Category Archives: Lighting

Tail light bulb specifications for Volkswagen Golf, GTI, GT Sport and R32

Tail light bulb specifications for the Volkswagen Mark V Golf, GTI, GT Sport and R32.

Tail & Brake light  bulb / Tail light bulb

  • Description: Longlife bulb P21W-12V21W
  • Part Number: N 017 732 8 (N0177328)
  • Quantity: 4

Indicator bulb

  • Description: Longlife halogen bulb H6W 12V6W
  • Part Number: N 104 455 02 (N10445502)
  • Quantity: 2

Reverse light bulb / Fog light bulb

  • Description: Bulb P21W-12V21W
  • Part Number: N 017 732 2 (N0177322)
  • Quantity: 2
  • Longlife bulb may be used in this location instead

Bulb holder for tail light bulb, tail & brake light bulb and tail light bulb.


Comparision between oem Philips long life bulb (left) and new oem Osram long life bulb (right)

vw_tail_light_longlife_brake_bulb_1 vw_tail_light_longlife_brake_bulb_2 vw_tail_light_longlife_brake_bulb_3 vw_tail_light_longlife_brake_bulb_4

Indicator bulb

vw_tail_light_indicator_1 vw_tail_light_indicator_2

    Upgrading Volkswagen Halogen Headlights to Osram Super Bright Off Road 65watt bulbs

    osram_super_bright_off_road_65w_64217Osram Super Bright Off Road H7 Bulbs contain a H9 element to boost light output to 2100 lumens (50% increase from standard H7 55w) with a 18% increase in power consumption (65w whereas a standard H7 is 55w).

    Osram EAN/Product No: 4050300524399
    Product Description: 64217
    ECE Category: H7
    Base (standard designation): PX26d
    Nominal Wattage: 65 W
    Lumens: 2100
    Life (hours): 500

    Comparison with NightBreaker (left in each photo)




    Comparison Photos with Osram Nightbreaker H7


    Nightbreaker H7 installed left and right. Light output 1,408,000 lux (measured 1m from centre of filament)


    Nightbreaker H7 left, Offroad 65w right. Light output 1,852,000 lux (measured 1m from centre of filament). 31% improvement.

    Upgrading the number plate lights to LED on the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, GTI, R32, Rabbit and Passat


    The bulb indicator denotes a failed bulb
    The bulb indicator denotes a failed bulb


    The rear number plate lights can be upgraded to LED however there is a problem with the bulb monitoring detecting failed bulbs and displaying a warning on the instrument cluster and MFD. There are a few approaches that can be taken and all revolve around adding extra resistance to the rear number plate light circuit to prevent the warning, one option is to install a resistor inside the car on that citcuit and the other approach is to add the resistor to the LED lights whilst being mindful that the bulbs are enclosed in a sealed enclosure so excess heat will melt the light fitting (as will fitting 10watt bulbs like the Polargs to replace the existing 5 watt bulbs).

    The point at which the bulb out warning activates is around 6 watts and the LED modules that were used here are 1.5 watts so an additional 3 watts of load was required, after some testing 2 x 270 ohm resistors performed nicely and did not generate excessive heat.

    Parts required are

    Start by wrapping the resistor around the body paying attention to the end that is isolated from the body (some shrink wrap will be placed around this end to prevent a short circuit), once the legs are fully wrapped use a dremel/sandpaper/file/knife to scratch away the coating near the legs in preperation for soldering. Place some shrink wrap over the resistor and the leg on the end that is isolated and solder the legs to the end caps.

    The resistor needs to be kept close to the body to maintain clearance to fit into the housing and to transfer heat to the body away from the resistor.


    Once both units have been finished all that’s left is to fit them, these are polarity sensitive so if they don’t work the first time you put them in reverse them. When fitted to the holder correctly as shown below they have room to spare on each side. Make sure they are facing downwards as the light output is very directional unlike the standard bulb which outputs in all directions.


