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Go Back   E46Fanatics > Tuning & Tech > Lighting Forum

Lighting Forum
Angel Eyes, DDEs, lighted rings, Clear Turn Signals, LEDs, Xenon, HID, or Bi-Xenon. If it lights up and you want to discuss it, post here!

View Poll Results: Which side of your OEM Xenons failed?
Driver Side. 7 31.82%
Passenger Side. 14 63.64%
Both failed within weeks or months of each other. 1 4.55%
Voters: 22. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 09-02-2011, 12:38 AM   #1
MJLavelle
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Question Poll: Did you have an OEM Xenon bulb/ballast failure only on one side? Which side?

I was replacing my headlight lenses tonight, because I took them out to refinish them. I stood back to look at my work, and I noticed that the passenger side Xenon was dimmer and more yellow. So, I thought it must be a bulb issue. This was not a big problem for me, because I had bought a complete set of Xenons from a guy who works in a body shop ($80!!). The M3 they came off of had hit a telephone pole dead center, so the headlights and lenses were perfect, except the headlight assembly mounting tabs were all broken off. So, I decided I would just use those bulbs, since they were from a newer model. When I took off my old bulbs, I noticed that they were a mismatch. The drivers side were obviously original, and the passenger side was a newer replacement. So, I took the bulbs out of my spare assemblies, and strangely enough, it was in the same condition. Drivers side was apparently original, and the passenger side was a replacement. What are the odds of that? So, I put in the 2 bulbs that appeared to be Originals, and I saw the same issue. The passenger side was still dimmer and yellow. So, I put in both bulbs that appeared to be a replacement bulb. Same issue. I tried all of the various combinations, and switched bulbs left to right, and the issue was the same. BTW - these were all Phillips/Osram bulbs, 35w. This led me to believe it was a ballast issue. I went to remove the passenger side ballast from the spare set, and I noticed that it had been removed at some point. I removed the drivers side, and sure enough, the passenger side ballast was newer/replacement. I replaced the one in my car with the newer ballast from the spare set, and it solved the issue. So, it was a bad ballast.
But that made me wonder, what are the odds that I would buy a random set of headlights for parts, and they seem to have experienced the same bad ballast and/or bulb on the exact same side? Maybe it was just a strange coincidence, but I thought I would ask. Did you have problems with your factory Xenons on one particular side only, and if so, which side? This is not some sort of big revelation for all of us, but I thought it would be interesting to ask what others have experienced. BTW - I did search the forum for this, but I did not find anything.
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Old 09-24-2011, 07:24 PM   #2
GTS Jeff
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When I bought my car, I noticed that the passenger side xenon and halogen was dimmer, so I bought new Osram CBIs and Philips Motovisions...problem is still there.

I'm thinking bad ground somewhere, but I don't really know where to check yet. Haven't had the time to really look into it.
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:16 PM   #3
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I have the same problem. I just bought an 03 M3. Stock xenons. The passengers side has the issue. The light is dimmer and it's a yellowish color. The drivers side is bright and bluish. So I replaced the bulbs and they looked good for a while but now on the passengers side the bulb is a lot dimmer like before. So it's a bad ballast?
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Old 09-25-2011, 05:57 PM   #4
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Pass igniter failure, no bulb or ballast issues yet... knock on wood (although they're much easier to replace than igniters).
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Old 09-26-2011, 04:53 AM   #5
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I cleaned up the grounding strip and it seems like the xenon is better, but the halogen is still dim.
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Old 09-26-2011, 09:11 AM   #6
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Should add a poll selection for "still using original bulbs and ballast."
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:51 PM   #7
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My ignitor failed @ 43k. Pretty easy to replace once you remove entire headlight assembly, which was a major pita!
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Old 01-28-2013, 04:58 PM   #8
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This morning when pulling out of my driveway I noticed a slight blink in the driver side light on my 2004 325XI with factory xenons. It happened a couple times on the way to work. It is still working, but I guess I am on borrowed time. My question is when a xenon headlight goes out, how do you tell if it is the bulb itself, the ballast, or the igniter ?
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:04 PM   #9
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I've gone through two ballasts and one igniter on my driver side so far. I decided to ditch the stock AL ballasts and intend to install Hella Gen 3s this week
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:15 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by TerraPhantm View Post
I've gone through two ballasts and one igniter on my driver side so far. I decided to ditch the stock AL ballasts and intend to install Hella Gen 3s this week
Wow. so far i've had good luck with mine. now i'm scared. hella gen 3s OEM for our application or another? or just aftermarket?
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:58 PM   #11
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So when a light goes out with the stock xenons, is it common for the bulb to be bad ? Should I just replace the bulbs and cross my fingers, or is there a way to test the ballast and igniter before just assuming it's the bulb ?
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:59 PM   #12
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I had an igniter failure on the passenger side. 03 330XI. 54k.
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Old 01-28-2013, 08:38 PM   #13
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Wow. so far i've had good luck with mine. now i'm scared. hella gen 3s OEM for our application or another? or just aftermarket?
OEM on the E39 and a ton of other makes/models. Main reason I went with them is because they're waterproof (so I can mount them externally without worrying about moisture)

I am a little suspicious since the failure has been on the driver side only so far... but I never actually installed *new* ballasts, mostly because they're really expensive.

Last edited by TerraPhantm; 01-28-2013 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 01-28-2013, 11:17 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Scot Bailey View Post
This morning when pulling out of my driveway I noticed a slight blink in the driver side light on my 2004 325XI with factory xenons. It happened a couple times on the way to work. It is still working, but I guess I am on borrowed time. My question is when a xenon headlight goes out, how do you tell if it is the bulb itself, the ballast, or the igniter ?
Check the red connector that screws onto the bulb, and make sure the tabs that secure it have not broken. If they have, then they can be causing a bad connection.
Swap the bulbs around, and see if the problem switches to the other side. If so, it is the bulb. If not, it could be the ballast. Try swapping it to the other side, and see if the problem moves to that side.
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:13 AM   #15
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OEM on the E39 and a ton of other makes/models. Main reason I went with them is because they're waterproof (so I can mount them externally without worrying about moisture)

I am a little suspicious since the failure has been on the driver side only so far... but I never actually installed *new* ballasts, mostly because they're really expensive.
Are you mounting them externally for cooling purposes? Where exactly will they be mounted?
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Old 01-29-2013, 04:49 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by MJLavelle View Post
Check the red connector that screws onto the bulb, and make sure the tabs that secure it have not broken. If they have, then they can be causing a bad connection.
Swap the bulbs around, and see if the problem switches to the other side. If so, it is the bulb. If not, it could be the ballast. Try swapping it to the other side, and see if the problem moves to that side.
Thank you very much ! I'll give it a try tonight.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:48 PM   #17
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Are you mounting them externally for cooling purposes? Where exactly will they be mounted?
Well the E46 headlights don't really have any room to mount a ballast internally, so mounting externally is my best option.

Overall my goal is to retain the bixenon functionality and mount the ballasts such that they look reasonably OEM. I have a couple ideas that might or might not work -- I'll document my process when I actually do the install
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:17 AM   #18
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I'm having the same problem with y driver side. My light turned purple before dying. So I ordered new bulbs and ballast. Driver side worked for a week maybe two. Then it died. What's is the igniter and where is it located?
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Old 02-11-2013, 01:38 PM   #19
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I'm having the same problem with y driver side. My light turned purple before dying. So I ordered new bulbs and ballast. Driver side worked for a week maybe two. Then it died. What's is the igniter and where is it located?
This thread shows the disassembly process, which you will need to get to the igniters. He points out the igniters and their location in the photos of the process.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=609558
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