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*** Tail Light Issues ***

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Member
mgburg's picture
Onalaska, WI
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Joined: December 27th, 2005

Posts:
235

Vehicles
1977 280E
1976 450SLC

Hey gang!

This past evening, I got pulled over by a local officer for having a non-functioning right rear brake light.

While he was writing me a "pink-slip" for a repair-warning only, I was allowed to get out and check the fixture...I removed the back-up (BU) lamp and put it in the brake lamp position - the bulbs were the same wattage (21W) and since the BU wasn't an issue, that seemed to be the best solution at that moment.

The "pup" officer thought that was a "neat" trick, but he still gave me the pink-slip anyways (Brownie points for him, I guess! :p ). Now, here's the question...

The bulbs in the fixture are as follows:

Back-up (BU), Brake (B) and Turn (T) have the following info on their bases:
12V 21W - PHILLIPS - 12498 (The base is silver, not copper)

Rear Marker (RM) is as follows:
12V 4W - Dr. G. Fischer - 15607 (The base is silver like the PHILLIPS bulbs...)

Running Lamp (RL) is as follows:
12V 5W 207 R5W - THORN - 1C E11 21H (The base is silver like the PHILLIPS bulbs, but the glass is a smaller diameter...is this the right bulb for this application?)

Any recommendations for where to get the replacements? Websites that you have used and YOU trust?

I intend to change ALL the bulbs due to the fact that they, probably, haven't been changed in over 11+ years and I don't want the wife getting pulled over for something like this (BTW, guess WHO was sitting in the front passenger seat during this little episode? :p )

Any help on this would be most appreciated...since I have "Fausta" parked in the yard now, I'll get this posted and read any responses later in the morning.

TIA!

:D

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Alex's picture
Long Island City, NY
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2004 Sprinter
2004 CL500
2004 C320
1981 300TD

The best place to get the right replacement lamps is the nearest M-B dealer.

When the dealer was not easily accessible I've purchased ordinary single and double filament 12 Volt lamps at a nearby auto parts store, with good results (no problems with the Cruise Control, either.)

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Alex Rosner
Member, NYC-Long Island Section
Member, MBCA Technology Committee

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lkchris's picture
Albuquerque, NM
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2007 GL320 CDI 4MATIC

IMHO light bulbs provide in a microcosm the difference between German (maybe just European) and American automotive engineering.

Seen a new GM car lately? Probably has a burned-out park light or "daytime" light.

My 1984 BMW motorcycle that I bought new has never had a burned out lightbulb.

Motorcycling is "rough service" of course.

GM cars ran around with burned-out bulbs in the '80s, too.

Everyone says the Sylvania Silverstar headlight bulb doesn't last very long. Well--hey--they're blue and that's VERY important. Conveniently available at Pep Boys.

The Osram Silverstar, however, advertises same life as any halogen bulb and it seems the case to me. Not blue, however. Just whiter.

Nice source for these and other European bulbs is http://www.powerbulbs.com

All part of the learning experience as to why Mercedes is best.

Hopefully the "learning" is to not install Amercan parts.

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mgburg's picture
Onalaska, WI
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Joined: December 27th, 2005

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235

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1977 280E
1976 450SLC
*** Thanks... ***

vlayton wrote:
Mark, I WOULD always seek the OEM wattage bulbs.

The tails (running) should be 10W. The strip panel should have the correct wattages imprinted on it.

Dealer bulbs are good.
Autohaus AZ should have the right ones.
Performance Products HAS been good for these, but once I got a bag of 1157 instead of the 21/5W for the front signals- I sent them back and said I wasn't buying any more until they corrected it. (After they insisted they were spec supply) All the others then and since have been okay, but I dare not order more 21/5W from them, hopefully they've corrected this/
When this happened, I called George Murphy at Performance Analysis and got two dozen OSRAM 21/5 bulbs. If you go to George, you'll support a fine MBCA member who understands what and why the MB original designated wattage bulbs are needed.
Everything else sounds dandy, wattage-wise!
Cheers

Vince & gang!

