear out my bright switch soon. Improvements don't always make things better. Thanks again.
 

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Jeff...

Thanks for the reply. It's good to get a reply from someone so knowledgeable. I need to make a change because I'm going to wear out my bright switch soon. Improvements don't always make things better. Thanks again.
Do you have the LED bulbs or Halogen?
 

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Many years ago I installed some high wattage headlight bulbs in my wife's 1995 Explorer. They were bright and oncoming drivers would occasionally flash me, but they drew more current than the engineers designed the wiring and connectors to handle. The high current melted the connector for the dimmer switch. I put the old bulbs back, replaced the dimmer switch (part of the combination turn signal/wiper/washer switch - $$ ) and spliced in a new connector.

I have replaced a lot of headlight bulbs over the years. Several companies sell brighter bulbs but if you check the hour rating, these bulbs do not last nearly as long as stock bulbs. I used to recommend these bulbs to customers because they are brighter and don't overload the circuit. but when the customer comes back 8 months later with a burned out bulb it is difficult to justify putting the same bulb back in. I have tried Philips and Wagner and both of their super bright retina blaster bulbs burn out long before a regular bulb does.

Some manufacturers use Xenon gas and some use halogen. Some have different filament designs and some use exotic metals that glow brighter than tungsten, all at the cost of longevity.
 

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So far I'm not sold on LEDs as replacement RAV4 OEM halogen headlight bulbs. They're pricey (here, RAV4 replacement halogen bulbs cost about #12, as far as I know they require some sort of conversion kit to replace OEM bulbs, and so far their light output seems to be less than OEM halogens. I've been driving since the 1950s and the only headlight I recall having had to replace was a sealed beam on a 1960 Ford and that was probably because of a Ford dealer's incompetent service department. Maybe other forum members have relevant comparison info about light output, etc.
 

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So far I'm not sold on LEDs as replacement RAV4 OEM halogen headlight bulbs. They're pricey (here, RAV4 replacement halogen bulbs cost about #12, as far as I know they require some sort of conversion kit to replace OEM bulbs, and so far their light output seems to be less than OEM halogens. I've been driving since the 1950s and the only headlight I recall having had to replace was a sealed beam on a 1960 Ford and that was probably because of a Ford dealer's incompetent service department. Maybe other forum members have relevant comparison info about light output, etc.


Have had no issues converting to LED at all. The kit you buy online is all you need. All you do is pop out the bulb, replace it with the new one. Plug the ballast in and you're all set. Takes a matter of about 2 minutes max. HID is horrid for flickering especially with the ballast and anti flicker wires. They burn out way to fast. Halogen burns way too hot and they don't hold up as far as light output just in my case. Not saying that it isn't working for your Rav4. My limited already came with the LED bulbs. Im stating this in other vehicles I have owned.
 

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My main question is how to get rid of the cutoff. I've driven a car since 1970, and never needed a cutoff. The dims would at least let you see down the road. Does anyone know if the cutoff is integral to the headlight design, or is it bulb dependent? I'm amazed that the engineers didn't drive at night on a rolling road where the cutoff blanks out your vision 30 yards ahead when descending and the deer lay in waiting. I don't care if the lights are halogens, LED, incandescent, or whatever. I just want to see ahead no matter what angle the car is at. I would appreciate any help.
 

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The bulb type, halogen, HID, etc. are designed as a unit. The center of the lamp's filiment is fixed relative to the design of the reflector. Based on several of the videos I have seen, by putting a LED bulb in an existing reflector housing yields some very wild and crazy light patterns (more diffuse and they might not have the cut-off that you desire to be rid of.) However, this wild light pattern can very glaring to oncoming drivers. You might want to improve the stock fog lights, like I suggested (I haven't done that yet). An LED in the fog light will have a much higher light output than the 19 watt stock bulbs, but with less wattage due to the LED technology.

