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View Poll Results: Which do you think lights out are affected most by?
Driver just being Cheap 11 20.37%
Driver Inattentiveness 42 77.78%
Lower Quality/thinner filaments 12 22.22%
More abundant in Humid/heavily precipitous climates 3 5.56%
Lack of proper Maintenance being performed 17 31.48%
Driver IDGAF'ing 15 27.78%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 54. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-26-2013, 04:05 AM   #1
pandemonium
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Question Opinion: causes for mass amounts of lights out on vehicles

While listening to an episode of Car Talk #1248 @~32:00, this question came up from a caller that I've often wondered myself. The reasons seem fairly obvious, but I was curious what others thought the primary reasons for the cause was. This includes any headlights, signals, fog lights, parking lights, tail lights, brake lights, etc...

-I've also wondered how much living in an area that has higher humidity will exacerbate bulb failure. It seems much more abundant here than dryer climates.
-I'm also interested to hear if this is common in other areas/countries as well?

This also leads me to my next question: why aren't police pulling more people over for their bulbs being out? As much as they seem to love to dish out speeding tickets, you'd think this would be a gimme!

Thoughts?

The poll is multiple choice to allow a ranking result since all options are going to be factors to consider. I would've loved to have been able to allow ranking the choices, but that's not an option. :/


[I apologize if this should be in OT. Please move if appropriate.]
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:18 AM   #2
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GM.
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:31 AM   #3
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Lol, as in General Motors? >.<

Because I see tons of Toyotas with bulbs out. More than any other make it seems.
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:36 AM   #4
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I live in a rainy zone with humid summers and I've never seen someone driving with light bulbs broken.
The police can't even fine you if you're going to the garage.
The only thing I see is stupid people driving with lights off even at dusk with grey cars.

In Italy you can see almost destroyed cars being driven around because they're more lax with the trial tests and they take accidents and bumps in the car as a fact of life, but unless it was crushed in people don't go around with broken bulbs either. They also have to keep them always on by law and most of people does this so you'd except them going out more often.

So I think in your case it's the local police not breaking balls as much as they should and people being irresponsible/not checking if their bulbs work.
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:37 AM   #5
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underbody lights taking up too much powa

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Old 01-26-2013, 04:43 AM   #6
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I agree, Murloc. I often travel long distances (1000 miles+) here in the U.S. and it 'seems' more common here where I am in GA (I travel daily via interstate 50 miles for work) and see at least a fifth of all vehicles with at least one bulb out. When I lived in WI, it wasn't nearly as abundant and cops seemed to pull people over for this citation. I've never even heard of anyone being stopped for a bulb being out where I am now in GA. However, that was years ago, so I digress.
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brainhulk View Post
underbody lights taking up too much powa

I totally failed not having this option.
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pandemonium View Post
I agree, Murloc. I often travel long distances (1000 miles+) here in the U.S. and it 'seems' more common here where I am in GA (I travel daily via interstate 50 miles for work) and see at least a fifth of all vehicles with at least one bulb out. When I lived in WI, it wasn't nearly as abundant and cops seemed to pull people over for this citation. I've never even heard of anyone being stopped for a bulb being out where I am now in GA. However, that was years ago, so I digress.

I think part of it, or most of it in my opinion, is sheer neglect on the owner's part. I grew up in Augusta and have lived in GA about 2/3 of my life, and almost invariably when I mention to another driver that their headlight/taillight/turn signal is burnt out, surprise is almost always expressed followed by a thank you for letting them know. I think most drivers are just oblivious to anything other than the vehicle starting, how much gas is in the tank, and what mileage the little sticky tag on the windshield says as to when to get their oil changed.
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:05 AM   #9
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Nowadays, most light bulbs on cars lasts a long time. Drivers do not tend to check the bulbs like they should. Once a month you should do a quick test of low beam, high beam, left and right turn signal, brake lamps and backup lamp, as well as license plate and fog lights. It only takes a minute or two at most.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:17 AM   #10
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I understand that most people don't check the vehicle condition as often as they should, but 1/5 is a lot.
A family member or a co-worker is going to notice when you get in/out of the driveway that you have broken lights. Also broken headlights are easy to notice for the driver itself.
I guess that if the police ignores the issue, people will tend to procrastinate the replacement and the amount of cars in this condition increases.
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Old 01-26-2013, 10:40 AM   #11
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I think DRLs have made this phenomenon more common but ultimately, it is driver inattentiveness.

I drive a 10 year old Nissan Maxima with 125,000 miles on it. I'm the original owner of the car and to date I have replaced exactly zero bulbs and they all work. The car does not have DRLs either. My wife's Lexus is 7 years old with 95,000 miles and she has had no bulbs go out either and she has DRLs on her car.

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Originally Posted by DominionSeraph View Post
GM.
Haha, I do tend to notice this on GM trucks with DRLs a lot. Audis always seem to have one light out too for some reason.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:23 AM   #12
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The only car I ever had that had bulb issues was an old 90's taurus that water would collect in the bulb housing. Take a turn, slosh and lose a bulb.