    Retrofitting Xenons (HID) Lighting to reflector housings

    Retrofitting Xenon or High Intensity Discharge (HID)  lights to replace the standard halogen reflector setup may seem like a good idea and a whole lot cheaper than paying the $1000-2000 premium for the factory Xenons / Bi-Xenons but in reality not only is it illegal but not a very wise move.

    Firstly there are a number of different ways to deliver light, lens optics, reflector optics and projector (polyellipsoidal) however only the latter two are still used.

    Reflector lamps which are used by the majority of cars and the other is a projector lamp which are used by cars with Xenons and some cars with Halogen globes.  Projector housings have a few drawbacks and one is that there is a very sharp cutoff of light and the other is that due to the optics used some light is lost so using them with Halogen can result in a drop in light output. Some older cars came from the factory with Xenon’s fitted to a reflector housing but they used a bulb designed for this application and the reflector shape was designed for the Xenon however they still suffered from some light scatter.

    Problem 1. Light scatter

    The biggest problem is glare and blinding oncoming traffic, the reflector is designed for use with Halogen and not Xenon and you end up with a lot of scatter as the diagram below demonstrates. You could have a light source that measures 10,000 lumens but it would be useless because of poor reflector design, to utilise Xenon correctly you need to use a projector lense hence why every car on the market with an OEM Xenon / Bi-Xenon option uses projectors.


    Xenon globes can output up to three times the light of a Halogen globe, this is a key issue with these retrofit kits as the reflector on the left is a standard reflector and the design is to send the light in one direction with some scatter whereas the projector housing on the right is designed to focus all the light on the projector lense, a cut off shield prevents most of the glare and gives the sharp cutoff.

    With much of the light being scattered the performance of Xenon’s is generally nowhere as good as that of Halogens, the improvement that is seen is a lot more light in front of the car but a lot less in the distance on the road where you need it. Daniel Stern sums this up well “It’s tricky to judge headlamp beam performance without a lot of knowledge, a lot of training and a lot of special equipment, because subjective perceptions are very misleading. Having a lot of strong light in the foreground, that is on the road close to the car and out to the sides, is very comforting and reliably produces a strong impression of “good headlights”. The problem is that not only is foreground lighting of decidedly secondary importance when travelling much above 30 mph, but having a very strong pool of light close to the car causes your pupils to close down, worsening your distance vision…all the while giving you this false sense of security. This is to say nothing of the massive amounts of glare to other road users and backdazzle to you, the driver, that results from these “retrofits”.” (see link below)

    At this point hopefully you’re having second thoughts about fitting that cheap chinese Xenon kit you won on the online auction site but don’t dispair because purchasing a projector housing could give your Xenon/HID lighting without blinding other users.

    Problem 2. Colour of the globe

    The colour of the globe (known as the kelvin) is often marketed as the bluer the better by the sellers of the kits, nothing could be further from the truth as the following shows.

    Here are some light outputs of some common Xenons and a standard halogen for comparison purposes.

    4300k D2S Philips = 3200 lumens
    4300k D2R Philips = 2800 lumens
    4800k D4S/R Osram = 3800 lumens – Best performing globe on market
    5800k D4S/R Osram = 3300 lumens
    7000k D2S Chinese = 1790 lumens
    7000k D2R Chinese = 1390 lumens
    8000k D2S Chinese = 1180 lumens
    8000k D2R Chinese = 780 lumens

    Standard OEM halogen 55W H7 = 1500 lumens

    Just because this hid conversion appears to put out more light doesn’t mean that it does, the scatter makes you think there is more light and you loose depth perception and night vision the higher the colour temperature of the globe.

    Under 4500K you get more yellow, between 4500K and 6500K you get more white and over 6500K you get more blue.

    No OEM globe is 8000K and generally OEM is 4300K to 4800K because this gives out the most light. And there are no 10000+K globes either, these are globes that are ~8000K with a coating over the globe that further reduces the light output.


