1996 Lexus ES 300 Long Term Road Test

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1996 Lexus ES 300: Let There Be (Better) Light

November 19, 2012


ES 300 Headlights.jpg

I was getting ready to put the Philips X-treme Power headlight bulbs into our 1996 Lexus ES 300 when I had a chance to take this picture. I parked the ES (left) next to Mark Holthoff's 1999 Mercedes-Benz CL500 with xenon headlights. The difference is pretty obvious. The ES's lights are yellowed while the Benz throws a nice clean white light.

Sunday afternoon I popped the new bulbs in with high hopes to rival Mark's beams. Here's what happened. 

First of all, I discovered one of the ES's high beams was burned out so I had to run down to the local auto parts story where I bought Sylvania Silver Star for $39 (minus one of those really irritating $15 mail in rebates). Then, I had to take out the battery to gain access to one of the low beam bulbs. But I was done in less than an hour with all four bulbs blazing away. 

Next time I get together with Mark I'll shoot an "after" picture. But I did drive the ES back up to the same location and eyeballed the result of the new bulbs. There is no question that they are brighter now but, because of the yellowed headlight lens, they now cast a brighter yellow light. So, as many of the commenters have said, need to clear the headlight lens too.  That will be the next DIY project. 

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 151,763 miles

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