LED Headlights for the 350z? Maybe not such a good idea…

I love the Z cars, especially the Nissan 350z, and when I saw that someone was making a FULL LED headlight assembly for the 350z I just had to check it out. I was really excited to ditch the factory projector HID headlights for some low power consumption / super-bright LED headlights for our Z car but I was SADLY disappointed! While the picture on the eBay auction looks promising the actual product experience was an epic failure…

They look awesome in pictures and cost about $275/pair. Just don't turn them on!

They look awesome in pictures and cost about $275/pair. Just don’t turn them on!

Here are the main reasons why these headlights were absolutely a waste of money:

1. CRAP light output – these were about half as bright as stock halogen headlights!

2. LED failure out of the box – one of the parking lights was dead immediately along with one of the low beam LEDs.

3. Poor construction – within 4 days of having them on the car the lenses were starting to show stress marks and moisture was building up inside the housing.

4. NOT WATERPROOF! Don’t believe what the sellers are saying, these are absolutely NOT waterproof!

5. VERY difficult to install! You will really need to understand how 12v automotive wiring works in order to even get these things to turn on properly!

So let’s start off with the biggest issue, the light output is garbage… When looking at the lights head-on they seem to be super bright, but when putting them into practice on the road they just didn’t do anything. In rainy or foggy weather they were down-right dangerous to use! You could kind of see where you were going in the dark on clear-sky nights but it was about half as bright as a regular stock halogen low beam headlight. Not only do they not focus the light output well but they create a lot of glare for other drivers.

LED Headlights installed - they look great but are unsafe to use on the road at night!

LED Headlights installed – they look great but are unsafe to use on the road at night!

In pictures they look incredibly bright, but the actual "on the road" light output is almost non-existent!

In pictures they look incredibly bright, but the actual “on the road” light output is almost non-existent!

The INSTANT these were installed there was an LED failure. Each headlight connects to the parking light wiring to turn on 3 small LEDs on the outside edge of each headlight, and right away one of the six didn’t work. I found that it was due to a poor wiring connection inside (all connections are crimped, not soldered within the construction) but to get to it I would have had to dismantle the entire headlight and it wasn’t worth the trouble so I left it.

Within 24 hours one of the main low-beam LED’s had quit working. I cannot confirm if it burnt out or if the connection became disconnected, either way it was really pathetic. Within 5 days of driving the car the passenger side low beam quit working almost all together. All that was left was a few of the LEDs would come on slightly. I opened up the housing to check it out and found nothing visibly wrong, so either something on the circuit board failed, or all the LED chips failed – it’s hard to say which happened for sure.

Here is the driver's side showing one burnt out low beam LED chip and one almost burnt out parking light LED.

Here is the driver’s side showing one burnt out low beam LED chip and one almost burnt out parking light LED.

Here is the passenger side low beam showing that SOME of the LEDs are still on but only glowing.

Here is the passenger side low beam showing that SOME of the LEDs are still on but only glowing.

One of the more disappointing things about these headlights is the fact that they seem like they COULD have been built really well but just weren’t… The housings themselves looked really nice and the design seems to be well thought out but the individual LEDs were all very cheap, the lenses showed signs of stress damage after less then a week of use, moisture started getting inside the lenses and the way they “seal up” in the back is just pathetic!

The back side of the housings use a rubber cap instead of the factory dust cover. This rubber cap has 3 holes coming out of it, a ground, low beam + and high beam + but this rubber cap does not stay in place! It fits very loose, and when it falls off it exposes the bare circuit board that controls everything – I have a feeling this is why the passenger side light completely failed. Aside from all that, the last issue (and certainly not a small one) is that the black paint on the inside already started to chip off in places and show chrome underneath – 5 DAYS AND THE PAINT FELL OFF!

Here is the inside of the housing showing the hot-glued LEDs in place and the bare circuit board with no protection - just flopping around with every bump in the road and no way to protect from water.

Here is the inside of the housing showing the hot-glued LEDs in place and the bare circuit board with no protection – just flopping around with every bump in the road and no way to protect from water.

Here's the wiring coming out and the loose-fitting rubber cap where the factory dust cap should have gone. This cap falls off very easily and does not seal very tight when it IS installed.