    (photo from Bay Area HID Specialists)

    Problem 3. Quality of the components

    And how good are these “german designed and chinese made” kits? The decent Osram/Philips globes sell for around $200+ each online. The cheap chinese made kits comes with a pair of globes, ballasts and installation kit for around $150 so quality has to suffer, components to put together a decent OEM kit will come to $2000 and this doesn’t include the cost of the projector lamp.

    Other then poor quality, high failure rate and poor performance the cheap ballasts can catch fire, your insurance may not pay out when your car burns to the ground or your wiring loom gets melted. Example 1,  Example 2.

    To summerise, the higher the kelvin (temperature) the less light output you get (lumens) so stick around 4300K, if you must go for a retrofit get a projector light housing (oem where possible) and buy a good quality kit with brand name globes and avoid fitting Xenons to reflector lamps.

    A few videos on why retrofitting Xenons should be avoided.

    Video 1 Video 2

    Daniel Stern is one of the worlds foremost experts on automotive lighting and has written an excellent article.

    Tests by the DOT and CalCoast Labs on Halogen headlights fitted with Xenon’s.

    Test 1 Test 2 Test 3

    Nearly every country in the world has banned retrofitting Xenons.

    NHTSA Crackdown NHTSA 1 NHTSA 2 NHTSA 3

    Banned in Europe Banned in Hong Kong Banned in New Zealand

    Adding high performance halogen bulbs to your Volkswagen

    Adding higher output aftermarket headlight bulbs to your Volkswagen will result in a different colour output and additional light but there is a tradeoff and this is the lifetime of the globe.

    Based on data from the respective manufacturers the light output (measured in lumens) and lifespan (measured at 13.2v) is summerised below for H7 .

    1500 lumens, 330/550 hours

    Power Saving – up to 20% power saving
    (Philips EcoVision)
    1500 lumens, -/- hours

    Long Life
    (Osram [email protected], Philips NightGuide DoubleLife, Philips EcoVision, Philips Longer Life)
    1500 lumens, 450/930 hours

    Plus 30 – up to 30% more light
    (CPI BrightLight, Sylvania Xtravision, Narva Rangepower,Tungsram High Output, Philips Premium)
    1500 lumens, x hours

    Plus 50 – Up to 50% more light and 20m longer beam
    (CPI Super Bright Light, Philips Vision Plus, Osram Silverstar, Narva Rangepower+50, Tungsram Megalicht)
    1500 lumens, 150/220 hours (1580)

    Plus 80  – Up to 80% more light and 25m longer beam
    (Philips X-tremePower):
    1500 lumens, 100/200 hours, 3400°K (1620)

    Plus 90 – Up to 90% more light, 10% whiter light and 35m longer beam
    (Osram Night Breaker, Narva Blue Power):
    1500 lumens, 100/200 hours, 3750°K (1620)

    Blue coated – up to 20% more light then standard with bluish-white light
    (CPI Bright Light Blue, Osram Cool Blue, Narva Rangepower Blue, Philips BlueVision, Philips CrystalVision Ultra , Tungsram Super Blue, Tungsram EuroBlue, Sylvania Silverstar or Silverstar Ultra, PIAA, Hoen, Nokya, Polarg)
    1500 lumens, 100/200 hours, 4000°K

    Philips CrystalVision
    1500 lumens, 100/200 hours, 5000°K

    Higher wattage – 65 watts (no issues with the extra heat or load as it’s only 10 watts over stock)
    Osram Rallye +65 (manufacturer part number: CP64217)
    2100 lumens, x/500 hours, 3200°K

    Lumens – this is the light output as measured by the manufacturer. This should not be used to measure the performance of a bulb as the filament design denotes the performance, the light output from many of the different types is around the same but the headlight performance and appearance of the bulbs differs vastly from long life to standard to high output.

