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Headlight info?

IamGaryGnu

Member
Jun 16, 2021
506
1,750
Central New Jersey
Hi All,
I'm trying to learn more about the headlights. In recent past I thought I heard folks say they weren't great in the past, not sure if any better now.
I read the manual earlier today about the lights, and I see there is adaptive (or active?) headlights - that follow the steering wheel.
I presume the lights are LEDs.
Do we know anything else? Not counting the cosmetic "eye brows" but the business end, are there separate regular lights and brights (I imagine so) versus say, BMW or Mercedes that use shutters.
I saw at least a few years ago I think some 3's and possibly Y's had matrix LEDs in the headlights - does the S?
How is the lighting overall - pretty solid, or weak?
And if LED as I believe, do they throw off a nice, solid white, and illuminate a good area in front, and also wide?
Lastly, (not lights, but related) I presume the car warns you about deer, dogs, etc. on the road? Anything else? And further than the lights illuminate or at least eyes can see?
I had NightVision in my last BMW and that thing was superb - it showed heat - so the road would be mostly dark, you could see some shapes, but animals or even transformers really glowed.
My Benz has Nightview Assist - which I hate. It shows a much clearer image, like a black and white movie -- but there is way too much information - it is a perfect image, whereas the BMW's bare image really popped when there was a deer or heat source.
Both of those cars had great lights, I THINK the BMW was able to show me heat signatures before I could see the object with the lights.
I don't notice a distance improvement on the display versus what the Benz lights illuminate, though I can be mistaken.
Thanks so much!
 

DerbyDave

Active Member
Jul 2, 2020
1,277
781
Kentucky
Tesla does not have any night vision. The warnings should alert you to animals and people in the road, currently only if they are a danger and warning occurs. People, dogs, etc. walking along the side of a 2 lane road are not visualized, but will be in the new Full Self Driving rewrite. It does visualize the object in the dash viewer when they are a danger, so a dog looks like a dog, a person looks like a person. I liked the night vision you describe from BMW and Mercedes. I had Audi night vision, and it was really nice in the country to see deer and animals along the sides of the road so you could be more prepared if they moved in front of you. The 2020 lights are total LED, except I think the eyebrows are still fluorescent. Hopefully they are improved this year, but I doubt it. The have very bad ratings and I think they are horrible, coming from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. The Tesla Model 3 evidently has really good headlights.
 

DerbyDave

Active Member
Jul 2, 2020
1,277
781
Kentucky
An additional observation is that they are adaptive, but I do not see any added illumination in curves, as the testing link above shows. It is nice that when you turn a corner or reverse, cornering lamps illuminate to help see around the car and into the street or driveway you are turning into. The test indicated that there is no auto dimming. It has auto dimming now, but it is vision based and does not work in the country, or very well elsewhere. On my car it flashes oncoming traffic regularly to the point I can't use it. Tesla does things differently from other manufacturers, and sometimes their approach is not successful.
 

IamGaryGnu

Member
Jun 16, 2021
506
1,750
Central New Jersey
An additional observation is that they are adaptive, but I do not see any added illumination in curves, as the testing link above shows. It is nice that when you turn a corner or reverse, cornering lamps illuminate to help see around the car and into the street or driveway you are turning into. The test indicated that there is no auto dimming. It has auto dimming now, but it is vision based and does not work in the country, or very well elsewhere. On my car it flashes oncoming traffic regularly to the point I can't use it. Tesla does things differently from other manufacturers, and sometimes their approach is not successful.
thanks for the replies. Yeah, sounds like Tesla is so far ahead in some areas, and lacking at least in the headlight arena (well, that and communication!)
I liked my BMW nightvision much better than Benz, though Benz does something kinda cool (maybe not from the pedestrian's standpoint) - it flashes on a pedestrian 4 times quickly - so when it gives me a warning and shows up on my display (which is overloaded with info already) i see the 4 flashes out the windshield as the flashing lights rotate to aim on the person as i'm whipping past.
THAT part is pretty amazing.
But as I've mentioned, the purity of the display at night is too much - I don't want to watch the whole thing and try to spot stuff, in the BMW the screen is mostly muted and then the heat very clearly shows itself.
I think Audi also has that - i think it is FLUR based.
Wished Tesla had something like that.
Perhaps as you mentioned the new FSD can sort of serve similar functions both day and night.
I HAVE had the Benz ignore deer in front of me - major fail.
and I do like the warning if there are deer, dogs, people, bicyclists (who I guess are still people!) either in my path, or heading to my path.
 

WilliamG

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
4,115
5,753
Seattle, WA
Are the headlights on the S that bad? I’ve really liked my Model 3 headlights. They’re fantastic. I’m worried the S are really bad now. 😞
 

headcase

Member
Jan 23, 2015
574
1,092
Raleigh, NC
Are the headlights on the S that bad? I’ve really liked my Model 3 headlights. They’re fantastic. I’m worried the S are really bad now. 😞
They aren’t great but are bearable. Many of us existing Model S owners are buying the refresh, if that tells you anything. Don’t sweat it.
 
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nomis_nehc

Member
Jul 9, 2018
219
162
Rancho Cucamonga
As a 3 and refresh S owner, I will tell you that 3's headlights are superior in every way.

To the original OP, Tesla's Model S illumination definitely leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you're coming from BMW and Mercedes. My previous was a BMW E60, and its illumination seriously blows the hell out of my S' out of the waters.
 
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ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
7,013
13,804
California
As a 3 and refresh S owner, I will tell you that 3's headlights are superior in every way.
Agreed, assuming the refresh S lights are the same they’ve been using since 2016.

They’re really terrible. IIHS gives them them the lowest rating of “poor”. Model 3 gets the highest rating of “good”.
 

foos

Member
Apr 26, 2017
32
59
Philadelphia
Anyone have any success replacing or upgrading the stock lights to get better visibility? I've searched all over here, but keep coming up empty. I'd think quite a few owners would be interested.
 

krsgio

Member
Nov 8, 2018
411
398
Colorado
There's people who successfully went from the pre-refresh to 2016+ LED lights so I'd assume that there'd be a way to go backwards if possible to the nosecone HID headlights. After doing a projector retrofit in my 2015 lights that was a significant improvement and people said the stock 2015 were better than 2016+ lights.
 
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DBV1

Member
May 11, 2020
277
282
Amherst, OH
Agreed, assuming the refresh S lights are the same they’ve been using since 2016.

They’re really terrible. IIHS gives them them the lowest rating of “poor”. Model 3 gets the highest rating of “good”.
Wow - can’t believe they did not make them better than what the Model 3 gets. Drive a BMW 5 and used to great headlights. Don’t like going backwards.
 

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