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    Thread: FAQ for HID / Xenon: HID bulb out, HID flickering, Relay harnesses, General HID info, etc.

    1. Member EternalMind's Avatar
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      02-03-2007 07:16 PM #1
      My HID bulb(s) won’t turn on at all or won’t stay on anymore. How do I figure out what is wrong?
      Always check fuses first when a light is out. This is easy to check and easy to fix if found to be the issue. If the fuses are all ok, you should then double-check the wiring to make sure it is all connected.
      If you’ve ruled out fuse and wiring issues, this generally only leaves the components (ballasts and bulbs). If only one side (driver or passenger) is out, just swap parts from side to side. Start by swapping bulbs first, because they are usually easier to get to (at least in OEM setups). If the problem follows the bulb, then it is obviously a problem with the bulb. If the problem stays with the headlamp, it is the ballast.

      Why are my HID headlamps flickering and/or turning off shortly after being turned on?
      This could be a loose connection in the wiring or bad components (bulb or ballast), but the most common problem I've seen with flickering HID lamps (when they are added to a vehicle that did not come with them from the factory) is low voltage at the input to the ballast during startup.

      OK, so why is the voltage too low at the ballast during startup?
      This could be a low battery (or alternator going bad resulting in a low battery), but the most common problem is the “natural” voltage drop in the stock vehicle wiring (for power and ground to the ballast) due to resistance that is higher than the HID system was designed for.

      Why is the resistance in my vehicle wiring too high for HID?
      Most vehicles are designed to only use the minimum gauge of wiring necessary for the factory equipment planned for that vehicle. There is no reason for “overkill” since it costs more money and isn’t necessary from an OEM perspective.
      Electrically, it works like this: HID ballasts have a very high inrush current (relative to their steady state or in comparison to halogen) that is required to "fire" or ignite the arc in the lightsource. The wires carrying this current and providing power to the ballast (regardless of size) and connector terminals, etc. have some fixed resistance (R).
      During the inrush period of an HID system, the current (I) spikes high (typically 20-30Amps for OEM ballasts). So, based on V=IR (where V = the voltage drop over the given resistance, which is wires in this case), you can see that this “much higher than halogen” inrush current results in a much larger voltage drop (V) than would be seen with the stock halogen source...which often results in a voltage at the input to the ballast that is below the functional design intent while trying to start. Once the HID system has “fired” and reached steady state (i.e. warmed up), the current lowers to a level (typically down to only 3-4Amps for OEM ballasts) that is actually lower than that of halogen.
      So math aside, the issue is typically resistance...which is why it is recommend to use relay harnesses when adding HID to a vehicle that had halogen before. In doing so, it allows you to use a larger gauge of wire (i.e. smaller resistance) and connect directly to the battery (which is typically a lower resistance path). This combination results in less of a voltage drop in the wiring, and a higher voltage at the input to the ballast.

      How do I buy or build, and install a relay harness?
      To buy: I recommend contacting a2b4guy here on the vortex. He builds and sells these for many vehicle types and is a good guy from my experience.
      To build: Follow one of the diagrams below. You can purchase the components at a Radio Shack type of store (at the store or online), or at just about any auto parts store.
      Harness type 1: This is the easiest type of harness to make and only uses one relay. Under normal conditions, this is fine to do. However, the risk of using only one relay (and one fuse) for both sides is that if either goes bad, you lose both headlamps until you fix it.


      Harness type 2: This takes more components than the harness above (2 relays and 2 fuses), but it is more reliable in theory. Here, if one fuse or one relay goes bad, you only lose the respective headlight, and you still get light from the other one to "limp" home.

      A typical automotive relay looks like this:

      and has a pinout like this:

      Regardless of which harness "type" you use, you should make sure that the relay is mounted with the "tab" up so that the wiring comes out the bottom and water can't run into it. Really, all wiring should be given a "drip-loop" near the input to connectors to ensure that water can't run *down* the wiring into the device.

      Why is it the passenger side HID lamp that typically has issues on the mkIV VW platforms?
      In short, the passenger side is farther away from the battery. The fixed resistance (R) mentioned above is larger for the passenger side due to this longer run of wiring between the headlamp/ballast and its power source. This higher resistance results in a higher voltage drop in the wiring, and a lower voltage at the input to the ballast.

