Electrical & Lights HID lighting: Failure modes

Discussion in '4th Generation (2004-2012) [Acura RL]' started by Midnight Owl, Sunday 9th Nov, 2014.

  1. Midnight Owl Junior Member ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Since purchase (circa 5yr ago) my Legend has always had an occasional flicker on the driver side dipped headlight. It has periods of being more and less frequent/intrusive, but time has come to fix it as it now regularly flickers for a while then turns off (or shuts down). It's as if the car is sayng 'something's wrong, I'll turn it off to protect myself'.

    In old money, I'd say there was a loose connection, however I appreciate that HID lighting is significantly more complex than traditional systems, and I'm not clear if this is a common failure mode? And if so, what is likely to be the fault...

    Anyway, any pointers, comments or experience from the collective wisdom would he appreciated.

  2. Ichiban Founder Staff Team

    England CJ Leeds
    You need to look at the ballast connector as well as the bulb it could be a lose connector, be careful take precaution when handling HID lamps.
  3. Midnight Owl Junior Member ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Noted re care.

    Are the ballasts easy to get to? I've skim read the HID guides on this site and, for the bulbs at least, it seems you need to take the front bumper off to get to them...?

    I'm a practical chap, but that feels a step too far for me?

    Thanks for your pointer.
  4. Maintenanceman Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Finland Henri Pälkäne
    Mine passenger side was flickering randomly, specially when turning (i was thinking that there is some bad connection and it is acting when that light turns) then it got more purple and one day it was done.
    I changed the bulbs and lights havent flicker after that.
    Nels likes this.
  5. Ichiban Founder Staff Team

    England CJ Leeds
    Good tip @Maintenanceman , I take your DVD for the sat Nav is still working perfectly.
  6. Maintenanceman Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Finland Henri Pälkäne
    ^ Thanks Ichiban, also want to add that bad bulb might damage ballast so bulbs should be changed as soon as they start to act strangely.
    That DVD works really nice, some places are changed and not on the map so i am waiting to get the newest update, ( i think that it came out at the beginning of the summer 2014)
    just a hint.....
  7. Blues Legend Senior Member ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

    HID's not really any more complicated; it's like the fluorescent tube in your kitchen. So do beware the 20Kv start-up voltage.

    Given the age of the car, either a tired bulb or bad connection isl likely. However the constant re-starts will weaken both the ballast & bulb.

    Let's have a ballast & bulb honey,
    And take our sweet little time about it...

    ...anyway, that's why you ought to sort electrical issues sooner.

    Anyway, removing the bumper isn't an issue - I've done it on Civics & 'Ludes in order to install projector lamps - so I could go HID without dazzling people. Didn't need to remove the bumper on the NSX...

    It's only about four screws and half a million Honda clips, so buy some spare clips as you'll break a few - even if you take the middles fully out first.

    I've only done the top part on the KB1, - so I could clean & lube the bonnet catch.

    You might want to get a friend to help lift the bumper on & off, as it's wobbly and you have to disconnect the fogs. Put an old towel down to avoid scratches. And you have to tug it a bit (and give it a slap!) to disengage and re-engage the metal catches.

    Ballasts will be expensive though...

    New DVD would be nice - please keep me posted!
    DeviateDefiant likes this.
  8. Midnight Owl Junior Member ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Thanks Blues Legend! I seem to always break those dratted metal catches, so yes, off to Honda with it next Friday. Nothing like the present.

    I really hadn't appreciated that it was broadly a fluorescent light though. That will certainly put 'a different perspective' on the price Honda will no doubt charge me :dodgydeal:

    Thanks also MaintenanceMan.
  9. Blues Legend Senior Member ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

    This is the one I use on the NSX:
    Blesk HID Conversion Kit - HID Kits - Browse by Product - HID Origin

    Seem high-quality stuff.

    Now, getting the correct loom bits to plug n' play with the Leg End harness & lamp holder will be a nightmare, but the supplier may be able to help. It's another option.

    Also, check the OEM ballast prat number at Ling's with S2000s, Accords, CofE's etc. It may be the same & widen your choice of bent Hondas.
  10. Midnight Owl Junior Member ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Hmm, time passes... So off to Honda I went, and after a goodly poke (and allegedly checking all connections) my lights were given a clean bill of health and a 'no fault found' epitaph. Admittedly, in the week leading up to Honda seeing the car, the issue had subsided, but by the time I was home, it was back to its usual tricks. Hurrumph!

