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cduluk

Rx400H Headlight Projector “Modifications” Project *pics*

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Hey guys,

I’ve spent the last year or so planning this project, and finally got it done this weekend!

If any of you recall, my last car was a 2003 Rx300, and between August of 2008 and January 2009 I completed a series of headlight retrofits replacing the factory “reflector” type HID headlights with projectors. I didn’t do a complete write-up of my Rx300 retrofit, but here are a few pictures.

Here are the factory Rx300 headlights. Just the standard HID reflector type, producing a horrible output with no definite “cutoff line” between light and dark. For these pics, I had already replaced the standard Philips 4300k bulbs with Philips 6000k bulbs to give more of a violet/white output vs the yellow/white output.

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And here are the Rx300 headlights I retrofitted with the bi-xenon type LS460 projectors.

I painted the internal projector shields blue (to reflect a blue color to the lenses) and added clear lenses to get a sharp and colorful cutoff.

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When I got my Rx400h last May, I began plans for a new retrofit that would make the factory Rx400h projectors even BETTER. Even though the Rx400h comes factory with HID projectors, they’re still pretty… boring. They’re not very wide, and the cutoff is colorless.

From spending lots of time on hidplanet.com, I learned everything there is to know about headlight retrofits. I learned which projectors produced the best output, and learned how projectors could be modified to get the best output possible. The projectors from the Rx400h are some of the very best out there, but only when modified.

So I purchased a pair of 2008 Rx400h headlights to play with and took them apart. I opened the headlights by placing them in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit to melt the adhesive. After about 10 minutes, I removed them and pried the lenses off with a screwdriver. Once opened, I removed the projectors and began working.

Here is the factory Rx400h headlight (same for all 04-09 Rx330/350 with HID and AFS).

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Here are the parts that make up the projector. Notice the “flat” cutoff shield and boring metal finish. Also notice the “squirrel finder”, a rectangular hole in the shield, which allows light to escape above the cutoff line, designed to shed light on street signs and what-not. Headlight enthusiasts hate this feature, so they named it a “squirrel finder” as it sends light up into the trees, seemingly looking for squirrels…

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To get a sharper and more colorful cutoff line, I had to make my own shield. I made a “curved” shield out of aluminum and painted it blue so that the projector would appear blue when the light hits it. Notice how the factory shield has a vertical bar at the right, which limits the potential width of output (NO idea why the engineers did this... some think it’s to avoid too much light on the side which could blind…?). I also lowered the new shield about 1mm to give more light below the cutoff line.

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Not shown in these photos, I also painted the inside of the projectors surrounding the shields with blue spray-paint to add to the “blue” effect as you look at the lenses. This doesn’t change the color of light on the ground, only of the lenses as you look at them during the day or when the lights are on. I also replaced the factory “frosted” lenses of the projectors with clear lenses from the BMW e30. Clear lenses produce a sharper cutoff line with lots of colors, whereas frosted lenses produce a fuzzy cutoff line with little to no color.

By modifying the projectors with clear lenses and curved shields, it allows the projectors to emit brighter light, with a sharper, more colorful cutoff line. I also got to change the shape of the cutoff line, with larger “steps” (section of cutoff line that gives more light to the lane of road directly in-front of you with less light on the oncoming lane, as to not blind oncoming drivers. This larger step makes the AFS feature more noticeable, as you can see the movement more clearly with larger steps.

After the projectors were modified and tested (about 4 days of testing were required, adjusting the shields and lens spacing etc.) I still felt the headlights needed some more bling!

While viewing some Rx330/350/400h’s on the UK eBay site, I noticed that their headlights were different than ours. Whereas our headlights have an orange reflector strip on the sides, theirs are clear!

Here’s the American Rx headlight with the orange reflector.

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And here’s the UK Rx headlight with the clear reflector.

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Apparently the laws are different here than over in the UK… Anyways, I knew I had to have the clear reflectors!

On hidplanet.com, members often bought used headlights on ebay to harvest the projectors out of them. Since RX projectors were very popular, I figured someone might have headlight parts left over. So I posted a WTB ad asking if anyone from the UK had spare parts- and someone did! Someone from the UK sold me the clear reflectors from the UK-type Rx330- a perfect replacement into mine.

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I got another idea for my headlight retrofit after viewing a few Maybach’s on ebay (high end cars made by Mercedes). I noticed that the projectors in the Maybach headlights had an engraving of the Maybach “symbol” into the lenses!

Here’s a Maybach headlight projector lens.

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So I went to my nearest Michael’s Craft store and bought myself a little glass etcher (designed to etch patterns into drinking glasses) and made a pair of stencils with the “L” Lexus logo cut out of them. I placed the stencils on the inside surfaces of the e30 projector lenses and etched the logo!

I then put the headlights back together and adjusted the horizontal and vertical settings of the projectors, and presto! Complete.

