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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 11-28-2012, 04:14 PM   #1
PrecisionX
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Xenon Headlight: Ballast? Bulb? Ignitor? Which is it? PICS!

Ok so since I have owned my car I have had finicky xenons, some times they will both fire right up and work great, other times one will feel like being out. I simply drive until operating temp is reached, put it in park and turn the car off and on. VOILA! Both work...

For a few days though my driver side had been a pain, it wasn't responding to any games and I decided it was probably the bulb. I switched the bulbs from each side and found that the problem stayed put. OK it's not the bulb.

BULBS:





Decided to take the headlight out... and this is what I found.

BALLAST: All gross looking, this I THINK is my issue but what do YOU guys think?







IGNITOR: Looks brand new, no ugly wires or bent/worn pieces/connectors/whatever.

Think it's the ballast? Where can I go to get a new one and fix this issue without losing my a$$?
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:24 PM   #2
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eBay?

And it looks pretty corroded, but I don't know that any final conclusion can be reached by looking at the pictures unfortunately.

If the bulbs are original they are well overdue for replacement as well.

Phillips 85122+ are the best bang for the buck. And don't get them on eBay or they'll likely be knockoffs.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:31 PM   #3
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eBay?

And it looks pretty corroded, but I don't know that any final conclusion can be reached by looking at the pictures unfortunately.

If the bulbs are original they are well overdue for replacement as well.

Phillips 85122+ are the best bang for the buck. And don't get them on eBay or they'll likely be knockoffs.
+1 on not getting them from eBay. Get them from Amazon. They're an authorized Philips retailer.

And I'd definitely replace the bulbs and ballasts. You can probably source some Denso ballasts (OEM in Lexus) from theretrofitsource to save some money. just keep in mind they likely have integrated igniters.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:50 PM   #4
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it does look rather corroded. but check the connections, because if these are like other oem ballasts I've had they are internally encased and water resistant. but not sure on yours.
you can probably get a good used one from a salvaged yard and be good.

i can't say your bulbs should be replaced, that's more a matter of hrs on than year made or mileage. bulbs will dim and shade change when crystals start to go out.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:52 PM   #5
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believed it or not (the same thing happened to my brand new Bi-Xenon and my old Xenon. both are OE/Original BMW headlights) but water can get into the ballast.

the good news is that the fix is very easy and if it work it will only cost you $0.

this is what you do.

1) remove the ballast from headlight
2) remove the cover from the ballast. should be some small torx bit
3) open up the ballast and verify for any presence of water or water damage

if there are water:
1) use a hair dryer and dry up as much water as possible. Don't use hair dryer on high or super hot. just get warm air moving.
2) Put the ballast or just the PCB into a ziplock bag full of rice. if you have no rice then call your asian friends for rice. all asian has rice in their house. not racist. just facts

if there are signed of water damaged
1) use electrical contact cleaner and clean out the white/chaulky residue
2) use a soft tooth brush to clean the PCB

after everything is done then just plug it up.


my advice is free so you can either take it or leave it. the good news is that my advice and it fix doesn't cost anything (well...electrical cleaner at autozone and a soft toothbrush) and is very easy to fix. therfore, it is worth a shot before you waste any money buying a new or used ballast.

again, I had the same problem twice and my advice I posted above is what I did to fix the problem
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:00 PM   #6
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+1 on not getting them from eBay. Get them from Amazon. They're an authorized Philips retailer.

And I'd definitely replace the bulbs and ballasts. You can probably source some Denso ballasts (OEM in Lexus) from theretrofitsource to save some money. just keep in mind they likely have integrated igniters.
Are the Denso PnP? I looked into upgrading to the 50w ballasts from TRS, but I decided it wasn't worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by flashtwosix View Post
believed it or not (the same thing happened to my brand new Bi-Xenon and my old Xenon. both are OE/Original BMW headlights) but water can get into the ballast.

the good news is that the fix is very easy and if it work it will only cost you $0.

this is what you do.

1) remove the ballast from headlight
2) remove the cover from the ballast. should be some small torx bit
3) open up the ballast and verify for any presence of water or water damage

if there are water:
1) use a hair dryer and dry up as much water as possible. Don't use hair dryer on high or super hot. just get warm air moving.
2) Put the ballast or just the PCB into a ziplock bag full of rice. if you have no rice then call your asian friends for rice. all asian has rice in their house. not racist. just facts

if there are signed of water damaged
1) use electrical contact cleaner and clean out the white/chaulky residue
2) use a soft tooth brush to clean the PCB

after everything is done then just plug it up.


my advice is free so you can either take it or leave it. the good news is that my advice and it fix doesn't cost anything (well...electrical cleaner at autozone and a soft toothbrush) and is very easy to fix. therfore, it is worth a shot before you waste any money buying a new or used ballast.

again, I had the same problem twice and my advice I posted above is what I did to fix the problem
Yes, great advice.

But don't do that if you aren't confident or haven't worked inside electrical boxes/circuits in the past. The xenon ballast is an extremely high voltage piece. I wouldn't want to touch it if I didn't know what I was doing.
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:03 PM   #7
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I agree on opening them up and drying out/cleaning with electrical contact cleaner. wouldn't hurt.

as far as the denso ballasts, i don't see why they wouldn't work. AFAIK, they use a 9006 input just like any car (or in our case, the e46) and output to a d2s plug. so it should be pnp. someone correct me if I am wrong.

They also offer 100w supercharged denso ballasts! but i think those would be borderline felony
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flashtwosix View Post
believed it or not (the same thing happened to my brand new Bi-Xenon and my old Xenon. both are OE/Original BMW headlights) but water can get into the ballast.

the good news is that the fix is very easy and if it work it will only cost you $0.

this is what you do.

