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Changing RX400h low-beam headlight bulbs...


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Some designs leave me shaking my head slowly from side to side and wishing I could find the grave of the designer, dig him up and kill him again:

Turns out that to change the low-beam bulbs on the 2003-2008 RX series SUVs the bumper cover needs to be removed and then the headlight assy can be unbolted and pulled forward to gain access to the bulb. Most other designs require only that we remove an access cover, turn the old bulb a quarter turn, remove, un-plug and replace in reverse order - a five-minute task.

Seems my 2008 RX400h is a different animal: Before learning the bumper has to be undone I'd removed the battery and the cover for my low-beam headlight on the passengers' side. Once able to squeeze three of my sausage-sized fingers into the hole I was able to touch a couple of springy tabs that I suspect hold the bulb assy in place, but that was about it. Also, this caused the whole bulb assy to swivel, wobble and dance like Don Knotts after about six rum and cokes. The assemble did not feel anything like the quarter-turn halogen lamps I'd been used to changing on other vehicles add nauseum. I'm assuming mine are the HID bulbs with the steering-following feature(?) This is a new one for me.

So: Can these bulbs be purchased from anywhere but Lexus? If so, what might be the part number and price range? I'm guessing they're stupid-expensive to the point where an LED upgrade might be the best route - assuming that option/kit even exists. Anyone more familiar with the options or lack thereof?

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Thanks Dave, I'll check it out. Looking for a kit that's a direct swap - or a more reasonably priced alternative bulb to the stock HID without compromising bulb life.

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Interesting site and yes, the prices are very reasonable. I guess what I need to know is, are these halogen female plugs compatible with the light assembly I currently have, ie: the HID system with AFS? Can a halogen or LED bulb be installed into this new female plug and then simply pushed into the receptacle and twisted 1/4 turn, ie: "plug and play? Or do I need to replace the entire light/lens assembly on both sides? 

Still not able to reach the Lexus service department for their price on simply replacing the stock low-beam HID/AFS lamp with stock. Up here in Canachinazuela everything is at least 30% pricier than in the states (thanks to the exchange rate) and often as high as 50% more.

 

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Brett, it looks like HID lights are listed on that page. Do you wish to replace your HIDs because you want brighter lights? Or have your lights failed?

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The R/H light has failed. I'm thinking it would be better to go with an L.E.D. upgrade for both (solid state, more durable) if there is a compatible one available that's plug-and-play. So far I've found nothing on Youtube.

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Thanks again Dave. Decided to stick with HID lamps and bought from Rock Auto as you suggested. (ordered a pair of the Phillips D2S as recommended in an independent quality-comparison search). Should be here by next weekend. I'll pull the bumper cover and install them myself. Apparently it's best to change both since a) the computer sometimes notices discrepancies and causes one bulb to quit after a few seconds or minutes, and b) if one lamp went bad the other is likely to follow sooner rather than later.

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Good decision, Brett. I polish our headlight lenses every few years and the lighting is more than adequate as long as the lenses are clear. 

I've been buying parts from Rock auto for many years now and have nothing but good things to say about them. (a family owned company)

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Good to know. Always best to support small businesses rather than the multi-nationals. I'll also need to aim my headlights, a simple task it appears. Right now on dark rural nights the low beams only project about 8 or 10 car lengths before abrupt darkness ensures. No gradual fade with the HIDs - just sudden and complete darkness beyond that point.

 

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Throughout the years I have had to adjust headlights after lowering my car at the time. My verification process was to take the car out for a drive to judge the changes. If opposing direction car drivers flashed their high beams, I knew I had over-adjusted upward. 😄

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There is an actual method where you put masking tape on your garage door or a wall at a pre-measured height and width in front of your vehicle and adjust until you hit the mark

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Zeus01,... have you Found instructions on how to remove the front bumper cover? I have a small push in dent in mine that looks like it might pop out if I can get the cover off.

