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2009 Outback 2.5i Limited 4AT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I was looking into upgrading to some leds for my high and low beams. The only issue I have is the legality. I live in New York and can't seem to find a yes or no answer to the question of whether or not they're legal. I actually bought the bulbs already and I love the look of them in my OB and they are way brighter than the old halogens the previous owner had in there. I didn't drive on the road with them because I didn't want to chance it if they aren't legal. Having leds isn't worth a ticket or blinding oncoming traffic.

After digging through NY's traffic laws I didn't see anything that specified leds can't be used on the road or even that a vehicle's lights cannot be modified. The limit for brightness is technically 32 candlepower in NY (~402 lumens if my crappy math skills are correct) but I'd imagine just about every modern halogen bulb is much brighter than that. After reading posts from other forums and watching some videos mostly with police officers' input, the only conclusion I can come to is "aim them properly and you'll probably be fine" but I'm not putting leds in my car if I'm not 100% sure they are legal. I've also read that putting leds into a housing designed for halogens isn't technically legal. I don't want be the stereotypical early twenties Subaru owner who is blissfully unaware of the disruption caused by modifying my car. If anyone could provide a yes or no kind of answer that would be awesome, I can't be the only person in NYS wondering.
 

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2005 Outback VDC limited 3.0r
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1,251 Posts
LEDs can appear brighter, but in a halogen housing wont actually throw the light as far out while driving. At least ones I have seen in person and videos. They also tend to scatter higher even with the factory cutoffs. Where these cheap leds or the nicer ones? $100+ ones tend to have better focus points and don't blind on coming traffic to badly. Personally I havnt seen any vehicle with after market leds in factory housings have more usable light. Just blinding people. Another thing is you can get a led that is close enough to the factory bulb color where you won't be pulled over. Just remember to aim the headlights whichever option you choose to reduce glare for on coming traffic.
 

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2009 Outback 2.5i Limited 4AT
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36 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for your reply! These were on the cheaper side but they appeared to replicate the halogen bulbs pretty well to my untrained eyes and I did aim them down a bit just to see what it would look like. Now that you mention it, the light didn't throw as far (even before I aimed them down) and my main concern is avoiding deer since hitting one totalled my last car. I never really paid attention to what the halogens looked like in terms of glare but I'm sure it's less than these. I could probably replace the assemblies with something designed for leds but these are pretty much brand new so it would be kind of a waste. Halogen it is then. Thanks again for your advice SwitchPNW, hopefully this will help someone else make a decision. (Sorry for the long winded posts I'm new to the whole forum thing)
 

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2009 3.0R Outback
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779 Posts
I'm in NY and will be installing LEDs in my '11 Legacy soon. Not concernded at all with legality, but I will make sure they aren't too blinding for other drivers. Already have the bulbs, but I have a new bumper I need to put on so I'm waiting to find the time to do it all at once.

Side note for the high beams. Do not install LEDs without disabling DRL. For one, not all LEDs work properly with DRL, but even of they do, they will be blinding to other drivers. I tested mine, and while they do work at a reduced power level, they're still way too bright.
 

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2009 Outback 2.5i Limited 4AT
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm in NY and will be installing LEDs in my '11 Legacy soon. Not concernded at all with legality, but I will make sure they aren't too blinding for other drivers. Already have the bulbs, but I have a new bumper I need to put on so I'm waiting to find the time to do it all at once.

Side note for the high beams. Do not install LEDs without disabling DRL. For one, not all LEDs work properly with DRL, but even of they do, they will be blinding to other drivers. I tested mine, and while they do work at a reduced power level, they're still way too bright.
Thanks for your reply! I disabled the drls and installed the canbus things for the high beams. If I were to keep the leds in I would only put in the lows and fogs. With the drls enabled and the canbus units the drls operate at full brightness all the time (and flicker a little) unless the lows are on and without the canbus units they are the correct reduced brightness but they flicker like crazy so it's a catch 22. I'd rather just live with halogens until these assemblies need to be replaced or something.
 

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2009 3.0R Outback
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Thanks for your reply! I disabled the drls and installed the canbus things for the high beams. If I were to keep the leds in I would only put in the lows and fogs. With the drls enabled and the canbus units the drls operate at full brightness all the time (and flicker a little) unless the lows are on and without the canbus units they are the correct reduced brightness but they flicker like crazy so it's a catch 22. I'd rather just live with halogens until these assemblies need to be replaced or something.
Now that you mention it, I think there was a small amount of flicker, but I plan on disabling the DRLs or maybe reconfigure things so the "city lights" act as the DRLs.

I have LED foglights going in as well, buy they're proper LED modules that have a very clean cut-off. They're also dual color white/yellow, but they switch color with each on/off cycle which is kind of annoying.
 

