Sylvania SilverStar zXe’s, The Best Headlight Bulbs

Slyvania SilverStar zXe
Slyvania SilverStar zXe

As the days are getting shorter with winter upon us, I am sure you are using your headlights more. Inevitably one of your headlight bulbs is going to burn out or be on it's last legs, putting you in the market for new headlights. When you take a trip down to the auto parts store you should consider upgrading to some better bulbs, like the Sylvania Silverstar zXe's.

Sylvania was nice enough to send me a set of zXe's for my 96′ Honda Accord. Some fans of Adam's Auto Advice might remember I also wrote a review of the Slyvania SilverStar Ultras.  (Also see my review of the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit.)  After using the zXe's I wouldn't bother with the Ultras because the zXe's are hands-down better.

This was made obvious one night while driving to a friend's house in Northern Baltimore county. The roads to his house are small, twisty, and lack streetlights where walls of trees line the side of the roads. This forced me to rely on the zXe's. With the brights on, they effortlessly lit the way for my Honda Accord. I had driven this same route with the SilverStar Ultras which were great, but definitely not nearly as good as the zXe's. The dark roads were simply no match for the light that the zXe's produced.

Another night, driving home on a dark Baltimore city street, I noticed two people walking in the middle of the street. I mean they were literally walking in the middle of the street! I braked and swerved around them honking. Luckily I saw them far before an accident would have occurred, but I am pretty sure I wouldn't have seen them as early without the zXe's.

Also, when driving in rain or bad weather, the zXe's shine. They are particularly useful at night when it is raining.

What makes the zXe's superior is fullness of the white light and the intensity. Some headlight bulbs provide a wide lighting area but the light diminishes around the edges, reducing their effectiveness. This doesn't happen with the zXe's crisp illumination.

“SilverStar zXe headlights use a proprietary cobalt blue coating combined with xenon halogen gas technology to generate a color temperature that rivals HID.” according to the description on Sylvania's website. Part of the appeal of the zXe's for auto enthusiasts and tuners is they mimic High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlight housings without the expense and hassle of installation. A big advantage to the zXe's is they are 100% legal and Department of Transportation (DOT) approved so you don't need to worry about running into any legal trouble. Sylvania hopes you will consider these before buying a set of HID's. While the zXe's did slightly improve the look of my Honda Accord with slicker lights, I am not sure the zXe's are a true replacement for the overall look of HID headlights. This is strictly my opinion though, maybe they look better on other cars.

One complaint I have read about the zXe's is that they do not last as long as regular bulbs. Slyvania doesn't really advertise it in big bold letters but on the box it does say, “Slyvania SilverStar zXe lamps are engineered to achieve the highest performance possible, which results in product life that is less than standard lamps.” So they are not trying to hide this or mislead Sylvania customers. It states this limitation clearly and it might be something to be aware of before purchasing them.  I have been using my zXe's for a number of months and haven't noticed that the light has diminished or had a bulb burn out though.  If they do I will let people know.

Once you use Slyvania's zXe's you will most likely not care about what the box says. It would be hard to go back to using any other type of bulb for your headlights. They are better and brighter then anything I have ever used and if you buy a set, I am pretty sure you will be happy with that choice.

Videos from my Visit to Rocky Mountain National Park

For those that follow my blog closely you probably remember my epic roadtrip from Irvine, CA to Baltimore, MD.  On my roadtrip I saw a lot of really cool places, people, and things.  One of the highlights of the roadtrip was my visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado.  A truly beautiful place!

Even though I took a lot of pictures at the Rocky Mountain National Park, some of which you can see here, I finally uploaded videos I took during my visit last summer!

All the videos were taken driving up Trail Ridge Road and as I took in all the sights, sounds, and views of the stunning park.  Getting higher gave you a better view and experience of the nature and surroundings.  Of course driving up the narrow roads with 300 foot drops off the side can be a little nerve-racking.  It was fun as well though!  I highly recommend you go visit if you ever get a chance.

Took me long enough and hopefully I will get around to uploading more pictures and videos I that have languished on my laptop for a long time.  Watch the videos below at least and let me know what you think!

BumpShox Protects Front Bumpers from Bad Drivers

BumpShox, Front Bumper Protection!

Do you hate it when bad drivers hit your bumper? Sooo annoying… especially if it's a brand new car!

BumpShox might be your solution. The BumpShox bumper protector is a relatively new foam-based automotive product that looks like a big oversized license plate holder (well it is), but it is a bumper protector. It fits in place of any standard license plate and can be installed easily on virtually any car.

I have been testing the BumpShox for awhile, on several vehicles. I liked using the BumpShox on all of our cars (a 2002 Toyota Camry, 1996 Honda Accord.) Not that it really adds to the look of the Camry or Accord, but it sure is a conversation starter when people notice it, point, and ask “Hey, what's that?”

However, one of the points of the The BumpShox is it's unobtrusive, small, and does not detract too much from the look of the car, at least when compared to other bumper protectors. Typically other bumper protectors or bumper guards will cover the whole bumper and are pretty damn ugly. What's the point of owning a Mustang if you can't enjoy the beautiful lines?

For the most part the BumpShox is not that noticeable. Once you get used to it, it's sort of a fun little addition to your car.

