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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!

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Old 11-08-2014, 03:41 PM   #1
RSteckhahn
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Ideas to fix burnt xenon headlight bowls

For members with ZKW headlights, how have you gone about fixing your burnt bowls (it seems that anyone with this headlight HAS burnt bowls by this point in their car's age). Most of the solutions seem to be retrofitting (I am not comfortable with this amount of modification) or paying a lot of money to either buy new assemblies or have a company (lightwerkz for example) perform the retrofit for you.

I am considering getting my hands on some 3m aluminum tape and using that to cover the burnt portion of my zkw bowls. I am hoping that that, coupled with some nice new HID bulbs will give me sufficient output. I am NOT interested in having the "best" light output. I simply need to be able to see at night. Right now, most halogen units outperform me!

Has anyone used 3m aluminum tape to remedy their burnt bowls? If so, is the 3m aluminum foil tape 425 sufficient or is the 3m high temperature aluminum foil/glass cloth tape 363 needed (this stuff is SUPER expensive).

Also, I can't, for the life of me, find any info in which someone goes from xenon to halogen. I actually wouldn't mind this at all and would be willing to trade my oem xenon unit to someone for their halogen. How plug and play would a swap like this be?

Thank you for any input.
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Old 11-08-2014, 05:31 PM   #2
eneka
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How much money are you willing to spend?

The projectors are aluminum deposited via vapour-deposition for best relectivity, using the tape might help but will be nowhere near as good as stock. Heck you can even use foil.

I'd suggest you trying to source oem e90 zkw projectors bowls, they're essentially plug and play and the bowls are no longer plastic.

The easiest route is to get e46 AL xenon headlight assemblies and just plug that in.
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Old 11-08-2014, 05:43 PM   #3
RSteckhahn
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Thanks for the input!

From what I gather, it will cost a decent amount to get e46 AL xenons, and apparently they aren't exactly plug and play, but only require minimal modification (It may have been converting from a 3-pin to a 2-pin wire, I can't remember).

I was hoping that using a high quality tape would be better than cheap aluminum foil. The 3M tapes have temp. ratings ranging from 250 - 600 degrees F. All of them are moisture resistant and not flammable, not to mention they would stick into the bowl nicely. I have considered doing a foil - at the least, putting in foil and new bulbs, I am sure I will be able to see something!

I am very intrigued by the idea that e90 zkw projector bowls are plug and play. I am going to look into this. It sounds like you have some experience. If you have any links to DIY or anything of that nature with the e90 bowls, I would appreciate it.

Thanks!
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Old 11-08-2014, 05:51 PM   #4
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I have seen a new environmentally-friendly method of re-chroming hood ornaments and trunk emblems that uses a kind of spray-paint/chemical process that is very unique and I can't explain it because it was a few years ago that I saw this on Jay Leno's Garage. The cool thing is it works on plastics, and seems to result in a very shiny mirrorlike chrome finish. It was developed for CA car restorers as an alternative to expensive heavily EPAd rechroming processes.

Every time I read a thread about the burned bowls I keep wondering if anyone will bring this new thing up as a solution. There has got to be somebody out there who has tried it and either verified or not verified the usefulness.

Edit:It's called Spectra Chrome and it can be tinted any color according to the website, if you're into that kind of thing. What impresses me the most is the brilliant mirrorlike finish and the fact it works on plastics and everything else.
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Last edited by hitbyastick; 11-08-2014 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 11-08-2014, 05:59 PM   #5
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Someone replaced their burnt bowls with e90 ones here unfortunately the pictures links are dead. They mentioned only having to cut off a couple of peices do to the adaptive lighting e90's have.

I'm sure the temp rating are fine, iirc, the base of the bulb can reach 250C however. How thick is the tape? I'd worry about it altering the optics of the bowl, granted anything is probably better than the burned ones.
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Old 11-08-2014, 07:09 PM   #6
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This 250C info is helpful. I'm looking at a $10 fix to buy time before a $500 or so rebuild.
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:17 PM   #7
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I researched this issue for awhile. I didn't want to purchase new assembles, so I'm going to retro fit when I get the chance. The cheapest fix I found is to buy new projectors. One site is
New projectors with minimal cutting.