By simply changing brand of bulb, say from Sylvania to Phillips, you might get a slight difference in the overall pattern of light projected onto a wall, and you might get some differences where the spots of the highest intensity of light are projected. Going for higher wattage may cause other problems such as melted sockets, blown fuses, melted wire, flashing by oncoming drivers. HID lights, especially the Bi-Zenon (high and low beam in the same lamp), do have the 'shutter' that makes the sharp cutoff. I suppose one could modify the shutter, if it could be removed, but the success after some experimentation could be limited.

By the way, I have a 2006 BMW Z4 with HID lights. While they give off a cool color beam that is wide and even, they do have a very sharp cut off with the 15 degree rise to the right side. I don't care for it either. They are nice when the road is rather level, but the cut off is annoying when driving on hilly roads and the road has trees or forest on either side.

I would suggest you look on YouTube and search for Halogen or LED bulb comparison videos. Don't pay attention to the stupid views in which the camera looks directly at the car. That's not the important part. What is important (and harder to find on a video) is the light projection on a wall or maybe down a dark road.
 

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From what you have said, it seems to me that you do not have LED lights. My 2016 came with LEDs and the auto high beam feature. I live in the Colorado Mountains and have not had problems at night on rolling hills. This is the first car I have owned with such a drastic cutoff, but I have to say that they are WAY better than whatever else I have had. I can see way farther on each side of the road with either the high or low beams. I just leave the car in auto high beam and marvel at how it works.
 

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Same here, I've been driving for nearly 60 years, the headlights on mine are the best I've ever seen.
 

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Thanks Jeff. I'm glad you've experienced the same effect. I thought I was crazy. I need to see more than 30 yards while descending a hill. I very much appreciate your knowledgeable reply. I'll do some more studying.
 

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Here is a lengthy thread on ToyotaNation that has some good pictures of installing HID lights in a 2015 RAV4. They may still provide more cut-off than you like, but they are brighter. Apparently, some HID lamps and ballasts are better than others. I don't have any experience with them. Most of my driving is local and not on dark country roads, so I am not sure I am going to do this upgrade.

My 2015 Rav4 Lighting and Other Upgrades Build - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
 

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Jeff...

Thanks for the reply. It's good to get a reply from someone so knowledgeable. I need to make a change because I'm going to wear out my bright switch soon. Improvements don't always make things better. Thanks again.


For 2017, automatic high beams will be standard on the RAV4 as part of the Toyota Safety Sense package. If you leased, it's something you can look forward to sooner than later.


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I agree the headlights are pointed a little low from the factory. Not completely sold on an LED swap yet though. Has anybody pulled these headlights apart and blacked out everything inside??
 

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I just bought a 17 xle and have the same issue. I really hate how you cannot see ahead at all at night on the sides -especially if there are animals like deer that can come out into the road. And the bouncing line from the headlights is making me feel nauseous. I also have to drive on alot of windy roads that have no streetlights and i feel like i can't see anything - so i am constantly turning on my brights. i tried using the automatic lights, but for some reason the brights don't seem to come on very often - they say that reflectors can modify when they come on. I researched all the features of the car before buying - but never gave a thought to the headlights. I had driven a 2004 4runner for 12 years - those headlights were the best i've ever seen - great regular and great in high beam. the headlights on my 17 xle are probably the worst i've ever used.
 

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Interesting thread. We bought our RAV in July...long daylight hours and little dark to really drive in. Well...now that the days are shorter...and I have just done more night driving and a long night trip. I have had several drivers flash me...er...flash their lights at me while mine are on low beam. I have found these lights to be the best I have ever had. They shoot a long way down the road on low beam and high beams are really great.
 

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The LED headlamps on my Limited are the best I ever had too. The auto high beams rock too!


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I wonder if the LED headlights as supplied from the factory have a specially designed reflector (I would expect so). The visual differences might not be so readily apparent (when the lights are off). So changing a halogen based headlamp to a led bulb may provide unsatisfactory performance.

I still want to see more pics from folks who have changed their halogen bulbs to LED bulbs with the lights projecting on a wall from 25 feet. The control and pattern of the light are so very important, not that they are a kilowatt.
 
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