Here is a side-by-side comparison...
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the white HID bulb on the left, and the yellow factory halogen on the right. After the first night using these lights, the difference was pretty drastic and clarity was greatly increased.
Have you ever driven down the street and seen a luxury car with clear, white headlights heading toward you? Those are called High-Intensity Discharge headlights, or HIDs for short. HID headlights first appeared on the BMW 7-series in the early '90s, and they eventually became smaller and more affordable. Now many non-luxury cars come with HID Xenon headlamps from the factory, but for those of us without this excellent lighting source, there is a solution.
How It Works
The claims made by HID manufacturers seem almost too good to be true: "Three times brighter and 30-percent less energy." If this is true, how is it possible? Well, unlike traditional tungsten-halogen bulbs, which burn at a color temperature around 3,300 K (Kelvin), HID bulbs do not have a burning filament. Instead, they operate using Xenon gas. A constant arc is created through the gas-filled tube-similar to lightning. The result is a constant lighting source that is less sensitive to shock, creates an abundance of light, has about 4,300K color temperature, and lasts for up to 2,500 hours.
Not only is the light more powerful, providing around 3,200 lumens-more than double that of most tungsten-halogen bulbs-it also offers more contrast on the road surface, and illuminates reflective tape and road signs better. Essentially it's a far superior lighting system and is much safer to drive with at night, and let's not forget the fact that they look great.
This kit is from Maverick...
This kit is from Maverick Man Carbon, which sells these O-Nex HID Conversion Kits for a variety of bulb applications in various color temperatures. Every kit comes with a one-year warranty. The company keeps 6,000K (Kelvin) versions of the H11 headlights and 9005 foglights in stock as they are the most commonly used, but it can order others. We were going for an OEM look, so the 6,000K (Crystal Blue) kits were a good choice. With kits in higher temperatures, the lights become deeper blue, even purple, which limits vision.
Early HID conversion kits were expensive and difficult to install. They didn't take off in popularity and were seen more as a novelty than anything else. Also, only an elite few factory cars had them as an option. Now we find quality kits have dropped below $100 per side. Not only that, they have become plug-and-play, meaning there isn't any wire cutting or direct power lines to run from the battery.
I found this intriguing since HID headlights are something I've always wanted on my '05 GTO. The '04-'06 GTO and '08-'09 G8 came with projector headlamps, which have a built-in shade to give the headlights a clean cut-off at the edges of the beam. It makes these cars excellent candidates for HIDs because installing an HID kit on a vehicle without projectors may prove to be unwieldy considering how much light is thrown out-you'll know as soon as people start flashing their high beams at you. Just stick with the 35-watt kits and resist the temptation for the even brighter 55-watt kits.
Installation on most cars is as simple as swapping the bulbs, plugging in everything, and mounting the ballast. The '04-'06 GTOs require an extra step, as you will learn. Our 35-watt kit from Maverick Man Carbon took only about 20 minutes to install, and the total cost was approximately $200. Read on to see how we did it.
Visit www.maverickmancarbon.com and click on "Specials for Readers of High Performance Pontiac" to receive a special price. Use the password ilovehpp.
A Bit About Color Temperature
The color temperature (measured in Kelvin) is really all about preference. For as close to an OEM HID setup as possible, the 5,000K is probably your best bet. The 3,000K is similar to that of a halogen's color. We went with the 6,000K Crystal Blue, a pure white with a small hint of blue. They look great and offer exceptional lighting. We've heard that anything beyond 6,000K actually decreases lighting.
Not to be confused with a...
Not to be confused with a Xenon-filled halogen, which is a traditional filament bulb charged with Xenon gas to give it a blue hue, these Xenon bulbs emit light by using a ballast to create a charge that is sent through the gas. The end result is more lumens.
Here is what the factory headlights...
Here is what the factory headlights and foglights look like. They're very orange and dull.
This is what kind of light...
This is what kind of light gets thrown on the road by the factory bulbs in most Pontiac headlights.
To perform the upgrade, the...
To perform the upgrade, the first step is to assess the best route to the headlights. In our case with the '05 GTO, we have to remove a few items; first is the radiator cover.
With the cover easily pulled...
With the cover easily pulled off after the attachment clips have been pulled out, the next item we removed was the battery, which is immediately behind the passenger-side headlight. (Always disconnect the battery when working on a car, especially the electrical system.)
This radiator overflow tube...
This radiator overflow tube sits in front of the intake. We twisted it out and removed the intake tubing.
The late-model GTOs have small...
The late-model GTOs have small twist-off caps...
...that expose the headlight...
...that expose the headlight which makes the GTO HID conversion slightly more challenging. With other headlight styles, it may be as simple as plugging in the components.
With the cap off and a Dremel...
With the cap off and a Dremel in hand, we made a 1-inch hole in the cap for the plug and wiring going back to the ballast to pass through. The supplied rubber grommet will seal this back off or can be discarded on applications where it's not required.
Since we will loom the wires...
Since we will loom the wires together with zip ties once they are installed, let's view the connections now. A.) H11 headlights have two connectors, one black and one red. We will discuss them further in a following caption. B.) These are the simple male and female connectors that will complete the circuit from the ballast to the Xenon bulb. C.) This factory-style connector is the power input from the factory headlight wires to the ballast.
Once the modifications were...
Once the modifications were completed, we scouted out a location to mount the ballast. We found a small area in front of the battery and adjacent to the radiator that is just large enough to tie down the ballast and leave enough length in the wires to run them back to the headlamp.
On our factory H11 headlight...
On our factory H11 headlight male connector, there are two red wires, one with a white stripe and one with a blue stripe. The H11 kit comes with a red wire and a black wire. We attached the black wire to the white-striped red wire and the red wire to the blue-striped red wire.
Circled here is the fuse that...
Circled here is the fuse that we removed for the daytime running lamps/driving lights. The fuse cover clearly marks it as well. If this fuse is left in, the HID bulbs will just pulsate, eventually killing either the ballast or the bulb.
The foglights are a very simple...
The foglights are a very simple upgrade. We just bolted them in without any modifications. However there isn't a 9040 HID kit, so we used a 9005 kit. Because of this, we needed to connect the bulb in reverse polarity because the 9005 bulbs are different. Install them backwards or they won't turn on.
On the left is the stock headlamp;...
On the left is the stock headlamp; on the right is the HID. Note the dramatic difference between the two lighting systems. The HID system uses less power to provide brighter light. That means safer and easier night driving.