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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

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kis
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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by kis » Thu May 12, 2022 8:59 pm

So I’ve just explained how to identify Xenon vs Halogen to a friend. There are a few common indicators of xenon. So hopefully this guide will help others too.

This guide is tailored more towards prospective buyers (trying to figure out whether they have xenon or halogen). So it's been written with this in mind. It could also be useful for new owners.

There is also differences between the pre and post facelift xenons. This guide is mainly in reference to the pre-facelift (with amber) but can be used for facelift Xenons too. Generally the facelift xenons are easier to distinguish as there are two projectors in the headlight.

Image

1. One external visual indicator is headlight washers. I’m pretty sure it its part of a legal UK/European requirement but all xenons I’ve seen have had headlight washers too. That’s a good external indication.
There are of course instances where (at the car build stage) it could have been spec’d with halogen and also headlight washers. It is rare, but it does happen (once or twice in my experience).
I’ll also add that, from my experience xenons are more frequently spec’d onto 3.0 litre cars (whether its pre or post facelift). So most xenons you come across on 2nd hand websites, like ebay, tend to be silver in colour.

Image

N.B. silver internal headlights as pictured below are the colour for 3 litre engines. So if your car is a 3.0 and it has black shrouds in the headlight, chances are they’ve been replaced. Vice Versa if you have silvers in a sub 3 litre model (raises the question of whether the car has had a front end knock). This excludes M variants – those cars run different rules!

2. Another good sign if you’re looking under the bonnet is the yellow warning decals. These are only seen on the Xenon models and are fixed to the radiator/engine cover trim.

Image

3. One internal (cabin) indication of having xenon is the LCM. The LCM is the Light Control Module. So I’ve included the visual differences of the LCM. There are variants of the LCM with/without the auto headlight function. So ignore this, essentially what you’re looking for is the two adjuster wheels. One is for the brightness of your dashboard. The second wheel is for headlight height adjustment, which is only possible on the Halogen.

Image

4. Check the VIN. You can run your vin through a decoder and see what it was spec’d with from factory. There you will be able to see either option S522 which is for Xenon or nothing. So nothing specified is the default, which is Halogen.

No photo, didn't think it was warranted!

5. Physical check (internally). Open up the rear access over to check the light.

This is a halogen internal view

Image

This is a xenon internal view
xenon inside.jpg
xenon inside.jpg (242.99 KiB) Viewed 1744 times
6. Physical check (externally). If you look under neath the unit, the xenon lights will have either a plug (where the ballast goes) or a silver ballast box.

Image


I’ve seen some threads which suggest that the type is denoted on the headlight itself. Saying that if you look closely on your headlight there should be an engraving of D2S on the headlamp unit lens which tells you it’s Xenon. Alternatively if the lens says H7 this unit will be Halogen. There will be a marking for both sides (so main beam and then dipped beam). See picture. The dipped beam on all headlights I’ve owned have both markings.

Image


There has been some talk about the difference between xenon and bi-xenon and technically they are the same thing (I think). The lights operate as bi-xenon. The shutter within the light opens up to allow more light when you flash to pass. So in reality it’s bi-xenon. In the spec sheet (optional extra) it’s referred to as just Xenon. So that’s what I’m calling it.

Final assumption to note: The car is standard without modifications. For example it hasn’t been in a front crash, so bumper hasn’t been replaced (with a front bumper with no washers for example) and headlights haven’t been replaced with cheap halogen lights. Although if your car has aftermarket lights, it should be pretty apparent because they look nothing like the OEM units (aftermarket lights only come in Halogen).

I hope this has helped, and if I’ve actually made any mistakes within this please let me know, I’ll get them rectified (I’d say I’m knowledgeable on the subject, yes. But not a expert! Everyday is a school day after all!).

Kis
Last edited by kis on Tue Feb 28, 2023 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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1 Series - E87
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4 Series - F36, F82 M4
5 Series - E34 (x2), E39
7 Series - E32
X5 - E53, E70
X6 - E71

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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by Zedebee » Thu May 12, 2022 10:09 pm

Great write up :thumbsup:
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Previously: Maldives Blue 2.5i manual (its back!) and another, and a Monaco Blue 3.0Si coupe

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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by kis » Fri May 13, 2022 6:59 pm

Thanks bud :)
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BMW Family History (past and present):
1 Series - E87
3 Series - E46 Coupe, E46 M3, E90 (x3)
4 Series - F36, F82 M4
5 Series - E34 (x2), E39
7 Series - E32
X5 - E53, E70
X6 - E71

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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by Griffo46 » Mon Nov 14, 2022 10:48 pm

I like this, great help!
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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by MikeyH » Tue Nov 15, 2022 12:19 am

Excellent, thank you, you have made it very clear. No pun intended :thumbsup:
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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by Chris_D » Tue Nov 15, 2022 9:22 am

Nice guide Kis.

