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High Intensity Discharge Headlight Conversion

3/16/06 —

Even after replacing the headlights and running with decent bulbs, I was not happy with the performance of the lights. I opted to install a HID conversion kit. The kit consists of a pair of HID capsules mounted in 9004 compatible carriers, a pair of high voltage ballasts, and some wiring adapters. I chose 6k color temperature, as it is a nice clean white while at the same time providing more light than the higher color temps (which I don't prefer anyway).

Installation was a breeze... the adapters plug into the factory wiring harness using a plug shaped like a 9004 bulb's socket. The only problem that I ran into was that the kit had the wiring wrong for the 9004 adapter. Just probe the Z's socket with a multimeter when you are installing, and it'll be apparent which wires you need to swap in the HID kit's sockets.

I started out by test fitting the wiring and making sure that all of the components worked. It was at this point that I found the wiring problem with the 9004 adapter sockets. Luckily the ballasts are reverse polarity protected, so no harm was done. Once that was sorted out, things quickly fell together.


One Stock, One 6k HID

Both HIDs Installed

After some careful bundling and tucking away of the wiring, I settled on mounting the ballasts to the radiator support rail. Whenever I get around to doing an electric radiator fan, I will probably remount them out of the way down below.

Ballasts Mounted to Radiator Support

Country Back Road, Headlights Down

Country Back Road, Headlights Up
Damn that's a lot of light!


If you are not careful about the aiming of these lights, you can really cause some bad glare problems for oncoming drivers. The Z's headlights do a fine job if you take the time to line up with a wall and adjust the aim. Even with the amazing amount of light from the HIDs, nobody has flashed me like I had my high beams on, since the light is aimed at the road, not at oncoming traffic. It takes a phillips head screwdriver and 5 minutes, just do it.

One downside of the swap is that you lose high-beam capability because the HID capsules are just a single light source, opposed to the dual filament 9004 bulbs they replace. I have not missed the extra light that the high-beams would provide over low-beams, but I have missed the ability to flash my high-beams at people pulling out in front of me, etc. The ballasts also do not like to be turned on and off quickly (like when you've turned them on before starting the car) and will go into protect mode for a couple seconds. I think that I will build a rc-timer circuit to keep them on for 5 or 10 seconds after they are turned off to prevent this problem. I will be adding some driving lights to replace the "hey, get the hell out of my way" function that the high-beams used to serve.

And here's a short video of the lights coming on from cold.

This simple modification is great, driving at night is even more fun than it used to be.

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Service & Upgrades Cosmetic & Random Electronics & Computer Northeast z31s