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Changing Audi A3 S3 8L OEM Headlight Lense to Depo Headlight Lense Unit

Discussion in 'A3/S3 Forum (8L Chassis)' started by AviatorRichards3, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. AviatorRichards3
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    AviatorRichards3 Member

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    First things first, I will apologise in advance if someone has already posted what I am about to post but I cannot find the same thing so bare with me on this...

    Now I have been trawling this forum for the past months trying to find out if anyone knew about changing the headlight lens on a Facelift Audi S3.

    Now ive stumbled across different threads on people who have taken cloudy/pitted/dull lenses of and cleaned them up to look near perfect, but wanting the easier option, I wondered if I could just get hold of a new lens.

    The issue started when I first got the car, as the driver's side xenon unit looked pretty damn new, and the passenger side or near side looked old and tatty. Now it didnt take me long to realise that for whatever reason, someone previously has changed the unit over for some reason, and that got my worrying as my first thought was 'front end collision'. Now ive had the car fully checked after purchasing (two years ago) and their was no sign of any crash....and no paperwork for any repair or the new unit (which must costs around £760 from Audi). (or a very good cover up)

    After almost hijacking a few threads to try and get an answer from people, a few guys got in touch and said it can be done and or they have done it....So I called up Audi (stupidly thinking they would help) and asked if they could get my just the lens and I was 'politely' reminded that they are a business and therefore they would only ever recommend buying the whole unit and not just the cover (which they also said I would not be able to get hold of)

    - To cut a long story short I followed steps on sanding down and buffing the lens which ive tried and it really didn't do much at all (3 solid hours of buffing)...So I wanted an alternative

    Here are some pictures of the headlamps, although in the photo, the bad one (near side) doesnt look as bad as it does in person and the good one doesnt look as good either... :/ IMG_1342.jpg IMG_1343 - Copy.jpg IMG_1344 - Copy.jpg

    Now not wanting to pay nearly £1000 for just a lens, I then went about asking "would the facelift halogen OEM unit have the same lens" as from a first glance they look identical (although the projector lens of the xenon unit itself has a slightly smaller diameter lens then the halogen).

    So I did my rounds and called up several different people, and found out the Hella make the lens and that because of the higher heat generated from the xenon unit, the lens was thicker/stronger then the same lens of the halogen. I was very convinced by this as three separate people confirmed this and one even told me I would melt the lens.

    So I put the question on here and finally I got a response from someone who had done it and it worked a treat. Silly thing was that I had a 99 A3 TDi prior to the S3 and I fitted HID's in the standard light units and nothing ever went wrong....in fact the HID bulb was the first thing to go after some years of use...so this backed up me theory that it was probably more of a sale pitch and money motivated answer, more than anything else.

    After finding this out and another call to Audi, and hearing that the OEM halogen unit cost nearly £300, I thought im still paying all that just for a lens...this is crazy and their must be another way.

    This is where Ebay came into play, as I found the Hella OEM complete unit for £150 and even better was the DEPO Aftermarket Unit which cost £45 delivered to my door.

    So I sat back and asked some more questions and had mixed responses...

    see here:
    http://www.audi-sport.net/vb/a3-s3-forum-8l-chassis/93450-audi-s3-headlight-lens.html

    http://www.audi-sport.net/vb/a3-s3-forum-8l-chassis/152781-headlight-restoration-pics.html

    Some people rightfully said that although aftermarket parts may look the same at a first glance, the actual fit may differ slightly and that I should at least go for the OEM halogen unit...and well weighing it all up, if I was to buy the DEPO unit and it didnt work, Ive only lost £45 and I could probably sell the unit on again (as long as I didnt break anything)..and then I would go with Hell OEM halogen for £150.

    So today (20/11/2013) the unit arrived and it looks very good...im amassed at what you can get for your money as a few drinks and some food down the local will easily be more then £45. My plan is to take a few photos along the way and hopefully enlighten anyone else who wants to change the lens completely as opposed to sanding/buffing/sanding some more and finally spraying UV coat on their existing unit... (and in my case failing)

    I will upload pictures as I go along...

    Here is the new DEPO Unit:
    IMG_1493.jpg IMG_1494.jpg IMG_1495.jpg IMG_1496.jpg IMG_1497.jpg IMG_1498.jpg
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
    #1
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  2. <tuffty/>
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    <tuffty/> Badger 5 Edition Staff Member Moderator

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    tbh this is the route I have considered despite doing the restoration...

    One of my ballasts is a little iffy and the adjuster plastics are not long for this world... seems a fairly decent idea to use these aftermarket replacements and fit a H7 HID kit... Gops did this IIRC and has got decent results...