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'10 3.6R Outback Limited, 2zr swapped Toyota Yaris track toy, '12 Mazda3 skyactiv
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743 Posts
I agree with the above - LED's in halogen housings look brighter and have brutal glare but don't actually give more useable light.

I upgraded all of my cars to Phillip's xtremevision +100 halogens and they make a very noticable difference over OEM bulbs. They are priced well off of Rock Auto and have a somewhat decent life span. Sylvania makes a much brighter halogen but you will be replacing them every year and they are pricey.

If anything I'd think about HID's if you have projectors but even those are not optimized for HID bulbs if they come from the factory with halogen.

Upgraded aftermarket halogen bulbs go a long way for giving you more useable light that you will actually find helpful.
 

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2005 Outback Wagon 3.0 L.L. Bean
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1,226 Posts
LEDs in those housings. No
 

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2005 Outback Wagon 3.0 L.L. Bean
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1,226 Posts
Look into HIR bulbs. They are easily modified to fit. What is HIR??
 

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2005 Legacy Wagon Limited 4EAT
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251 Posts
I live in NY too. Don't know if you noticed but it's a free-for-all out here with headlights. You've got people with HID's in reflector housings, purple headlights, light bars, etc... The cops are incredibly unlikely to bother you if it even looks remotely OEM.
 

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2009 Outback Limited 2.5i Pearl White Metallic
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121 Posts
Easiest upgrade is better Halogen bulbs. Sylvania Xtravision is a nice affordable upgrade... that also has a long service life. They are't BLUE, and offer nice, bright light.
 

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2009 Outback 2.5i Limited 4AT
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I live in NY too. Don't know if you noticed but it's a free-for-all out here with headlights. You've got people with HID's in reflector housings, purple headlights, light bars, etc... The cops are incredibly unlikely to bother you if it even looks remotely OEM.
Yeah I've noticed that. I've seen people with red lights on the front of their car cruising down the highway. With my luck I would be the one guy they pull over for excessively bright headlights or something which is why I wanted to see if they were technically legal in the first place. Personally, I prefer the look and the extra brightness of leds but they really don't project as far and they produce a lot more glare for other drivers from what I can tell by standing in front of it and moving around.
 

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my 06 head lights are completely standard and throw out a great beam even though the lenses are faded .. before you start spending money make sure your lights are correctly adjusted etc .. too many people fit LED / HID to lights that are not designed for them ...
 

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So I was looking into upgrading to some leds for my high and low beams. The only issue I have is the legality. I live in New York and can't seem to find a yes or no answer to the question of whether or not they're legal. I actually bought the bulbs already and I love the look of them in my OB and they are way brighter than the old halogens the previous owner had in there. I didn't drive on the road with them because I didn't want to chance it if they aren't legal. Having leds isn't worth a ticket or blinding oncoming traffic.

After digging through NY's traffic laws I didn't see anything that specified leds can't be used on the road or even that a vehicle's lights cannot be modified. The limit for brightness is technically 32 candlepower in NY (~402 lumens if my crappy math skills are correct) but I'd imagine just about every modern halogen bulb is much brighter than that. After reading posts from other forums and watching some videos mostly with police officers' input, the only conclusion I can come to is "aim them properly and you'll probably be fine" but I'm not putting leds in my car if I'm not 100% sure they are legal. I've also read that putting leds into a housing designed for halogens isn't technically legal. I don't want be the stereotypical early twenties Subaru owner who is blissfully unaware of the disruption caused by modifying my car. If anyone could provide a yes or no kind of answer that would be awesome, I can't be the only person in NYS wondering.
[/QUOTE
my 06 head lights are completely standard and throw out a great beam even though the lenses are faded .. before you start spending money make sure your lights are correctly adjusted etc .. too many people fit LED / HID to lights that are not designed for them ...
I installed Diode Dynamics low beams in my base model 19’. They project better than the stock halogen bulbs. They also don’t have a blinding/bloom effect. Albeit they were $150 for the pair.
 

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05 GT wagon, 09 Spec B, 18 3.6R Outback
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2005 Outback Wagon 3.0 L.L. Bean
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Those overwatt bulbs last 4-6 months. I used to use them. See my link above for HIR bulbs. They are as bright as the overwatt bulbs but don't burn out quickly. I've had the same ones for 3 years and counting.
 

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05 GT wagon, 09 Spec B, 18 3.6R Outback
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How long do they last? A lot of these really bright bulbs don't last very long before burning out.
I seem to be getting 18+ months to years out of them. Sorry, over all the years of keeping records for the cars, the head lights are the one thing I didn't track. I know its not a short time.

Back in late 2004, Subaru came out with a upgraded bulb for these cars because they would burn out the OEM bulbs quickly. I bought my GT wagon June 28 2004
 
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