Car Question

I was curious as to why American vehicle manufacturers still use the old-style square, glass-constructed headlight lens as opposed to one made of plastic in full size vans and some trucks.

Is it just because its cheaper?

Along those lines, pretty much all vehicles on the road had steel bumpers back in the day, and now, it seems only vans and trucks do. What was the rationale in eliminating them only for cars and not for trucks and vans? Weight? Cost?

Thanks Doper car guys!

Fundamentally, yes because it’s cheaper, not only to build but to replace if a stray rock should hit the lens. This is a selling point for the commercial fleets these vehicles are in large part sold to.

Also, the reason why non-sealed beams are now prevalent is that they allow for a wider degree of styling and aerodynamic design (see for example flip-up headlights or the ugly recessed headlights in mid-90’s Camaros as examples of trying to design around sealed beams). As these commercial vehicles are essentially bricks on wheels, this is less important.

Personally, I much prefer sealed beams, but I am apparently not part of the car maker’s target demographic.

Trucks and vans often back up to loading docks, head into loading garages, etc.

Plastic bumpers are much easier to style and lighter and provide the same protection, but are also easier to scrape up/crack. A big hunk of steel stays cosmetically nicer even when you hit the loading dock or a forklift or whatever.

Thanks Greasy Jack! Now, what about the steel bumpers?


Another factor on truck/van bumpers:

Most cars these days have very fragile plastic bumpers that can’t be used for utilitarian purposes. On my pickup, I frequently use towropes/chains both front and back for pulling people out of ditches, removing stumps, and so forth (I have hooks welded to the frame in front). If I had plastic bumpers a shift in angle could well damage the bumper. Since the truck is often used offroad, a plastic bumper would also be likely to take damage from trees, bushes, and so forth that the metal bumper barely notices.

Bumpers aren’t plastic. The fascia is plastic. There’s definitely a good amount of steel down there.

Commercial trucks above 10,000 lbs (I think) aren’t subject to CAFE, and so weight and aerodynamics are less of a concern than for consumer vehicles. So, you get sealed beams and exposed bumpers.

I’m also pretty sure that my company’s full-sized van doesn’t used sealed beam, or if they’re sealed beams, then they’re definitely under an aerodynamic lens. Our “modern” commercial offering has a fascia’d bumper and non-sealed beams.

I sure would like to have some good old sealed beam headlamps in my pickup. Those plastic assembly’s are way to expensive to change and there aren’t many that have over 150k that couldn’t use a set of new eye’s.
I just priced out one for a customer today. Our warehouse didn’t carry the one I needed and there was only one in the upper-midwest in our system and would require another $12+ shipping on top of the $112.00 pre-tax OTD price.
The OEM was much higher also.
So what I understand from this is those headlamp assembly’s are not movers. We do sell several brands of plastic polishes, but there is more problems with the insides on a lot of cars.:dubious: