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Poor dipped headlight performance

Scarabrae Jan 16, 2019

  1. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Hi guys

    I have very recently picked up my first Audi [2004 A4 soft top with 145k] and I'm very happy with one exception.

    The dipped headlight output is pretty poor for some reason. The bulbs work, the lenses/glass are clear. Here's the thing, I'm convinced [from observation] that when I first turn my lights onto dipped, for a fraction of second the light output seems to be high and then backs off. I can see this when there is a care parked in front of me, I can see the change in the intensity of the light reflecting back to me.

    I've done a search for poor dipped performance but found no results.

    Is this a known problem?

    Cheers
     
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  3. stevey83

    stevey83 Member

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    Do they have standard bulbs or xenons? The brightness that dips could be the xenons lighting up.

    I have just taken my headlights apart for the same reason, the inside lense bowls were absolutely covered in a fine dust. Ive cleaned them and put them back together, although i havnt refitted them back to my car yet. Im sure theyll be 10 times better though.

    I was in the sane boat as you, only just picked the car up recently and noticed the light output was poor.

    Another issue is sometimes the inside bowl that i cleaned, the reflective coating can come away, luckily mine were ok, apart from some burn marks!?

    Ill post pics on the weekend.
     
  4. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Hi Stevey

    I'm not 100% certain whether they are xenon's but I suspect so as I can see what looks like a ballast pack nestled on the back plates of the units. The initial higher voltage would account for the quick switch on before they settle down.

    The dipped lights in my units look like thick fish eyes, are they the xenons?

    Did your units come apart easily enough in order to clean the bowls?

    The pics will be appreciated!
     
  5. stevey83

    stevey83 Member

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    Do you have headlight washers and nothing to adjust the headlight aim, usual sign of xenons!
    It was easy to take them apart, just fiddly.
     
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  6. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Yeah, I believe I do have headlight washers....small panels under the lights and no 'numbered' adjuster as in my others cars I've had. Cheers.
     
  7. S4_dan

    S4_dan Fire up the Quattro! VCDS Map User

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    Sounds like you have factory xenons. They're self levelling, hence no adjuster switch. When turning on, they should raise and lower before settling at the correct level.

    Two sensors operate this, three is one on the front, usually nearside, and one on the rear, usually offside. These little sensors are attached to the suspension arms and bodywork.

    Do you have a yellow headlight warning on the dash when you turn them on? If so, could be a faulty sensor, thus putting the headlights into default mode which points them down to prevent dazzling oncoming traffic. This gives poor lighting output. My S8 has this fault but I'm replacing the front level sensor.

    Or, if its all working, then it could be the projector lenses are dirty or deteriorating. It's not uncommon for them to deteriorate with age.

    Some people have changed the projector lenses to bi-xenon units. Not the cheapest option, nor the easiest to replace. There is a guide on here somewhere someone once did. Do a search and it should show up.
     
  8. S4_dan

    S4_dan Fire up the Quattro! VCDS Map User

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  9. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Hey, Dan. Thanks for sharing your thinking. No yellow headlight warning light. Logically then it would seem that as you suggest, the lenses are dirty or deteriorating. I'm guessing I'll need to remove the units when I have some time, to have a proper look.
     
  10. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Stevey. Do you have xenons for your dipped lights? If so, were you able to clean the inside of the lens that the xenon bulb sits in?
    I've just looked at how clear the lenses are on the images I have uploaded, it's dark now so I cant really see, but I think my lenses are not anyway near as clear.

    See image. A4_Xenon.jpg
     
  11. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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  13. stevey83

    stevey83 Member

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    Before
    IMG_6130.JPG
    After
    IMG_6131.JPG

    You can see how much they have fogged up and the white residue on the bottom. Washed with warm water and cleaned with glass cleaner.

    My car came with xenons from the factory, but failed the MOT years ago on poor light output, this is before i bought it. It came with aftermarket lights fitted, i dont like the look of them so bought a pair of Ebay second hand. One light was in much better condition than the other. They were only normal halogen units though, i cant justify £300+ for a second hand pair of xenons. I will just buy some aftermarket bulbs and ballasts and fit those.

    The other problem i have is my xenon range controller is knackered so when fitted they point straight down, as pointed out above.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
  14. stevey83

    stevey83 Member

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    I also have an old pair of TT headlights with xenons in my garage, Was thinking of chopping them up to see if i could swap lenses and bulbs
     
  15. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Cheers, for the update, Stevey. I think I'll go for the clean and polish before I splash out on the Retrofitlab kit. Looks like you have got a decent polish on them. Let us know if there is an improvement if you fit them again.

    Particularly as I think one or both of the rear bearings could do with replacing. Getting them checked out on Thursday.
     
  16. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Had a look at the reflector from my offside xenon. Coating absent, rubbing off with even a gentle rub, just missing and scorched in places. I'll be getting a kit unless I can pick up a set of reflector bowls on there own?

    Was a b****r removing the bowl from the headlight, I'm assuming there is a particular turn/pull combination! :)

    For the time being a placed some tin foil cut to fit and tacked on with the tiniest bit of superglue until I replace/upgrade.
     

    Attached Files:

  17. stevey83

    stevey83 Member

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    Yeah thats shockingly bad! I dont think you could pick them up seperatly, and buying them second hand would be a risk, and expensive. You could try buying some standard halogen light units and fitting aftermarket HID bulbs, as i am going to do.
     
  18. stevey83

    stevey83 Member

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  19. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Thanks for pointing that out. I'm a tad confused though. I thought bi-xenon meant xenon HID bulbs were used for both dipped and main beam? Although I can see that some xenon bulbs have [2] HID 'elements' to them.

    I'm sure my car has standard halogen bulbs for main beam. I'll need to be certain before I purchase/have the kit fitted, but it does look like it is the kit [2] below. I have H7/D2S H9 inscribed into the plastic with the ZKW logo stamped all over the plastic.

    The version you pointed out is for 2001-2004 cars?

    There is a chap in the UK listed under RetroFit as their sole UK dealer - I'll give him a call next week.


    A further read on their site says:

    For the A4 B6 Convertible 2002-2006 [Mine is a 2005 Convertible]

    "The convertible headlights are made by a different manufacturer, ZKW, and come in 2 flavors: halogen and single xenon.

    1. "ZKW H7 halogen. Not really a spectacular projector, the Mini H1 projector will more than double the light output compared to the H7 halogen output.

    2. "ZKW D2S single xenon. Like with the BMW 3 E46, headlight manufacturer ZKW made a huge mistake to produce plastic reflector bowls. These bowls will literally burn so badly that holes may appear. Unacceptable, but it's fixable with our B6 MH1 convertible kit.



    And again from their page:

    "Convertible

    These headlights are made by ZKW, and come in 2 flavors: halogen and single xenon.
    ZKW H7 halogen. Not really a spectacular projector, the Mini H1 projector will more than double! the light output compared to the H7 halogen output.
    ZKW D2S single xenon. ZKW made a huge mistake to produce plastic reflector bowls. These bowls will literally burn so badly that holes may appear. Unacceptable, but it’s fixable with our A4 B6 MH1 convertible kit.
    We’ve developed a bracket which fits in both headlights and will definitely improve the light output."
     

    Attached Files:

  20. stevey83

    stevey83 Member

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    Yours uses xenon for dipped and standard h7 for main beam.
     
  21. Scarabrae

    Scarabrae New Member

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    Cheers, Stevey.
     

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