After upgrading my fog lights to 6000K HIDs, my headlights looked yellow in comparison, so I upgraded my OEM D1S headlight bulbs, too, and wanted to share some pointers. This is also great for those who have the dipped headlight warning, as often times replacing the bulbs will take care of this. DIY will work on any xenon-equipped B7 Audi (2006-2008) including the A4, S4 and RS4, but unfortunately replacing the bulbs on your Audi is not as simple as you’d think – you will either need to remove your bumper (and headlight housings) completely from the car, or take apart and move components in the engine bay to access the bulbs. This is still very DIY-able, but don’t think you can do this in 5 minutes like you would on a “normal” car, instead set aside a good hour and plan on doing other mods while you’ve got the bumper off to take advantage, like LED City Lights, LED DRLs, Clear Corner Mod, and even blacked-out headlights, blacked-out grille, or RS4 Grille to complete the look.
Which D1S Xenon Bulbs to Buy?
First, let’s start with what you need to buy, and where I made my first mistake – I went to Amazon and bought the cheapest 6000K bulbs I could find, which cost just $29.95 with free shipping – bad idea! After taking apart the front-end of my car and installing them, I had one burn-out in 30 minutes of use…given how tedious it is to change bulbs on this car, this is not something you want to cheap out on. The OEM bulbs are made by Sylvania/OSRAM and run about $50/bulb and produce light at about 4300K. If you want something that’s a more clean white go for 5000K and for a slightly blue tint go to 6000K, and stick with a major brand like Philips, Sylvania or – I generally don’t recommend anything higher than 6000K as the light is too blue and you actually lose some light output/functionality, so IMO it’s a lose-lose in terms of looks and purpose. I always recommend changing both bulbs at once – even if only one bulb is out, the other one probably isn’t far behind it, so you might as well change the second bulb as a preventative measure and save yourself a headache.
From left to right (and yellowish to bluish) – OEM 4300k bulbs, 5000k Philips bulbs, 6000K Philips bulbs.
If you need new ballasts (i.e. if you are troubleshooting the dipped headlight error), then you can pick these up for $50 per side as well:
B6 Ballasts (2002-2005)
B7 Ballasts (2005.5-2008):
How to Install Headlight Bulbs on a B7 Audi
This part isn’t that difficult, just time consuming and annoying. You have two options:
- Full Bumper Removal – to remove the headlight housings, you must remove the bumper
- Removal of Air Intake and Power Steering Module – and have small hands, too.
While plenty to have claimed to have had success doing this without removing the bumper (Option 2), many have struggled or said it was more difficult to do than just removing the bumper itself, and others have said it was impossible unless you had very tiny hands, so I’m going to ignore this option and focus on Option 1 here – if you want to try Option 2, follow this link on Audizine: http://www.audizine.com/forum/showthread.php/391054-HID-headlight-bulbs-replacement-without-removing-the-front-bumper. Be careful and proceed at your own risk, you do not want to damage any components and also should be gentle with the headlights themselves, especially if you have adaptive headlights as you can break the (pretty fragile) control arms that adjust the beams and then you’re in big trouble…
Instead, I prefer just to remove the bumper and be a little more cautious here – removing the bumper really isn’t that bad, you just need to have the right tools. This thread on Audizine has a really good write-up on how to remove the front bumper, so check it out, but first make sure you have what you’ll need – I recommend investing in a flex extension such as this one coupled with a 10mm deep socket to reach the bolts – if you don’t have a flex extension than a wobble extension with a 10mm deep socket will work just fine, you just need some play in it as a straight extension won’t reach at the right angle since there is too much in the way…I also recommend picking up a long T30 screwdriver which will help you remove the headlights with ease, as there is one headlight bolt that is near impossible to loosen without the right tools.
Once you have the bumper off, the headlights are held on by three bolts – remove the center one completely, but the inner and outer bolts just need loosened and the headlights slide right out. The inner bolt is easy to get to once the bumper is taken off, but the outer bolt is accessed through a hole in the fender and pretty much impossible to see, so stick your 6″ T30 screwdriver down there and feel for the bolt, then loosen several turns to allow the headlights to slide out. As you slide out the headlight housings, you’ll need to remove the main wiring harness (press in the clip and it slides off) for the headlights.
With the headlights off the car, you can easily remove the rear cover using a T20 bit for both bolts, then access the back of the bulbs. The metal arms holding the bulb in should be pushed in (towards the front of the headlight) and then they’ll swing out (to the left or right, away from the bulb) to allow the bulb to come out. Carefully remove the bulb and disconnect the wiring, and be sure not to touch the bulb itself (only the base). To install the new headlights, be very careful not to touch the bulb and follow the same procedure in reverse. At this time, consider changing out any other bulbs you need to, such as turn signals, LEDs, City Lights, etc. as this is the ideal time.
Before tightening the headlights back in completely, plug the harness back in the car and test them to make sure the bulbs fire up. Repeat on both sides and test again.
Aligning the Headlights & Bumper
Once you’ve verified functionality, start to put everything back together, but don’t tighten the headlight bolts all of the way – once you have your bumper re-installed, you can then make sure the hood, bumper and headlights line up before torquing everything down firmly. You’ll want to tighten the two inner headlight bolts pretty firm, but the middle and outer bolts should be fairly loose. I’ve included a picture of my car with the stock hood so you can see just how well everything should fit back together – no gaps between the hood & top of the bumper, or around the headlight housings and hood/bumper.
Install the bumper next, making sure it sits on the bump stops above the crash bar – if you don’t align this, everything will be off. Close the hood to make sure there is no excessive hood gap, then if all checks out start putting back on the bolts inside the fender liner, followed by the three bolts on top of the bumper that affix the grille, then lastly tighten the headlights. Close the hood again, make note of anything that needs adjustment, then loosen and tighten bolts to align things perfectly in place – trust me, there’s nothing worse than seeing a bad hood gap on these cars, which happens often to those who DIY this and aren’t careful when putting everything back together.