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Thread: Removing headlights instructions - no pix

  1. #1
    Registered User
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    Nov 2002
    Boston, USA

    Removing headlights instructions - no pix

    Most of the pix I took did not come out well, mostly due to fuziness, or lack of correct lighting. I really need to learn to use this camera in tight spaces...

    After doing the removal, I still think that removing the bumper is the best way to go, but here you go. No pix yet, just some info.

    Towards engine compartment direction means towards the windshield.
    Towards your legs or away from engine compartment means away from windshield.
    If you start with the passenger side housing, it's best idea. You will get more space to work with, and see where everything is.
    Before removing the housings, make sure to do a visual inspection of it's fitting on the bumper, so you know what to expect when you put them back.
    Get a couple of old t-shirts or fleece blanket. No terry cloth such as towels.
    Read this document in it's entirety before attempting to remove the housings.

    0. Please use these directions as an aide. Any damage you do to your car is not any of my fault. Patience is a virtue, and you won't understand it until you get to follow the steps outlined below.

    1. Remove black plastic piece that is over the steering fluid reservoir. This tank has the green top if I remember correctly.

    2. You will need a T20 torx socket to remove the three bolts. Two of them are quite visible on top of the housing. The third one, is not so visible. You will need a powerful flashlight that you can beam it from inside engine compartment, and find the third bolt. However, you can get to it to unscrew it from the top of the engine compartment, via a small round hole that is close to where the each housing meets the side fender. Please understand that once you unscrew this bolt, it will not pass through this hole. Hole is smaller then the bolt. To get to the bolt you need at least an extension of about 6". I had the extender taped to the wrench with electrical tape. You can use other tape, but electrical is easy to remove when done. I also taped the T20 socket to the extender. I did not want to loose any of my tools in the engine comparment.
    Once you fully unscrew that third screw, leave it in it's socket.

    3. Once the third screw is unscrewed but left in it's socket, you must use a magnet system to retrieve it. I used a metal pointer, like folks use on powerpoint slides (before there was the lazer poiter), and attached a cylindrical magnet that was taped to the end of it. Usually most common tool arrangements will have one of these cylindrical magnet heads, and I just found something long to attach it to. I used same electrical tape.
    Once you put the pointer through the hole to retrieve the third screw, you will need the flashlight and some odd angle viewing to make sure you hit the screw on the head. Carefully remove the screw from it's socket. The reason you you need a long skinny pointer is so you can maneuver it, while inside the hole. So you move the end of the pointer that you are holding away from the bumper and towards the ground .... SLOWLY ... and the other end holding the screw towards the engine compartment. You must move it in a direction where you can slide your hand, and pick the screw off the pointer with 2 fingers... SLOWLY! Now you are done with the third screw. The driver's side housing is a bitch to work with, but doable.

    4. Before moving to this step, please see if you have a fleece blaket or a couple of old cotton t-shirts to put under the housing. The t-shirts should go between the "chrome" piece under the housing, and the housing itself. You don't want the housing to scratch the bumper or the "chrome" piece. The housing is now loose but not completely. The housing itself is attached to a white plastic socket that is attached close to where the inside end of the housing meets the radiator. It's connected via a black cylinder that fits snug inside the white plastic female socket. Move the end close to the fender (that is the end with the turn signal) into the engine bay. Push the end of the housing that has the side marker towards the engine compartment, and then slide it into the fender. It should slide in close to 1", which is enough to pop the black cylinder out. Keep in mind that these parts are plastic, and careful is the word to work with. Once you move the cylinder mostly out, it won't go completely, you must use either some minor force or the assistance of a flat screw driver to remove the cylinder from it's socket. Push one end of the socket towards the radiator, and pull the housing towards your legs (away from engine compartment). Please be very careful to not brake the socket, nor cut your hands. It will make a loud noise once it pops, and your heart will probably stop for 1/100th of a second, but you will survive. Once this is done the housing is a bit more free to move around.

    5. The worst part comes now. Under the housing is the ballast. This friggin' thing is what prevents you from slidding the housing off it's location easily. You will have to maneuver the side marker side of the housing further into the engine compartment, and into the fender. At least another 1" or so. Now that it's free from the white plastic socket, it should be easier.
    Before you do so however, you must remove the wiring harness. This one took me sometime to understand, but if you don't remove the wiring harness, the high beam side of the housing won't slide out, because the wires are not long enough. But moving the side marker side further in, should allow you some room to remove the wiring harness. You need a set of skinny hands.
    The wiring harness removal is very simple, if you know how to the latch works. The latch is actually on the under side of the socket that connects to the housing. If you feel underneath with your pointing finger, you will surely feel it. All this stuff is plastic, so once again you must be very careful. The latch has a vertical tab that is closest to the engine compartment. If you use your pointing finger to pull on it towards the engine compartment, on the horizontal, it will unlock the wiring harness from the housing. If you listen carefully, you will hear a faint click noise. Don't use plyers. Don't use screw driver. Your hands, carefully and patiently should suffice. Pull on that tab as mentioned above. Once it unlocks, just hold the socket of the wiring harness that connects to the housing with your thumb and pointing finger, and start wiggling one side and then the other, while pulling it towards the engine compartment. It should come off without any issues, as long as you unlocked the latch. You might want to wiggle it carefully up and down, or left and right to help it come off.

