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VXCL 06-25-2005 09:48 PM

The Retro has begun. Headlamp overhaul.

Difficulty- *3 out of 5*
Based off of 1 being an intake install and 5 being an engine swap. The concept is very straightforward, however it is a very tedious and precise process. I would have rated it a 2, however it is extremely easy for things to go wrong in so many different ways. It's one of those things that looks easier then it is, but it's not rocket science.

Downtime- *Full Weekend*
A full retro can be done in one day or even several hours, but for most I would plan an entire weekend of downtime. It helps to make the wire harness ahead of time.

Tools Needed
-basic hand tools
-heat gun or oven
-dremel or similar tool w/ several cutoff disks and sanding bits
-misc screws, nuts, washers, bushings, and bolts
-Permatex Ultra Black High Temp RTV Sealant
-micro fiber towels

Parts Used
-2004 BMW E39 D2S Xenon Projectors
-Hella Gen IV D2S Ballasts and Igniters
-Philips D2S 4100k Xenon Bulbs

The Insanity Behind The Cause- Why do a retro when kits are readily available?
-A full OEM Xenon projector system can be sourced for about the same as most kits. This includes the bulbs, ballasts, and projectors. Why settle for just a kit with inferior ballasts and bulbs for the same price?

-Depreciation on OEM Xenon parts is minimal if at all. You will loose half of what you spent on a kit if not more as soon as you open the box. You could actually sell OEM Xenon parts for what you paid! Or even better you stand to make money because you've already done the work! All you have to do is find a buyer and swap your headlamps. It's a small investment. How often can you say that about car mods? NEVER!

-If there are any problems with parts they are easy sourced and very cheap. I've never had a problem with all the parts I've used or sold during the last 5 years! Trying to search down a new bulb or ballast for your kit that has special connectors is not fun. Their is also the problem with new bulbs not matching your other bulb. This really depends on the quality of the bulbs and how much they have been used. OEM D2S bulbs even when mismatched, are generally very similar in color. Unless you mix brands of course.

-Retro's look 100% identical, not close, to other cars on the road resulting in no unwanted attention from overly blue or purple kits. Cops off your back and you'll still be able to sneak up on Ricers at night.

-OEM parts are built under strict quality control resulting in superior performance and reliability. A 6000k kit from one manufacturer will not necessarily look the same as another. It's hard to make sure you get exactly what you want unless you see someone else's setup in person. With OEM parts you always know exactly what you're going to get.

-Forced to create wire harness which results in isolation from OEM circuits. Absolutely no need to worry about wiring, dash switches, etc.

-You should take your lamps apart even with a kit to block the rectangular hole in the OEM cutoff shield, so might as well swap the projector while you are in there. This hole allows a small amount of light to shine further down the road, but with xenon this will make for a strange cutoff and possible glare issues to oncoming traffic.

-Kits are not necessary in an H7 setup. D2S actually works quite well in them most of the time. The legacy actually has a good H7 projector and when paired with properly focused D2S bulbs or even a kit the results are above average. You could just buy OEM D2S xenon bulbs and ballasts and have about 80% of the benefits of a full retro without all the work. Again you should take your lamps apart to block the rectangular hole in the OEM cutoff shield and take the time to properly focus the bulbs. Several members have gone this route and links to their setup can be found at the end of this guide. This route would cost less them most kits and still remain superior over them.

-Most importantly you get to say things like Audi, BMW, and Lexus when people ask about your setup. :cool: Then people will say :orly:

Here's some helpful pics and info that give the meat and potatos of the process and other's have used it as a successful guide. Enjoy!


You must first remove your hood grill, bumper, headlamps, and then take the lenses off your headlamps before getting to this point.

Wiring Diagram
-This type of relay harness will provide full isolation from all oem circuitry. The diode prevents flow back from the relay.

-DRL functionality retained.

Helpful Tips and Info

-The Automotive Lighting FAQ website is a great place to find everything you could possibly want to know about Xenon lighting and retrofits.

-SUVLIGHTS.COM is a good place to find parts to build a wire harness. They have all types of OEM connectors, relays, Xenon bulbs, ballasts, etc.

-Never power up a xenon ballast without a bulb in the socket! It only takes one time to cause immediate damage to the bulb connector and or ballast. Personal injury and death is possible!

-Do not use a xenon bulb with a cracked ceramic insulator on the igniter. (this is the rod running along the capsule and is generally brown) Damaged insulators can result in a premature arching of current and cause the bulb to blow up. If you can't get another bulb I’ve heard a little JB Weld will work just fine. Just be careful when repairing it.