On one of my roadtrips, I parked my Accord in a large parking lot with a few cars. You would assume there was little use for a BumpShox in this situation. When I came out of the store, to my surprise someone had parked a tad to close to my car! The BumpShox was cushioning my car's bumper against a hideous Dodge Caliber.  (Who drives a Caliber anyway?)  I was quite pleased with this and the BumpShox saved me a a weekend of DIY bodywork, which probably would have come out with bad results.

So for protecting your front bumper against stupid and bad drivers, even in large parking lots, the BumpShox can work well.

Where the BumpShox supposedly really shines is in tight parallel parking spaces in cities. The only issue is that it is only going to protect your bumper when you are in the space or parking and moving forward to reposition your car.

Because the BumpShox is unobtrusive and small it won't protect the majority of your bumper at various angles when parking. Only slow front end taps will the foam cushion work.

For complete bumper protection, the BumpShox is not necessarily ideal. Of course larger bumper protectors that cover your whole bumper cost $150+. That's a lot to shell out! If you are tired of having bad drivers hit your beautiful bumper, the $35 bucks it costs to buy a BumpShox is probably a good investment. If you want to buy two, it will cost $60.

I can't guarantee that the BumpShox will work in all situations. For light front-end taps and bumper protection from bad drivers who can't park, even in a large parking lot, it did it's job well on my Accord. That's good enough for me! 🙂

Sylvania Silverstar Ultras Make The Road Bright & Visible

You get into your car after a long day at work. The sun set long ago and it's dark out so you get in, put on your seatbelt (right?), then turn on your headlights. Lights…what lights? You can hardly see anything in front of you!

If you find yourself in this situation with your headlights, I recommend replacing the bulbs asap. If you are going to be replacing your headlights anyway, why not upgrade to some really bright Sylvania Silverstar Ultras?

I have been using a set of Sylvania Silverstar Ultras (#9006) in my Honda Accord for the past few weeks, and I got to say, “Wow!” having a brighter set of bulbs in your car makes a big difference while driving at night.

After driving around for awhile with such awesome and bright headlights, you tend to forget the dimness of the old bulbs. For comparison sake and for this review, I decided to put one of my old lightbulbs back in my headlights and drive my Honda Accord around. The difference between the Silverstar Ultras and my old bulbs would be much more visible side-by-side.

It was a bit hard to get a good picture at night (even with my Canon Rebel), but the difference is clear and incredible!

Bright!

You can see how the Silverstar Ultras fill out the headlight more, while the old bulb just doesn't cut it.  Honestly the one Silverstar Ultra bulb lights up the road well and compensates somewhat for the old bulb's lack of brightness.  The Silverstar Ultras were bright enough for to me realize my lights were out of alignment too.  (That was nothing that a screwdriver and a bit of patience couldn't fix.)

The only problem I have read about with these Sylvania Silverstar Ultras is a lot of people complain that they don't last long.  If you look on the back of the packaging there is a graphic that shows the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras are indeed bright, but show their life is much shorter.  Also “SYLVANIA Silverstar Ultra lamps are engineered to achieve the highest performance possible, which results in product life that is less than standard lamps.” is also printed on the back of the packaging.

That doesn't really bother me as I would rather replace really bright bulbs more often, than drive with bulbs that don't light up the road well at all.  So far I have experienced no issues with the bulbs deteriorating in brightness or going out prematurely.

The Silverstar Ultra packaging does claim to improve your forward visibility by 40% and side visibility by 50%. I think those claims are a bit lofty. After making proper adjustments, my guesstimate would be that Silverstar Ultras improve forward visibility by 30%-25% and maybe 30% on the sides.

Of course there is no easy way for me to truly measure or test my guesstimated numbers.  Getting out a measuring tape was futile!

The brightness of the bulbs makes for a much more enjoyable and safe night driving experience though.  The light that the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras bulbs puts out is much more focused, clear, and full then what I had before which was terrible.

Results can vary depending upon the condition of your headlights. If you have cloudy or yellowed headlights, getting a set of Silverstar Ultras bulbs will not improve visibility too much. The best thing for you to do is buy a headlight restoration kit and spend an afternoon restoring them to a clear and visible condition.  Then buy new bulbs if they are not good.

Bottom line, I used to dread having to drive my Accord at night or in bad weather because I thought I would hit another car, person, or object. Now it's not as much of a problem with the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras installed.

MD State Emissions Test

Write on the Envelope to make sure you don't forget the Emissions due date

Today I had to go do what most Marylanders dread, the MD State Emissions Test.  This is something you are required to do every 2 years to make sure your vehicle is not spewing too much noxious Co2 into the atmosphere in the great state of Maryland.

I waited longer than it took to actually do the test.  As most know all the test really is is hooking up your car to a computer.  What the technician did to my car today was hook-up my car to the OBDII scanner, check for a code, and that was it.  If my car didn't have a OBDII or OBDI port they just would have not checked for any codes.  He also did what is known as a “Gas Cap” test, essentially just to make sure the gas cap is there.

I left feeling great I had my emissions test out of the way and was at least glad it only took me about 1 hour and 15 minutes from my house to the emissions place on Erdman Avenue and back.  You know I realized when I got back to my house, it is just a good way for MD to make some money.  What do you think?