    5.1. With the wiring harness removed, you can gain some extra space of maneuvering, by removing the back of the housing. This is being held in place by two metal hooks (sort of 'C' shaped). You can see them at sort of each end of the housing. With the assistance of a flat head screwdriver, just move them away from the middle of the housing, in the direction of the each housing end. Then use the flat head screw driver to remove the actual 'C' shaped hooks. Pull the top out first, by pulling the end towards your face (higher elevation). Hold on to the hook and do the opposite to the bottom side of the hook, where you want to push it towards the ground. Hold the hook and remove it. Do the same thing to both hooks, and remove the plastic lid from the housing. Please keep an eye on it, as it has a foam piece used as a seal.

    6. To remove the housing, you must have the wiring harness disconnected, and the side marker side of the housing as much into the fender as possible, without braking or scratching anything. Make sure those t-shirts are nicely tucketd in there, to make sure no scratches to the bumper are done. Don't use towels. I hate terry cloth. T-shirts rule, and the older the better!
    So, now pull the high beam side of the housing toward your legs or away from engine compartment. While doing so, also push the housing towards the your face (higher elevation), to make sure we start getting the ballast to clear the bumper. If you get it off a little bit, you should see what I am talking about. As you move the high beam side of the housing out of it's location, you should be getting more room to maneuver the side marker of the housing further into the engine compartment. And that is good. Not much room mind's painstainkingly a few millimeters of room to work with, but it's all you need.
    So, as an example, the passenger side housing, as your left hand pushes one side in, your right hand is pushing the other side out and up.
    As the housing starts to move, you want to get it in such a way that the beams would face the fender. This way you can allow the ballast to move completely out without any issues of scraping the bumper.

    This part won't be easier either, but you can do it. By now you can bet you will be a bit frustrated, but keep it together. This is the point you start believing that by now you could pull the engine apart, and it would be easier. You also start wishing that you had taken the bumper off. There are lots of places with sharp edges. Have your first aid kit close by just in case. I only got one minor cut and a few scratches. Not trying to scare you. Just warning you to be watchful of the surroundings while you attempt to move the housing out of it's location.

    7. Once you get one housing off, I'd recommend you study the wiring harness, and how it gets attached to the socket.

    8. Putting it back together is all of the above in reverse. But here's a few gotchas for you.

    9. Before putting the whole housing back into place, while it's just hanging there after you've made your changes, just fire up the beast, and turn on the lights to make sure all is working. Awful to put it all back together without testing and find out that something is not working.

    10. Housing goes in with side marker going in first.

    11. I'd recommend attaching the lid to the back of the housing prior to putting the housing back into place.

    12. YOU MUST PUT THE THIRD SCREW BACK IN. Reason being that there is a sensor attached to this third screw, and if the screw is not making contact, you will see an icon in your instrument cluster mentioning that the housing was moved or not there. This icon is sort of like the one when you are low on gas or low on windshield washer fluid. Comes on each time you start the car, and stays there. Dealership can clear it, and you can too with the use of a VAG Tool. However, if the screw is not there, I don't think it can be cleared, but not sure.

    13. To put that third screw in it takes patience and concentration. Visibility under the hood is non existent, and I had to use a pretty powerful halogen flashlight. Attach the screw to the magnet piece, and SLOWLY maneuver it towards the socket. Once you have the screw ligned up, SLOWLY start putting the screw towards the socket, and once you have it in there, give it a good jolt on the head to make sure the screw stays in the socket. You don't want the screw to come back out with the magnet. Sometimes giving it a clockwise twist will ensure that it won't come out. Then use the T20 torx socket to tighten it.

    That pretty much covers everything. Allow yourself a good part of an afternoon or morning to do this. It might take a bit longer then you expected.

  2. #2
    Registered User UrQ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Austin, TX
    Why did did you remove the headlight housings ? Modifications ?
    83 UrQ
    07 Q7 4.2
    03 RS6

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    Nov 2002
    Boston, USA

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