      I’ve installed a relay harness, but I’m still having problems…what could be wrong?
      Again, it could be loose connections or a low battery. It is also possible that the harness you installed didn’t have a low enough resistance (which is the case in some of the aftermarket relay harnesses that come in the “kit”).
      A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the total resistance of the circuit between the battery and the ballast (including both power and ground leads) is less than 120m ohms (0.120 ohms). If you have a digital multimeter, it most likely has the ability to measure resistance. Use this to measure the resistance between the ballast input connector and the battery (with the ballast disconnected). You'll probably want to measure the power lead and the ground lead separately, and you can just add the measurements to get the total resistance. The same addition rule applies for measuring each section of the wiring separately (i.e. from ballast to relay, and from relay to battery), which is necessary to do if you don't have the relay energized to "complete" the connection.
      If you only have a voltmeter (i.e. not a multi-meter), you can measure the voltage at the input to the ballast, but it has to be measured during the inrush period of the ballast (with the ballast connected) to see what the voltage falls to. You'll probably need two people to do this...one to take the measurement and one to turn the lights on. The voltage will change quickly and you'll just have to watch for the lowest number. This is a crude method (compared to using an oscilloscope), but will generally get the job done. It should remain above 8V during inrush for most ballasts (above 9V for some) for it to work correctly. If the ballast is toast and won't even try to start, then the voltage measured will simply be the battery voltage (not changing rapidly) and won't tell you much.
      When doing this voltage measurement (or any "probing" of the HID system), make sure that you only probe the INPUT to the ballast. This is DC voltage and is relatively low. DO NOT try to measure the OUTPUT of the ballast, as this is a HIGH VOLTAGE that can be very DANGEROUS).
      If it is not a resistance problem, it is possible that the damage has already been done, and that it is too late to “fix.” Still, the relay harness (with larger wiring) is a good idea to protect your HID system going forward (when you get a new ballast or bulb to replace whichever is bad).

      Will HID melt my headlamp?
      HID bulbs actually put out LESS heat than halogen. It is a more efficient source, creating more light with less power consumption.
      work in progress...more to come as time allows

    2. Member SHUMopper's Avatar
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      02-03-2007 08:40 PM #2
      needless to say, STICKY THIS!!!

    3. 02-04-2007 03:53 AM #3
      Good job [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    4. Global CSI Moderator
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      02-04-2007 08:56 AM #4
      Quote, originally posted by SHUMopper »
      needless to say, STICKY THIS!!!

      I'm going to be adding this to the FAQ, which will be stickied...

    5. 02-07-2007 02:13 PM #5
      EternalMind
      [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG] [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

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      02-08-2007 01:36 PM #6
      Great FAQ. I wish this had been around about a month ago when I was having an issue with my ballast. One thing I'd suggest adding, that may not be immediately obvious. If the passenger side ballast goes bad in a MKIV (at least R32), it can be changed without removing the headlight at all, just using a right angle screwdriver.

    7. Member TranAndy's Avatar
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      08-14-2007 12:27 PM #7
      Good info!
      Also Known As: MalakaiTran
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    8. 02-05-2008 11:43 AM #8
      (had to type a bs comment just to add this to my watched list probably 'cause it's archived )

    9. 02-05-2008 09:58 PM #9
      By adding a relay means I can't manual switch HID to off once being on stage, unless my car engine is completely shutdown. Is this correct? Because I'm experiencing this issue with my vehicle, it's almost like having day-time running light on all time if I HID light being switched on then off later in time while vehicle engine is running.

    10. 02-12-2008 06:41 PM #10
      just an FYI.. if you want to do the single relay setup look at your local auto parts store for a premade wiring kit. I found one with a 12v 30amp fuse, its made for a fog light setup. Its got a fuse in-line too. Its setup for a switch.. but all you got to do it cut the plug for the switch and hook the hot wire (that would of hooked into the switch) to the hot line of the stock headlight cable.

      The setup I bought is made by PILOT. P/N: PL-HARN3
      http://www.brandsport.com/glbl-pilt-pl-harn3.html (heres a link to show it. It may need to have a 30 amp fuse instead of a 15amp.) I only paid $21 w/ tax for my kit.. so check your local store.