    So after a pause, I asked if my local independent garage could help or change the bulbs over. Long and short of it was 'no'.

    So my questions....

    1. Are the legend's lights handed? I.e. Different on left and right sides

    2. If not, is it a reasonable thing to change over the two bulbs (I.e. L&R), thus help to isolate the issue.

    3. Do I (or a suitable garage) need to find a 'special' equipment that can cope with HID/xenon lights?

  11. Blues Legend Senior Member ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Blimey - this long?

    Blubs aren't handed, so swapping them would be the first stage in diagnosis.

    So would be cleaning the connectors with Isoprop.
  12. SpeedyGee Administrator Staff Team

    England Speedy Birmingham
    HIDs can flicker if :-

    a) bulbs are suspect
    b) there's a voltage issue to the HID ballast
    c) there's an issue with the ballast unit.

    So start with swapping the bulbs as @Blues Legend suggests above and also cleaning the 12v power connections to the ballasts.

    If that doesn't work swap the ballasts from each side, see if the problem follows.

    I'm not sure how you get to the bulbs or the ballasts on the Legend I'm afraid.
  13. Blues Legend Senior Member ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


    We've been through that - lose the bumper, lose the headlamps & the ballast is underneath.

    You might be able to pull off the arch liners instead.

    Genuine Factory ACURA OEM CONTROL UNIT

    • Label
      Part Number
      Online Price
      Core Price
      $0.00 i
    Online Price: $257.51
  14. Beefy Expert Advisor ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    United Kingdom Stoke
    headlights need to come out and therefore bumper needs to come off in order to do that. the ballasts are attached to the bottom of the headlights and no clearance to remove them with the headlights in place. we have had a legend with exactly the same problem. we ended up giving the owner a courtesy car while we ran the car to experience the flickering. ime quite shure we ended up swapping the ballasts and bulbs from a known good car and went from there. it wasn't a job I did so don't know the ins and outs so I will try to find out. pretty sure it was a ballast at fault
  15. Maintenanceman Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Finland Henri Pälkäne
    Just changed both bulbs.
    They started to flicker randomly, changed them about few years ago, bought then Osram Xenarc Cool Blue`s, they were nicely little bit bluish and powerfull but maybe that effects their life. Now installed Osrams again, model Night Breaker Unlimited Xenarc`s Ordered them from Germany, 99€/pair delivered, in local shop 129€ one!
    I did the change like last time, no bumper removal.
    Passenger side:
    - Remove plastic trim, don't brake those plastic fasteners.
    - Remove windshield washer fluid container filling neck, attached with one plastic fastener, also one is keeping one cable attached to the neck.
    - Twist the cap of the headlight housing anti clockwise so it will come off
    - Twist the ignitor anticlockwise so that it comes off the bulb
    - With fingertips feel the metal wire fastener loops from above the bulb`s rear end, push them in and then sideways so that they come off and fold backwards down, now you can take the bulb away.
    - Installation is reverse this

    - Take off the battery`s plastic trim panel, loose the battery and move it as far as it goes, i took it away completely (Make SURE that you have the radio code before disconnect the battery) also one reason to remove the battery was that i took out the air cleaner box and replaced it with "tuning" filter.
    - Exactly same things to change the bulb on this side
    Midnight Owl and SpeedyGee like this.
  16. SpeedyGee Administrator Staff Team

    England Speedy Birmingham
    If you had a few pictures the above would make a fantastic DIY Guide @Maintenanceman
  17. Maintenanceman Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Finland Henri Pälkäne
    I don't have any photos about that, sorry, it was something like -4 when i did it outside at my yard :Smile:
  18. SpeedyGee Administrator Staff Team

    England Speedy Birmingham
    Ok no worries :Grin:
  19. Blues Legend Senior Member ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

    BTW - if you must lose the battery, you can use the wiring loom & engine block as a battery (capacitor, more like) by connecting a battery charger to the starter motor cable bolt (it's conveniently on top) and the engine lift bracket near the AC pump.

    That way, the car does not forget all its settings and it takes you even longer to set it up again than changing the bulbs did...it's a little trick I've been using for years.
  20. Maintenanceman Club Member ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

    Finland Henri Pälkäne
    ^ True, i have seen also cig lighter connected "battery pack" that does the same trick, in that case you have to keep the key in ignition and power on thou.