    Links to the ebay listings would be nice... :)

    <tuffty/>
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  3. AviatorRichards3
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    AviatorRichards3 Member

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    Well after talking to you in the other threads, I just thought Ide go for it..and see what happens..afterall spending £45...and then if it doesnt work, spending £150 ontop still means its under £200, which is cheaper then what Audi quoted me for a new Hella OEM UNit.

    Links, no problem:

    This is the Hella OEM Unit (actually @ £164.95) -
    AUDI A3 MK1 09/2000-2004 DRIVER'S SIDE HEADLAMP ORIGINAL HELLA BRAND NEW BOXED | eBay

    This is the Depo Unit of which their are many on ebay....
    Depo Front Passengers N/S Left Headlight Headlamp Unit Direct Replacement | eBay

    Luckily I dont have to change the whole unit over, just the lens, as Im not planning to even removed the light from the car, Just the front bumper and swap lenses. Need the Mrs Hair Dryer though...
    #3
  4. <tuffty/>
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    <tuffty/> Badger 5 Edition Staff Member Moderator

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    Sounds like a plan... I did consider doing a swap of parts to make one decent Hella bodied unit out of the two but tbh I would prob just be lazy and get a HID kit and be done lol...

    Be good to see how this progresses... this comes up all the time and be good to have an alternative method of 'refurbing' the lights..

    <tuffty/>
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  5. aragorn
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    aragorn "Stick a V8 in it!" Staff Member Moderator

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    Tuffty: Fitting H7 HID kits is a bodge and is illegal.

    At the very least, transfer your HID projector over into the new light assembly, or do what Richard seems to be doing and using the depo parts to repair the OEM light unit.

    Also the OEM ballasts are FAR better quality than the aftermarket tat, so you really want to be retaining those as well.
    #5
  6. <tuffty/>
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    <tuffty/> Badger 5 Edition Staff Member Moderator

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    My understanding of 'legal' in this context (in the UK) is if I have the required self levelling and headlight washing functionality then HIDs are 'legal' on the S3 this will be the case as they have xenons as std... all you are technically doing is changing the type of bulb...

    While I agree that most aftermarket ballasts are pretty **** if you have an OE one that on its way out and can only be bought alongside a 500 quid replacement headlight then I can live with spending a few quid on one of the better aftermarket ones...

    <tuffty/>
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  7. aragorn
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    aragorn "Stick a V8 in it!" Staff Member Moderator

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    The ballasts are usually used on many different models. The A4 Valeo ones are also fitted to Renault Lagunas amongst other things and are easy enough to get on ebay. I'd imagine the same story with the A3 ones, you just need to find out the type and what other cars use them!

    The bit everyone misses with the legality, is that the light assembly must be type approved for use with HID lamps. That means the projector has to be a proper HID projector, as well as the other requirements such as levelling and washing. It means putting a H7 HID conversion kit into a H7 projector is never legal, and for good reason, the HID projector is designed for the different light source that a HID lamp provides. Fitting an HID lamp into a H7 projector gives you an incorrect beam.

    Given you already have proper HID projectors, it seems crazy to throw them away and replace them with a bodged h7 conversion in a halogen projector. Its surely far better to either swap the existing HID projectors into the new lamp, or buy some newer BiXenon projectors from someone like TRS, and use those instead.
    #7
  8. samurai
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    samurai Member

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    .... and dont forget there is another things with this aftermarket depo lights. They cracks soon and looks as if someone slapped them. I bought mine from ebay in november next year in may they ware already cracking (it is interesting that the crack only one the other is still like new) and same issue had 3 of my friends who also bought the same light even after me. Its hard to describe how damage looks like but its not nice. I will made pic tomorrow (i hope) one of mine and stick here to see - looks like kinda micro cracks in plastic.
    #8
  9. Tooks
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    Tooks Active Member

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    I've restored my lenses too, but still considering some new units due to some micro crazing still evident on them.

    I ran a hid kit on my old A4, but rather than the H7 bulbs I used some metal H7 to D2S adapters so that I could use some decent OEM D2S bulbs. There were plenty of ballast to D2S wiring kits on eBay.

    It was a very good setup, better than my current original S3 lights, and even though they were running in a Halogen housing had a crisp cut off and no stray light. I've still got that kit in my shed and am toying with the idea of picking up some new light units from somewhere like ECP who sell the Hella units and often have 30-50% off events, and giving it a go.
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  10. Sidey
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    Sidey Member

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    I ditched my oem Hella lights on my S3 ages ago and fitted a set of Depo lights with aftermarket HIDs.

