How to Retrofit HID (Xenon) headlights into LX470

hoser

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This is my first attempt at a High-Intensity Discharge (HID) retrofit. Since I haven't seen anybody else on this board do it, I'll step up. Just know that installing HID's into a vehicle that never had them is illegal. This is mainly because people were putting HID bulbs into halogen reflector-type housings and causing extreme glare for other drivers. HID's can in some instances work reasonably well with some OEM halogen projector type headlamps as they do have cut-off shields to produce a decent beam pattern but they don't usually maximize the potential of a true HID system. I wanted headlamps that would work as well as OEM HID's and not cause any unwanted glare to other drivers...even more tricky since my LX headlamps are raised 5" over stock.

It is possible to do an HID retrofit to an LC but it will require a little more work as you'll need to fabricate some projector shrouds. The LX has clear headlamp lenses that are less "fluted" than the LC so the beam pattern doesn't get distorted. The LX will also retain accurate aim when loaded because of the self-leveling AHC suspension. If a loaded LC drops 1.5" in the rear, the headlights will aim up some.

I think the project went well and has dramatically improved my lighting. By comparison the standard LX lightbulbs (H1) are rated at about 1410 lumens. The LC Halogen lightbulbs (9006) are rated at 1000 lumens. These High Intensity Discharge lamps are rated at 3200 lumens and have a rated life of 3000 hrs or 3-4 times longer than most H1 bulbs. But besides brightness, the biggest advantage of using HID's is the vast improvement in "peripheral" vision--the light is spread across the front of the vehicle eliminating that tunnel effect. Especially helpful when reading signs, spotting pedestrians/animals and driving on curvy roads.

This project cannot be done in just one afternoon. I think more like 2-3 days at a leisurely pace. You'll only need basic tools except for a cut-off tool (grinding wheel) which usually means an air compressor. You'll need this to modify the OEM metal projector bracket. The total parts involved came out to be around $500 new. You can buy your parts used on ebay and save some money, possibly getting the cost down to about $300. But beware of all the junk out there. Buy quality name brands. After much research, I decided to go with the HID Planet kit. HIDplanet.com is a great resource for retrofitting.

The package includes:
(2) Bosch Projectors
(2) Hella/Philips LVQ-212 G3 Ballasts
(2) D2S HID Bulbs 4100K Temperature
(2) Ballast Covers/mounts
(2) Ballast connectors
$379.99 + shipping (The price comes up as $399 on the website but as soon as you put it in the cart, it shows $379.)

It was the best deal around for new components. These are OEM components on some BMW and Mercedes vehicles. The Bosch projectors are E-code (ECE) that have a european cut-off pattern. Search ECE vs DOT HID if you want to know the difference. There are better projectors out there (Honda S2000, Acura TSX, etc) but that would have boosted the cost by $150-300. I figured I'd try these out first and see how it goes.

Besides the above you'll need 6-1" bolts, 6 washers, 18 nuts, and headlamp sealer. You'll also want to make a wiring harness that runs power directly from the battery and uses the stock wiring as a trigger. You'll have less voltage loss this way. People have used the existing wiring directly connected to the HID ballast but do so at your own risk. Although HID's only require 35 watts vs the stock lights at 55 watts, the initial demand is about 4 times that of the standard Halogens. I played it safe and made my own harness. I suggest you buy your electrical parts online from one source as it usually difficult to find all the parts locally, especially quality parts.

Harness Parts:
17ft of 14 or 12 gauge cable (Red)
17ft of 14 or 12 gauge cable (Black)
20ft of 3/8 split loom
Fuse holder and fuse (25-30amps). I recommend using the same type of "mini-fuse" that is used in the Toyota fuse box in case you need a spare. I used one fuse before the relay but some people use up to three. I think one is sufficient.
Solder, heat shrink tubing, black tape and zip ties.
Standard Automotive Relay and Relay holder--I would recommend using a bosch weather proof relay. They also make weather resistant relay sockets.
The N4001 diode in the diagram is optional (I didn't use one)

Here's a very good write-up of how to make your wiring harness so I won't go into it much further. I had pictures of mine with dimensions but the file somehow got corrupted. I suggest doing all the wiring first and then tackle the headlights. I chose to mount my ballast inside the fenders. If you use a smaller ballast, it is easier to fit in the engine compartment. I didn't want to sacrifice any space since I will probably be getting a larger battery in the future. I ran the wiring up and over the radiator following the OEM wiring.

