BMW Lighting DIYs

Converting Halogen Headlights to OEM Xenon using Halogen Housings

OBJECTIVE: Convert halogen headlights to OEM xenons using the halogen housings

Special thanks to sillieidiot for his help.

I’m writing this up so that it is in the E46Fanatics forum in case something goes wrong with that website, and so hopefully it is easier to find. This isn’t perfect by any means, but is enough that you should be able to do it yourself in a few hours, depending on time it takes for your glue/silicone/epoxy to cure. My disclaimer: If you screw this up, it’s not my fault.

-halogen headlights with tabs in tact
-xenon headlights as long as they include the reflector/projector, ballast, igniter, bulbs, and wiring.
-flathead screwdriver
-8mm socket with 6″; extension
-T20 Torx socket
-T20 Torx screwdriver
-Something to cut thick plastic like jig saw or dremel
-Silicone sealant, epoxy, or equivalent


If you don’t know how to remove your headlights:
1. remove your corner lights by unscrewing and pulling out if you have the screw-in type, or pushing down and forward on the spring-clip and pulling forward if you have the push-in type.
2. Remove the rubber trim by pushing down on the clips and pulling outward
3. Loosen the body trim under the headlight by pulling from the inner side first, then the rest. If you have the headlight washers, removal of the washer is not necessary.
4. Remove the two 8mm bolts on the top of the headlight
5. Remove the 8mm/T20 Torx bolt behind the center of the headlight, and on the inner side of the headlight toward the grill
6. Disconnect connectors to low and high beams
7. Pull out headlight.

Now for the swap: These instructions are accurate for halogen and xenon housing disassembly unless I note otherwise.
1. Remove high/low beam bulbs by turning counter clockwise on the sides shown in green, and pulling out (pic is of xenon housing)

2. Remove the clear lens by pulling out at the 6 clips around the housing

3. Remove the headlight trim by pushing inward at the four corners to release the clips and pull outward

4. Remove reflectors by turning the vertical height adjustment wheel counter-clockwise as far as it will go (shown in blue). Then from the back of the housing, push on the white clip (green arrows) to separate from ball joint. Insert a flathead screwdriver at the red arrow and push outward to free up the corner, and pull the reflectors forward.

5. For the xenon headlight, you will need to remove the 4 T20 torx screws with the T20 screwdriver (not necessary, but my sockets were too fat to fit easily) shown in red. Unclip the white connector going to the back of the igniter (small black box), to the auto-leveling motor, and the teal clip to the back of the xenon projector. Pull wires out of the headlight by popping out the rubber grommet (green arrow).

***note: my car does not have connections for the auto-leveling unit, plus I don’t feel they are necessary, so I did not use it. I simply left the halogens’ solid plastic mount in its housing.
6. For the xenon headlight, remove the two screws holding the ballast in place, and slide out.

Pic of the xenon components removed:

7. You’ll notice on the xenon headlight a bulge where the igniter was screwed into. This is necessary to fit the igniter inside of the headlight housing, where it is safest. To maintain stock-like mounting, I cut this bulge out of the xenon housing on the lines shown in yellow, using a Dremel tool.

8. Smoothen out the piece you cut, trace it onto the halogen housing, and cut it out as best you can so the piece sits well. Apply whatever silicone or epoxy you got and glue the sucker in.

Glued in:

9. Cut a hole in the halogen headlight slightly smaller than 1″; for the rubber grommet to go into. I chose the location shown in yellow. The picture shows the rubber grommet installed, along with the igniter in its new housing. I cut my hole slightly larger than I needed, so I applied some silicone to make sure it stayed watertight.

10. Connect the clips to the back of the igniter and to the xenon projector. Screw in the igniter, and push the reflector housing back into the mounting locations in step 5. To snap in the vertical height adjustment, turn the wheel clockwise several turns, and then push the reflectors in to the housing to snap in place. Replace headlight trim, lens, and high beam bulb, followed by its rubber grommet. Then slide the ballast into the same area where it was mounted on the xenon headlight (both housings have a place for it), and put in the two torx screws.

11. To cover the low beam/xenon light, I simply used silicone sealant and applied it around the rubber ring on the inside of the stock xenon bulb cap, and pushed it onto where the rubber boot was on the halogen housing. It’s a perfect fit, the cap just doesn’t have anything to clip onto. The silicone should hold as well as you need it to, plus when your bulbs blow, it will be easy to pull off. I would not recommend using epoxy or anything else for this part.

12. Install your new xenon headlight into your car, hooking up the low beam clip to the ballast and the high beam to high beam. These are the only two that are necessary.

13. Enjoy your work!

Writeup by: sbocaj55

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