      Modified by stealthMKV at 3:46 PM 2-12-2008

    11. Member Gigitt's Avatar
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      02-13-2008 12:23 AM #11
      Quote, originally posted by EternalMind »
      A typical automotive relay looks like this:

      and has a pinout like this:

      I got caught out on this and so I pass this info onto everyone...
      Your Relay picture shows what is called a Changeover relay. Pin 87 and 87a change on or off opposite to each other. ie one is on when the other is off.
      Relays come in 3 varieties...
      4 pin (87)
      5 pin (87/87a) Changeover
      5 pin (87/87) dual output
      You really only need a 4 pin relay (as your wiring diagrams show)
      You will not need a 5 pin Changeover relay - it usually costs more and you cannot use pin 87a to turn on lights (unless you are switching from one light to another like flicking from low to low beam)
      Getting a 5 pin dual output relay will mean you do not have to share the one 87 pin or split a wire coming off it if you want to run 2 lights from one relay. Splitting a wire means you have to have the a thicker gauge wire lead or you can join 2 wires to the quick crimp.
      It is a lot easier and neater to get a relay base/socket/harness that is pre-wired and the relay just plugs in. It makes it safer as the wires are already protected against shorting from each other, but also allows you to swap relays easily if one is faulty and the wires are not left dangling about.
      Horn Relay Base

    12. Member MKVJET08's Avatar
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      02-18-2008 09:54 PM #12
      im having the flickering issue on my mkv jetta, but only when the motor is on and the ebrake is down, if the motor is off and the lights are just on, it stays on perfectly and doesnt flicker at all. is this normal?
      btw, im not running a relay, id like to but i just really dont understand it, im wiring illiterate lol
      They're going to their house over there.
      You're not utilizing your education properly.

    13. Member EternalMind's Avatar
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      02-20-2008 06:59 PM #13
      Quote, originally posted by cityofallen »
      By adding a relay means I can't manual switch HID to off once being on stage, unless my car engine is completely shutdown. Is this correct? Because I'm experiencing this issue with my vehicle, it's almost like having day-time running light on all time if I HID light being switched on then off later in time while vehicle engine is running.

      i have absolutely no idea what you are saying. if you follow the relay harness instructions above, it will work exactly as it did stock (same functionality). if you still have issues, start a new thread and explain your issue fully.

    14. Member EternalMind's Avatar
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      02-20-2008 07:04 PM #14
      yes, there are certainly other relays out there. the ones i referenced are simply the most commonly found. thanks for adding the info [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    15. Member EternalMind's Avatar
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      02-20-2008 07:12 PM #15
      Quote, originally posted by MKVJET08 »
      im having the flickering issue on my mkv jetta, but only when the motor is on and the ebrake is down, if the motor is off and the lights are just on, it stays on perfectly and doesnt flicker at all. is this normal?
      btw, im not running a relay, id like to but i just really dont understand it, im wiring illiterate lol

      this is an informational DIY/FAQ thread. you'd be much better off asking your question in a new thread...more people will see it, and it will keep this thread cleaner.
      but while you're here, yes, it makes sense. when the engine is running, it takes more battery power than when it is off (especially if you're at low rpm and not producing a lot from a alternator). you should run a relay harness with upgraded wiring if your vehicle did not come with HID stock. print the pictures above and take them to radio shack and they should be able to help you get everything you need.
      p.s. you're wasting your time with 8000k [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthdown.gif[/IMG]

    16. Member MKVJET08's Avatar
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      02-21-2008 11:33 PM #16
      Quote, originally posted by EternalMind »
      this is an informational DIY/FAQ thread. you'd be much better off asking your question in a new thread...more people will see it, and it will keep this thread cleaner.
      but while you're here, yes, it makes sense. when the engine is running, it takes more battery power than when it is off (especially if you're at low rpm and not producing a lot from a alternator). you should run a relay harness with upgraded wiring if your vehicle did not come with HID stock. print the pictures above and take them to radio shack and they should be able to help you get everything you need.
      p.s. you're wasting your time with 8000k [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthdown.gif[/IMG]

      yeah i kno its informational... im just desperate lol cant find much help ne where. K thanks
      oh and about the 8000k... a lil too late for that lol
      They're going to their house over there.
      You're not utilizing your education properly.

    17. 04-17-2008 03:53 PM #17
      so basically i can splice into the harness of the hid lights and run the wires with a relay to a battery? just to give it a constant power of 12v? sorry for the n00bish question...im just trying to understand this.


