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240 Headlight Page

     UPDATED: October 15, 2021                       CONTACT       
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H4 Halogen Headlights
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LED Headlight Bulbs
How to Remove Headlight Terminals
Headlight Relay Harnesses
Fog Lights / Driving Lights
240 Headlight RELAY Page

If you have any comments or if you can improve this information, please feel free to email.


Installing H4 Headlights
Your early U.S. 240 came with inferior sealed beam headlights. You might install headlights that use H4 bulbs instead.
Your connector wires may need to be MOVED.

Here's the back of the headlights for a typical pre-1986 four-headlights 240.

Look at the wire order in your headlight plugs. The High/Low headlight will be the one with THREE wires.
If your wire order looks different from the below diagram (probably), they need to be moved to the below H4 configuration.

Go HERE for a terminal removal guide.

E-Code Headlights
E-Code headlights get their name from this CODE embossed in the lenses of all European approved headlights.
It may say 'E2' like this one or it may have a different 'E' number. This E-mark was an approval mark regulated by the ECE (Economic Commission for Europe). The information on the lens contains approval details for the country where the European test agency granted approval, including a marking category and approval number. The E-mark certified that the product met and complied with specific automotive requirements.

When our beloved 240s were imported to the U.S., the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) had their own ideas of what good lighting should be. 
So all U.S. 240s got crappy sealed beam headlights with inferior lighting.

The first 240 models in 1975 appeared with TWO ROUND headlights (EXCEPT for 260 series). Headlight size: 7 inches (178 mm) in diameter.
So originally, all 4 cylinder 2-door, 4-door and wagon model 240s got these headlights.
Of course in Europe, these round headlights were the superior E-Code type using the H4 bulb.  Not in the USA.
This TWO headlight front was retained on all 2-door models (except for the 262C) through the 1980 model year, while other models changed.

The FOUR ROUND headlights in this photo appeared on U.S. 6-cylinder models first. They would then later appear on 4-door and wagon models in the USA up through 1980.
These four round headlights are 5.75 inches (146 mm) in diameter. Again, these were originally inferior DOT sealed beam units for cars in the USA, but of course they can be replaced by better E-Code halogens. When the 4-cylinder 240s began using these lights, the up-scale U.S. 6-cylinder models (262, 262C, 264, 265) then began receiving four RECTANGULAR headlights.

Europe was quite different. The European (E-code) large rectangular headlights (using H4 bulbs) first appeared in 1975 on the 262C. Some of these cars received an extra special headlight version shown below with wipers.
This E-code headlight eventually became standard for most Euro version Volvos through the 1980 model year. U.S cars were never so fortunate to get these headlights.

If you were a 1975-85 U.S. 240 owner, these pre-1981 E-code headlights were a direct fit and a welcome improvement for those who could import them.
These H4 bulb versions pictured below are shown on a U.S. 1984 242 Turbo.

Early E-code rectangular headlights also came in a DUAL BULB version like these, which I mounted on my 1984 245 Turbo. These use two H1 bulbs, one for low beam and one for high beam.

If you look closely, you can see a second smaller curved reflector inside.  This extra reflector is for the high beam and it will tell you this headlight uses dual H1 bulbs.

These square H4 bulb headlights were optional in some E-code markets in 1979-80, such as the Netherlands and Australia (and maybe some other places). Not in the USA.

These four rectangular headlights below first appeared on 1977 U.S. up-scale models, such as the 262C and other 6 cylinder models.

These rectangular headlights later became standard on all U.S. 240 and 260 models from 1981-1985. 
Of course the USA versions used inferior DOT sealed beam units. Greatly superior E-code headlights in this size can be found pretty easily, which use H4 (high-low) bulbs for the outer lights and H1 (high) bulbs for the inners.

In 1981 Volvo re-designed the front sheet metal for European 240/260 models. USA got left out in the cold and continued to get the old version front seen above.
These E-code versions below used H4 bulbs.
 The flat hood shown below was the same hood used on earlier flat hood 240s in Europe and USA. Some up-scale versions in Europe (6-cylinder cars) received a peaked hood and a different grill.

