Friday, March 16, 2012

The Cool Factor: Some Extra Parts and Head Scratching Required

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of the minor 'upgrades' to my 15 year old car was to replace the clouded headlight assemblies. My old ones looked just as bad as the one above and made driving at night hard and fairly dangerous here in densest population of deer anywhere in the United States. After investing in some very sticky winter tires, I planned to keep the car for a while so I thought I should looking into replacing the headlights if they weren't terribly expensive.

I could get the lights above for about $30 a piece or I could get the ones below for an extra $10 a piece.
My car is 15 years old and it was time to treat myself so I bought a pair of the ones below which were supposed to be direct plug -n- play replacements.

Since you probably picked up that I used the word 'supposed' up above, you know where this is going. In order to replace the headlight assemblies on my car, I have to remove the front bumper and grill guard off of my car. So I waited for one of those sunny and warm winter days in Iowa that we had in plenty this year, and did just that. I removed four bolts off the headlight assembly, unplugged the harness, removed the blinker bulb and they were off. I unwrapped the new ones and saw that they were the same size and shape, had the same wiring harness but had for additional wires protruding from them. What the?

I took a break and went inside to look at the computer and after a bit of searching, I figured out why. In the fine print, I didn't realize that these headlights came with some decorative halo ring lights around the main lights that evidently give it a cool factor desirable to those who like to pimp out their vehicles. I could care less but the perfectionist/anal retentive part of my personality couldn't live with four wires (eight if you count both lights) dangling underneath my car hood. But I was out of time for the day so I installed the new lights, taped up the eight dangling wires, reinstalled my bumper and called it a day.

I tried to figure out how to connect those into my car's electrical system but not being electrically inclined when it comes to 12 volt systems and also being partially colorblind, I couldn't figure out on paper. But a week later, we had another warm evening and time on my hands so I tore the bumper and grill back off, unbolted the headlight and decided to have another look at the thing. To me it made sense to have the halo rings turn on whenever the lights are on. The obvious choice seemed to be to hook them to the parking lights but they also share the duty of my turn signals and I thought it would look kind of funky to have halo lights blinking as well. Not to mention I wasn't sure if the blinker relays were sized large enough to handle the extra load. But short of running them up to the fuse box and tying them in somehow or tapping into some other circuit (while being color blind), I couldn't think of another options.

I got out my multi-meter and saw that I had three wires protruding from my blinker/parking light. I turned on the lights and checked all three and had voltage in the reddish looking one. I turned the lights on bright and checked and had the same thing. I turned the turn signal on and had voltage in a brownish looking wire but the voltage varied whether the light blinking or not at the time. The blackish looking wire never had anything. So I spliced my two reddish looking extra headlight wires into the reddish looking parking light wire with some splicers that I had bought at the local store and spliced the two blackish looking extra wires into the blackish looking parking light wire. I turned on the car and they worked all the time and best of all didn't blink when the turn signal was on. Nothing started smoking so I did the same on the other side and put it all back together, lights, grill, bumper and all. I think they look pretty neat in the dark but when it is lighter out, you see some nice looking lights on a 15 year car that has seen better days. I think that more than cancels out any coolness factor.

Not my car but the same style of headlights


Murf said...

Geez. I make fun of people like you for doing stuff like this to a 15 year old car. :-) Was the fogginess on the inside? I just discovered some wax-type stuff that takes all the grime and oxidation off of the outside of them which worked well for my soon-to-be 10 year old car.

Ed said...

Murf - I tried that stuff and for me, it was a waste of the $15 I paid for it. The box says that it is only effective it the light is lightly oxidized and I think mine was beyond that. I had hoped that it might make some improvement to get me by but alas, it seemed to not help at all.

Ed said...

Murf - I should say that the stuff I am referring to was a polishing paste. I assumed that was what you were referring too but maybe not.

R. Sherman said...

That's the problem with newer cars: they're impossible to work on for the simple tasks without spending a ton of time. Since when do we have to remove the front end to replace headlights?


warren said...

I have a minivan...can you help me pimp it out? ;-)

Ed said...

R. Sherman - Evidently for the last 15 years at Honda.

Warren - I'm sorry, I'm not a miracle worker!

Vince said...

A hobo with a Rolex ?.

Vince said...

St Patrick's wishes +