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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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This is a xenon internal view

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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.

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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
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

Zedebee
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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:
E86 Monaco Blue 8)
E85 Maldives Blue (project)

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kis
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How To Guide: Identify an e85 Xenon Headlight

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

Thanks bud :)
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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