-Never let the capsule of a xenon bulb come in contact with your fingers or anything else for that matter. They are very sensitive and need to be free of all dirt and grease. If you must clean a capsule rubbing alcohol will work just fine. I would also use a micro fiber towel on it afterwards. Be very careful not to crack the brown ceramic insulator igniter.

-If you must clean the optics of your xenon parts or oem reflector be very careful! Use very mild dish soap, a new soft sponge, and rinse well. Be extremely careful with the optics of a projector bowl. The soap can react with the chrome coating and cause it to flake off. I would just rinse the projector if possible. Then shake off the excess water and dab lightly with a micro fiber towel. Once dry you can use a micro fiber towel to lightly buff out any water spots.

-Use a heat gun to remove the headlamp lenses. Start on the lower inner corner (side that meets the hood grill) using a med size flat head screwdriver. If it's difficult to pry apart then the sealant hasn't been heated enough! Do not go Rambo when prying, you will bend the housing, it will look bad, and greatly increase the chance of moisture problems. Once you have the corner started you can pull the lens from the housing using your hands, while heating the area not separated yet. This technique ensures no damage to the housing except possibly the corner area where you started. When you do pull the lens off and you get strings of oem sealant don’t push it back into the housing! You'll just end up making it hard to push completely back together again. As long as you use enough new sealant during reassembly you'll be fine.

-If you do not have access to a heat gun then you can use your oven. Work on only one headlamp at a time! I found 225 degrees is a good temp. I left a headlamp in the oven for 15 minutes to see what would happen and it was fine. If you don’t think your oven temp is accurate 200 is good. Bake them for 6-8 minutes. Make sure you put foil on the baking sheet! The housing on the bare metal will probably melt. See above for lens removal technique.

-Store the headlamp lenses in garbage bags as soon as you take them off. It's amazing how much dust will find its way on the inside. Cleaning the lenses almost always results in fine scratches and swirl marks all over the lens, which is made very apparent when your headlamps are on. Do yourself a favor and just bag them up.

-When reinstalling the lens make sure you heat the housing back up first, then just push the lens on. Use Permatex Ultra Black High Temp RTV Sealant to reseal your lamps. Used this on many retro's over the years and never once had a moisture problem. If it globs out and gets on the lens leave it and let it dry. Then peel it off or gently rub it off. Never use Goof Off or other similar harsh products to clean up any type of silicone sealant. It will just smear it around and cause a reaction with your lens, ultimately ruining it! Or just cover the lens with blue painters tape and avoid the problem completely!
* I’ve been told that Nissan part # B6553-89915 is a black butyl rubber sealant similar to the OEM sealant.*

-Gutter guard (used a lot for DIY grills) can be a great material to create new projector mounts. mr_luv gets credit for this idea. Very easy to work with and strong enough for the job.

-Use lock nuts with nylon insert if not screwing into plastic. Also a good idea to put a dab of Permatex over each screw to ensure nothing comes loose over time. Once dry it can easily be pulled off if needed.

-Sealed ballasts like Hella Gen 3 (found on many Audi's and BMWs) and Koito (found mainly on Toyota and Lexus) are best because they are designed to deal with the elements and resist moisture. If you are using a ballast that has any type of connector on it you must seal it up, because if not water will find its way in and ruin it. This will probably occur when washing the car. A couple layers of brand name duct tape works awesome and will last forever. Also a good time to use the left over Permatex sealant to seal things up.

-One word, KISS (Keep it simple stupid) Don't modify the projector or housings unless you have to! Is there another way? By keeping your design as simple as possible the cleaner the install will be and the risk of ruining your headlamps will be minimal. And MOST IMPORTANTLY plan, plan, plan, and plan some more!

Additional Pics

Stripped Down


After- So much bigger. The lens is 3" in diameter.

Projector Comparison- OEM Halogen H7 vs BMW E39 Xenon D2S

2.5" lens vs 3" lens

Thank you Subaru for huge oversized grommet!

Everything just fits! Notice the igniter is built into bulb connector. This allows for the elimanation of the high voltage wire and is easily detached allowing me to run the small black wire through the OEM grommet. This is why I like the Hella Gen IV D2S System. D1S setups basically do the same thing except the igniter is actually built into the bulb which then requires a D1S projector.

Fully assembled- Looks just like OEM

Xenon system during warmup

Xenon system after warmup- normal operating color

I hope you found this guide very helpful and now have the confidence to take on your very own xenon retro. The results are worth it!