    They are better then my stock lights ever were.
    #10
  11. AviatorRichards3
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    AviatorRichards3 Member

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    Right, well for some reason it wont let me edit my previous post, so Ill add it here:

    This morning I thought I was just going to go for it and change the lens. Now knowing how long it took for me to get the 11 year old lens, I was dreading how long it would take to get the DEPO lens off. I know some of you would probably tell me its easier to swap the whole unit, but I wanted my original xenon unit, but just with a clear new lens...

    Step 1: Removing the four plastic lugs ontop of the bumper. Now I find the easiest way to do this is screw a screw about half a mill into the top and the whole thing should pull out...note that if the middle plastic tube thing pulls out and leaves the lug in...a slot headed screw driver works a treat to gently prize the lug out.

    View attachment 23625 IMG_1500.jpg IMG_1501.jpg IMG_1502.jpg

    Step 2: Remove the near side wheel arch screws which hold the bumper on ...and the little plastic flap

    IMG_1503.jpg IMG_1504.jpg IMG_1505.jpg IMG_1506.jpg

    Step 3: Melting the sticky foam glue stuff....now as youl see from the photos, the plastic surround has already been lifted once to get the lens of before (this was prior to finding out it should be heated) and remember im doing this without removing the whole light...so im attempting minimal steps to get my result. Please note that the last picture when the lens is off my unit, the plastic rim looks worse then it is as later on, some heat and gentle compression got it all back into shape....

    IMG_1507.jpg IMG_1508.jpg IMG_1509.jpg IMG_1510.jpg IMG_1515.jpg IMG_1521.jpg IMG_1522.jpg IMG_1523.jpg IMG_1524.jpg IMG_1525.jpg

    Step 4: The infamous Anton Richards 'very stringent' mate it together and see if they look remotely similar test...which they did and I quickly moved on to step 5....

    IMG_1526.jpg IMG_1527.jpg IMG_1528.jpg

    Step 5: Removing the new DEPO lens from its casing. Now this was a pain in the arse and took the bulk of the time, and im sure their will be people out their that say I wnet about this the wrong way, but as I saw it their were two options.

    1) Gently heat in the oven until warm enough to prize off with ease

    2) Brute force and lots of heat gun/hair dryer until I can separate the two with the probably sacrifice of the back casing

    Now clearly as youl see from the mutilated DEPO unit, I went with the second option as I thought "f*ck it, I only need the lens"!!

    Below are is a picture, of which im sure many of you will laugh at, and probably be able to do without causing the damage I did..but hey...its my lens ;)

    IMG_1529.jpg

    and the lens once removed...

    IMG_1530.jpg IMG_1531.jpg

    Step 6: Installing the new DEPO lens into the old housing...which I mated it up, then used the hair dryer to melt the foam glue and it slid very slowly in with some medium pressure. (im sure their is a better way to do this as I couldnt get it all the way in...but this could also be to do with the fit perhaps not be 100% perfect, but im sure if I had got rid of all the glue on the lens and the unit, the fit would have been near as..so im Mr very impressed so far with this DEPO aftermarket purchase.

    IMG_1532.jpg IMG_1533 edited.jpg IMG_1534.jpg IMG_1535.jpg IMG_1536.jpg IMG_1537.jpg IMG_1538.JPG (2).jpg

    Now the first photo after I removed the the film cover...the exciting moment of truth on looks....

    IMG_1539.JPG (2).jpg IMG_1540.jpg IMG_1541.JPG (2) edited.jpg IMG_1542 edited.jpg IMG_1547.JPG (2).jpg IMG_1548.jpg IMG_1546.JPG (2).jpg IMG_1552.JPG (2).jpg IMG_1551.JPG (2).jpg

    What have I achieved...

    Well ive managed to change a deteriorating lens without changing the whole unit which on the S3 is vastly more expensive as it is the xenon light, not just halogen. Ive done so without removing the whole unit, so therefore only the left hand side of the bumper needs to be pulled off and ive swapped them over in order 4 hours which is very worth while. So if your contemplating doing this, and dont want to spend hundred or close to £1000 (S3 Light), then I would 100% recommend these DEPO lights and either just replace the whole unit or replace the lens like I have.

    I am super happy with the final looks and as though, it has transformed the look of my car....so thanks to all those who gave advice as it has really helped me to sort this frustrating and common problem out.

    I do have some more photos, of the front of the car but I have to edit out the number plate, so this will be done in due course.

