When we think of LED light bars, the first thing that often comes to mind is a lifted pickup truck with massive light bars spanning the length of the roof. You might find them obnoxiously bright and may even consider them an eyesore towards the vehicle's aesthetics. However, these light bars do serve a practicality and the shorter bars can easily be adapted to fit cars of all sizes.
With the various car clubs that I am a part of, we often drive on mountain roads at night. Less traffic and cooler temperatures make for a better drive, the only real concerns are animals and the limited visibility. However, with my LED light bar leading the way, it completely transforms the road into a near day-like driving experience.
Volvo's factory bi-xenon low beams:
LED light bar turned on:
The bar I installed on my Volvo C30 is an Eyourlife 20" Light Bar from Amazon.com.
For cars and trucks equipped with fog lights, you may notice that the fog lights or low beams turn off when high beams are engaged. In many areas, this is a legal requirement, as only four projecting lights may be on the front of a vehicle. Therefore, to keep a light bar as a legal accessory, it must be installed as a "utility light." This requires operation by an independent switch from within the cabin. I opted for a toggle switch mounted by the shifter, allowing for a quick shut-off in the event that oncoming traffic approaches.
Wiring and installation of light bars is fairly straight forward: power, switch with a fuse, and ground. Most lighting accessories should come with detailed wiring instructions specific for the LED bar or projectors which you are installing. However, mounting location is entirely up to you. Some people choose to mount their lights on push bars or roof racks. To keep with the clean lines on my cars, I oped for installing the bar in the lower grille opening.
Brackets hold the bar to the car's actual bumper. Despite being so close to the ground, the bar still does a phenomenal job of illuminating the road, shoulders, and even the tree tops ahead.
While it may not be the most attractive component on the car, the added confidence of night driving far outweighs the cosmetic appeal. I still receive compliments from other drivers about the uniqueness and usefulness of this simple modification. Light bars are not just for campsites and off road trails any more.
Michael lives in Dahlonega, GA where he works full time as manager of an accounts receivable department. Despite a bachelors in New Media Arts, his true passion is in modifying and maintaining the cars that he and his wife own; Volvo for life. Many in the Volvo community might recognize his screen name, MyNameIdeasWereTaken.