Auto Headlights Very Dim

Sort of off topic, but close.....
I normally drive my Chevy pick up truck all the time, even though it was intended to be a "farm truck". But recently I decided I needed another vehicle for several reasons. For one thing, when I am working on the truck, I have nothing else to drive. Also, my truck gets fair gas mileage, but still uses more gas than a car.
I was looking at used small "compact" cars. I immediately saw that they would be real hard to repair because there is no room in the engine compartments. I also decided that I wanted more interior room. Compact cars are meant to haul people, and little more. I am always hauling something, like my camping gear, or some lumber, or whatever. While I still have the truck, I still want to bring home a small amount of lumber from a building supply store, or use the vehicle to go camping, etc.
I ended up buying a 96 Plymouth Voyager mini van. It has enough space inside, to haul my "stuff", has some space in the engine compartment, and is still not a large gas guzzling vehicle. Being older, it's still fairly simple compared to much of the newer vehicles, and I found one for a good price with a very good body, which also runs well.
But there was one thing I did not forsee. Driving this vehicle at night is dangerous. The headlights are horrible. In my truck, I can see a hundred (or more) yards ahead of me. In this minivan, I am lucky to see 50 feet ahead of me, and that is with the BRIGHTS ON.
The first thing I did was to get some of that headlight lens cleaning stuff, and clean and polish the plastic lenses. That helped a little, but they were still far too dim. I then adjusted the lights so they would shine higher (further down the road). That helped a little more, but the lights themselves are just too dim.
The bulbs are the stock halogen type that push into the plastic housing from the inside. (Not entire bulbs like the older cars had).
One consideration is to install some after market lights on the bumper. Usually sold as "Fog Lights". I dont fully understand the law in regards to these bulbs, but I was told they are not legal for normal (no fog) conditions in town. I am going to ask the D.O.T some more questions about this.... Most of my driving is on rural back roads, where there can be deer crossing the road and similar issues. On those back roads, it wont matter real much (to the cops), if I use them all of the time. (And if you ask me, anything that helps see the road better should not be illegal, but laws are made by idiot politicians who are usually clueless).
While googling about this, there are thousands of complaints about the brightness of the headlights on this vehicle. Some recommend the "Sylvania SilverStar Ultra Bulbs". A pair of them at the local parts store sells for $50, but I found them on ebay for half that price. I dont mind spending that money if they really work, but I hate to buy them and still find them too dim. I also read that they have a short life and need to be replaced about yearly.
There are also LED replacments, but they are very expensive.
If there was a way to do it, without ruining the looks of the vehicle, I'd find a way to replace the entire headlight assembly with plain old round or rectangular bulbs like on the older cars, but that would result in lights with exposed bulbs and no trim around them. Those older bulbs always worked well, cost less to buy and were easier to change and maintain. But our so called "progress" has turned simple lighting into complicated and costly lights that get foggy, need regular maintenance, are more costly, and still lack performance.
Do anyone of you have any suggestions, tips, or other information?
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On Saturday, August 27, 2016 at 5:05:37 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moo

I've had poor results with Sylvania headlight bulbs. They light up fine, but are expensive and don't last. I believe there was some class action thing or similar, you might want to google to check.

ARe those lenses now perfectly clear? I used the 3M kit to polish some up and it worked very well. If the lenses are clear, are you sure there is a full 12V getting to the bulbs, the bulbs are grounded, etc? Simplest thing might be to sell the car and buy another.
There was a news story about headlight tests on SUVs a few months ago. The results were all over the place, without regard to cost of the vehicle or manufacturer. They showed sided by side photos of what you could see with one of the best cars versus one of the worst. It was a huge difference. The poor only lit up directly in front for a short distance and a little on the right shoulder. The best went much further, fully lit the right shoulder and also lit the left side of the road and it's shoulder. You could see the left shoulder at least as good as the right shoulder with the poor lights. So, given that's new cars, IDK what to tell you.
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I agree wirh trader. Unhook each lamp and check ground resistance. Should be close to 0. Start the van, turn the light switch to ON, and measure the DC voltage. It should be above 12.6 v. Also take a friend's car out for a night time cruise. Do those lights look dim? If so your truck may need to have it's lights re-aimed.
Dave M.
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On 8/27/2016 4:03 PM, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moo wrote:

The Sylvania's are worthless, IMO. Nice output but very short life. For what they cost, not worth it.
Confirm the lenses are completely clear and free from the foggy look. Then confirm the bulb connection is receiving 12 volts. If so, LEDs are not as expensive as they once were. I replaced my entire car with them. They operate at a brighter lumen with lower wattage. Look for daylight (5000k) or higher lamps. I would use the LEDs
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On 8/27/16 3:03 PM, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moo wrote:

Cut a bunch about vehicle lightning.

