The foglights on my 2008 IS250 use a 51W 9006 halogen bulb. When turned on, it creates a small pool of light right in front of the bumper, no more than 10ft. From the driver's view, I could barely notice that it's there, due to the bumper. Basically, it's useless if you want down-the-road visibility. Some IS owners installed 9006 hid bulb into their foglights, resulting in an intense foreground. It gives a false sense of brightness. The intense foreground actually shrinks the driver's pupils, thus preventing the eyes from capturing light at distant. For me, I'm going to retrofit my foglight with an HID projector for a more evenly spread of light and for distant visibility. The new hid foglights will be powered by 35w ballasts. So there's also an energy-saving benefit to this retrofit.
Morimoto Mini H1 Projector
I have a pair of Morimoto Mini H1 projectors lying around in my house which I decided to put them to good use. These were brought from The Retrofit Source. The Mini H1 is a bixenon projector with great output for its size. It's actually better than some well-known OEM projectors in terms of output, as shown in this bi-xenon comparison test. The Mini H1 is an ideal projector for my foglight retrofit thanks to its small size and its plug-n-play design. Hopefully, it can be mounted directly into my oem IS250 reflector-style foglight without too much fabrication.
Converting the Mini H1 for Foglight Usage
The Mini H1 (MH1) bixenon projector was designed for lowbeam driving with highbeam capability. Its beam has US DOT cutoff step, where the left side of the cutoff is lower than the right side. This is to prevent glaring to on-coming traffic on the left. Since the MH1 will be mounted low for foglight usage, the DOT cutoff step and highbeam features are no longer needed. So, I'm going to replace the bixenon solenoid with a custom shield with a flat cutoff. This will give me a straight and even cutoff beam.
Adding Prism Color Flickering
If you look closely at the custom shield, there are two thin opening slits below the flat cutoff. As light passes through the slits, it will turn into prism color. The resulting cutoff will have two prism lines above the cutoff. This will create colorful flickers as during normal driving. It's something I really like. Before I even start working on this project, I've already spent an entire week alone creating and testing out a custom shield for the MH1 projector.
The cutoff shield has to be spaced from the clear lens so that at 20ft, the prism lines appear soft and has a mixture of orange, cyan, and yellow. However between 30ft to 100ft, the slit will become sharper and the prism colors will come out. To get more light output, I also mounted the shield 1mm lowered to expose the reserved highbeam light.
Here are some close-up shot at a distant of about 40ft:
The purpose of the multi-color is not for me to look at, but for its effect on the road. Here's a sample video showing the colorful flicker as the car bounces up and down during normal driving. This was done on my IS250/RX330 hybrid projector with a single prism:
I want the same effect for the foglights, but with two prism lines for double effect. Video to be added later.
Here are different angles of the custom shield mounted onto the projector. I use #8 nut and bolt to hold the shield in place.
After testing and adjusting the custom shield to my preferred settings, the modded Mini H1 foglights are now ready to be retrofitted.
Step-by-Step Retrofitting Process
I expected to finish this project within a day, but I was wrong. It took me about 5 days. There were un-expected complications along the way, but I managed to overcome them. The IS250 foglight housing is pretty small but the good thing about it is that it has its own ventilating holes and also have a vertical adjuster, making it easier to aim the Mini H1 projector once it is retroffited. So I have documented the following steps in details along with pictures to make it easier for those following my route.
To access the foglight housing, the bumper has to be removed. This process takes about 30 minutes, once you've done it a few times. The foglights are mounted behind the bumper. Each foglight is held by a single hex nut. Simply unscrew it and remove the foglight from the mounting tabs.
Next, I placed the foglight in a conventional oven and baked for 6 minutes at 200F. The isobutyl rubber, which holds the foglight together, becomes soft, allowing you to pry apart the foglight. It is much easier to take apart the foglight than the headlight. So if you have experience with retroffiting the headlight, then the foglight should be easy.
Upon examining the foglight's reflector bowl, the 9006 opening is not centered, but toward the side (see pic). This makes it impossible to mount the MH1 projector through the 9006 hole. I had to take out the reflector bowl from the foglight shell in order to shave off the side of the reflector bowl. After shaving off the side of the reflector bowl, I still couldn't fit the MH1 projector in because it's hitting the side wall of the foglight shell. So, I had to trim off one side of the MH1.
The next problem I faced was that the MH1 projector couldn't completely sit through the 9006 hole. The 9006 hole is as deep as the MH1 threaded neck. I couldn't screw in the locking nuts. So I had to grind the inside of the reflector bowl to allow the MH1 projector to sit further back. This process took me the longest time because the reflector bowl is made out of hard steel.
After a few hours of drilling and grinding, I finally got the MH1 inserted through the 9006 hole with enough room to screw in the locking nut.
