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Old 11-18-2017, 06:17 PM   #1
SylenThunder
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2004 VUE 2.2L
Default '04 Projector Upgrade

Ok, so we've got the old '04 vue. It's mostly been sitting for 10 years now getting driven once a month or so to haul the little trailer with garbage.
Now it's starting to get a lot more use, and I've been having to dump some money into fixing it up. (Seems like every time I get one thing fixed, another breaks.)

Now I'm looking at the headlamp output in the dark, and comparing it to the last three other cars I've had, and it's just kind of pathetic. Maybe it's just me getting old, but I don't see how anyone can drive safely at night over about 50mph with these headlamps. (Note: I do live out in the sticks, so it's much darker outside than folks near cities are used to.)
Admittedly, my Dart and the Smart that came before it have projector headlamps. Visibility with the projectors is just awesome.
On top of this, the existing headlamps are pretty scratched up, and the braket for the bulb on the passenger side snapped a few years ago. It's held on with a makeshift bracket and luck right now, so I will be looking at new housings at a minimum.

So I'm on a new mission to upgrade the Vue headlights. I did a lot of looking around, and no one sells aftermarket housings with them already. I wasn't that surprised about this though. I finally found this forum thread, but all of the pictures are MIA, and the OP hasn't been around in a few years.

So here's my current plan.
New housings.
Projectors.

According to the guys at TRS, these should fit inside the housing just fine. Since they slide right into the existing bulb holes, I'm not expecting much of an issue with having to adjust the direction of the projector housing.

Has anyone else tried this, or have any tips?

...
2004 FWD, Vti, 2.2L
Custom CAI

Last edited by SylenThunder; 11-18-2017 at 06:22 PM..

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Old 11-19-2017, 02:43 PM   #2
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

I was going to comment until I looked at your signature that states yours is a VTI? CVTs aren't very reliable in Vues with the 2.2L engine. Did you read all the threads about CVTs failing? If yours is a CVT xmission, you may have a time bomb on your hands and may not want to invest too much in any upgrades until you decide on what to do with the CVT issue.

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Old 11-19-2017, 07:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

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Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
I was going to comment until I looked at your signature that states yours is a VTI? CVTs aren't very reliable in Vues with the 2.2L engine. Did you read all the threads about CVTs failing? If yours is a CVT xmission, you may have a time bomb on your hands and may not want to invest too much in any upgrades until you decide on what to do with the CVT issue.
Mine appears to be the exception to the rule. We had a couple of issues early on that had to get fixed, but it's been a champ ever since then.

If it does ever happen to fail, I know a couple of guys that can help with doing a swap for pretty cheap.

...
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:39 PM   #4
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

I thought the same thing when I got my 05. I drive 100 miles a day for work, much of it at night. I got some generic ebay projectors and got them to work with minimal cutting. They are amazing at night. 100x better than the stock headlights. No one flashes me, I aimed them low enough to keep them out of other drivers' eyes, but high enough they shoot a long way in front of me. I wired some relays a well so the power comes right off the battery, and the dims stay on with the brights ( a requirement with HIDs as they take time to warm up)

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Old 11-20-2017, 04:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by SylenThunder View Post
Mine appears to be the exception to the rule. We had a couple of issues early on that had to get fixed, but it's been a champ ever since then.

If it does ever happen to fail, I know a couple of guys that can help with doing a swap for pretty cheap.
Having a long range plan if your cvt fails is great. With that in mind and Finkles's reply of great performance from converting to projectors to have best performance from HIDs, this is the best upgrade. My L300 low beams are also DRLs and projectors but GM went cheap and wired them for halogens. After extensive research and time examining the wiring diagrams, I made the plunge to HIDs. Due to my desire to retain DRL function, my HIDS are on full time and with the expected life of HID lamps lasting longer than halogens, I won't mind. I decided on a plug n' play set that basically went in with a few issues related to DRL use but once they were addressed (no mods done), I'm more than pleased. My OEM projectors are already HID compatible so they do not blind anyone (the key to projectors are the cutoff plate inside to eliminate the upper beam from blinding opposing traffic). I was on my second set of halogen lamps when I decided to try HIDs so this was a good investment. No blinding light when I stand at various distances in front at night and retain original beam adjustments. All the signs are illuminated better at night.

Your situation requires modification to the aftermarket lights to insert projector housings and have the initial aiming point in the ballpark with final adjustments made after mounting on the car. Hopefully you won't have any surprises. The cutoff plate inside projectors for low beam use is there otherwise without them in place turns them into high beams. The cutoff plate is the key to understanding why HIDs work in a smaller diameter light yet still output more light down the road. The best examples of HIDs in projectors is the distinct horizontal cutoff line when these lights are aimed at a wall. I presume you see this in your Dart and Smart car? My car exhibited this the first time I parked at night with headlights shining at a wall. With HID lamps, the same pattern is seen so I'm assured glare isn't blinding opposing drivers.

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Old 11-22-2017, 07:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

Bit the bullet. TRS's Black Friday sale meant I was able to get all $400 worth of equipment for the job down to just under $300. Plus I got free shipping on everything.

I'll post pics of the process plus a before and after of the light output when I get it done. Then there will be a fresh set on the forum.