    Now onto my next problem: Four wheel drive is cutting in and actually spinning the rear wheels fast then the car moves when turning tight corners at a very slow speed...(in forward and reverse gears)...actually feels like car is skidding round corners, and ESP light flashed at the same time....Plugged it into the Audi computer through a friend and nothing comes up..very odd and most annoying...the car cannot power out of it...but for another thread me thinks...
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
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  12. samurai
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    samurai Member

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    ... perfectly done mate I hope your lenses will last longer than my. Many of my friends have the same problem with these DEPO lenses.
    Here is pics of mine lenses after only 6 months but funny is that this happened only on one lens while other is still as good as new

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    On the other hand as you mentioned they are damn cheap so if every year you buy a new pair of lenses is not to costly :icon_thumright:
    #12
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  13. vfr800
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    vfr800 Member

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    Interesting. Good skills.

    I think you'd have found it easier removing the whole bumper and dropping the headlight out. It's only a few more bolts and screws.

    Looks like Hella sold Depo the moulds and rights to produce these lights as the casing looks identical. Shame about the cheap lens polycarbonate that Depo appear to have used.

    Liam
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  14. AviatorRichards3
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    AviatorRichards3 Member

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    @ Samurai....thank you buddy, it worked very well and i am so happy with the look now, and im getting more illumination at night as well...

    I hope it does last as taking another lens apart is really the last thing I want to be doing. I did post a comment on your thread but you never replied....(i think)...."where did you get the black headlights from"?

    @ Liam....I may have done, but by the looks of it, their were a few pipes attached and I didnt want to pull anything off. A stone smashed one of my fog lights, so ill need to replace that, sp Im sure the whole bumper will have to come off for that anyway...but I havnt looked at how to get the whole thing off...but if you say their are only a few more screws/bolts etc...perhaps its easier then it looks.

    Yes the polycarbonate is of a lower standard then that of the Hella stuff as I melted a very tiny portion (tucked out of the way) easily with the hair dryer which was a complete accident as I was only trying to loosen up the foam glue stuff.

    But the price makes it so attractive and they look and fit superbly...so I say well done to DEPO :kiss:
    #14
  15. samurai
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    samurai Member

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    I answered you mate. I get that black headlights on German E-BAY and its also from DEPO

    Facelift Scheinwerfer Set schwarz für Audi A3 8L 96-03 | eBay
    #15
  16. AviatorRichards3
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    AviatorRichards3 Member

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    #16
  17. A3-Lee
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    A3-Lee Active Member

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    I've pmed you Richard
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  18. samurai
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    samurai Member

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    nope I didnt change fog lenses (I think they dont even exist) I just glued yellow film over them
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  19. Bad Sir Culation
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    Bad Sir Culation Member

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    The car I've just bought has had Depos put in instead of the OEM setup but I want to get it back as close to standard as I can. Unfortunately, these have got no back covers on them for some reason, and a mess of crappy HID kit wiring behind them.

    For some reason, the clips on the light cups that should hold the bulbs in are useless and won't clip into place. I'd like to put it back to standard but doubt it's worth the cost and hassle now. How have others routed the wiring for aftermarket HID kits with these lights?

    Has anybody found a way of hooking up adjustment motors in these at all?
    #19
  20. AviatorRichards3
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    AviatorRichards3 Member

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    Hi

    First of all what car/model do you have? as if its an A3, it will be alot cheaper to do then an S3 as you dont need the xenon light units. (£400 per pair vs nearly £1500 per pair on S3)

    as far as wiring goes, I cant comment much as I only ever fitted aftermarket HID to an old A3 I had and I cut a whole in the back of the lense cover which the wiring went through, with a specially designed rubber grommet that then covered the whole and sealed it off....all for £60 delivered to my door from ebay (10,000K, although after a few years when one blew, I got 12,000K replacement bulbs and due to the deeper blue colour, the intensity of illumination was reduced)

    im afraid I cant offer any more help, other then to say: even if you have an S3, and you just want genuine HELLA units, I would go for the A3 units as they are very nearly the same as the HELLA xenon units (from the naked eye, only the projector lens looks slightly smaller on the xenon unit) but they are nearly a 1/4 of the price
    #20
  21. Bad Sir Culation
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    Bad Sir Culation Member

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    Well I have scored a new, non butchered set of Depos and now need to figure out if I can remove the HI kit and use my OEM wiring with facelift headlight adapter cables...
    #21
  22. Marshall878
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    Marshall878 Member

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    Richard.

    What else can be used from those Depo headlights?

    A common issue seems to be the headlight adjusters going brittle and falling apart. Do you think the adjusters from the Depo units will fit the S3 units?

    Headlight modding is massive in the States and nobody seems to be doing it over here...the outcomes from some of the retrofits are unreal!

    The Retrofit Source Inc

    They go so much further than swapping the lense!

    [​IMG]
    #22
  23. <tuffty/>
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    <tuffty/> Badger 5 Edition Staff Member Moderator

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  24. Marshall878
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    Marshall878 Member

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    Wow, some effort put in there!
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