Here are the top and side views of the final Mini H1 projector mounted inside the OEM foglight's reflector bowl:
Next, I tested fitting the retrofitted projector into the oem foglight shell. I had to take it out a few times to trim some more on the side. Be sure to leave room for the projector to move up and down when you do the vertical adjustment.
On the back, I screwed on the bulb bracket, inserted the H1 hid bulb, and closed the retainer clip to secure the bulb in place. I use a 35w 5000k bulb.
There's still an opening in the back of the foglight that needs to be sealed up to prevent moisture from coming in. I used the original 9006 rubber boot along with a rubber cap made out of balloon. I cut the balloon in half and cut a small pea-size hole at the top nipple for the H1 bulb to go through. I've used this method before and it seems to work out great, and it's easy too.
I tested fitting the chrome bezel over the foglight projector and ran into another problem. It doesn't fit all the way through. So, I had to trim off the shaft.
The following steps are for cosmetic only. The halogen foglight has a chrome bezel which I decided to blackout. To keep the oem look, I didn't completely blackout the entire bezel. I taped off area where I want to keep the original chrome before I paint it with flat black paint. Two layers is good enough. My front lens cover is very pitted. This will affect output in term of sharpness as you will see later.
To reseal the foglight back together, I used the oven method (6 minutes at 200F) to soften the isobutyl rubber. Once the butyl rubber is softened, take out the foglight shell and the front lens cover and press the two together. Because the foglight is mounted low to the ground, it is prong to water when it rains. If the foglight is not completely sealed, it will cause moisture built-up inside the foglight. This actually happened to me during a week-long rain over the Christmas holidays. I had to take apart my foglights and reseal them with extra butyl rubber. I've been driving with them in the rain since without moisture problem.
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The next step is to put the retrofitted projector foglights back onto the bumper and hook them up to the ballasts. There's not a lot of areas to mount the ballast. The best place is to mount them behind the steal bumper. This provides a secure location and it's will be high enough away from water. I use rubber tak to hold the ballasts in place. Be sure to clean the surface of the ballasts and the steal bumper. You can also use heavy-duty double-sided tape. I use oem 35w Matsu****a G3 ballasts along with an AMP connector. I have great reliability with these ballasts in my other retrofits. Be sure to add rubber tak around the wire connector leading out of the ballast to prevent moisture from coming in. The ballasts will be powered by the foglight 9006 sockets.
The last step is to put the bumper back onto the car and aim the projector foglights. There is a vertical adjustment **** located behind the foglight shell to aim the cutoff beam up/down using a philip(+) screwdriver. The adjustment **** can be accessed through the bottom protective flap. There's a rubber cap about the size of a quarter that you can remove. Then stick a screwdriver through this hole and up to the vertical adjustment screw. To aim the cutoff beam upward, rotate the screwdriver clockwise. To aim the cutoff beam downward, rotate the screwdriver counter-clockwise.
If your cutoffs are not horizontally straight, you will need to perform rotational adjustment too. To do this, you will need to remove the bumper. I had to remove my bumper twice to get the rotational adjustment correctly for both foglights.
Lighting Output Results
Enough with the retrofitting, here are the output results. Please note that my IS lowbeam headlight have been retrofitted with hybrid IS250/RX330 projectors, running D4S 4300k bulbs with a lifespan of 3 years whereas the MiniH1 foglights use a brand new 5000k bulb. The Mini H1 foglight is pretty impressive as it turns out:
Car parked about 40ft from wall.
Here's at another location against a cement wall instead of a white wall. The fogbeam has more light bleeding above the cutoff as noted by the white wall behind the cement wall:
Here I parked the car right next to a wall. This let me see how far the beams go. The Mini H1 fogbeams go as far as my IS/RX lowbeam.
Here's on the driverside. Car is parked 10ft from side wall.
Car is parked on a slope, which allows me to capture the beams higher up:
Car is parked closer to the wall. This angle shows the driver-side beams along the wall. The lowbeam is super sharp whereas the fogbeam has more side illumination:
On top of a parking structure with a lighter cement ground. I took the pictures on a higher level with car parked on a lower level. This allows me to see the beam spread on the floor. Since the foglight is mounted low, it has better foreground lighting. It will be a good combination along with my lowbeam.
Overall, I am happy with the results. The retrofitted MH1 foglight is a great compliment to my HID lowbeam. It provides extra distant lighting as well as foreground lighting; a little too much in my opinion. It has great spread from side to side too. It's actually good enough to be driven by itself at night, if the law allows. It's really another HID lowbeam headlight mounted low to the ground.
I had high expectation for the colorful prism flickers during testing with the projector in naked form. However the foglamp's front lens cover is very pitted and very curved. This causes the prism colors to fade and softened. The flickering effect is not as distinctive as I want it to be. I'm in the process of solving this. Until then ...