Thanks for the Feedback...

Vince, I knew you knew what the wattage was suppose to be on those Running/Tail lights! I thought 4Watts looked a little dim! :cool: I'm sure a 10Watt will brighten things up a bit. ;)

I'll check the panel in the daylight (Don't you ALWAYS have to change a bulb when it's dark outside?!?!) to see if I can see those markings you're talking about...I'm sure they're there...

I'll PM George for 3 sets of bulbs...2 sets for a complete changeout of the current set in service now, and 1 set for a "backup" set of spares...

Thanks again!

:D

Anonymous
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vlayton wrote:
once I got a bag of 1157 instead of the 21/5W for the front signals- I sent them back and ...

If you guys will excuse the heresy, but the 1157 are quite suitable for the 2-filament front signal bulbs (US market signal lights) and the 1156 are quite suitable for:
brake, reverse, and single filament front signals (European/ECE front single-filament turn signals).

The 1156/1157 carry the proper wattage and CP.

As for the running light/taillight, the wattage is lower than that of a 1156. An 1156 should not go there.

1156 LED replacements sold at Parts R Us stores are suitable for the rear running light (tail light) and are ideal for that application. (Your car needs the US socket for this.) They don't put out sufficient light for the turn signal. Also note that the LED replacement bulbs are typically red.

I don't know about the R10W lights used as city lights/parking lights in the front of the delux headlights, and probably the side lights. These should be 5w if possible for the front, and 3w is sufficient for the side of US taillights. If the glass bulb is larger than the base, the R10W won't fit inside the headlight, so you probably need the genuine European spec light for that.

Anonymous
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vlayton wrote:
... I would sell my clients short if I used/suggested anything else, whether a substitute works or not.

Agreed. If I went to a shop and they said, "Oh, an 1156 is good enough" I'd at least question it (unless I already accepted 1156, but I might question it anyway). The opposite is true if the shop verified that aftermarket is an improvement (e.g., LED in place of running light). But that's the difference between "aftermarket" and "replacement".

There are subtile differences. A 9003 headlight bulb may or may not be the same as an H4. (Any H4 should have the "circle E" mark on it, especially if it carries the "9003" designation. The reason -- "9003" is a DOT certification.) I hadn't seen any plastic MBZ lenses, so there's probably no reason to look for the "U" hekhsher on MBZ headlight bulbs.

I'm just commenting that 1156 provides good performance for D-I-Y individuals who aren't purists. They provide good quality lighting, and won't melt the housing or fry the wiring. If you match one 1156 with one P21, you won't see the difference (although presumably you'll change the pair).

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mgburg's picture
Onalaska, WI
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1977 280E
1976 450SLC
*** Follow Up... ***

Hey folks...

George called me while I was on my way back from Dubuque, IA. yesterday afternoon. He says he's got the bulbs "out the door" and on their way to me.

Again, Vince, thanks for the wattage "heads up" and rest assured, even though I've mentioned LED replacements for certain situations, when it comes to the signal lamps and such, I'll stick w/what the factory spec'd.

On a side note w/the LEDs...

Because the LEDs run "cooler" than the incadescents (sp?), when there's an accumulation of snow on the tail-light lenses, LEDs don't give off enough "heat" to melt off the snow. Too many times, I've almost run into the rear of semi-trailers on the Interstate up here in Wisconsin because of that very problem.

I know I won't be using LEDs on the rear of the Benz.

Again, folks, thanks for the information.

;)

.

Anonymous
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Taillight bulbs

Alex wrote:
The best place to get the right replacement lamps is the nearest M-B dealer.

When the dealer was not easily accessible I've purchased ordinary single and double filament 12 Volt lamps at a nearby auto parts store, with good results (no problems with the Cruise Control, either.)

I have been using standard bulbs in my car for years never had a problem when the cruise control.

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