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MG MGF Technical - Dull Headlights


I've just remembered that last year my MGF only just passed the MOT due to the headlights being a little dim. The problem is that the plastic screen inside the unit for the dipped beam (I think) has gone brown and a little cloudy.

I'm guessing the whole light unit would need replacing if this has got any worse? Any recomendations on where to get them and a rough cost estimate? And is it a fairly simple job?


Dan Wavell

Dan, the chromed plastic bowels go cloudy with age. Fortunately, it is possible to get them rechromed.

Some very tragic news just through on the General forum, the chap who was re-chroming our headlamps has sadly just past away :o(

I think that we're going to need to find a new re-chroming service.

I did notice at Silverstone that Glenn (of MG Mania) had new headlamp bowels ready to fit - so he may be worth a call...

Fitting wise is pretty straightforward - see here:
Rob Bell

Hello all,

If the headlights were dim due to the plastic screen being a little cloudy what happens when the screens are painted. You see the screens painted to match the body colour so is that a bad idea in terms of MOT?


K Ferns

Geoff will indeed be sadly missed, that was most unwelcome news 8-(

Kevin, the silvered moulded insert that can be painted Trophy-style doesn't affect the beam at all, it's purely cosmetic. The issue for the MOT is the condition of the reflector bowls around the bulbs (behind the lens in the case of the dipped beam). Point your headlamps against a wall, and if there is a clearly defined beam pattern then you should be OK, if the reflectors are below the required standard you get a diffused pattern and a reddish tinge.
Mike Hankin

Very sad news. I had my reflectors boxed ready to send to Geoff. I have however been searching to see whether any other alternatives are available. I have found a company in the Birmingham area who do carry out aluminium vacuum metalising which is the process I believe Geoff carried out. I have spoken with and emailed pictures of the reflectors to the company and will advise of their response whether or not they are able to deal with these items. If they can we can then enquire futher re costs.
Geoff Smart

That's great Geoff - hopefully they'll be as competitive as Geoff Smith was. Certainly having somewhere to re-silver the head lights would be a very valuable thing for the MGF community.

Mike, what happened with the reflectors and the exchange carry cases that you were organising? Are these now part of Geoff's estate?
Rob Bell

They're stacked up in what I used to describe as my spare bedroom, so if we can find someone capable of the same service we've no further hurdles. I'm waiting for responses from a couple of car restorers to see if they have any contacts, but the company Geoff has found sounds a likely prospect - look forward to hearing the verdict.
Mike Hankin

One further query in connection with this matter. The company need to know the operating temperature of the lights on main beam. They need this to correctly treat the reflector so that it doesn't turn 'milky' as the original coating has done. Anyone out there know the answer to this?
Geoff Smart

Can't see anything marked on the moulding that suggests a temperature parameter, so I'll see if my O-level french can be stretched to asking Valeo the question.
Mike Hankin

I have an IR surface temperature gauge that I could use - but how reliable this would be on a highly reflective surface I am not sure? I suspect that I'd need to strip the headlamps down in order to do it too - so not terribly practical... :o(

I think that a guestimate on the optimistic side might be in order Geoff...
Rob Bell

Has any more been discovered from Valeo or the IR temperature sensor or just guestimate of the headlamp internal running temperature?
I am sure I am not alone in considering improved illumination even with brand new MGR units recently fitted. Aftermarket bulbs provided they did not exacerbate the dull bowl problem which must be as much heat related as any other influence?
Perhaps this may have been discussed in A.N.other technical forum - Any more thoughts anyone?

Charles, I have to confess that I haven't got anywhere near my workshop :o( The weather has been far too nice! ;o)

If this is the information that's needed, then I may get to have a look at this over the weekend - other activities permitting!
Rob Bell

>> Aftermarket bulbs provided they did not exacerbate the dull bowl problem which must be as much heat related as any other influence? <<

Heat is indeed the key consideration. When Geoff Smith was investigating this, he found that the heat lead to the plastic substrate 'gassing' that damaged the aluminium layer and thus destroying the surface - which works in addition to the oxidation that's seen.

Given that areas away from the bulbs are usually in excellent condition appears to confirm the heat hypothesis.

There are a number of after market bulb options now available - many of which are incredibly bright, but with lower current draws.

So long as these bulbs generate more light than heat, this could be a good partial solution to the longer-term problem.