It might also be useful to expand with a few tips n tricks on preventive maintenance, do's/don'ts, prospective buyer points, with respect to Xenon's. Such as
  • Making sure to avoid condensation build-up inside the headlamp housing as it will drip down onto the ballast situated directly underneath and cause it to short/fail easily (as in my case drrp). Fix is a headlamp out job and a faff.
  • Not touching the Xenon bulbs when replacing. A basic but not all may be aware of the catastrophic damage that can occur to a 'touched bulb'.
  • Making sure to include the self-levelling suspension linkage is working correctly and re-connected after any suspension work.
  • Checking the bulbs for correct/matching colour temperature. I think some temps are illegal in some countries (?)
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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by Griffo46 » Tue Nov 15, 2022 12:22 pm

I’ve just been out to have an external look, it’s peeing down so not interested in opening the light up yet.
I’ve found that I have a silver insert with one projector in each unit. I have D2S printed on the lamp cover over the projector. But, I also have a headlight adjustment control, I’m guessing this is for the other light that is halogen?
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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by kis » Tue Nov 15, 2022 12:34 pm

Thanks guys! :D

Chris_D, I'll add it to the bottom, but to be honest a maintenance do/don't is a separate topic on its own! Like don't heat up the lens with a heat gun or drill holes in the bottom of the lens :headbang:
My E85 Z4 3.0i SMG

BMW Family History (past and present):
1 Series - E87
3 Series - E46 Coupe, E46 M3, E90 (x3)
4 Series - F36, F82 M4
5 Series - E34 (x2), E39
7 Series - E32
X5 - E53, E70
X6 - E71

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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by kis » Tue Nov 15, 2022 12:49 pm

Griffo46 wrote: Tue Nov 15, 2022 12:22 pm I’ve just been out to have an external look, it’s peeing down so not interested in opening the light up yet.
I’ve found that I have a silver insert with one projector in each unit. I have D2S printed on the lamp cover over the projector. But, I also have a headlight adjustment control, I’m guessing this is for the other light that is halogen?
The D2S printed on the lens isn't a indicator of xenon/halogen from my findings. It's a 'myth' I've read on the forum and found to not be true in MY experience.

If you have the second adjustment wheel then you will have halogen. Both bulbs will be H7.

The outer halogen bulb (situated within a projector) and the inner bare halogen bulb (so no projector). The adjustment wheel is for the projector, this is your dipped beam. The outer bulb is your main beam, so you don't need any adjustment on that one - so stays the same even if the wheel is adjusted. Hope that helps :)
My E85 Z4 3.0i SMG

BMW Family History (past and present):
1 Series - E87
3 Series - E46 Coupe, E46 M3, E90 (x3)
4 Series - F36, F82 M4
5 Series - E34 (x2), E39
7 Series - E32
X5 - E53, E70
X6 - E71

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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by chanlon1 » Sun Feb 19, 2023 11:34 am

Step 5 seems to be missing its photo. Is it possible to fix?
Thanks.
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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by kis » Tue Feb 28, 2023 12:19 pm

chanlon1 wrote: Sun Feb 19, 2023 11:34 am Step 5 seems to be missing its photo. Is it possible to fix?
Thanks.
Fixed for you matey :thumbsup:
My E85 Z4 3.0i SMG

BMW Family History (past and present):
1 Series - E87
3 Series - E46 Coupe, E46 M3, E90 (x3)
4 Series - F36, F82 M4
5 Series - E34 (x2), E39
7 Series - E32
X5 - E53, E70
X6 - E71

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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by chanlon1 » Tue Feb 28, 2023 12:27 pm

kis wrote: Tue Feb 28, 2023 12:19 pm Fixed for you matey :thumbsup:
Thanks!
E86 Z4 Coupe 2006 Silver

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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by Abbas » Thu Dec 28, 2023 8:42 pm

Incredibly helpful, thanks dude
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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

Post by RMB » Tue Apr 02, 2024 10:28 pm

Very helpful Kis, thanks.
Are xenon’s a must have and what are the halogens like?
My two E46s had xenon’s, but my E82 didn’t. The output was really poor on it and changing bulbs was a complete PITA and needed doing a few times. Plus they looked awful compared to the angel eye xenon’s.
The Z4 halogen lights don’t seem to look as bad and almost look like xenon’s, (outer bulb ant least) unless I’m mixing them up.
Any comparison pics looking at different cars?
E82 was so easy to tell.
Looking for an E85 3.0si sport manual for the weekends
F22 M240i
E82 123d. Gone
E46 M3. Sold huge mistake
E46 330ci. Gone

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