    • long life bulbs have larger filaments that burns cooler, this reduces the beam focus which shortens the throw of the light and creates a browner light colour.
    • high output bulbs have smaller filaments that burn hotter, this tightens the beam focus which lengthens the throw of the light and creates a whiter light colour.

    Hours – denoted as B3/TC. B3 is the average lifespan and TC is the point at which 63.2 percent of bulbs have failed.

    Colour – measured in Kelvins. Further explination etc to follow.


    • The figures may be a composite where there are multiple brands and types listed in a category, if  one manufacturer differs greatly they will be listed separately and where figures are not available or are not accurate this will be noted by the manufacturers name being in italics.

    Osram-Sylvania, Philips-Narva, Tungsram-GE

    Golf hatch light upgrade to twin LED modules

    The standard lighting in the hatch of the MarkV Golf leaves a lot to be desired, the easiest way to upgrade this is the use of LED modules. The drop in replacement units that replace the standard globe are not going to push out much more in the way of light because of the design of the fitting so I choose to use 2 flat directional 28 LED modules. Installation takes around 60 minutes.

    The standard lighting is shown in the photo to the right.

    After unpacking the new LED light kit you will have a set of adapters for replacing the standard light, foam to stick the LED light kit to a surface and the LED unit itself.

    This unit has 28 LED’s in a 4 x 7 layout. (edit I’ve just replaced the units with a 48 LED unit – see details and photo below – the photos still show the 28 LED module)

    The standard globe is around 39mm which is longer then the longest adapter. There are a few options here. You can cut the wiring harness and join the wires on, solder wires to the light fitting or my recommended way is to extend the longest adapter. This is a simple process that involves you carefully using pliers or slip joint  pliers to loosen the ends, once one end comes off mix up some epoxy resin and fill the end and part of the tube and push it back together until you end up with the adapter being the same lenghth as shown in the photo below. The 48 LED module comes with a spring loaded adapter so this isn’t required however I would place some shrink wrap over the outside to minimise any risk of the spring moving and causing a short as this will blow the interior light fuse.

    Clip the adapter into the light fitting and fit the light as shown, the double sided tape included is sufficient to hold the module in position but as there is little surface area for it to stick it you need to wipe down the area with a suitable cleaner. You could use a cable tie to ensure it stays in place as you can see in the photo to the left but I found this isn’t required, this can all be done without removing any trim. You can see a wire attached to the harness in this photo which is the power to the other side and also at the right hand edge you can see where the wire passes down from the top behind the trim and down into the trim that runs down beside the hatch opening.

    The photo on the right shows the hatch with one of the new LED modules installed, the light is an improvment but there is still a shadow cast by the wheel arch.

    To run the cable around to the other side I tucked it in around the trim, you can see the wire sticking out from a few places to give you an idea of how to run it. The left hand side LED module is fitted the same way as the first, get the wire hanging out of the correct location and then fit the module and stick it into position.

    That’s it, the install is now finished, all the wires can be tucked away and you should have a result that looks like this (the new 48 LED modules are even brighter and have a slightly warmer colour).

    The 48 LED modules are USD $8.28 delivered anywhere in the world from Dealexteme, the new .  The light is also projected out to the ground behind the car providing extra illumination. These LED modules draw ~3.4w (275ma @ 12.45v) each so combined they draw ~6.8w which is ~1.8w more then the single incandescent globe did earlier.

    New 48 LED Module

    The 28 LED modules are USD $10.84 delivered anywhere in the world from Dealexteme however I ended up with dry joints on both of these in a number of locations, some where from new and some developed soon afterwards so I don’t recommend these any more.

    It might be worthwhile fitting a resister when the lights are installed if the lights are operated with the engine running but as I only use my hatch with the car switched off most of the time I didn’t worry about this.

    Volkswagen Golf Auto Headlights above 140kph

    The Golf has a feature turned on by default in countries that have the “auto” european light switch.

    The only requirements are the Central Electronics Controller (09) of type 3C0 XXX XXX XX, a RegenLichtSens (RainLightSensor) and the european light switch.

