Why We Couldn't Save These Headlight Lenses
Updated: May 25, 2020
When we inspect the headlight lenses of a vehicle we can immediately identify the imperfections, the location of the damage (whether they are outside or inside), and if they are repairable. The headlight lenses on our clients BMW E46 LCI coupe could not be restored so we had to find another option.
Let's take a look at what we did to make these headlights better, brighter and MDRNIZED!
How bad is the damage?
The 2004 BMW E46 LCI coupes came with a unique set of headlights that not even the M3's came with. They came original with a one piece headlight instead of the usual two piece that the other trim models had. Given the difference in design, it has steered many people away from opening these headlights due to the lack of availability of spare parts; not to mention the high cost of replacement, should something go wrong.
Upon inspection of these headlights we could tell that there were already cracks in the lenses and signs of projector ghosting. The cracks were minor but the ghosting was very severe. Cracking can not be repaired with a headlight restoration and only in minor cases can projector ghosting be repaired. Since the customer wanted to avoid replacing the headlights, our only option was to replace the lenses.
Backside of headlight lenses with severe projector ghosting
Having taken her vehicle to a BMW shop before coming to see us, they informed her that no OEM lenses were available and that replacing the headlights would be her only option. When it comes to the quality of headlight lenses, OEM is the best choice and we were able to get our client OEM lenses directly from Germany.
(We have our sources when it come to lighting parts)
Clients E46 BEFORE the restoration and retrofit
Let's Get MDRNIZED
We need the look to be different as well
Since the headlights were already open, the client also wanted to change the look of the headlights by adding halos. For this we chose to go with switchback halos from Profile Performance LED. We wired these to function as a DRL (Daytime Running Light), which means as soon as the car is started the halos will automatically turn on and turn off when the vehicle is shut off.
Switchback halos from Profile Performance LED
The stock halogen turn signal bulbs also had to go. We replaced those with Diode Dynamics XP80 LEDs and wired in resistors so that there is no hyper flashing when the turn signals are activated.
To accent the brand new look of the headlights, something also had to be done with the fog lights as well. We chose to go with the Morimoto XB LED fog lights and get rid of the original fogs. These LED fog lights are completely blacked out for a super clean look and have awesome light output.
Condition of fog lights before replacement
Morimoto XB LED Fog Lights
We even took this build a step further and coded the lighting module on the E46. We coded the high beams from the projector and the flash to pass bulbs to turn on simultaneously. When you pull the light stalk towards you, that activates the flash function and both will turn on. The same thing happens when you push the light stalk away from you, that activates the high beam function. Which is a total of 4 beams!
(You do not want to be in front of her when she turns on all four)
Restoration and retrofit completed on the E46 LCI
Now that's how you update your lights
Our client was absolutely happy that we were able to save her lights and update the look of the car. This E46 now has halos and light output that's comparable to the newer BMW's. These simple upgrades are sure to enhance the experience of the ultimate driving machine.
(I'm sure everyone is definitely asking her where she got her lights)
Clients vehicle parked outside of the shop
Even if your headlight lenses can not be restored, you still have options. We can source brand new lenses or locate a pair from donor headlights. While we have the headlights open, it is also the best time to make any aesthetic changes or upgrade the components for more light output.
What do you think about these LCI headlights? Do your headlights need the lenses to be replaced?
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