Category Archives: Lighting

Future lighting technologies – how will they affect aftermarket repairers?

It seems like only yesterday when the new E-Class Mercedes Benz set a pioneering technological new trend by becoming the first car in the world to offer adaptive headlamps developed by HELLA.

Seeing around corners and headlamps that recognise oncoming traffic may seem more Star Trek than real science, but just seven years on, and lighting technology that took the world by storm is now a feature on the more modest A- Class Mercedes-Benz.

It’s a sure sign that the revolutionary lighting technology – previously the preserve of top of the range vehicles – is becoming more accessible to the mainstream. As technological developments in all aspects of life quickly become commonplace, the automotive world has also experienced a swift rise in high-tech advancements, especially in the field of lighting technology.

Intelligent lighting

HELLA’s partnership with Daimler to develop a sophisticated Intelligent Light System (ILS), in conjunction with the adaptive high beam assistant for the Mercedes A-Class, is an example. The system adapts the light distribution to the driving situation, whether in the city, on a motorway or at a junction, therefore providing the driver with optimum visibility conditions.

The equally successful partnership with Audi has also seen full LED headlights fitted into the new Audi A3 while the Audi A6 and A8 boast a new generation of adaptive headlight technologies.

At the forefront of innovation

Achieving milestones is nothing new for HELLA. The company has assumed a pioneering role by pooling its expertise from the fields of light, electronics and thermal management to create new and innovative products. It’s a uniquely strong combination for developing LED lighting systems, which signal the future of automotive lighting technology.

By constantly developing and enhancing the options and areas of applications for LEDs, HELLA is involved in definitively shaping the LED era. Indeed, the company’s lighting credentials are well established.

It is globally recognised as a leading OE manufacturer of vehicle light sets and is perhaps best known for having been at the forefront of developments such as H4, projector (DE) lighting, HID (Xenon) lamps, LED adaptive headlamps and Dynamic Light Assist technology – which utilises intelligent interaction between a camera on the vehicle, powerful image processing software and the latest LED technology to deliver intuitive headlamps.

Rachel Pugh, Product and Brand Manager for Lighting at HELLA comments: “LEDs are replacing conventional light bulbs in more and more vehicles and represent the future for automotive lighting. First of all, they have simply proven themselves to be the better solution with economic and safety- related advantages. Technical benefits include longer service life, minimal energy consumption, higher visibility, and rapid response times. As a lighting pioneer, HELLA has made use of these solutions early on in a broad range of applications.”

Tomorrow’s people

Leaps in lighting technology may be exhilarating, but as the automotive industry welcomes the trend to adopt sophisticated lighting systems across a wider range of vehicles, garages need to be prepared for ever more complex fault diagnosis and repairs.

Whether general servicing and maintenance or, worse still, a front end collision has occurred, headlamp replacement will become a trickier task for the independent garage.

Rachel adds: “Although it will be some years before the advanced lighting systems being introduced into new cars will reach the aftermarket for repair, the crash repair sector is likely to see vehicles coming through within 18 months of the launch of the vehicle.

“What the new technology highlights is the pressing need for garages to invest in diagnostic equipment to increase their capabilities and be able to diagnose lighting faults. As vehicle lighting systems become progressively more complex, technicians are urged to future-proof their business by investing in capable diagnostic equipment.”

The road ahead

As garages and their technicians see lighting systems on vehicles becoming ever more complex, they can be confident that HELLA is committed to developing OE components for the aftermarket sector and, as the driving force behind automotive lighting technology, is well placed to develop and deliver an aftermarket programme to support this.


Beam Me Up – The Benefits of the New Technology 

LEDs offer three crucial advantages:

1) The light from LED headlamps is closest to daylight. This means that LED light is in keeping with normal human perception patterns. Studies have shown that the closer the colour of artificial light comes to daylight, the less the strain on the eyes. LED light is closer to daylight than xenon light.

2) LEDs are significantly more energy-efficient than regular bulb sets and, depending on the area of application, consume around 75% less power.

3) LEDs last considerably longer than regular bulb sets. At 10,000 hours, the average life of an LED is around five times longer than that of a xenon bulb.

Intelligent lighting – how to align

The number of advanced driver assistance systems that process information from cameras and radar systems is growing rapidly. As a result, workshops need to be able to calibrate the vehicle sensors, for instance after accident damage or the replacement of a windscreen.

A diagnostic unit that simply communicates with the control unit in the vehicle is insufficient for this crucial work. Instead it needs to be combined with a device for the calibration of the sensors in the vehicle’s X, Y and Z axis. This calibration is critical to ensure that safety systems such as the ‘intelligent lighting’, Auto Emergency Braking and Lane Departure technology are correctly aligned.