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14 hours ago, bcolins said:

There is an actual method where you put masking tape on your garage door or a wall at a pre-measured height and width in front of your vehicle and adjust until you hit the mark

Yup. I've adjusted headlights before, and that's the time-honored procedure. I'll be doing that today as well - now that my bulbs have arrived. 

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14 hours ago, bcolins said:

Zeus01,... have you Found instructions on how to remove the front bumper cover? I have a small push in dent in mine that looks like it might pop out if I can get the cover off.

I have. There is a Youtube video that I stumbled across. I'll find it and post the link.

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Replace Headlights in Your Lexus SUV - YouTube  

The first thing you will notice (ie: within the first minute) is that the author of this video is WRONG about the low-beam headlight lamp location. He states that if you're only replacing the low-beams it's not necessary to pull the headlight assembly off. He erroneously identified the high-beam bulbs as the low-beam. The low beam lights are in fact the outboard ones with the spherical lenses - and impossible to change without removing the bumper cover hardware to access the screws holding the headlight assembly into place.

Other than that, everything else in the video is accurate, and he walks you through the entire procedure. It's not an overly long or difficult process, just a stupidly-un-necessary design.

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Update: I've replaced both of my HID low-beam lamps as per the above-linked video. A few observations for removing the headlight assembly that were not mentioned in the video:

 

1. These assembles have mass. when you succeed in freeing them from the mountings in which they live they will want to rest on your bumper and flop every which way. To avoid scratches to your paint job, place a towel over the top of the detached area of the bumper. 

2. There is one more mounting bolt on each headlight assembly that was not mentioned in the video. Maybe both of his were missing from a previous owner or shop's re and re of the units. I found one of mine was not installed but the other was. The bolt in question is yet another 10-mm-headed bolt located down low on the outboard side of the assembly and pointing downward, ie: accessed from the top using a ratchet, 10-mm socket and a long extension. The right-hand bolt is located just above the washer fluid reservoir, and the left-hand bolt is located just under and forward of the fuse panel. I would not blame you if you left these bolts out completely upon reassembly. Even with that bolt missing it's still a more solid and secure mounting than anything from say, Fiat-Chrysler.

3. Remember that upper outboard mounting tab that the guy in the video was admonishing you to lift before pulling the assembly off so as not to break the tab? The one that's held in position not only by the bolt but also by a protrusion that extends downward into a hole in the metal framework? Be *very careful* when prying upward on this tab. Old plastic is weak plastic, and mine broke off on the right-hand side. Maybe it had previously been compromised by the previous owner, but hard to say. Hopefully the epoxy repair will hold, but we'll see.

Once familiar with the procedure it's not a long task. It took me about an hour to do both, but if I had to do it again I'm sure I could halve that time frame.

BTW, if you're doing the headlight-aiming procedure you'll need a Phillips screwdriver for the screw accessible from the top, and a1/4-drive 8-mm socket and 1/4-drive ratchet for the bolt head adjustment accessed via the same two pieces of hardware in the wheel well that you removed to change the low-beam lamp. My headlight aiming operation will have to wait until darkness falls because I do not have the facilities to do it in daylight, ie: a darkened garage with a level floor sufficient to park the vehicle so that the headlights are at least 20 ft from the wall. 
 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for explaining the process through. 
I will have to do this same for my 2006 RX400h. The xenon bulbs are almost finished with the lighting power really low quality. And the LH bulb went kind of a shade of purple, not Deep Purple which would be nice 😎

In a local workshop the whole procedure with new bulbs would cost 250€ which is a bit short of $300. Not so bad but I still think I could do it for the cost of new bulbs. There is a lot of variety in bulb prices from $30 up to $200. 
I managed to survive through dark Winter months with a little help of fog lights although it’s not really allowed to use them when it does not snow or rain. 

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My gut feeling is that not many Lexus owners will do this, themselves but if this post gets enough "hits" I'll pin it so that it can be easily found.

Thanks, Chris for the link and writeup.

Dave

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