The new sheet metal changes for 1981 Euro versions included the following changes:
Different front fenders to accommodate the re-designed turn signals.
Different sheet metal directly below the headlights and grill.
And you'll also notice that Europe abandoned the larger aluminum (commando) bumpers, which stayed on U.S. cars through 1982 and on Canadian cars for a year or two longer than that.

These E-code headlights below are the same as those above, except for the chrome trim (instead of black). This model below is a U.S. model that has been fitted with E-codes. It has a raised hood and chromed grill surround. This is the more common style of Euro headlights that will fit a U.S. 1986-93 240s.  Volvo continued using these headlights on all Euro 240s through 1993.
If you can find a set of these E-codes for your U.S. car, they're a direct bolt-on to any U.S. 1986-93 240. Be sure to buy the Euro turn signals too, since the U.S. turn signals will not fit next to the E-code headlights and the turn signal lenses will not interchange.

  1986-93 240s imported to the USA received the same front SHEET METAL that Euro versions got in 1981. U.S. versions did not, however receive E-code headlights. Instead the U.S. versions received inferior DOT approved headlights with plastic lenses. At least these weren't sealed beam units. They used replaceable 9004 bulbs. The turn signals appear to be very much like the Euro versions, however they are not interchangeable.

Are they finally good enough?
 LED headlights (and bulbs) have been around for years, but aftermarket kits for bulb replacements have mostly earned a bad reputation because of poor or inconsistent lighting patterns and poor brightness.
I resisted trying out any aftermarket LED bulbs in any E-code headlights for a long time because I felt it would be really hard to match or beat a good set of European H4 HALOGEN headlights.

This Info is Primarily about ROUND HEADLIGHTS
For a long time I used 80/100 watt H4 halogen bulbs, which were much brighter and better than stock headlights. So my lighting was very good. H4 headlights are well known for the great beam pattern and lots of brightness. I had no complaints.
The only negative with high wattage halogens is that they used a lot of current. You should be using relays and heavy gauge wire for direct battery power when using high wattage halogens.
LED bulbs have an advantage is the power consumption. They typically use about 30% to 40% of the current
of a high wattage H4.

My NON-VOLVO car happens to be 2018 Subaru, which came with factory LED headlights.  Those lights are exceptional, so I had been hoping eventually the aftermarket would catch up to that.

In 2020 I saw the below videos from Headlight Revolution.
  They led me to reach out to them to ask more about things like how the H4 beam pattern looks in an E-code housing and how the brightness was with the latest LED H4 replacement bulbs. I was interested in how it would compare to my awesome H4 halogen bulbs. Then I took a chance and I bought a set of LED H4 bulbs to use in my round headlights. I bought the S V.4 LED bulbs shown below and at the link below. These are not cheap $30 bulbs that you'll find all over the internet. They were close to $200 for the pair. 

S V.4 LED Bulb Review Video

And here's another good video to see about how these bulbs are installed in an H4 housing.

So then I did my own visual comparison. These two photos were taken a little after sunset using low beams.
The top image shows the 80/100 watt HALOGEN H4 bulbs.
The bottom image shows the LED bulbs.

My observation is the LED bulbs are noticeable brighter, have an equal or better beam pattern, good beam cut-off at the top, and of course the light color is a bit whiter, since the LEDs are 6000k color.
After driving for a while, I really liked them and I'm keep the LEDs.

Here are a series of installation photos in an E-code Housing.
Here's the S V.4 LED bulb, which I'll show being installed into the below Cibie H4 headlight housing.

The collar shown below can be removed from the bulb. It just pulls off.
Since the rear fan part on the bulb is a bit wide, removing the collar will make it easier to lock down those wire retainers.

Then this rubber
dust boot, which came with these headlights, gets installed over the collar. The center opening needed to be stretched a little to fit over the raised collar center.

Then the bulb is inserted and clicks into place. It must be oriented so that the low beam CUP faces UP.

All done.

How to Remove Terminals from 240 Headlight Sockets

The plugs shown above are typical of a U.S. 240 with original sealed beam headlights. This plug above will have FLAG style terminals, which are shown below.

Removing these terminals will be an identical procedure to the below relay socket terminal removal.

Again, this is NOT really a headlight socket plug below
, but it'll work for this demonstration.
Notice the metal terminals inside the holes?