Developed by Hella Gutmann Solutions (HGS), the affordable and universal CSC (Camera & Sensor Calibration) Tool works in conjunction with the company’s range of mega macs diagnostic tools to ensure the correct positioning of the reference panel, in relation to the vehicle’s axis. The mega macs diagnostic tool then communicates with the vehicle’s ECU to perform camera calibration.

“With a little practice, calibration can be completed in less than 20 minutes.”

STEP 1 – Setting up


Implementation varies with each VM, though the initial position is always at the rear axle of the vehicle, together with the diagnostic tool.

Calibration will be explained here and the different calibration procedures can always be adapted quickly and simply.

Before the tool can be aligned with the vehicle, connect the diagnostic equipment to the car. After the vehicle selection you’ll receive step-by-step instructions for that particular model.

STEP 2 – Adjusting the CSC wall


Place the wall in front of the vehicle.

Now place the measuring heads on the front axle.

The distance from the middle of the tyre of the front axle to the reference panel must be adjusted based on the information from the diagnostic tool.

STEP 3 – Adjusting the CSC tool parallel to the vehicle


Place the wheel sensor on the rear wheels and balance it with the level.

Now site the scales on the alignment bar using the laser on the wheel sensor.

Then adjust the CSC tool by moving it to the left and right until both scales have the same value.

STEP 4 – Adjusting the CSC tool centrally in front of the vehicle


Aim the wheel sensor laser at the mirror on the alignment bar so that the laser reflects back to the scales of the wheel sensor.

Then adjust the CSC tool by moving it forwards and backwards.

You should do this until both scales of the wheel sensor have the same value.

STEP 5 – Adjusting the height of the CSC tool


Measure the CSC tool’s height value using the rulers and a zero point adjustment on the back of the frame – it should be measured from the ground up to the mark.

The allocated level specification can be found in the diagnostic tool.

The CSC tool can now be centred using a level and by turning the feet.

STEP 6 – Measuring the level values of the individual wheels


Measure the height of all four wheels – from the edge of the wheel arch to the ground.

Then enter the height (in mm) into the allocated fields in the diagnostic tool and start the calibration process.

The camera control unit will now automatically compare the picture from the entered information to the actual picture. The diagnostic tool then shows the calibration information and will inform you if the calibration has been successful.

Overcoming three tricky winter faults

Make: VW
Model: T5, Transporter
Model year: 2003 onwards
Those affected: All models with rear double-wing doors
Issue: Malfunction of rear window wipers

With some of the above-mentioned vehicles, a fault in one of the rear window wiper motors can lead to various malfunctions of the system. These affect the functioning of both the rear window wipers and also the front windscreen wipers.

In some cases, the rear window wipers work non-stop and/or they do not react to the various settings on the steering column switch. Fault codes are not necessarily stored in the control unit.

Defects in the rear window wiper motor can be caused by water entering via the wiper shaft. Severe oxidation or dampness in the interior can lead to “electromigration” or to a permanent positive connection. In such a case the wiper motors at the rear (as the culprits causing the problem) can first of all be disconnected so that (until the motors are replaced) at least the front windscreen wipers can function properly. In this situation, the rear window wiper motor(s) had to be replaced. The experts at HELLA resolve three tricky issues that garages may encounter this winter.

Make: Honda
Model: CR-V
Model years: 07.11.2001-17.09.2004
Engine: 2.0i (K20A4)
Issue: Failure of dipped headlightSide

The dipped headlight can fail on this vehicle with the cause often attributed to a defect in the connection between the light switch and the cable plug.

Friction can wear the coating on the contacts between the light switch and the cable plug which can result in increased resistance. In extreme cases, the high temperatures can melt the connection with the plug and the dipped headlight can fail.

The VM has acknowledged the problem and the 16-pole plug on the combi-light switch is now being checked in the garage and replaced where necessary.

Make: Mazda
Model: RX-8
Those affected: All models from 10/2008 onwards
Issue: Coolant level warning light illuminated

If the coolant level warning light comes on in the abovementioned vehicles although the coolant level is correct, a possible cause of the trouble is a faulty coolant level sensor.

In such cases, the coolant level sensor, the lead and the plug are to be checked for any form of damage and also for continuity of electrical current. If the sensor is welded to the expansion tank, then this tank has to be completely renewed.

The manufacturer now offers a modified coolant expansion tank for this purpose, under part number N3H1-15-350L.

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