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Old 06-25-2019, 01:06 PM   #1
Chickbutcher
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Default 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

I just picked up this baby with 59,000 miles from a little old lady. Had to replace a few things, but should be in good shape now. Except for the headlights. They suck at night. One person recommended LED's, another mechanic I went to said they might burn the sockets.

Can anyone recommend an upgrade for better night vision?

Thank you,

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Old 06-25-2019, 08:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

I have only one suggestion but you must accept zero guarantees of my suggestion not working as the worse case scenario with the best case of an upgrade with better lighting and retaining DRLs. Search for my upgrade using inexpensive hids replacing the H11 halogen low beam lamps. Hid lights only work in projector light housings with a metal cutoff plate inside the bottom half of the projectors. The difference between projector headlights and conventional low beam lights - one is a reflector light housing, larger in diameter like high beams while projectors are small diameter light housings with completely different optics. A distinct characteristic between the two light housings are reflectors show their lamps and projectors do not. A feature of some if not all L-series headlights are low beams using projector assemblies lending themselves to hid upgrades.

The crucial decision to use hids is safety. If your low beams use projector light housings (bullet style) and have the metal cutoff plate inside the lower bottom of the projector, you can upgrade to hid lamps. Be aware of several pitfalls. One may be the hid ballasts require more starting and running amperage than the drl resistor can withstand, disabling drl use. Without the metal cutoff plate inside your projector, the halogen or hid lamps simply create a high beam light blinding everyone. I know because I retrofitted mine for hids with zero issues and retain drl use. But I chose to start with 35 watt hids to lower current demands on the circuit and to ensure drls are retained. Regular halogens, H11's are 55 watts. My 35 watt low beam hid lights are fine in well lit NYC at night and very decent in unlit areas. Another issue to consider if choosing 35 or 55 watt hids is how long they last. With courtesy lighting, low beams and dome light turn on for about 30 seconds when unlocking doors remotely. When starting, the courtesy lights turn off then low beams turn on when the parking brake is released. The rapid succession of ballasts cycling on and off may stress ballasts to early failure. I have mine for over two years and recently have the right side flicker then turn off on a few occasions. I manually turn the headlight switch to parking lights as both low beams turn off, wait about 20-30 seconds then switch off lights for automatic lighting control (ALC/drl mode) as the two ballasts cycle back on, usually with both lighting up. Plug n' play wiring seems to be clean and free of corrosion and I learned to observe bumpers or rear sections of vehicles in front of me to see if one or both cycle off. The drl indicator also turns off to alert me of a low beam light problem. I expect about three years before one or both hid lights fail before considering 55 watt hids. Another issue is that drls use the resistor to reduce current to prolong lamp life but may interfere with ballasts needing a current surge for startup before dropping back to low current. With drl use, both hids are running at full brightness all the time, in daytime or night time. I don't see my lights blinding me when I stood far enough away and crouched down to seating height to see if my hids are blinding me. None and have never had anyone high beam me. The cutoff plate ensures the upper beam pattern is cutoff otherwise my low beams are simply high beams to blind everyone. Perfect hid retrofit for my L300.

Last edited by fdryer; 06-25-2019 at 08:21 PM..

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Old 06-28-2019, 10:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

Please be very careful about what sort of light bulb you put into those housings. Retrofitting LEDs or HIDs into reflector housings originally meant for halogens actually have the potential to make your light output worse while also blinding oncoming traffic.

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Old 06-28-2019, 03:56 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

^ Absolutely correct! ^

I've read about members retrofitting (not knowing the difference between conventional large reflector light housings and the smaller projector light housings) hids into reflector housings and claiming great lighting but never acknowledging how they're mods blinds everyone. Why? Two reasons. One, hid lamps were never intended to be placed in reflector light housings because it simply creates a high beam light, period. Those claiming they're not blinding anytime also re aim their low beams lower. Guess why? Two, these drivers never get out of their vehicle and sit in another car facing their own mods to see what everyone else sees while denying how blindingly bright their mods became. Even standing some distance away from their mods and crouching down to seat level is never done to see how opposing traffic sees poor mods.

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Old 08-14-2019, 10:01 AM   #5
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

Thank you for the feedback.

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Old 08-14-2019, 08:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

Although long, here's the thread for my HID conversion for virtually plug n' play using only the ballasts and supplied wiring harness to connect ballasts and HID lamps to existing low beam projector light housings. http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=230029 The only issue with retaining daytime running lights (I prefer DRLs relative to greater traffic densities than in the past) is that they're at full power as daytime running lights. I'm ok with this as I accepted being my own beta tester with risking a shorter lamp or ballast life. Since installation, the right side HID cycled off sometimes and is most likely due to the courtesy lights turning on at sunset or night time when using remotes to unlock doors. Parking and low beams (HID) cycle on until the timer runs out (30 secs or one minute). Since I and most everyone starts up as soon as getting into our vehicles, the ballasts may overload from frequent short cycling. This only occurred earlier this summer and has gone away. It's only a theory why the right side HID cycles off and all I do is manually cycle from auto lighting mode to parking lights, wait about a minute then switch back to auto lighting mode to have low beams cycle on. I bought an inexpensive set of HID lamps to experiment in HID lighting. Its been over two and a half years with almost zero issues. Full power low beam lights and expect them to last another six months to meet my minimum desire for HID lighting. Money well spent for upgrading from yellowish halogens to roughly 3x more lighting with zero blinding light to opposite traffic. HIDs only work in projector light housings and my L300 was already configured as projectors in low beam and DRL mode.

