How to Install and Wire Up Halo Headlights

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tahoefix

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This is a how to for installing these headlights:
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Here's the parts and tools used:
JDM ASTAR Bright White Max 50W High Power 880 LED Fog Light Bulbs
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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NJ903MY?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

Hi Beam & Low Beam:

SEALIGHT 9005/9006 LED 6000K Cool White
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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K43XKDF?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

DRL
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Sylvania ZEVO 4114, White

Switchbacks
JDM ASTAR Extremely Bright 3030 Chipsets White/Yellow 3157 3155 3457 4157 Switchback LED Bulbs with Projector For Turn Signal Lights
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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017C6B5IU?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

continue in next post
 
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tahoefix

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Preparation

Scanning the Amazon reviews, there were 3 things I identified people having a problem with:
- condensation in the housings
- poorly fitting or loose lower driver side housing, when securing it to the vehicle
- poor quality plastic, and sometimes breaking installation brackets during assembly

I intended to rectify these items in my installation. The reviews are right, the plastic is crap. Its brittle and cheap. If you’ve done work on a vehicle before though, you know not to force things if it doesnt fit right. Thats how things break. If you adhere to that practice, things will be fine.

Regarding the condensation in the lens, I found my housings to be sealed well, but I took no chances. Additional sealant was added in key areas.

Lower Headlight Housings

Some key notes:
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There’s Goretex vents on both upper and lower housings, presumably to prevent condensation inside the lens. Cool.

The factory bulb holders fit fine into the switchback & DRL openings. They seemed a tad loose, so sealant was used on the bulb socket surface where it meets the lower housing. Taking no chances on water ingress.

The turn signal sockets took concentration to install correctly. After you push the turn signal socket into the lower housing, you turn the socket to secure it. On this housing, there is no turn stop, so turning the socket against the housing slowly tightens it, but a few degrees too far, and the socket is back to being loose. It takes a couple tries to get it to tighten correctly. To ensure the turn signal socket was secure, plenty of silicone was added around the socket to hold it in place. Important! Before sealing with silicone, test the turn signal. LEDs are polarity sensitive. If the turn signal doesn’t flash, you have to flip the 194 bulb in its socket. I made that mistake and should have known better. Check all the lights and make sure they work before sealing up the sockets with silicone. I also added silicone all the way around the lens but this may not be necessary.
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Silicone was also added completely around the lens, to make sure there would be no leaks. To be fair, I did remove one of the lenses, and found it to be sealed quite well from the manufacturer. Black RTV all the way around. I could imagine leaks if the bulbs fit poorly and it wasn’t addressed. That would be user error.

Lower Housing Installation
The passenger side fit well, and installed similar to a factory housing. The driver side was another matter. There’s 3 main attachment points on the lower housing:
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1. A flat tab that slides into a retainer. The tab is too short and pops out easily. Some modification is required,
2. locating dowels that slide into grooves. These were fine.
3. Latch that locks into a notch near the fender. This one is particularly troublesome. The latch is mounted at the wrong angle, and slips out of the locked position easily. The Amazon reviews mentioned this. Some modification is needed to keep the latch secure.

Item number 1, the mounting tab, is too short and pops out easily. Below shows the lower headlight housing in the right of the image, and where the mounting tab fits into.
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To keep the tab from popping out, holes were drilled on the tab flange, and on the retainer. Then a zip tie was used to keep the tab in place:
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tahoefix

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Zip tie installed:
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With that side of the lower driver side headlight housing secured, this latch starts to pop out easily:
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Here is the lower housing with the latch locked into the notch on Tahoe:
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Solution:
Drive self tapping screw half way into Tahoe bracket. Use the screw as an anchor point for zip tie looped around headlight housing latch. This allows for fairly easy removal if necessary, just cut the zip tie.
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tahoefix

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Upper Headlight Housings

Preparations
The LED bulbs don’t fit quite as nicely in the upper housings. In the low beam position, the holes are too small for the LED bulbs to fit through. In the high beam position, the hole is too wide for the bulb shaft, so the o-ring on the shaft doesn’t provide a watertight seal. Here’s what to do:
Remove the mounting bracket, by removing the fasteners indicated by the red arrows:
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Remove the bulb retaining rings and toss. They are useless
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Important!! The next step requires drilling. If you don’t want to remove the lens to fish out drill shavings, drill the hole upside down, and slow, so shavings peel away slowly and predictably. Stop often and vacuum out shavings from the housing. Otherwise you’ll have to heat up the housing and remove the lens like I did.

Test fit the LED bulbs in the openings. For me, one of the holes was too small and one hole was too large. For the hole that was too small, I drilled the hole out larger. The LED bulb shaft measured to be just under 7/8” inch, so chose 7/8” as the target drill. I started with cheap chinese step bit, enlarging the opening until the finish bit could center in the hole properly. The height of the steps in the step bit is less than the thickness of the plastic housing, so the step bit won’t finish the job. But it will provide somewhat of a taper to center the final drill tool. The finish drill I used was a 7/8” Forstner bit. It cost something like $14, a 7/8” drill was $50. After the Forstner bit drill it out to size, a tapered reamer was used to provide an easy entrance for the bulb shaft. This isnt required however.
Tools used:
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Drilling the hole: (but do it upside down so drill shavings fall to the ground instead of into the sealed lens)
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In case you got drill shavings in the housings like I did and need to get them out, skip to the end where I describe how to remove the lens. Warning, its a pain in the ass. Try to avoid it.