The whole process took… well, over a year to complete. I started gathering materials as soon as I got my Rx400h, but didn’t finish the project until this summer (since it’s too cold here during the winter to be adjusting them). The most difficult parts of this project were finding the clear reflectors, e30 clear lenses, making the shields, and spending days upon days adjusting them to get the perfect cutoff line with lots of color. It was definitely not an easy project to complete…

So here are some pics! I had to buy a pair of orange-coated bulbs to replace the clear ones that were behind the orange reflectors, and I replaced the parking light bulbs on the high beam reflectors with white LED’s. I also replaced the orange coated directional bulbs with LEDS, so when OFF they appear clear, but emit an orange light when ON—this eliminates what’s called the “egg yolk” effect.

When the car is off, you can see the “L” logo on the lenses pretty clearly. When the light hits the lenses in a certain way, you can see the blue background, an incredible effect! With the clear reflectors and clear directional bulbs, the headlights look so much better! The added blue in the projectors also add to the Rx400h “hybrid” theme of blue.

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When the lights are on, you can see the blue background of the projectors with the “L” logo in white.

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And here are some nighttime pics of the cutoff. You’ll notice how much sharper and more colorful the cutoff line is with the newly modified projectors. The blue band across the cutoff gives what’s called a “flicker effect”—when oncoming drivers look at my car as I approach, they’ll notice my headlights changing colors, from blue, to violet, to white, depending on which section of the cutoff is at their eye level. It’s very eye-catching! Not to mention WICKED COOL when there’s snow on the ground, which reflects the blue very nicely.

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Another amazing mod, looks great! Do you notice any loss of brightness or shadow effect from the L logo that you etched? Hopefully you don't get pulled over for your lights appearing too blue, as I have with white LED mods to my previous vehicles. No tickets, but it gives them a reason to pull you over.

On my RX400h, when turning right, the adaptive lighting doesn't seem to swivel as much as it does turning left. Does yours do this too?

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Actually, believe it or not, the "L" engraving doesn't affect the output whatsoever. I had these concerns, but after engraving the logos the output didn't change one bit. And you're right, the projectors don't swivel as much during right turns as they do with left turns (no idea why though). :wacko:

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Another amazing mod, looks great! Do you notice any loss of brightness or shadow effect from the L logo that you etched? Hopefully you don't get pulled over for your lights appearing too blue, as I have with white LED mods to my previous vehicles. No tickets, but it gives them a reason to pull you over.

On my RX400h, when turning right, the adaptive lighting doesn't seem to swivel as much as it does turning left. Does yours do this too?

I forget the exact amount, but turning left it's something like 15% swivel, turning right is 3 or 5 % (I could look it up in my shop manual, but don't worry, it's normal)

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Interesting. I figured it was supposed to be this way, since to the right there is already more light due to the cutoff effect of the beam pattern of each headlight. I could actually use more swivel to the left!

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The left projector can move up to 15 degrees while the right projector could move up to 5 degrees. Theoretically i could change this, all i'd have to do is change the gears inside the motor...

But i can't imagine having to take the bumper apart again, it's such a pain! :wacko:

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Have you considered angel eyes in your projects?

Uhh, not really... I don't particularly care for the look, it's more of a BMW thing. <_< Plus i don't think they'd "work" in the RX headlights.

I try to keep the "OEM" look too; if i were to have halo's in there, people would most likely think they were aftermarket.

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You do good work,

What do you use to seal the light fixture back up?

Have you considered angel eyes in your projects?

Uhh, not really... I don't particularly care for the look, it's more of a BMW thing. <_< Plus i don't think they'd "work" in the RX headlights.

I try to keep the "OEM" look too; if i were to have halo's in there, people would most likely think they were aftermarket.

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You do good work,

What do you use to seal the light fixture back up?

Fortunately i didn't "have to" add anything. Just heat up the factory sealant and pry open, then re-heat and press the pieces back together. However i "did" add GOOP all the way around just as a precaution... <_<

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I have to tell you this mod project was "OUTSTANDING". I have never seen nicer and MORE effective headlights EVER!! Can you help me two fold? I do not have the time to do your project, but I'd like to change my bulbs. Two questions: What bulbs would you recommend putting in my 06 440H that would be a direct replacement? Where's the best place with the best prices to buy them?

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Looks awesome!

Damn I want the L logo in my lights... :)

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I have to tell you this mod project was "OUTSTANDING". I have never seen nicer and MORE effective headlights EVER!! Can you help me two fold? I do not have the time to do your project, but I'd like to change my bulbs. Two questions: What bulbs would you recommend putting in my 06 440H that would be a direct replacement? Where's the best place with the best prices to buy them?

Thanks for the compliments guys :)

In my opinion, the best replacement HID bulbs are the Philips Ultinon 6000k. They have just a slight violet/blue tint which really makes a difference. Quality is perfect, as Philips makes the Lexus factory bulbs as well. I love them!

Best place to get them is on eBay, you can usually get a pair for ~$185 or so NEW. Kind of expensive, but well worth it. I believe the bulb number is 85122WX for D2S (for rx400h).

These bulbs are a direct replacement, 100%. Just remove the old ones and put these in their place. They "statistically" produce less "intensity" in comparison to the factory bulbs, 3200 lumens for the factory 4300k bulbs and 2400 lumens for the philips ultinons. BUT... the eye does pick up "blue" light better than yellow light, so it all works out. I've been using the 6000k ultinon's since... 2006, and i wouldn't go back. Had them in my Rx300 and bought new ones for the 400h.

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