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Xenon lightbulbs

When I got my car (wow, almost 7 years ago now) I opted for the xenon headlamps. I love these headlights for how they light up the road. BMW also fits all of their cars that have xenon headlights to use an auto-leveling mechanism through the use of axle sensors and a stepper motor in each headlamp to automatically keep the intense light aimed on the road (hills, acceleration, braking) and out of the eyes of oncoming traffic (I find Acura xenon headlamps really annoying at night for years now). Unlike halogens, they require an igniter to start the arc of electricity in the bulb and a ballast to maintain the very high voltage (yet it only draws 35 watts (less than halogen)).

Anyway, as with almost any BMW, over time little electrical gremlins start to appear. Xenon bulbs are supposed to last 2-5X longer than halogen bulbs. These little jewels definitely failed that. The first one I had to replace was about 2 years ago. It did fine and now the other is starting to go and then another since then. It seems to always start on the right side. If it switch bulbs between left and right the problems moves with the bulb where it starts to flicker, goes out, re-ignites, flickers, re-ginites..., and after about 5 times the computer gives up and I get a warning of a failed headlight on the dash. Temperature and bumps in the road have no effect.

So, I changed brands from the Sylvania brand that BMW normally uses to GE. They were much cheaper off of eBay too at $34/bulb (compared to $200/bulb from BMW). The light they gave off is just a hair more yellow than the originals (as it reflects off the washing machine in the garage), but they should be fine. They are well within the specs for BMW and DOT standards. I just popped those in to see if this damn problem goes away. If not, then it may be a ballast replacement and that starts running into the hundreds of dollars. Fingers crossed this works for awhile.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
sibertater
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:20 am (UTC)
This is what reminds me why I'm NOT driving a Passat anymore.
snowboardjoe
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC)
VW's had quite a history of electrical problems according to many of my friends. While most of them were under warranty, they got so tired of having bringing them into the shop over and over again. I have no idea what they are like now.
sibertater
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:36 am (UTC)
I was just referring to the expense. I just got to sick of the expense. Like the $90 oil change? And no, I couldn't do it myself I didn't have a garage. The reason that I finally got rid of it was that it was going to cost $3,000 to fix the suspension and some other thing that needed it. I loved the car, but I put so much money into it when I had it. I just rushed right out and bought a GMC and it's cheaper to maintain, yet has many of the same features. :) And don't even get me started on what a crap company GMC is, because I know I've moved to the dark side...

I just don't want to spend $300 on headlights. That just seems so crazy to me. Please don't think I don't get it, I do. I'm happy if that's your passion, but I just don't want to do it. I couldn't even change the damn windshield wipers on that stupid thing. I do miss how it cornered, tho.
snowboardjoe
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:53 am (UTC)
No offense taken. Car preferences are as varied as personalities. It does not make sense to some people to have the car I do. Then, again, I scratch my head at my friends that get lost in WOW and the monthly expense in that. It's all about what you are passionate about.
nrubenstein
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:48 am (UTC)
Buy ballasts off ebay. BMW ballasts are all over the place there and quite cheap.
snowboardjoe
Jan. 11th, 2010 03:54 am (UTC)
Oh, damn, I did not even think to look there. I figured they would be too obscure an item. I definitely found a few there. I'll wait and see what happens with the new bulbs first. That will definitely tell me if there's a pattern. Thanks!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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