A209 CLK Headlight Upgrade

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Blobsta

Active Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2013
Messages
373
Location
Maidstone, Kent
Car
S202 C43 Wagon
Just about the only reservation I had when purchasing my CLK was the fact that that I was going from a car that had factory HID lamps to one with halogen but I convinced myself it would be ok, it's not.

The lenses were cloudy so I polished them up and they are much better now. Here's a before and after:
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I don't want to open the aftermarket HID can of worms as we know they are just awful if you happen to be anywhere around them that isn't behind the wheel. I'm not doing that to other road users, I tried it in the past many years ago, not nice. So I was talking to my local MOT tester while he was doing my car (with HID) about it and he was telling me that he thought a new rule had come into force about "light compatibility" but said he'd need to check the rules and as it didn't apply to the car he was testing because it's all as it left the factory we didn't go into it much more.

Looking at the proper HIDs in the Mondeo made me realise that I really want them again but finding them won't be easy for mine as a retrofit. Actually, they are readily available and not too pricey really but on further investigation I have found that A) the car needs to be coded, B) it will probably need the auto-levelling system to be present for the coding to work, C) success on the coding seems very hit and miss and finally D) the car looks a bit boss-eyed in my opinion.

There's only one thing for it... A proof of concept build. Mentioning my idea to Mr MOT, his opinion was that as long as it had the correct bulb for the application and that it meets all of the requirements, particularly a nice sharp beam focus/direction and doesn't blind any unfortunate road user coming towards me he would be happy to pass it. So basically, legal and right is what he wants and that's fair. He did mention that if it looked Sh*t he couldn't fail it but would charge me double! I agreed to that and we've left it that when it is done, I can take it to him (in the boot) and then we can plug it in and inspect it/check the beam etc. If it's all good, I can fit them and he will set the beam up properly for me as he's good like that.

So I have scoured a well known source of used parts and found a N/S headlight from a CLK270 CDI which I think may have had the Black Death considering the soot all over it but at less than £30 including delivery, it's on!

Here it is - I'll restore the lens later if this looks like it's going ahead.
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I gave it a good clean and then (after making absolutely sure my wife was out) I decided to try something from this recipe book:
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20 minutes at 85ºC
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Then carefully pull the lens off the lamp, oven mitts were too restrictive but these builders glove were perfect for the job.
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Now I need to with for the units to arrive (hopefully over the weekend) and get one fitted, decide on the bulb etc. probably LED as I already have some error cancellers but the clearance will probably determine what is to be used and get them fitted together.

Once that's done, a lens restoration and then I will skip along to get it inspected. I'll casually keep an eye out for another cheap lamp unit to make a pair, assuming all good, I'll swap them into the car and then probably build another set from my original lamps and sell them on if there is any interest. I won't be looking to make a profit, just recover my costs.

I hope that this is of interest to someone other than myself, I'll update as it goes along if you are.

All the best

Richard.
 
Nice job, but LEDs are a big no no in that light housing as the beam Patten's on the lenses will be wrong, it'll be an MOT failure.
That is the whole point of replacing the reflector with a unit suitable for LED/HID. If I was going to do as you imply, I wouldn't have bothered to remove the front cover to be able to fit said unit, I would have just put an LED in the back.

I did walk away and wonder how long it would be before someone started off on the whole "you can't fit that to a reflector" debacle. 12 minutes was the answer to my pondering.
 
Projector lamps arrived today so I've fitted them and overall I am pleased with the outcome. The beam has a nice sharp cut-off and seems to work well when on main beam. Only had a halogen H1 to test it with and the unit was less than 3' from the wall so I expect that is why the beam curves down at the edges.

The projector lamp unit
50229306291_a1f45db661_b.jpg


Test fit:
50229306836_3ff0be844e_b.jpg


Restored the lens:
50228662393_02db62f9f0_b.jpg


Dipped Beam
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Main Beam
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Now to wait for the LED bulbs and then it will be off to my MOT man to see if he thinks they are ok to use. I suspect it will be balanced on the front panel of my CLK for a beam check. Assuming it's all good, I'll need to find another headlight to make a pair and then get them in the car and properly set up.

Hope this was of interest or useful to some of you.
 
Nice job!

Have you tried Osram NightBreaker / Philips Extreme etc?

Obviously it's still only Halogen, but together with the projector headlamps it might just be good enough? For £20 it's worth a shot.

As for LED... the misaligned light pattern (resolved by the purpose-built headlamps that you bought) and the MOT (which you said is not a failure because your tester confirmed) are just two potential issues.