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Old 08-16-2019, 10:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

I installed an HID setup in my wife's L300. The stock projectors suck to be kind lol. The 2 biggest problems are the cutoff shield and the lens. The cutoff shield has an opening in it that lights up road signs. I have the area circled in the pic. When you install HID lights the extra light will push thru this opening. I folded those tabs down and used JB Weld to cover that opening up. I also replaced the factory frosted lens with an aftermarket clear lens. The results were better than stock for sure.

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Old 08-17-2019, 06:51 AM   #8
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

soulsurvives, I have to ask, does folding down the cutoff shield and blocking the opening with epoxy change this low beam into a high beam, dispersing light everywhere as a high beam light does? My understanding of the cutoff plate is to block the upper beam pattern from low beam projector into becoming a high beam when light is distributed without restriction. Doesn't this blind opposing traffic?

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Old 08-17-2019, 09:47 AM   #9
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

I suspect that sealing the “bleed hole” will make the light truly better. I had some ”illegal” lights back in the 70s from France and they had a perfect cutoff. The low beams would light up the trunk lid of the car in front of me and no light would shine in their back window. The high beams were excellent and I could see at least twice the distance over factory sealed beams.

...
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Old 08-17-2019, 01:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

I may not be clear in asking questions related to your modified low beam projector light housings. I replaced my halogen lamps with hid lamps without any modifications. No one has ever flashed their lights at me, during the day or at night. I also looked at my hids from several distances in front to replicate drivers seeing me with hids on to observe for glare as if high beams were on. No glare and the cutoff plate is the reason.

Did you examine your modified low beams with hids standing a distance away from your lights to view them as every driver sees you, at night, from straight ahead and off the car's left side?

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Old 08-17-2019, 03:43 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

These 2 pics are the same projector with a weak 35 hid ballast. The pic with the rectangle of light above the cutoff was taken without the little opening covered. The one without the rectangle of light I covered the little opening up. The opening is designed to allow light above the cutoff in order to illuminate road signs. Some people call them squirrel finders lol. With the opening covered the hot spot is also a little stronger. The reason I made this modification was that driving in snow with the HID bulbs were terrible. I has the "light speed" look...as if I was driving with high beams on. With halogens the amount of light going thru was not too bad. Once I put bright HID lights in there was just too much light going thru.




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Old 08-17-2019, 03:53 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
soulsurvives, I have to ask, does folding down the cutoff shield and blocking the opening with epoxy change this low beam into a high beam, dispersing light everywhere as a high beam light does? My understanding of the cutoff plate is to block the upper beam pattern from low beam projector into becoming a high beam when light is distributed without restriction. Doesn't this blind opposing traffic?
No it does not. Blocking that opening prevents light from projecting about the cutoff. Keep in mind that after the light passes by the cutoff the projector lens reverses the output. So as you can see the large opening is all the light that is the low beam. The solid area under that is where the high beam would be. Realizing that you can understand how light coming out of the little opening is projected above the low beam cutoff.

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Old 08-17-2019, 03:56 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I may not be clear in asking questions related to your modified low beam projector light housings. I replaced my halogen lamps with hid lamps without any modifications. No one has ever flashed their lights at me, during the day or at night. I also looked at my hids from several distances in front to replicate drivers seeing me with hids on to observe for glare as if high beams were on. No glare and the cutoff plate is the reason.

Did you examine your modified low beams with hids standing a distance away from your lights to view them as every driver sees you, at night, from straight ahead and off the car's left side?
Living in the city you would not need this mod. In the rare event that you are driving in snow you still have lights from all directions not to mentions fools driving with their high beams on all the time. The only real benefit to this mod is when driving at night, in the less populated areas when it is snowing.

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Old 08-17-2019, 03:58 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

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Originally Posted by 02 LW300 View Post
I suspect that sealing the “bleed hole” will make the light truly better. I had some ”illegal” lights back in the 70s from France and they had a perfect cutoff. The low beams would light up the trunk lid of the car in front of me and no light would shine in their back window. The high beams were excellent and I could see at least twice the distance over factory sealed beams.
It does help, but it's not a huge improvement. The factory bowl and lens really suck. Full replacement of the projector is what should be done.

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Old 08-17-2019, 05:42 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

Thanks for the detailed info. I'm aware of the reverse beam pattern hence the cutoff on the bottom of the light housing to restrict light output to the upper beam pattern, the distinct horizontal line when shining low beams onto a wall reflects this. And you're correct, I don't need modify mine as you did for city use. Too bad our projectors aren't dual use type, switchable to lower the cutoff for suburban driving. I can appreciate brighter light thrown down farther.

Being a city dweller, I've seen morons with their light mods blinding opposing traffic in local streets, presuming they picked great mods. Unfortunately, the rest of us facing these morons suffer until they're stopped by leos for blinding drivers. For whatever reason, drivers learned the hard way that hids don't work at all in reflector light housings and have gone away. Thankfully, these light mods have mostly disappeared with an occasional idiot still using them for better lighting, still oblivious to how glare offends opposing traffic. Being conservative, I chose 35 watt hids and they're fine for local traffic. They're better on roads without street lights. If mine wear out, I might go for the 55 watt lamps. That is if the original headlight housings aren't worn down from several lens refinishing procedures........

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Old 08-17-2019, 08:49 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2004 L-300 headlight upgrade?

I actually prefer a separate high and low beam. That way if the low beam or high beam goes out you still have beams on both sides. My 2016 rav4 used a single beam projector. I had a ballast go out once so no high or low beam on that side.

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