It was nothing a hole drilled in the bottom to allow it to drain wouldn't fix though. Did that, and never lost another bulb.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:28 AM   #13
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Cold weather causes expansion/contraction when the bulbs heat up. That's why the tend to fail more in the winter. And many people have DRLs so they don't realize a light is out. Some cars you'd think the lights are on when they aren't because of DRLs.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:29 PM   #14
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I remember one time I heard a crazy/stupid theory about this. It was on kbb or edmunds or some other "auto site" that people-not-that-really-into-cars might visit. It was in a forum about a specific vehicle, I think it was the Chevy Trailblazer since that's what I was driving at the time. And I think that those had known issues with the taillights burning out faster than they should have. (I don't recall having problems with mine. I think that 1 of the 4 bulbs burned out in the 5 years that I had the vehicle.)

In any case, some crazy person thought that the reason was the automatic lock/unlock on the key fob, which blinks the lights twice when you use it. She thought that that was the reason for her taillight bulbs burning out. Because apparently 2 blinks to unblock the car, and 2 blinks to lock the car, compared to the hundreds of times that they would blink during a normal drive around town (braking, turn signaling) would really make a huge difference.
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Old 01-26-2013, 12:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bruceb View Post
Nowadays, most light bulbs on cars lasts a long time. Drivers do not tend to check the bulbs like they should. Once a month you should do a quick test of low beam, high beam, left and right turn signal, brake lamps and backup lamp, as well as license plate and fog lights. It only takes a minute or two at most.
I disagree. I see way too many tail lights / brake lights burned out on newer vehicles (2003 or newer) than I ever have. My 2003 Trailblazer burns through them way too often. I had 4 replaced during the warranty period, plus a recall on the unit that housed the tail lights. I'd say I replace a brake light / tail light on it every 8 months or so. I've also replaced each of the head lights twice in the past ten years. In comparison, my 1963 Chevrolet Corvair that I use as my daily driver still has the original head lights and tail lights / break lights.
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Old 01-26-2013, 04:24 PM   #16
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Probably a number of things like automatic lights, self service gas stations and so on. I remember when I was a kid that going to the gas station was more of an event than a quick in and out. The guy pumping your gas would check everything including oil and wiper blades. Now you swipe the credit card, pump and drive off in 5 minutes.
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Old 01-26-2013, 08:37 PM   #17
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power fluctuation probably.
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Old 01-26-2013, 11:13 PM   #18
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I purchased a new 1997 Cavalier Z24. It had DRL's. I traded it in 11 years later in 2008, with all it's original light bulbs still working.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:32 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JulesMaximus View Post
Haha, I do tend to notice this on GM trucks with DRLs a lot. Audis always seem to have one light out too for some reason.
I notice the same thing on GM trucks, but on Audis, what you might be seeing is because the turn signal is on (the DRL on that side goes out until the signal stops blinking).
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:38 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slashbinslashbash View Post
I remember one time I heard a crazy/stupid theory about this. It was on kbb or edmunds or some other "auto site" that people-not-that-really-into-cars might visit. It was in a forum about a specific vehicle, I think it was the Chevy Trailblazer since that's what I was driving at the time. And I think that those had known issues with the taillights burning out faster than they should have. (I don't recall having problems with mine. I think that 1 of the 4 bulbs burned out in the 5 years that I had the vehicle.)

In any case, some crazy person thought that the reason was the automatic lock/unlock on the key fob, which blinks the lights twice when you use it. She thought that that was the reason for her taillight bulbs burning out. Because apparently 2 blinks to unblock the car, and 2 blinks to lock the car, compared to the hundreds of times that they would blink during a normal drive around town (braking, turn signaling) would really make a huge difference.
Wow... I've heard some dumb theories but that one takes the cake.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:00 PM   #21
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bad alternators (bad voltage regulators or recitifers) can cause premature bulb wear while the rest of the car seems to operate normally
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:31 PM   #22
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I voted for driver inattentiveness and humid climates. However, having one bulb out, depending on which bulb, isn't illegal in a lot of areas. Here, you must have both headlamps working. For brake lamps though, as long as one is working, you are good to legally drive the vehicle. It is pretty odd.
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Old 01-27-2013, 05:34 PM   #23
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Driver inattentiveness and poor maintenance. I think that's why we see so many Toyota's with burned-out bulbs. People with no interest in their cars are not going to check their lights.
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:32 PM   #24
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Make and model

I live in a desert where humidity is a problem 0 days out of the year. Still see dozens of GMs and Chryslers with bulbs out every day. I don't know what the underlying problem is but there's a reason the better cars don't have to have the bulbs replaced all the time and the shitty cars do.
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Old 01-28-2013, 03:13 PM   #25
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Bulbs are sealed. Humidity shouldn't affect the filaments in the bulb in any way.

Vehicle vibration and number of on/off cycles would be the two biggest contributors if I were to take a WAG at it.
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