    The operation of the system is

    • Lights turn on at 140kph (actual speed not speedometer speed)
    • Lights turn off after 10 minutes driving under 80kph (again actual speed) or 10 minutes stopped (with or without ignition turned off)

    Disable Auto Headlights above 140kph

    1. Open the Central Electronics Controller (09)
    2. Click the drop down box and choose the RegenLichtSens (RainLightSensor)
    3. Note the software coding (00)208933 (most cars have different codings)
    4. Convert to Hex 3 30 25
    5. Remove 1 from the left hand value Hex 2 30 25
    6. Convert to Decimal (00)143397 and replace the old coding.

    Enabling Auto Headlights above 140kph

    Perform the above but instead of removing 1 from the left hand value you add 1.


    • +1 = Highway Light
    • +2 = Rain Light
    • +4 = Rain Closing

    The left hand value has the following options.

    • 0 = No option
    • 1 = Highway Light (1)
    • 2 = Rain Light (2)
    • 3 = Highway Light (1) + Rain Light (2)
    • 4 = Rain Closing (4)
    • 5 = Highway Light (1) + Rain Closing (4)
    • 6 = Rain Light (2) + Rain Closing (4)
    • 7 = Highway Light (1) + Rain Light (2) + Rain Closing (4)

    Conversion can be down with the windows calculator as shown in the images (windows 10 in programmer mode)

    Step 1: Enter the existing as decimal and this converts to hex, note down the hex value.


    Step 2: Select hex, enter the hex value you want (in this case ALL the options) and note the decimal value.


    Volkswagen Golf Reverse Light Upgrade PIAA XTREME

    PIAA 27watt XTREME Globes
    PIAA 27watt XTREME Globes

    The PIAA XTREME White Bulbs that I ordered a few weeks ago arrived today, going by the reviews and the claim this should not only give me a whiter light but extra light out the back. Whilst the coating on the globe would reduce light output to a certain extent the fact that they were 27watts instead of the standard 21watts instilled me with confidence that they would achieve both of these claims and resolve one of the minor issues with the VW Golf GTI which is only one reverse light.

    They arrived well packaged in a nice presentation box and I fired up the lux meter in preparation for a blinding display from the PIAA. The results speak for themselves.

    Measured on a digital lux meter at 500mm and 1100mm.

    Standard 21watt          PIAA 27watt
    403                             146   (550mm)
    75                               27   (1100mm)

    Pretty disappointing and whilst the light from the PIAA looks whiter and brighter when looking at the globe it doesn’t illuminate anywhere near the same area as the standard globe. Needless to say the PIAA globe has been removed. The globe also felt a fair bit hotter (hotter then expected) then the standard 21watt globe, the coating also smelt burnt (may have been because the coating was new). Needless to say the globe has been returned to standard.

    Upgrade Golf Headlights to Osram Nightbreaker

    Upgrading to the Osram Night Breaker +90 in the Golf makes a reasonable difference to the throw of the lights and a substantial difference to the colour.

    Osram Nightbreaker
    Osram Nightbreaker H7

    Osram claim up to 90% more light and up to 10% whiter light which from what I can see is pretty accurate.

    The standard globes fitted to the Golf were reasonable but could certainly be improved, I would recommend taking optional bi-xenon lights where possible but unfortunately in my case I ended up having to settle for a car without them or face an additional 3-4 months delay.

    It’s hard to show the difference the light makes in photos but you can see the difference in output and throw clearly when you’ve changed one globe. The comparative picture from Osram shows the difference between standard and the Nightbreaker +90’s.

    Overall I would estimate the additional output/throw to increase the distance from which you can see to be around 20%.

    These globes were purchased from Powerbulbs who offer free shipping worldwide.

    At the same time I fitted the Philips BlueVision W5W globes to replace the parking lights which were quite yellow looking. These were included free with the order from Powerbulbs and make a big difference.