      Modified by Ub3RcAM at 12:55 PM 4-17-2008

    18. Member
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      07-01-2008 09:47 PM #18
      did this sunday, works like a charm.
      props for writing the thread [IMG]http://**********************/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    19. 07-11-2008 10:29 AM #19
      i need help
      i installed an HID kit 10000k to my 2004 GLI jetta it comes with a huge amount of cables and 4 ballast because it is bi-xenon( hi and low beam)
      -one cable conects to the car wire for the headlight
      -another one goes to the + batery with 2 relays and other to the - batery side
      -another goes to one headlight that connects to 2 ballast and then to the bulb with low beam and hi beam cables
      -and the same for the other headlight
      my problem is this
      1) with the daytime running lights both(hi and low beam) are on always
      2) the hi beam indicator in my dash is always on therefore my fogs dont turn on
      3)and when i turn on the switch i dont have acces to the hi beam even though the indicator is on
      Please help
      i can provide pictures if needed.
      please help

    20. 07-24-2008 11:34 PM #20
      edgar not sure if ur paying attention to this but u need to disable ur DRL's they provide variable current and lower voltage which can and will mess up ur hid kit (as i did to mine just a few days ago) way to disable this is either 1. cover the pin w/ electrical tape on ur headlight switch it's pin TFL or u can bend it out of the way and it disable's ur DRL's as that pin is prevented from being powered

    21. 07-28-2008 10:31 PM #21
      This is a response to the MK5 issues that people are having.
      If you do not have a VAGCOM, which I don't, you can still disable your DRL's, and have HID's
      This is how I did it:
      Car is MK5 rabbit, Canadian spec. I just used the stock wiring on the headlights first, but when they flickered, i was like wtf. I then remembered, on MK5's, VW decided to pulse all the lights on and off to control brightness, instead of using dual element bulbs.
      Basically, what's going on is that the lights are being switched on/off at a different rate to control the brightness. Pulse faster = brighter, slower = dimmer. If you take your tail lights off, you'll notice that all the bulbs are single element, even it's for a combined running/brake light!!!! Doing it this way eliminates alot of copper, and thus cheaper to manufacturer.
      Gladly, for some stupid (great) reason (LMAO) they did this to all the lights except the side markers in the front of the car! So basically, you can wire up a relay using the side marker as a trigger.
      I made a quick and dirty diagram of what I did. An unexpected bonus of the way i did it is that it disables your DRL's automatically. You have to switch on the lights for them to work. Just remember to add a 30 amp fuse to the positive of the battery, and isolate (with tape or something) the factory supply for the stock headlights.

      MAN THOSE LIGHTS ARE BRIGHT!!!
      Enjoy


      Modified by lowa2 at 11:34 PM 7-28-2008

    22. 05-06-2009 03:29 PM #22
      This is exactly what I was looking for, thanks!

    23. 05-06-2009 04:05 PM #23
      Aren't there three wire that come from the stock light? The pictures just show 2?

    24. Member MK4WolfsburgJetta's Avatar
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      07-11-2009 03:16 AM #24
      Any way to fix the more "yellow-ish" tint coming from the passenger side HID on my MKIV due to more resistance in wire?
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      2001 Wolfsburg, APR 93 Tune, k03s Turbo, High Flow Mannifold, Turbo Inlet Pipe, FMIC, Down Pipe, 3" Exhaust, Apexi Avc-R @ 20psi, Diode Modded, Water/Meth Injection - 2 nozzel, 4bar FPR, Advanced Timing, BOV, Stage 2 Clutch, Lightweight Flywheel.

    25. 07-17-2009 12:10 AM #25
      I have a problem with getting my HID conversion kit to work properly. My car is an 09 Jetta Wolfsburg, does not have the same multi-function changeable settings as the GLT and GTI do on that screen that’s between the gauges. I have a kit that has digital ballasts. I hook everything up, turn the key to on (but not the ignition) and the lights come on perfectly. The second I turn the engine on I have problems. Either one light stays on briefly and the other goes out then they both flicker and go out and they don’t come back on till I turn the car off and start all over. I don’t know if it has to do with fuses, DRL’s or what. I looked in my fuse box and didn’t even see fuses where the headlight fuses are supposed to be according to the manual. My HID kit also does not have a visible fuse in the wiring like on another kit I saw for H13’s in a ford truck… I don’t know how to fix this.
      Also, I’m wondering if there is a way to find out what kind of settings I can have changed in my car, such as the door locks unlocking with one click rather than two on the remote. And more importantly, if my car can have automatic headlights that will shut off when the car is off and the doors are locked from the remote so I don’t risk killing my battery.
      Thanks in advance for any advice you can tell me.

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