-MiKE aka VX

*If you need help sourcing xenon parts, I sell them on ebay from time to time*



1. CombatCQB
2. power_getter
3. super.duper.BL6
4. praedet (no link)
5. mr_luv
6. MiniStiGuy
7. HungHing88

1. Boostjunkie
2. blue dragon
3. Waxiboy

ohsik83 06-26-2005 04:52 AM

Beautiful!! Can't wait to see the cutoff. Since the new projectors got larger diameter and better optics, it must be putting more light on the ground. Hope everything goes smooth.

VXCL 06-26-2005 11:04 AM


Originally Posted by ohsik83
Beautiful!! Can't wait to see the cutoff. Since the new projectors got larger diameter and better optics, it must be putting more light on the ground. Hope everything goes smooth.

Thanks. the cutoff is great. i totally forgot to take pics last night of stock vs my setup, but there are some guys that are like a town away from me i can meet up with and take pics of output and cutoff, vs stock. hopfully everything will be done tonight. i need to find some small enclosure for the ballast but other then that im good to go.

gt_ltd 06-26-2005 11:47 AM

does size matter? :dunno:

carcand 06-26-2005 12:22 PM

a pic of the finished product installed?

highwaydrifter 06-26-2005 02:16 PM

mind posting a pic of what the headlight looks like now after being reinstalled?

and of course the garage shot of the light cut off..

al-gorithm 06-26-2005 03:30 PM

I am glad that things worked out. I wasn't sure if I got you the right amount of information or the right information at all.

What would I need to look for to do the same? Maybe with a smaller D2S? Can you help a brother out?

firedawgs 06-26-2005 06:52 PM

I loved to see a side by side comparison of the same HID kit with stock vs BMW installed.

VXCL 06-26-2005 09:43 PM


Originally Posted by firedawgs
I loved to see a side by side comparison of the same HID kit with stock vs BMW installed.

its a joke. they can't even be compared. the sealant is drying so i'll have them in tomm. only thing i havent figured out is where exactly im putting the ballasts. i'll go take a finished pic, but you cant tell they were changed.

gt_ltd 06-27-2005 12:46 AM

can't wait to see teh pics

TSi+WRX 06-27-2005 05:43 AM

VXCL, I've gotta give you much, much props!

That looks like a headache-inducing job.

Great effort, great job - now let's see some shots!!!!!! :)


PS: gt_ltd I honestly don't know if "size matters" with these setups - but in the world of lighting in-general, the larger the reflector and/or lens assembly, the more light is usually the result - speaking purely in terms of "throw." Get a load of why SureFire increases the diameter of their reflector housings for their "TurboHead" equipped tactical lights, as well as why they've gone to a convex lens for their Executive series incandescents, and you'll see what this typically means. :) Additionally, look at legendary units such as the BigBulkHead reflector assembly on the CandlePower enthusiast discussion Forum.

VXCL 06-27-2005 12:35 PM


Originally Posted by al-gorithm
I am glad that things worked out. I wasn't sure if I got you the right amount of information or the right information at all.

What would I need to look for to do the same? Maybe with a smaller D2S? Can you help a brother out?

i can prob get you the same parts for cheap. no ebay, no risk of being scammed, quality parts. anyways i did the 2nd light in like 2 hrs! it was a joke. i got the science down. lines up everything perfect and dead on if you copy how i used the oem cutoff shield for mounts. no headaches for you. just copy what i did. it just fits perfectly. i have tons of pics and you can see exactly what i did.

Thanks again for all you're help, i'll be making a new thread with alot of precise measurements that a retro'r will want to know to pick the right setup.

highwaydrifter 06-27-2005 06:11 PM

where in nj are yah?

MaStaMooN 06-27-2005 06:39 PM

cant wait to see what this looks like!!

VXCL 06-27-2005 08:37 PM


Originally Posted by highwaydrifter
where in nj are yah?

union county near summit.

anyways pics of the finished project. it was raining all day and night so no ground shots cuz i know people will say it looks the same as stock which is becuase of the rain. so once its nice and dry ill take some ground shots.

even in daylight the stock fogs now look yellow

fills the entire opening in the headlamp housing. no more gap.

HID KIT- not my setup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OEM D2S complete system- MY SETUP!!!
notice the huge difference. you can also see the fog light cutoff in the lower half. i forgot to turn them off

you can see more of the blue and purple cutoff. also you can see these projectors throw a good bit of yellow right above cutoff which is good for rain

i really tried to make d2s work in our h7 projectors but still it wasn't near what a full xenon setup is like. i said i wouldn't swap the projector and had to give in. there was no way around it. i will get some ground shots for you guys real soon. i will make a whole new post filled with info for those wanting to do a full swap.


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