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2013 Outback 2.5 Limited
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9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I have looked at a number of threads on this but haven't found anything specific to my year/generation. I have a 2013 Outback Limited and I would like to upgrade the OEM bulbs. I find the replacements tend to burn out rather frequently and, since they are a bear to change, thought of an upgrade. Does anyone have any success stories? I don't want to cut away the headlight assembly or tape the back of the housing (doesn't seem like it would be waterproof). I would like a "plug and play" type of bulb but unsure whether that is possible? I have read LED lights, while bright don't project that brightness in a stream the way halogen bulbs do. I have heard pros and cons for HID/Xenon bulbs (Saw an old review here for Xenon Vision HID?). I want crisp, bright white projection, not blue or purple or anything like that. Any shared experiences would be GREATLY appreciated!

Thank you!

Rob
 

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Fresh Out of Outbacks!
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14,499 Posts
Neither HID nor LED conversions can give you exactly what you want.

Some HID conversions can come close.

LEDs will require that the buckets stay open, and they will take on water.

Most HIDs can be re-sealed into the buckets, avoiding that particular problem. There are still other problems. There is no leveling system available for retrofit, and the best static beam control involves swapping projectors which takes it away from 'plug and play.'

You can still get useful results even if they aren't legal or perfect. Some kits are better than others. Hopefully someone will mention a kit that gets you close.
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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12,382 Posts
No plug and play for HID or LED, nor would I really recommend them for a housing not designed for them in the first place.

My favorite bang for the buck bulb is the Phillips VisionPlus +60. Light is clear, life is decent. Their +90 or +130 whatever is still a decent whiteish light with only a touch of blue, but the life suffers. Not an issue on my 2nd or 3rd gens but the 4th is quite a hassle.
 
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2013 Outback 2.5 Limited
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9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for the quick reply! Rasterman when you say swap out the projectors you mean as in the lamp unit itself? Not sure I understand exactly what you are talking about. Do I face the same issue if I want to just upgrade the fog lights? I was able to swap out the interior lights as well as the license plate lights with simple chip LED lights and really like the way they look. So much whiter and brighter. Makes finding things at night that much easier! I read about the water issue and am hesitant to do any modifications or leave anything open. Of course every manufacturer leaves out those facts about leveling and water issues. Really love my car just wanted to do a few upgrades. Living in the mountains I like to have ample light cast to see deer and bear.
 

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The projector is the can-shaped thing you see inside the lens of your headlight. You can get different projectors that have the optics tuned for HID usage. You have to bake the headlight housings to pop the covers off to get at them, then re-glue them later.

You can also hang base-swapped retrofits in what you have now, and it'll be brighter than what you have, but you won't be able to do much about spill other than aiming way down.
 

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2005 Outback Wagon 3.0 L.L. Bean
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Humor me and get these before deciding on HIDs in a factory lamp.Vosla H7 +120. Refresh your lenses.
I was wanting to tell you to use HIR bulbs. I can't find an H7 HIR bulb for your car.
 
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2020 Subaru Outback Touring XT, 2014 Outback Premium
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I went to Amazon...replaced/ordered LEDs for most everything except the front turn signals and tag lights. So far I am 100 percent happier with LEDs than the halogens/standard bulbs I replaced.

Its been a month or so...hope they last. its a PITA to remove the front of the car to get at the bulbs. I have tried in through the fenders, it takes just a little more effort to take the front fascia off and get at the assembly and is worth it in my opinion.
 

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68 Posts
I've used DDM Tuning HID kits for about 10 years on 5 vehicles and have always had great results, in projector housings as well as reflector housings. I've had the same set of HID bulbs and ballasts in my 2011 Outback for over 5 years now. I chose the 35 watt, 5000 kelvin temp as I also wanted the bright crisp white light with no yellow or blue tint. The HIDs in my Outback have the same noticeable projection and projector cutoff as the stock halogens (again, to my naked eye), but the light looks brighter and noticeably whiter than stock, exactly what I was going for. I just ordered another set of bulbs and ballasts for my wife's new Honda Pilot and the complete sets are $35 and ship from California. The only problems I have personally heard of with HID kits and projector housings is when people are putting in 55 watt kits, those can get too hot and cause melting of soft plastics. As far as mounting and installation, I just take off the front wheel and go through the plastic wheel skirt liner. The DDM kits have rubber grommets that seal off the headlight rear cover bucket thing where the wires pass through, keeping it sealed. I used 3M outdoor mounting tape to attach the ballast to something clean and flat on each side. All the HID wiring is plug-and-play. Again, 5 years now, same set, zero problems for me.

One trick I use to help extend the ballast and bulb life is only using the headlights manually, as in I do not keep the stem in the Auto position. This prevents ballast misfires and failure to light problems and extends the life of the components. I tried the Philips Silverstar route and got tired of changing bulbs every 6 months. And to repeat one more time, I love these kits so much and have never had problems in my cars, the set I bought for my Honda is the 6th set of the exact same product I've purchased now.
 

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2010 Outback 2.5I, 2001 Outback H4 5 speed (RIP)
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I recently installed Lasfit LS series LED high beams in our 2010 and they are absolutely amazing. Got their 921 bulbs for reverse lights too that make it look like I have headlights on the back of the car. Installing the low beams as soon as I have a minute to take the front end apart. They weren't cheap, but most definitely worth it. No mods need to be made on the highs for sure, and from what I can tell I shouldn't need to do anything to the low beams either.
 

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2012 Outback
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It's worth tracking down the Osram H7 Ultra Life bulbs. They claim to have 3X the life and so I have no reason to doubt the claim. We got about 2 years on the factory bulbs and the auto parts store bulbs only lasted about a year. The Ultra Life bulbs are 3+ years old now. Driving on rough dirt/washboard roads seems to be harder on them. In another thread here someone said the H7 is a poor choice for high vibration applications so Subaru may have screwed up there.

Above all, stay away from any of the bulbs claiming to be brighter, whiter, longer distance, etc. They all achieve that by running the filament even hotter which only shortens their life. They're essentially roughly 10 volt bulbs running in a 12 volt electrical system.

I also agree with others about avoiding LED. Most of what's out there is literally Chinese junk. They overheat, fail, some have cheesy little cooling fans that won't last 10 hours, etc. And, as others have said, you compromise the integrity of the entire assembly and risk water getting inside etc. With as difficult as the bulbs are to change on the Gen 4 Outback I think the Osram Ultra Life are the way to go if you plan to keep the car for very long.
 

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2016 3.6 Limited with ES
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3,039 Posts
To add what velomike said, avoid bulbs with a blue tint on them. If it looks blue, smells like blueberries or makes you want to watch the juicing scene from Willy Wonka don't buy them.


The are blue because the lamps are overdriven and produce a very white intense light that's so intense you can't run them on the road but if they have the blue tint then certain light wavelengths are muted thus making them useable but at the very expense of bulb life. Expensive bulbs, short bulb life and not much projection of useable light. That's no bueno.



The Silverstars, for example, are only rated to have bulb life of around 200 hours, perhaps even less. OEM bulbs are 1,000 hours or more. You can get mid range bulbs with 800 or so hours of life that are brighter and project further than the OEM.



Anything blue is really bad and yeah, no LEDs in housings not designed for them.
 

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2016 3.6 Limited with ES
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3,039 Posts
Wait a sec.


Velo - you've been a member for 7 years and that's only your second post? Don't get crazy and stroke out from the frantic speed. Pace yourself there bud.


I'll be sure to come around in 2025 for your third post.
 
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