Also, do not remove these 4 screws, they will cause a vanity plate inside the sealed housing to come loose, and then you will have to open up the lens to fix it:
Dont remove these:
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Installing the LED Bulbs:
To secure and seal the LED bulbs to the housings I used plastic welder epoxy:
https://www.amazon.com/J-B-Weld-50133-Tan-1-Pack/dp/B009EU5ZNO
It sets up fast, seals well, works good on plastic, and is strong. Make sure to mix well.
 
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tahoefix

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The epoxy was spread around the inside rim of the LED bulb with a popsicle stick:
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Then the bulb was set down inside the hole and centered. Gorilla tape was used to clamp the bulb and hold in place until the epoxy setup:
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All 4 bulbs were done that way.

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Above shows after epoxy has cured. This guy isnt going anywhere, and no water is getting inside! Secure all 4 high beams and low beams in that manner.

Remember the 4 screws earlier I said not to remove? Cover those with some silicone too. Why not. Keep water out.
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With the bulbs installed, now the mounting brackets can be reattached. Put them back on:
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tahoefix

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You can see the bulb driver (small rectangular box) attached to the bulb in the last posted picture above.

With the brackets back on, now attention can be turned to wiring. The bulbs themselves, or rather the bulb drivers plug into the vehicle wiring harness no problem. Nothing to deal with there. These housings have the cool LED halo cat eye’s which light up, these need to be powered.

I use the parking lamp circuit. So whenever the lights are on, the halo’s come one. Here’s a schematic I found online somewhere, not sure which year vehicle it is from, but it matches close enough. The wire you want is the brown wire (found at the switchback harness)

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here’s what I did-

Cut the brown wire at one of the switchback sockets (either driver side or passenger side), leaving plenty of room to strip and reattach both sides of the brown wire. Turn the key on in the ignition, turn the headlights on, and check and make sure you have power at the brown wire before continuing. Verify you are using the correct wire.

Now strip strip both sides of the brown wire, and twist the stripped ends together. Insert this into one end of a heat shrinkable butt splice connector. The other side of the butt splice gets the wire which powers the halo LEDs.
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Don’t use one of those T-tap connectors, that’s idiotic, destined for failure, and wrong. Cut the wire, then strip it, then twist the stripped ends together. The brown wire brings power to the LED halos. The positive wire for the LED halos is white. So brown → white. Here’s an easy to understand schematic on how to wire everything up:
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Now, time to install the upper housings. Have to line up the dowel pin holes, so the “L” rod can slide in. This part is kind of a pain in the ass. They definitely dont line up like factory housings. They will fit though. DO NOT force the rod down though if it encounters a blockage. Thats a sure fire way to break the mounting brackets. Best to do this step during daylight hours. Here’s what I did.

Spray the rod and the dowel holes with some lubricant. Maybe WD40 or some type of PTFE spray. Whatever you have on hand. Make sure the rod slides easily in the holes to start. Begin with the outside hole (closest to the fender). Get the top of the bracket lined up, and insert the rod. The rod will slide part of the way down, but stop when it gets to the next alignment hole. Kneel down and see what the misalignment is. See which direction the mounting bracket/headlight housing needs to be pushed. Then take a long screwdriver and push the bracket in the direction required, while simultaneously pushing down on the rod. It will slide in eventually. Probably take a few tried though. May help to lightly tap the top of the rod with a rubber mallet while you’re aligning the holes. Whatever you do, don’t force the rod too hard or you’ll break the brittle plastic of the headlight housing (like I read one Amazon reviewer complaining about)
 
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tahoefix

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How to Open Lens:
Heat up the housings to ~400 deg Fahrenheit, in the oven makes it easier. This relaxes the RTV that was used to seal and glue the lens on. If you don’t have access to an oven (like me) a heat gun works too, you just need to separate the lens in sections.

There’s latches where the lens snaps onto the black housing. They dont do much. I busted them off to make things easier. Next take a set of plastic pry tools (not screwdrivers!) and start working in between the clear lens and the black housing. If you’re using a heat gun, heat a section up until it is hot to the touch, then use pry tools. Try to make some space between the housing and lens. This is going to take some work, dont expect it to go fast. Took me probably an hour or 2 to get them separated. You should start to see the RTV stretching between the housing and lens. When you see that, slit it with an Xacto or razor to free that section. There’s no easy way to do this. Just have to work all the way around the lens. I found the lens to be sealed extremely well. Complaints on Amazon about water ingress must have been due to user error during bulb installation. Here’s a shot with the lens completely removed:
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After the lens is off, you’ll want to go all the way around the lip of the housing and scrape out the majority of the old RTV/silicone. You’re going to use new Silicone when putting the lens back on.

Clean out whatever shavings were inside, then fill that groove with fresh silicone or RTV. Then place the lens. If you’ve got clamps, clamp the two together while the silicone cures. Otherwise just wrap it tightly with duct tape to hold the lens and housing together tightly while the silicone is curing.
 
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