You'll need a tool for this part... a long sharp pick will do. A micro screwdriver can also be used. If your tool is not small enough on the tip, a little grinding will fix it as I did on this pick. Even a stiff piece of piano wire can work for this step.

Now pay attention to the little openings at the top of the little rectangular holes. That wide spot is where you need to insert your pick. The idea is to insert the pick in about 3/8 inch (10 mm) or so and push down to flatten the locking tab on the terminal. That locking tab holds the terminal in the socket. In the next photos, the locking tab will be easy to see.

If your socket doesn't have a wider opening that you can see, just pay attention to the below pics to know which side of the terminal to insert the pick into to push on the tab.

In this photo you can see the terminal backing out of the hole after the locking tab was released.

Here's a good view below of the locking tab on the terminal. After you depress the tab and pull the terminal out of the socket, you may find that your tool bent and flattened the tab a bit too much. If you will be re-inserting this terminal into a connector, the tab may need to be pushed back out so it still engages when re-inserted. It needs to be sticking out like in these photos to work correctly. If you accidentally break the tab off, you'll need to crimp on a new terminal.

As it gets inserted, you should hear a 'click' which tells you it has locked into place. Always make sure by giving the wire a little tug.
And always pay close attention when you plug sockets like this back in to see if any terminals get pushed back out of the back of the plug. That can happen sometimes if the tab hasn't fully locked the terminal in place.
If you need new terminals or plug sockets, you can find them here:

Headlight Relay Harness Upgrades

This is a good project for anyone with any older Volvo, especially if you have or want to to upgrade to brighter headlights with bulbs that use more wattage. 
For the best info I know, begin reading Daniel Stern's page on this subject.  He also has several useful diagrams for designing and building your own relay harness. 

Here are some Volvo specific diagrams that have been available on-line for many years. These use the same principles:

UPDATE 2018:
Wagonmeister is offering ready made 240 headlight relay harnesses, like this one below.

240 Fog Light or Driving Light Installation
I found these driving light diagrams below in some OLD Volvo 242 GT literature.  I modified them for simplicity and I decided to share them here. These diagrams below will show you two different methods of wiring; one for driving lights and one for fog lights. It uses a dash switch in conjunction
with the 240 headlight step relay and with an added cube relay.
The relay diagram above is an SPST (Single Pole, Single Throw) type cube or mini relay. An SPST type relay is one that uses a center 87 pin (AKA: 87b) which has power when the outer 87 pin has power.  Using this type relay is not critical if you're not using the center 87 pin like in these diagrams. If you're looking for a relay like this you can find one here.

There is a reason for wiring the circuit to the step relay. 
For Driving Lights, the diagram below allows the lights to be automatically cut off when you switch OFF your HIGH beams. 
For Fog Lights, the diagram allows the lights to be cut off when you switch ON your HIGH beams.

The battery power is drawn from the inner fender battery junction box or it may be taken directly from the battery.
A FUSE should be used somewhere between the battery power source and the relay.


With this method, the DRIVING LIGHT switch receives power from TERMINAL 56a on the headlight step relay. 56a on the step relay is the high beam output, so this means these lights will be configured as auxiliary high beam lights that will only come on when the dash headlight switch is turned on AND when the high beams are also on.

When the driving light switch is turned on, it sends power to terminal 85 on the cube relay, turning the relay ON.

So then turning ON your high beams will turn ON these driving lights
, as long as the driving light switch is in the ON position. 
If the switch has a bulb as this one shown does, then it will light up when the driving lights are on if wired this way.


  I modified this diagram to demonstrate a method for fog lights. With this method, the fog light switch receives power from TERMINAL 56b on the headlight step relay when your headlight switch is turned on. The switch sends power to terminal 85 on the cube relay, turning it ON.  56b on the step relay is the low beam output, so this means the fog lights will only come on when the dash FOG LIGHT switch is turned ON and when the low headlight beams are also ON.
So then with this wiring, turning ON your high beams will turn OFF the fog lights.
If the dash switch has a bulb as this one shown does, then it will light up when the fog lights are on if wired this way.

Additional relay uses can be found in the Relay Guide posted HERE.

Detailed pinouts for a 240 step relay can be found HERE.

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