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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All,

One thing I noticed with my 91 L was the fact that the interior lights all seem awfully dim. Should I chalk this up to age, or is it a case of "break out the contact cleaner, change the bulbs, make sure the battery's charged and things should be better" ? I know, nit picky given the car's engine just ate a valve, but I've got time on my hands and would like to solve this mystery for my own sake.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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Dumb question, but did you turn up the rheostat?

If you did and they're still dim it's possible the rheostat is going bad. If the 164 is like other Alfas you can bypass it. Usually there are three wires to the rheostat +12 (pink or red), ground (black), and out to the lights (yellow probably). If you connect the +12 directly to the lights wire they should be on as bright as they can be.

Don't connect power to ground, obviously.
 

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Also, remember that generally lights are usually not as bright if the engine is not running, and just the key turned on.

Start the engine, rev the engine to have the alternator start putting out so that the voltmeter reads 14+V, and things usually brighten up, as they will be when cruising down the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Would the interior courtesy lights be routed through the rheostat? The gauge clusters are fine, but when clicking on the map lights I notice they're pretty weak. That's with the engine running, too.
 

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Ah, those map lights are not the brightest in the world, even when ok. The ones in my 91S are not bright either. There was a guy, forgotten his name now, who had a fix for those by putting in small halogen bulbs.

OK, found it:

His name was Taso, and the info can be found by doing a general search in the 164 Digest web site under "map lights":

164 Discussions - Interior Light Upgrade!!

(from 11 years ago).

Don't know where he is now, he hasn't posted in the BB for a while as far as I know. He is/was in Philly? He had good ideas.

There is a ton of 164 info in the 164 Digest site. I really suggest you peruse through it to see what was discussed in the original 164 days, as well as later discussions for fixes, prior to the apparent switch to the BB by 164 owners. I still use it for much info on my cars.
 

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Mine improved considerably with a good polishing of all contact surfaces.

My console doesn't have a dome light so it's quite dark inside (oh, the ambiance!). What sort of halogen bulbs are we talking about?
 

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Taso says:

"10 Watt IKEA projectors that you can get at the spare parts isle in their light store"
 

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Taso said that they didn't on the 91-93 map lights, His car being a 92 164 automatic. Don't know about the LS diffuser situation.

I would also think that LEDs would be a good option.
 

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But Mad North-Northwest
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If I can trust the application guide, the dome light is a 6418 festoon bulb. If that's the case this LED should be about twice as bright (if it fits...it's oversized).

https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/festoon/3710-led-bulb--6-x-2835-smd-led-festoon/2160/4949/

The map light looks like a 194. There are options here that look like they're 2-4x as bright:

https://www.superbrightleds.com/cat/led-vehicle-replacement-bulbs/filter/Cross_Reference_Number,194,21,201:

Do your homework and verify this stuff yourself, though, as I have no idea if these are the right numbers or if these bulbs will fit in the 164.
 

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I used the brightest equivalent LEDs I could find, they are much better, but still could be brighter, I think.

These days, I bet you can find brighter LEDs and use them. I don't remember offhand which bulbs they are, but when you buy them, remember to buy two for the rear seat lights too, or you'll wish you did!

With LEDs of this size, there shouldn't be any problems with heat.
 

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I used the brightest equivalent LEDs I could find, they are much better, but still could be brighter, I think.
The issue with LEDs is the very cold light temperature. While the output can be high, the narrow spectrum results in less perceived light, especially with Chinese products.
 

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I recently noticed the same thing (dim dome lights), and thought, gee, when did that happen? Almost like the battery was on its last legs. Took the bulbs out and both of them were completely sooted up from the inside, black. Replaced them with clean ones and light level is okay again. They are indeed a 194 bulb (not festoon), ranging from less than a buck a piece or $7 for 10.
 

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Brighter dome/map lights

I knocked out clear lens from ball sockets of map lights in sun roof console and installed 7w 12v home landscape bulbs I got at Home Depot to get brighter dome/map lights.

No melting problem.
 

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How do you access the bulbs without breaking any plastic tabs....etc..
 

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Ha ha ha. Depends. First of all the overhead piece with the switches and lights, although it's supposed to be pried down from the back (angling it down) and which is usually trouble free, can do a surprise trick on you. There are two prongs that fit into two detents, the prongs can break, and the surround for the detents can break also. The turn sockets holding the bulbs are a 1/4 turn CCW to release, 1/4 turn CW to lock. One of the extras from which I took my bulb, when I put away the sooted bulb, well.. SNAP... oh well, it was just the spare, now a broken spare. Almost all of the plastic in the 164 is very fragile. I recently removed a heated seat switch, and I swear, just looking at it broke the side of the button. Luckily an ebayer in the UK still has nos.
 

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Oh gee, don't give up so easily. Attached are two photos that Steve Alfisto posted in 2013 that give you the exact positions of those tabs and detents, which he labeled "locks" in his picture. Look at the first picture and his white arrows: the rear right detent is pretty stable, it's the left (middle) one that could be problematic as the detent only has two sides of real support from the surround, so that's the one you need to be careful with, and maybe "help" the tab unhitch from the detent with a thin putty knife and twisting action as you pull down on the cover. His bottom picture shows two bezels, the one on left is for sunroof equipped car, the one on right for non-sunroof car. The bulb holders turn out easily, just do it gingerly.
(Thank you Steve for you always excellent photo documentaries of the innards of the 164).
 

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Yea, the heat from the bulbs yellows the inside of the clear cover and dims the output quite a bit. I have changed 1/2 of my interior bulbs to led and they seem better. The led bulbs I have used are a mock-up, basically, removed the led portion from the holders from a 10 pack of bulbs I bought for the side markers and wired them up to see if they were an improvement. The time-cost of trying to make a proper holder exceeds the cost of ordering some properly fitting ones s I will order them over the winter. Only problem is that they bulbs will vary from maker to maker so you never quite know if the ones you order, fitment aside, will be brighter or dimmer than your test bulb.

I feel the dim lighting gives the 164 an aged look and am trying to find proper led socked style for the dash (95 ls dash uses smaller twist in than the previous models) and convert to white or soft white from stock or green.

The green back-lights are basically bulbs with small green covers. These can be easily peeled off if they have not hardened. The bulbs for the gear shift (auto) are the same.

I salvaged 6 led lights from 2 exterior fixtures that were acting up (unreliable ballasts caused constant on-off issue so I removed and converted to a regular bulb as the fixture style was hard to replicate) and am using these 6 in a home-made lamp running off of a 6 volt transformer. Lots of light output for single led.

I also tried to power up some salvaged led strips from my broken flat-screen and was unable to power up the strip of 8 led so tried individually and the output from 1 led off of 6 volts was blinding! No chance of converting on of these for interior use as they are simply too strong.

The "festoon" ones I see online seem to be the right fit so I may order 2-3 styles and see which works best. The advantage is no heat issue and less current draw.

Clean up the interior of the covers first to see if that helps and turn on the interior lights without the covers. If better, the cover yellowing probably the issue.
 
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