Something like this could be used:

Although, with a colour at 6000 kelvin (the spec sheet actually states 6000-8000K), I suspect that the light being emitted by this particular kit is far too blue - most conventional halogen lamps are probably closer to 3000K...
Rob Bell

I would be very intrested if we could get a group buy going for a HID H1 replacement kit. The price would need to be lower than the £225 though
Steve Ratledge

Realised that o-level French might not be the best means of communication with a Belgian company, do we have any Belgian speakers in our ranks?
Mike Hankin

Steve, do you fancy researching and organising a group buy? I'd be interested, although as I mentioned before, I think that any light with a colour temperature of over 6000 kelvin is asking for trouble from Mr Plod...

Mike, you need to have a nice chat with Erik! ;o)
Rob Bell

Isn't the OP asking about the plastic lens rather than the chrome reflector bowl?

Having just had the nearside unit replaced after an accident, the contrast between the two headlight lenses is striking. The lens is cloudy and bound to diffuse the reflected light, however shiny and new the bowl is.
Trevor Hobden

I am still endeavouring to sort out the replating issue. I am today sending a reflector to a company called DUAL METALLISING of Tyseley, Birmingham. They will hopefully be able to let me know the likely unit cost. This will inevitably be high based on a unit of one! I will advise when I have the info. However, Trevor is right. The opaqueness of the lense as this also clouds is a seperate problem. If the costs of renovating lense and reflector are added up it might still be much less expensive than a bulk buy of headlights!
Geoff Smart

I have as mentioned forwarded a reflector to Dual Metallising and also spoken at length with them. They advise that they can do the job but would prefer to tackle a pair of reflectors at one time. Does any kind soul out there have an 'off side' reflector that they are able for the time being to loan me. Once the pair are plated I can replace those on my car and repay the loan! By this stage I will also have determined how much the service is likely to cost. If anyone would like to discuss this with me please send me your phone number by email.
Geoff Smart

You donít need O level French to contact Valeo. It is an international company so someone will be able to speak English. Alternatively you can contact the U.K. office at this address.

BTW there is no such language as Belgian. The two official languages are French (Walloon) and Flemish. That is Dutch to you and me. There is also a small part that speaks German, just to confuse things!
Cecil Kimber

Er Mike are you there and have you a pot of reflector bowls?
C.R.B. Simeon

Emailed Geoff this evening, been offline for a while. Stock stands at 8, but 2 of those are only slightly less than perfect so 6 is the current requirement but another sorry pair may be arriving next week.

The dipped beam lens should clean up OK, a good scrub with detergent or glass cleaner is all I've ever needed to do to get them sparkling again.

I'll try my luck with Valeo on Monday if I get chance. Geoff Smith did apparently make enquiries about ordering brand new reflectors direct from them but got nowhere, I'm wondering if that was when MGR were still in business. Might be worth another go now, if we can organise a source of non-exchange reflectors we ought to be able to get some commitment from MGOC/MS/MGFC/B&G to bulk up the numbers.
Mike Hankin

Mike ,
Good to hear we may be able to reverse 'Project Drive' or whatever else nonsense they passed off as 'business strategy'. Keep it up. I have acquired track day wheels.......soon.
C.R.B. Simeon


I have 2 "spare" reflectors ready to be resilvered and would be happy to bundle these up with you one as a test batch. I will however need them back and fitted to my car for the MoT due next month!


PA Beet

I hope that Dual Metallising can set up an exchange service?

Geoff, can I have contact details etc? I'll add their details to my website when I remove (with a heavy heart) Geoff Smith's contact information.
Rob Bell

Made several calls to various Valeo offices this morning, no-one seems to be able to confirm where we'll get the temperature information. Reading between the lines this suggests they were not actually made in a Valeo factory, but were bought in from another supplier and branding applied. They're sticking to their guns that they can only supply complete headlamps, seems nothing will persuade them that they ought to consider a spares service.

Looks like there'll need to be an educated guess on the coating thickness, erring on the side of 'generous' even if this does make the price higher.
Mike Hankin

A bit of over-engineering never did any harm :o)

Mike, I would suggest a target price of about £75 - i.e. the same as Geoff was able to produce re-coated reflectors for. Seems sensible?
Rob Bell

Yup, it's a labour-intensive process so below that ballpark I don't think anyone's going to be interested in taking it on.

Particularly annoying is the fact that you can buy the glass without the rest of the headlamp attached, but not the other way around... even that would be an improvement!
Maybe there's a nice man at X-Part that could make that happen..?

Mike Hankin

I doubt that they could make it happen quickly, but they could be in a position to buy, in numbers, reflectors from Valeo - and in this senario, money talks...

Might be worth an email to X-Part?
Rob Bell

This thread was discussed between 27/06/2006 and 11/07/2006

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