DRL feature hasn't worked in ages, so no worries about the ballasts there. Probably just the relay for them is gone. It's been doing the blinking dash light then nothing for the past 3 or 4 years. I've never bothered to fix it.

...
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Old 01-24-2018, 01:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

how do you install the projector assy in the reflector housing? i thought the purpose of the projector units is they focus light thru the new lens and do not use the factory chrome reflector parabola? whew. hows that for a big word?

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Old 01-25-2018, 09:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cavell View Post
how do you install the projector assy in the reflector housing? i thought the purpose of the projector units is they focus light thru the new lens and do not use the factory chrome reflector parabola? whew. hows that for a big word?
Basically you have to take the housing apart. Then remove the bulb shield. Then insert the projector into the reflector housing.

Here's a short vid that gives a brief comparison.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-elFOOkXR4

And here's the process to install the projectors.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhPCKLsUZ8Y

...
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Old 01-31-2018, 06:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

When I did mine, I re-did all the wiring and did relays for the headlights.

1: to keep the dims (projectors) on when the brights come on. Totally legal as long as the fogs turn off. This way the bulbs don't have to "warm up" every time you use brights. I have bi-xeons, so mine have the shield that flips down for brights. I don't have them wired up yet, I'm using the halogens for brights while keeping the projectors on. My plan is to wire the shields to a switch so either the halogens or the shields flip down for brights. Maybe both?

2: If you have auto headlights, you might want to get rid of that feature. The bulbs turn on and off a lot more when they don't have to. Especially if you keep your Vue in the garage. More cycling on and off puts more wear and tear on your ballasts and igniters. Its 1 wire to snip in the column right by the switch to disable the auto headlights. The parking lights still auto turn on which I kind of like, but the headlights stay off unless I use the switch. Let me know if you plan on doing that and I can get you the correct wire color for your car.

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Old 01-31-2018, 06:59 PM   #10
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

I put a complete relay harness in many years ago so the low beams would stay on with the highs. I also adjusted the auto headlamp system years ago so it isn't doing anything.
Currently the DRL's don't work either. I'm tempted to fix them, but I think I'll just wire the fogs to perform that function instead. Whether using a second harness (I have a couple spares laying about), or a re-configuration of the existing harness setup.

...
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Old 04-22-2018, 07:41 PM   #11
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

Finally had some decent weather to do this. Almost 6 months after I ordered the gear. (Because Michigan)


Ok, so here's the new assembly.


Removed all the hardware from the assembly so we can bake it.


Stick it in the oven at 240F for 20 minutes.


Pull the cover off and remove the black insert. Then pull all of the old seal out of the groove. That ball is all of the old seal from this one headlamp.


Pulled out the bulb surround. Was not glued at all, just took a little pulling.


Needed to drill a hole for the high beam actuator. This seemed like the perfect spot.


Cut the excess material off so I could mount the projector harness. First I just used a side cutter, but got a little close on one side. Sanded it smooth after I got the majority of the bulb holder off. Initially I had tried just cutting off the mount section on the outside, and leaving the center shaft alone. The shaft proved to be too long though, so it had to go.


Fed the wires for the high beam actuator through, and assembled the plug.


Installed the projector, and tightened it down. Have to make sure that the nut goes below the side openings. Which is why I had to cut off the mounting for the old bulbs.


And here it is installed. Re-assembled the mounts to go aim it, and make sure the beam is level


Put it in the car to set the level.


It's harder to see in the daylight, but you can see the cutoff. Set it completely straight, then tightened up the nut fully. Had to move it a tad after that, but not by a lot.


Used some of the seal compound to fill in the hole.


Forgot to take pics on putting the seal in the groove, but this video covers the process pretty well. 270F for 7 minutes was perfect, and it took about 30 minutes to cool afterwards.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hbv4BovDVA&t=1s

All assembled!

...
2004 FWD, Vti, 2.2L
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Old 04-22-2018, 07:43 PM   #12
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

And since it will only let me link 15 images in one post.....

Final Install


Will have to take more pictures later on what it looks like when it's dark. When I tested it last night with only one done, it was maybe 5x brighter than the standard halogens. (Truth be told, you really couldn't see/notice the light from the halogen side.) Aimed properly, you aren't blasting anyone in the face either.

...
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Old 04-27-2018, 09:54 AM   #13
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

They look great! Pretty bright eh? Do these projectors use simple HB4 bulbs? Do they go off when high beams come on? Plus where di you get your bug deflector?

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Old 04-28-2018, 07:43 PM   #14
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Default Re: '04 Projector Upgrade

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They look great! Pretty bright eh? Do these projectors use simple HB4 bulbs? Do they go off when high beams come on? Plus where di you get your bug deflector?
Yeah, they are literally probably 5 times brighter than the stock reflectors. The projectors come with H1 HID bulbs, ballasts, relay harness and everything except a high beam splitter.

They would shut off with the high beams with a normal setup, but I converted mine to a "4-high" setup years ago. The projectors have a high beam switch that pops the cutoff shield down to open up high beam projection with the HID's. Since I didn't get the high-beam splitter, I'm just using the projectors for high and low atm. Later I'll either get a splitter and a LED high beam, or may even upgrade to something like this. (Not 100% certain that the projector will fit though.)

...
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