One member here offer's to re-plate your old bowls, making it easier. Better the OEM. I thought, great, that's for me. But it's pricey.
http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=990507.

Hope this helps. Tons of info in here and other site, just search under "ZKW burnt bowls."

Last edited by tommy d; 11-08-2014 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 11-08-2014, 08:33 PM   #8
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http://www.theretrofitsource.com/com...l#.VF7DhfnF9vB

I just did this on my ZKW and it was pretty painless. Took me about 3 hours for both sides. The light output is really amazing.

http://www.zhpmafia.com/forums/showt...t-doityourself
Lots of good info here to help along. You will need a dremel though but the cutting is pretty simple and if you do a crappy job it will be covered by your shroud anyway.

If you decide to got this route, while it's fresh in my memory feel free to PM with questions.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:51 AM   #9
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Why was this thread moved to the suspension and braking forum? Although it is lighting based, it is also about a common problem that many of us share (and many are not even aware of it). I posted it in general to get a better response. Here is a link that highlights the issue I am referring to - post highlighting the issue - http://www.bimmerforums.com/forum/sh...-problems-(ZHP) ; and - http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=324090

Anyway, Here are some options

1. Retrofit new projectors. Cost is around $140 - $200 but the work requires drilling, soldering, and using a dremel. The cost to have lightwerkz perform the labor for you is around $500. It seems that the results from this option are better than new HID lights.

Some links - (see two links in prior post)

lightwerks fxr -http://shop.lightwerkz.net/product_info.php?cPath=3&products_id=95

2. Retrofit E90 ZKW bowls that are metal instead of plastic. Requires less modifications, but E90 ZKW bowls may be hard to come by for a decent price. http://www.zhpmafia.com/forums/showt...My-progression... Another thread to put in replacement ZKW bowls (assuming plastic) - http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=332078

3. Try and get BMW to take responsibility - http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=552978 . I have also thought of contacting BMWCCA as they are supposed to back and support members with dealer related issues. Apparently it explicitly states in the warranty that headlights are not covered.

4. I am all for the three previous suggestions, although #1 and #2 may cost several hundred dollars. Before I do anything, I am going to see if my dealer has any way to help me (although this is doubtful). In the meantime, my idea is to "foil" the lights as a free temporary fix.My idea is to not use cheap aluminum foil, but use 3m tape that withstands heat up to 600F. I am hoping that this will hold up decently and make the light decent enough to safely see the road. http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3...4276126&rt=rud The problem is, this tape is specialty and most commonly sold in bulk and VERY expensive.
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Old 11-09-2014, 04:34 PM   #10
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After another day full of reading and researching, I think that flavo's suggestion of the retro-quick ZKW replacements might be the best bet when combining cost, finished performance, and ease of DIY. They aren't the cheapest solution (around $200 all said and done), but not the most expensive, the finished performance should be at our better than OEM, but not as good as FXR, and the DIY should take around 3 hours (FXR is supposed to be upwards to 6 hours and even just foiling the bowls would probably take close to 2 hours).

I am going that route - I'll post any significant findings our issues I have.

Once again, thanks for everyone's input!
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Old 11-09-2014, 06:17 PM   #11
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Moved over to lighting forum.

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Old 11-09-2014, 07:13 PM   #12
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I think the admins have had a few too many.
Still not in lighting forum.
:-)
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Old 11-09-2014, 07:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flavo View Post
I think the admins have had a few too many.
Still not in lighting forum.
:-)
whoops. Fixed now.

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Old 11-11-2014, 03:39 PM   #14
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I don't have any experience with these but can tell you the install would be a lot easier than TRS

http://www.retrofitlab.com/retroquic...em-md2s-1.html
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:24 PM   #15
RSteckhahn
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I went with the retrofitlab. The install was not as easy as depicted in the diy video that serves as the only set of instructions. They worked with me to assist with issues. I ended up having to splice wires as the supplied wiring harness did not fit my fixtures wires. I also had to dremel down the nut that secures the bulb into the projector so that I could attach my igniter. Other than these two discrepancies, the install was simple and the product is great.

I can see at night again!!
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