Here's a wiring diagram you can follow. The only difference is in the 9006 harness. We'd reuse the OEM H1 harness. I deleted the diode in my install. Also a picture showing the proper polarity on the ballast since it isn't labeled.
9006-hid-harness-cable.jpg
polarity.jpg
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hoser

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Remove the headlamps from the vehicle. Carefully remove the metal retaining clips from the outside lense (low beam) with a screwdriver. Keep the rear bulb cap on so the casing doesn't distort when heated. I wrapped my headlamp in a towel but left the outer lense exposed. Preheat your oven (preferably one you don't use to bake with) to 400 degrees. Once it reaches 400 degrees, turn it off and place entire headlamp into oven for exactly 10 minutes. Have a medium to large sized screwdriver (prytool) ready and possibly some leather gloves or an oven mitt. Gently pry the glass lense. Be careful, it is easy to chip. Once you get a small spot slightly open, use your fingers to remove the entire cover. Remove the chrome-like shroud over the projector. Be careful as it is easy to damage with any kind of contaminant. Wear clean rubber gloves. Scrape as much of the existing sealant around the housing as possible. Work fast as it will be near impossible to remove once the assembly has cooled.
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hoser

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Remove the projector bracket. First pic compares the size of the halogen projector (top) to the HID projector (bottom). Note: protect projector lense with painter's tape. The Bosch E46 projectors worked out okay for me but I wasn't able to fit the chrome OEM ring around the projector as it has to protrude out a little from the stock location. Ideally, I would find a shorter projector (distance from mounting screws to the tip of the lense). I tried spacing the projector back further but then it hit the rear part of the casing upon adjustment.

Mark the bracket as shown and cut with a cut-out tool. Use eye protection as well as a dust mask.
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hoser

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There are three mounting screws per projector but only space on the bracket for two. You'll have to add a bracket to accomodate the third mounting screw. I used 1" aluminum stock. Mark the center vertical and horizontal line on the bracket. Line up the projector so it is plumb. Drill the holes accordingly. I suggest slotting the holes verticall slightly as the projector needs to fit perfectly through the chrome shroud. Mount the projector making sure that is is level on all planes and far back on the screws. There will be something like a 5/8" gap between the bracket and projector though I didn't measure it. You will test fit it and then grind down the rest of the bolt when done--the bolts can interfere with the back of the housing.
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hoser

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It is possible to recess the projector a little back more but not much. Back too far and you will lose ability to adjust headlamp. Apply Nissan headlamp sealer around the edges of the black housing and place glass lense back on top. Again, heat oven to 400 degrees, turn off, put the lamp in for 10 minutes, remove and squeeze the glass lense and housing back together. Clip using OEM clips.
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hoser

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Put everything back to together and aim lights correctly.
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/aim/aim.html

I'm sure you've noticed that the back side of the projector is still exposed. You'll definitely need to seal that in a way that you can still access the bulb when necessary--though it might not be too often since the bulbs last much longer and aren't prone to breaking filaments from vibration. I didn't want to lose anymore engine compartment room so I just cut out the existing cover to accomodate the wiring harness. Then I used aluminum tape over it all. If you can find a smaller, shorter projector, then the existing cap might just fit on with less trouble (just make a hole for the wiring). If you come up with a better way, please let me know.

I'll try and take some before and after pictures tonight.

Good luck!
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hoser

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I went out and snapped some pics but the problem is... I took the previous pictures over a month ago and can't find the notepad on which I wrote my camera settings. So, I dunno... it's not exactly an accurate "test." However, I can say the difference to me is quite dramatic. The HID projectors have a nicer dispersion of light up front and to the sides. You may not see it too clearly in the pics but there is a change in beam patterns. The HID's E-code projectors have a kinda __/---- pattern. They are lower on one left side so to not cause glare to oncoming traffic. The right side is a bit higher so that you can read street signs better. The OEM halogen projectors were more straight across.

I still need to make some adjustments to the height but overall I'm happy with the retrofit.:cheers:
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hoser

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subspd said:
SWEET!!! :idea: How could something like this be done to a LC? I wish I had at least projectors.
:popcorn:
I'd need to look at an LC's headlamp but I think it's basically the same steps with the addition of making a shroud to cover the projector.
 
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I would like to do something like that with my 80, but would like to go with bi-xenon projectors.

Does it seem to affect your ability to see things when you turn on the high-beams, because of the now incredibly bright HID lowbeams?

Great work!!!

Mot :popcorn:
 
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So does it retain the self-leveling functionality? Our BMW when you start it up goes from top to bottom to level the bi-xenon's - I think it's the coolest thing!

Great Job Hoser!
 

hoser

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mot said:
I would like to do something like that with my 80, but would like to go with bi-xenon projectors.

Does it seem to affect your ability to see things when you turn on the high-beams, because of the now incredibly bright HID lowbeams?
For the 100, the DRL's are on the high beam circuit so I couldn't run bi-xenons. The high beam still works well though as the low beams have a sharp cut-off and the hi beams have no cut-off. Halogens are supposedly better for "flashing" because they turn on instaneously. HID's have a short delay when the lights "heat up." But I would probably have done bixenons if it wasn't for the DRL's.
 

hoser

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Drinkin40s said:
So does it retain the self-leveling functionality? Our BMW when you start it up goes from top to bottom to level the bi-xenon's - I think it's the coolest thing!!
No, the lights themselves don't have the self-leveling functionality and I haven't seen any retrofits that have been able to pull it off yet--though I'm sure somebody has. The AHC helps though.
 
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Congrats for being one of the few people to do a proper HID conversion. If you are going to do it, this is the only way to go. It is a lot of work, but the only way to get good results.
 

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