Here’s the wiring coming out and the loose-fitting rubber cap where the factory dust cap should have gone. This cap falls off very easily and does not seal very tight when it IS installed.

Again, these headlights are NOT waterproof. Even the seal around the lens isn’t done very well. The wiring comes out of weird places in the headlight and none of the components are encapsulated. We had these headlights installed for less then a week and EVERYTHING on them failed, largely due to not being waterproof. We even got some moisture inside the passenger side headlight housing. I guess one option would be to never wash the headlights and never drive the car in the rain…

Here you can see one part of the seam where the sealant wasn't done very well and moisture is getting into the headlight after only 4 days of being installed!

Here you can see one part of the seam where the sealant wasn’t done very well and moisture is getting into the headlight after only 4 days of being installed!

Here is where the wiring exits the headlight to hook up to the parking light wiring on the car. The silicone job looks messy and you can peel it back with your fingernail. It is not done very well at all.

Here is where the wiring exits the headlight to hook up to the parking light wiring on the car. The silicone job looks messy and you can peel it back with your fingernail. It is not done very well at all.

Lastly about these headlights, if you are not sufficient with automotive 12v electrical wiring you should not even think of buying these headlights, or if you do you should pay a professional install shop to do the install. Instead of having all the right connectors all you get are bare wires coming out – a total of 5 wires per headlight – 2 for the parking lights and 3 for the high/low headlight function. It may not sound like much but it will be left up to you (with no instructions) to test the original factory wiring and figure out how it all goes together.

Basically what it all comes down to is that it’s too bad that such a cool idea for LED headlights was created, but executed so poorly! I so badly wanted these to work but I’m afraid it was a waste of $275 that could have gone towards a nice set of 2006+ OEM HID headlights. Bottom line – if you want to see them and don’t care if they every work, fine – buy them. But if you actually need them to work for more than a week AND need to see where you’re going – STAY AWAY! Honestly for betting lighting performance I would just recommend you upgrade your stock headlights, which are very well built, with an HID conversion kit for ultimate light output. Don’t waste your money on these 350z LED headlights!

eBay Vs The World – Better Headlights

eBay Honda Headlight Review

Ebay seems to have the market cornered on Honda Headlights.

When is the last time you or somebody you know went looking for aftermarket vehicle-specific headlights online? You’ve really only got a few options: either visit a brick-and-mortar store and hopefully they have a better avenue to purchase them than the average consumer online does, visit Amazon.com, visit eBay.com or carid.com. The reason for this is that the market is flooded with cheap aftermarket projector headlights and nobody seems to sell anything that is really BETTER than anything else. Today, eBay Motors is one of the largest online retailers of vehicle-specific aftermarket headlights but they are no different than what anyone else sells.

You can visit a premium reseller to get a price, then check eBay or Amazon to get the exact same product, just as quickly, for less money. Where is the value being added if it’s all the same product that you can get from anyone? The problem is that because of the access to all the same products the internet has miniaturized the retail automotive lighting game. Why buy from someone who will look at the EXACT SAME vendor as you are (ebay, amazon, carid, etc…) and mark it up 10% + shipping + tax? I think it’s a bit silly to expect the modern consumer to pay local retailers more for the same products – there needs to be something differentiated.

Now there is: Starr HID has a line of vehicle specific headlights that are as good or better than original equipment manufacturer parts, but they have an aftermarket flair: blacked out housings, cool projectors, and beautiful DOT approved construction. These headlights, available for a small number of vehicles, are the solution to the problem of abundant mediocrity in automotive light housings sold online. They are 3 times the price of a normal crappy headlight, but it’s what will make your store stand out from the crowd.

Check out this video review I did comparing the standard ebay/generic projector headlight to a Starr HID Projector Headlight for the Honda Accord and you be the judge:

Starr HID is the best of the best in automotive headlight products, and they offer a level of product quality that is unparalleled in the automotive lighting industry. Take a few minutes to watch the video and understand for yourself what really is the difference between a regular headlight product and an incredible headlight product.

The Ultimate Projector Headlights

Starr HID is the Ultimate Projector Headlight Company!