1) remove the ballast from headlight
2) remove the cover from the ballast. should be some small torx bit
3) open up the ballast and verify for any presence of water or water damage

if there are water:
1) use a hair dryer and dry up as much water as possible. Don't use hair dryer on high or super hot. just get warm air moving.
2) Put the ballast or just the PCB into a ziplock bag full of rice. if you have no rice then call your asian friends for rice. all asian has rice in their house. not racist. just facts

if there are signed of water damaged
1) use electrical contact cleaner and clean out the white/chaulky residue
2) use a soft tooth brush to clean the PCB

after everything is done then just plug it up.


my advice is free so you can either take it or leave it. the good news is that my advice and it fix doesn't cost anything (well...electrical cleaner at autozone and a soft toothbrush) and is very easy to fix. therfore, it is worth a shot before you waste any money buying a new or used ballast.

again, I had the same problem twice and my advice I posted above is what I did to fix the problem
Interesting tip. Will tag this for future reference.
Thanks!

Last edited by BimmersGarage; 11-28-2012 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:38 PM   #9
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You can use MAF sensor cleaner on just about anything electric. I would use that to displace any water inside, then wait 20 seconds for the cleaner to evaporate. You can do the same thing with electrical contact cleaner.
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:44 PM   #10
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You can use MAF sensor cleaner on just about anything electric. I would use that to displace any water inside, then wait 20 seconds for the cleaner to evaporate. You can do the same thing with electrical contact cleaner.
Excellent tip. I was actually going to clean all my electrical connectors and run out to the store and buy electrical contact cleaner. since i have a buttload of MAF cleaner, i'll just use that.

i trust you being an engineer is correct about this otherwise you're buying me a new wiring harness
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:47 PM   #11
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Excellent tip. I was actually going to clean all my electrical connectors and run out to the store and buy electrical contact cleaner. since i have a buttload of MAF cleaner, i'll just use that.

i trust you being an engineer is correct about this otherwise you're buying me a new wiring harness
It works perfectly.
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:56 PM   #12
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Do you guys use or recommend using electrical paste on connecting pins for sensors? (like cam/crank sensors/maf/etc)? I forgot what its called.. dieelectric grease?
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:57 PM   #13
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Are there precautions to take if I open it up to clean it?
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:59 PM   #14
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Interesting tip. Will tag this for future reference.
Thanks!
awww...this mean a lot coming from a person of like you.


some background on my water damaged ballast.

I bought some used BMW xenon headlights on ebay from a wrecked car. when I installed them one of the headlight didn't work. I swap out each of the components from one headlight to the other to isolate the problen (ie...swapping out bulbs, ballast, ignitors, etc). The problem ended up being a bad ballast. in matter of fact, the ballast had the same exterior corrosion damages on the exterior surface of the ballast as the OP.

I just removed the ballast and open it up (OP...make sure you disconnect the ballast/headlight first). The PCB board had a bunch of white residue on the capacitor, resistors, chips, etc. I was very shocked but decided to clean it with a soft toothbush and electrical contact cleaner. I put everything back together and it worked. 9yrs later...that headlight/ballast is still working strong. The headlight is now on my brother's in law car.

so when I gave the xenon to my brother in law, I decided to buy some bi-xenon (part of my facelift conversion...I have a 2000 323i). The xenons were brand new.

so after I installed my headlights, I was busy cleaning the engine bay. I sprayed water all over the entire engine bay. Just like my previous experience, water got into my ballast. the only difference was that since I detected the problem early, I was able to just dry out the PCB board and not have to worry about cleaning the board (there were no white residue).

so after analyzing my ballast problem I came to the conclusion that the ballast are water resistant but not water proof. water can still get into the ballast via the plug/connector housing (Headlight Main Power and Bi-Xenon Flap actuator). When I cleaned my headlight, those two plugs were unplugged and as a result water collected into those plug housing and later and slowly drained into the ballast.

sorry for the long rant. I hope this helps OP!!!
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:59 PM   #15
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Are there precautions to take if I open it up to clean it?
yes. don't do it while it's plugged in. or that'll be the last ballast you'll ever see.
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:02 PM   #16
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Are there precautions to take if I open it up to clean it?
just unplug the main power and bi-xenon flap (for bi-xenon only) plugs and you should be good.

remove the ballast from its plastic carrier/support bracket by unscrewing a few screws. this will allow you to release the main ballast/headlight wire harness.

take the ballast inside your house and start cleaning and drying

Last edited by flashmeow; 11-28-2012 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 11-28-2012, 08:56 PM   #17
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just unplug the main power and bi-xenon flap (for bi-xenon only) plugs and you should be good.

remove the ballast from its plastic carrier/support bracket by unscrewing a few screws. this will allow you to release the main ballast/headlight wire harness.

take the ballast inside your house and start cleaning and drying
The headlight is completely removed from the car. Does that mean all power is cut off from the ballast and its safe to play with?
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:27 AM   #18
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UPDATE:

So I reinstalled the headlight this morning because I had to drive... broke my clear corner clips, and my headlight washer works but still leaks.

I did NOTHING to it but reinstall the light and what do ya know the damn thing works.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:36 AM   #19
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UPDATE:

So I reinstalled the headlight this morning because I had to drive... broke my clear corner clips, and my headlight washer works but still leaks.

I did NOTHING to it but reinstall the light and what do ya know the damn thing works.
Was probably just a connector issue then haha.
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Old 11-29-2012, 02:04 PM   #20
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Was probably just a connector issue then haha.
When I pulled off the connectors were all sandy and dirty. If I only would have been able to reach them without undoing everything... Getting this all realigned is a pita
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