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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
***EDIT*** Scroll down for detailed pictures and DIY on removing headlight & opening up the headlamp. Some information on retrofit.

I finally completed retrofitting a set of projectors in volt's headlamp.

Retrofitting a set of projectors was always my first on the list mod to do whenever I get a new car. Reason behind it is that I have really bad vision at night time and cannot see very well especially when I'm tired from work. I've had some close calls previously and having better lighting at night time helps quite a bit.

I've seen many people just install 9006 HID kit on the factory projectors. Knowing that even halogen projectors comes on newer cars are decent, I also decided to just purchase an HID kit and install it. The light output seems to be little better than halogen light, but compared to a true HID projector it was still too dark.

Volt's headlight is sealed with permaseal and it's pretty bad one out of different types of permaseal to crack open. You cannot open this headlight like other ones with butyl rubber seal which you can easily open them by cooking them in an oven for 20 minutes. HIDplanet forum members approached with many different routes to open permaseals, but the one worked best for me was to cut part of the headlight housing and cut/grind away rest of the permaseal. You will need lots of patient to open this headlight.

I've used EVO X-R projectors from theretrofitsource.com and I'm pretty satisfied with the result. I initially wanted to retrofit a set of TSX projectors, but the bowl on the projector was too wide to fit it on factory housing, hence the EVO X-R.

Enough of words and here are the picutres. Sorry for bad picture. smart phone camera is not good enough to pickup the lights correctly at night. Yes I need to correct my cut off line AGAIN! I've opened it couple times already to correct it, but can never get it quite right. It seems like curvature of the headlight cover is somewhat affecting it.


How to remove headlight

For this task, You'll need following tools

-7 mm socket
-T15 Torx bit
-Small flat head

1. Open up your hood and remove plastic clips(Circled in red) with small flat head and remove the plastic cover.


2. Remove Windshield washer filler neck. You just need to pull it up as you wiggle it.


3. When you look inside the wheel well, there should be 4 x T15 torx screws. Removed them from both side of the front wheel well.


4. From the under the bumper, Remove 5 x 7mm screws from both side of the car.


5. Once you remove the screws, you can remove side air dams by pushing it toward front of the car. You'll need a flat head to squeeze in a rubber tab for one of the slot closest to center of the car. You'll need to remove both left & right side air dams.


6. Remove 4 plastic clips on the under tray.


7. Remove 2 plastic clips and 4 x T15 Torx screw from top of the bumper.


8. Now, you just need to pop out the clips on each edge of the bumper to get it off the car. You'll need to use some strength to unclip it. Also, make sure to unplug a wiring harness for signal lights on driver side of the bumper. You'll see the wiring harness once bumper is lose from the car. Please disregard blue pigtail on the picture. Your volt won't have one. It's for my retrofitted X5 LED foglamp.


9. Now you can remove your bumper and set it aside!


How to remove your headlight

Tools you need to remove your headlight.
-7mm socket

1. You'll need to remove black sponge piece(Red) and unclip plastic piece(Yellow) to reveal one of the headlight bolt


2. Remove 4 x 7mm screws that's holding headlight assembly.
2 screws from the top

1 screws from the side

1 screws from the front


3. Unplug a wiring harness from the back of the headlight assembly. Passenger side is very tight, so it's easier to unplug it after you remove all 4 screws from step 2. Driver side has more room so you can unplug it either way.


Now it's safe to remove your headlight.

How to open Volt's headlamp

Tools you need open up your headlight:
-head gun or full size oven
-X-acto knife and Dremel Tool
-T15 Security Torx bit (I bought mine long time ago from harbor freight for a few bux.)
-Butyl Rubber Tape for resealing headlight (I bought 3M brand from Amazon)


1. Remove 3 Security torx screws from the headlight assembly


2. Break the permaseal and separate the front clear lens from the headlight assembly.
This is the PITA part of this project. With newer vehicles, many auto makers decided to user Permaseal instead of conventional Butyl Rubber seal. There are different types of Permaseal, some comes off pretty easy by applying heat to it, some just simply cannot be removed by using heat alone. Unfortunately the Volt's headlamp is sealed with latter version.

I did not want to waste too much time on separating the lens from the headlight assembly, so I decided to cut a portion of headlight aseembly where front clear lens sits. I draw a diagram so it's easier to understand.




The first image shows how front clear lens is mated to headlight assembly by permaseal if the headlight was cut in half. I simply cut where red dotted line is by using dremel tool with cutting wheel. That alone already gets rid of half of the permaseal.
The second image just shows how I cut it if you looked at it a step away from the headlight. (Red line)

Once all the cutting is done, you can start heating up the permaseal. You can use a full size oven to heat up the whole headlight assembly, or use heat gun to heat up portion of it and use Xacto knife to cut permaseal. You can refer to youtube videos when you search for permaseal removal. Make sure to remove all the left over permaseals on the grooves and clear lens.



Information on the retrofit

I do not have detailed picture of how new projector is mounted since retrofit itself was done couple weeks ago.
I modified factory projector mounting bracket by drilling new holes to match with new projector and ran bolt through it. That way I can use factory adjusting screw for future adjustments.

Tools you need to remove projector:

-T15 Torx bit
-T15 Security Torx bit


Remove 2 x T15 torx screw and 2x T15 security torx screws from each side. Once all the screws are out, slowly slide the projector out from the rail. You'll need to pop it out from a pivot ball on the bottom corner by lifting it upward.



Unplug high beam actuator harness from the projector and remove projector from headlight assembly completely.

Extra pictures & Videos

Projector size comparison (Left : EVO X-R, Right : Factory Volt projector)

Notice the bowl size difference is huge. Bowl size determines the width of the beam pattern.