Some information here: <http://traffic.findlaw.com/traffic-tickets/unlawful-vehicle-modifications-state-laws.html/
These are for motorcycles but might make mounting easy. http://www.saeng.com/category.php?category `
I have a push button on the tank that lets me turn them off or on. I shut them off when vehicles approach. They're on while I'm using low beams. Ya think van lights are dim?
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On 08/27/2016 04:40 PM, Dean Hoffman wrote:

http://www.twistedthrottle.com/brand/denali/
Denali's are good too but might be worth more than a '96 Plymouth van. Clearwater's will really light up your life but they are definitely worth more.
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On 8/27/16 11:05 PM, rbowman wrote:

Got it bookmarked. I also put a set of PIAA horns on my Suzuki. I read something years ago that made sense. Putting lights in a triangle shape clicks the brain some how that makes them more noticeable than the traditional light bars.
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On 08/28/2016 05:22 AM, Dean Hoffman wrote:

The last thing I need is PIAA's. About the only time I use the horn is when I take a stab at turning off the directional signals and miss, scaring myself.
Suzuki got it right on the V-Strom. Coming home last night I remarked to myself how much better it is than the DR-650 or Sportster.
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On 8/27/2016 4:03 PM, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moo wrote:

20 year old bulbs can be dim. Check the voltage and ground too.
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On Saturday, August 27, 2016 at 9:14:18 PM UTC-6, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Chrysler has had an ongoing problem for years with their voltage control. I had problems with poor lights on my 1984 and 1986 Dodge trucks. They did NOTHING about it. My 2009 Dodge Van lights were somewhat better but still not as good as competitors in the industry IMHO. Re-aiming really did help as the factory settings were off a bit. ===
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Check the voltage at the battery while the engine is running -- should be somewhat over 14 volts. If it's not, then either your alternator or voltage regulator needs replacing. (Lots of older Chrysler products have a separate voltage regulator, not integral with the alternator. Not sure if that applies to your 96 Voyager.)
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On Sun, 28 Aug 2016 17:17:25 -0000 (UTC), Doug Miller

96 voyager has integral voltage regulator in the computer. There is a kit to bypass the computer and install an external regulator.
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If you had read my *ENTIRE* original post, you would have noticed that I said I JUST REPLACED THE BULBS with *NEW* OEM Bulbs.
All voltages are correct, and connections are proper.
Alignment may be an issue, and I intend to do a little tweaking of that, as soon as I can find the correct measurements. I know to park it on a level surface and aim the lights at a wall, but I need to learn how far to park (distance between headlights and wall), and how far from the ground, the lights should focus. I will likely have to go to a Chrysler dealer to get these measurements.
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On Sun, 28 Aug 2016 15:17:33 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moo wrote:

No you won't. Just google "easy headlight alignment" 25 feet from garage door etc on level ground, 2 inch drop. It's that simple - and the procedure is universal.
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On Sun, 28 Aug 2016 17:58:24 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Ok, Since in front of my garage is sloped, I found a relatively flat place. parked 25ft from a tree, and stood a sheet of plywood against the tree. I located the adjuster and did as stated. I think I turned each adjuster about 15 turns. It's no wonder I could not see anything, they were nearly aimed at the bottom of that plywood sheet.
I then took it out on the road and could actually see ahead of me, and see street name signs. (after dark of course). It makes a heck of a difference...... Once I got on the road, I noticed one light was slightly differnt than the other, so I tweaked one of them slightly, right on the side of the road.
This vehicle has no body damage and the lights are tight. Apparently someone really screwed up the alignment before I bought this van. The horizontal seems ok, but the verticle was WAY OFF !!!
I still think I'm gonna get some brighter bulbs, but now I can actually see far down the road ahead of me, not just see a two or three squares of concrete in front of my van.
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On Mon, 29 Aug 2016 04:47:11 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moo wrote:

Trailer hitch? The guy likely adjusted the headlights for a heavy load at the back.
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On Mon, 29 Aug 2016 13:37:09 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

There is no hitch on it, but I suppose there may have been one at sometime in the past. That does make sense!!
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snipped-for-privacy@unlisted.moo posted for all of us...

Clair gave good info; the former owner may have hauled heavy stuff around and adjusted them accordingly. If it was in a wreck then maybe it wasn't corrected.
--
Tekkie

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Ed Pawlowski posted for all of us...

+1 This should be the first step. You may have an electrical problem.
--
Tekkie

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