Install An Aftermarket Hid Upgrade Kit

by: EchoOfGecko


Background:

Symptoms of issue or other information

Tools:

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Tin snips, nips, or a Dremel tool
  • Wire stripper/crimper (optional
  • cutting blade
  • Silicone sealant (optional)

Parts:

  • Hid Kit

The installation here was performed on a 2002 (B5.5) Passat Wagon GLS. The procedures should be very similar for all Passats, and I suspect most other Volkswagens, Audis, and Studebakers. Really, you could add these to any vehicle your heart desired, but IMO, only cars equipped with a projector style headlight are a good candidate.

Here’s a before picture, the lovely Autumn is our model. The original bulbs were H7 Sylvania Silverstars (headlights) and H7 Luminics "JDM Yellow" (fog lights);
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Step 1: Select and Purchase your HID kit

This is perhaps the most important step. A good quality kit will probably outlast your car (it is a Volkswagen after all), and a poor quality kit will probably cost you more in the long run. The general consensus is that kits with a Phillips or Osram/Sylvania ballast are usually a good bet.

Pictured is the McCulloch kit (others are similar). It includes bulbs (H1, H3, H4, H7, H8, H9, H10, H11, H13, 9003, 9004, 9005, 9006, 9007, D2S, and D2R), ballasts, igniter modules, wiring harness, cable ties, mounting tape, and really "great" instructions. And by "great", I mean poopy.
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Light Bulb Replacement Guide

McCulloch – The most popular and easiest to find. All over PW classifieds and of course eBay. They use a Phillips ballast.
Kaixen – Very high quality kit, they are the OEM supplier to many Asian car companies. Unfortunately, they aren’t easy to find.

When selecting a color, keep in mind that the higher the Kelvin (K) rating, the more blue or purple the bulb will be, and the less light the bulb will produce. For my installation, I selected a 6000K McCulloch kit, though even the 6000K kit is a bit too blue for my tastes. If I were to do it again, I’d go for something in the 5000K range, maybe just slightly bluer than OEM.
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Step 2: Gather your tools and a cold PacNW microbrew

The tools needed for this project are few.

1). A Phillips screwdriver

2). Tin snips, nips, or a Dremel tool

3). A cutting blade

4). Silicone sealant (optional)

4). Wire stripper/crimper (optional)

As for beer, I prefer Bridgeport Porter, but the PacNW offers many fine craft brews. Take your pick.

Step 3: Lay out your kit and decide on where you will mount the ballasts and igniters

This is easy. Even with a V6 car, you should have plenty of space in your engine bay for these small items. Just watch for moving parts, and make sure they’re close enough for the wiring harness to reach. On my car, I mounted the ballasts on the firewall (1 and 2), the igniter for the passenger side light is on the back of the headlight it’s self (3), and the igniter for the drivers side headlight is mounted on the power steering fluid bottle (4).
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Again, watch for moving components, and not just the obvious stuff. For example, the hood and hood strut. Seen here is my drivers side ballast.
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Step 4: Remove any plastic bits that will hinder your installation attempt

For my 1.8T, I removed the air box cover, the air box inlet from the core support to the air box, and the power steering reservoir cover.

The air box cover lifts right off, as does half of the air box inlet. The leading portion of the inlet is attached to the core support by three Phillips screws. Lastly, the power steering reservoir cover is held on by two clips underneath the cover.
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Step 5: Replace your halogen bulbs with the new HID hotness bulbs

Note 1: Before messing with electrical bits, you really should disconnect your negative battery terminal. I didn’t, because I’m lazy, but you still should do this to make Safety McSaferton happy.

Note 2: Don't touch the bulbs. The oil and moisture on your hands in combination with the high temperatures of the bulbs will cause discoloration, shortened life, and in some cases, it will be enough moisure to cause cloudiness of your headlight. May also be fatal if swallowed.

This is the only challenging part of the whole shebang. Why? Because VW uses some retarded clips to hold the bulb to the harness. These clips are what hold the bulb in place, but sadly, they don’t fit the new HID bulbs.

First, remove the dust cover on the rear of the light and pull out your bulb. Remove the old bulb from the harness assembly, and then remove the metal clip from the plastic harness.

Now, it’s time to modify the metal clip. Many will say that this is a real PITA and that you have to Dremel out the clip to fit the new bulb. Sure, this is one possible route. But never being one for hard work, I simply cut the clip, which allowed it to “stretch” on to the bulb base. Cut where the red arrow is pointing. Also, bend down the protrusions (green arrows) so they don't interfere with the bulb.
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Then, reinstall the bulb in the headlight housing. Be sure to install the bulb with the wire, or "bar" at the top. This will prevent the "bar" from casting a shadow in your headlight beam. The bulb will be a somewhat tight fit, but this is a good thing. Just take your time, live with your scratched knuckles, and all will be fine and dandy.
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Once the bulb is back in, cut a small slit (about .5”) in the dust cap to allow the two HID harnesses and the original wires to pass through. Then, seal the hole with silicone goop or tape, depending on how lazy you are.

Step 6: Mount your ballasts and igniters

Again, this is easy. And I’m lazy, so I’ll just copy and paste from above. I just mounted mine with the included adhesive pads for the ballasts and some 3M trim adhesive tape for the igniters.

…Just watch for moving parts, and make sure they’re close enough for the wiring harness to reach. On my car, I mounted the ballasts on the firewall (1 and 2), the igniter for the passenger side light is on the back of the headlight it’s self (3), and the igniter for the drivers side headlight is mounted on the power steering fluid bottle (4).
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Again, watch for moving components, and not just the obvious stuff. For example, the hood and hood strut. Seen here is my drivers side ballast.
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Step 7: Run your wires and plug it all in

Yet another easy step. All of the harnesses are of a weather pak type and just plug right in. There’s really no way to mess up. Route your wires so they blend in and keep them away from moving parts or heat. To connect the OEM headlight wires, just plug the spade connectors from the kit to the harness for the OEM headlights. Black goes to Brown (ground) and White goes to Yellow (12v).

The other option (this is what I did) is to hard wire these wires together. Even though it’s less reversible, it is a better, more secure connection. I used a butt connector sealed with heat shrink tubing.
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Also, if you haven’t done this already as part of a Euro switch upgrade, now’s the time to disable your DRLs. Why is this nececarry? DRLs supply a limited current to dim your headlights in DRL mode. This limited current can damage the HID ballasts and cause your HIDs to be “all f-ed up”. How do you disable your DRLs? Simply reach on up under your dash (the fuse panel is on the drivers side, on the side of the dashboard) and pull relay number 173. That’s it.

Step 8: Test, break in, button up, and clean up

Now’s the time to give ‘em a test fire. If they don’t work, you’ve been sleeping for the last few pages. For the McCulloch kit, you need to leave your lights on for ~10 minutes to allow them to “break in”. Refer to the instructions in your kit to determine if this is longer or shorter for your kit. If they work, use this 10 minutes to reinstall your airbox inlet and cover, and your power steering reservoir cover. Clean up your tools, and polish off your beer.

As you can see, with everything back together, you almost can’t tell the HIDs are there. And with a bit more time and effort locating your components, it could be completely stealth-like.
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Enjoy your new found Xenon gas euphoria!
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Autumn, next to an Audi A3 (the Hunde-wagen) with Xenons for comparison. Notice how blue the 6000Ks look compared to the OE color of the Audi.
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