Projector lens comparison

Factory lens is very foggy and has dots on it. EVO X-R is very clear.



Back of clear lens

Everything you see from outside of the headlight is mounted on the clear lens.



DRL LEDs

There are 4 tiny LEDs for DRL.



Projector Bi-xenon cutoff shield and highbeam actuator movement

The cutoff shield in low beam mode



High beam mode




Output pictures

Low Beam



High Beam



Stock(Top) vs Retrofitted (Bottom)

 

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Volt's headlight is sealed with permaseal and it's pretty bad one out of different types of permaseal to crack open. You cannot open this headlight like other ones with butyl rubber seal which you can easily open them by cooking them in an oven for 20 minutes. HIDplanet forum members approached with many different routes to open permaseals, but the one worked best for me was to cut part of the headlight housing and cut/grind away rest of the permaseal. You will need lots of patient to open this headlight.
Photos of this would be greatly appreciated. Did you take any?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Do they auto-level? How about high beam? I think this is too much of an effort but may be well worth it in your specific case because of your bad night vision.
No. These projectors are no Auto-level. In order to have auto-level function on our headlight, we will need to install 2 vehicle height sensors along with projector with built-in auto-level motor which will be huge. There is no way to retrofit auto-level projectors in Volt's headlight. It barely has enough space to fit a basic bi-xenon projector. The EVO X-R projector is bi-xenon and as you can see in the pictures I attached, it has both high beam and low beam. It is a too much of effort to just do it for looks, that why I did not write up DIY for it. I don't think this is a task for people who has never done a retrofit before.

Photos of this would be greatly appreciated. Did you take any?
I'm going to take out the headlamp and reopen it for adjusting again sometime this week. I will take some detailed picture of it when I do.
 

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Do they auto-level? How about high beam? I think this is too much of an effort but may be well worth it in your specific case because of your bad night vision.
Do you have a Volt? Or any car that did not come with HID from the factory in the last couple of years? I am guessing by your question that the answer is no. So I will make it easy. No they are not auto level.
 

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You can say that to the members with HID installed on their factory halogen projectors and LED strips installed on their headlight.
Ok. I'll say it.

NHTSA has said that no after market HID headlight kit can meet FMVSS, ie, they are not highway legal. Before buying or installing read the fine print on the packaging and/or look for the FMVSS seal.

I get really pi**ed off each time I am blinded by an a**hole who has decided that s/he has to see better at every oncoming driver's expense.

I hope that was plain enough.

KNS
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Exact reason why I retrofitted proper projector for the HID. Even though retrofitting itself is not approved by DOT, when done correctly by experienced retrofitter, there is no harm done to the other drivers on the road.
 

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Ok. I'll say it.

NHTSA has said that no after market HID headlight kit can meet FMVSS, ie, they are not highway legal. Before buying or installing read the fine print on the packaging and/or look for the FMVSS seal.

I get really pi**ed off each time I am blinded by an a**hole who has decided that s/he has to see better at every oncoming driver's expense.

I hope that was plain enough.

KNS
I don't know about NHTSA saying anything about retrofitting HID bulbs into a headlight assembly that's set up for halogen being illegal. That being said, I agree that the higher output of HID is too much for our headlights in stock form. I also get pissed when I am blinded by an oldass Buick or other hoopty that decided to replace the highs, lows, and fogs with HIDs. Police SHOULD pull them over for failure to dim brights. There is a cutoff on the Volt's halogen projectors, but it's not sharp enough to protect other drivers from the upper light rays.

The OP's true HID projector swap out is the best way to get HIDs on the Volt.
 

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The letter from NHTSA states they " have no authority to approve or disapprove motor vehicle equipment" but do point out they do not comply with standards.

NHTSA is a federal government agency. They make the rules for manufacturers' products (automobiles and the parts that go in them, like headlights/bulbs) NHTSA's rules say manufacturers cannot claim they are suitable for on-road use, and that's what most of them do if you look at the fine print. When it comes to vehicle safety equipment (like headlights) the laws fall on the states for creation and enforcement. This means it's up to the states to decide whether or not running HIDs in a halogen headlight are legal or not.

Right now, in Texas anyway, the only way a cop is going to pull you over for running with HIDs in a halogen assembly is if they appear to be too bright (like running with your high beams on) or if the color is to high (like purple or dark blue). They can give you a ticket for that. The ticket will not be for having HID bulbs in a halogen assembly. You can also fail your annual safety inspection if the station feels like the low beams throw up too much light above the cutoff.

1. You can sell HID kits as long as you state they are for "off-road use only" or "not DOT/NHTSA compliant"
2. You can install HID kits, but you're running the risk of failing inspection or getting a ticket.
 

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That NHTSA letter refers to the SELLING of HID kits, not the installation of them.

NHTSA is only a federal agency and makes the rules for automobile and automobile parts manufacturers since they sell nationally. They can only enforce compliance with manufacturers and resellers/retailers. They cannot ticket or fine consumers. That job is placed on the states with their own DOT/DMVs.

HID kit sellers will traditionally state that the kits are "for off-road use only" or "not DOT compliant". This is how they get around the NHTSA rules. This does not keep a consumer from buying the kits and installing them in their daily driver.

The STATES are tasked with defining what is legal for their roads and the police and inspection stations are the ones that could do something about it. If a cop feels the light that shines above the cutoff is too bright, they could ticket or warn for failure to dim high beams. If the annual safety inspection station feels that light above the cutoff is too bright, they will fail the inspection.


And for the record, I'm an LED kind of guy ;)
 
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