The bigger issue with these mods is that none are CE approved at current, so technically not allowed (even if you're not found-out during MOT). In short, the fact that something isn't an MOT fail, doesn't make it legal. The potential risk is that you can't declare a non-CE approved mod to your insurer.

That said... nice job, again. I am not berating you, we make decisions and take calculated risks in many areas daily, it's entirely up to you. My only point is that you need to be aware that this mod is technically illegal, and that you are happy to go ahead because the risk of actually getting into trouble over it is quite small.
 
MOT is but for the moment and yes, I am fully aware of the risk of being in trouble. I have a CE marked headlight so surely it's legal? (not that it now contains the components it had when it was approved ;)).

For me, the goal is to get a proper beam pattern that requires no messing with to go through the MOT and that doesn't burn the retinas of other road users. Whilst looking as close to factory as possible. I find these days that even halogen bulbs are less pleasant to drive towards than that of a new LED lit car although I accept that has zero bearing on whether or not my mod is road legal.

This is a bit of fun for me on the cheap to see what I can do with it. I've ordered some fairly cheap LED bulbs (NightEye I think), stay with me here... Working on the theory that you get out what you put in; If the projectors are ok with some of the cheaper [read worst] bulbs on the market, that stands them in good stead to be able to do something very good with something better in them. Caveat - that's not how projectors really work of course. On the flip side, if it's an abject failure like this then I won't invest further and it's been the cheapest possible failure.

I really don't want this thread to turn into the argument that plagues forums on this stuff which is why I was hesitant to post it in the first place. So as MarkJay has said, it's not legal and I appreciate all of his comments. The end.

I'll update as to what the outcome is one a beam tester/setter and whether it goes further will be determined but that test but in case anyone is worried, rest assured they won't be on the road until we know if they will pass that test. Also, I only have one so it'll look bloody stupid!
 
One more thing that has become very clear to me since attempting this is that the kids painting table protector against that wallpaper is very busy and basically ghastly. Apologies to anyone whose eyes were strained by looking at that image!
 
LEDs arrived. Had to file them down a bit as the casting is slightly too big to fit but we have a built lamp for testing now.

You can see two focal points of light if you look at the lamp when it's on. I imagine these are caused by the bulb having a large LED on each side. HID would probably give a better spread of light inside the lens.

50245005753_a69b9bf565_b.jpg


I dragged the wheelie bin out and hooked up a battery to see what the beam is actually like in more of a real-world test.

50244992283_5fdab42d52_b.jpg


While the beam looks good, being really critical of this, there is still quite some curvature although that may be in part down to how close the lamp is to the garage door(?) but also, you can see those focal points almost ghosted quite high up where they reflect from the base of the lamp.

Standing in front of it as if it were an oncoming vehicle seems much better than a halogen one so that is a bit of a win but as to whether it meets the MOT test standard I don't know. Hoping to get the CLK in for an MOT early next week so I'm going to take the lamp and see what the tester thinks of it and check it on the beam setter. I'll update when I have a Yes/No from him.
 
MOT today (with halogen lamps) but I took this one along in the boot, after the test we plugged it in and it was a thumbs up from the MOT point of view. They were impressed - now to get another lamp and create a pair of these to fit in the car and get them set up properly.

The focal points that I was worried about in the post above are no issue and actually happen with the factory halogen lamps that are in the car currently so it's of no concern after all.
 
Very nice project and well done for the effort. The one thing that annoys me with my CLK is the poor headlights, even with Osram night breakers they are pretty poor. Can I ask where you sourced the projector units as I fancy doing this mod on my motor.
 
Very nice project and well done for the effort. The one thing that annoys me with my CLK is the poor headlights, even with Osram night breakers they are pretty poor. Can I ask where you sourced the projector units as I fancy doing this mod on my motor.
Thank you. I tried night breakers years ago and thought they were ok but not really much of an improvement in real world testing.

I just bought some cheap projectors from eBay.

I have another headlight on order now so I will have a pair built and hopefully fitted in the car over the weekend then I can test them in anger.

Assuming that is successful I intend to invest in a better kit and upgrade the lamps that will come out of my car, then swap them back over and sell these ones on to recover my costs. If you're interested we can talk nearer the time but if you want to do your own set you can buy a set of 2.5" projectors from eBay. You'll also need some H1 bulbs which I have found the LED ones had to be filed down to fit as well as opening the housing slightly. It's aluminium so easy to work with and I don't think it will be an issue for the heatsink as it will soak into the projector housing anyway. When I do the next ones I'll go for H1 HID rather than LED as I think they'll work better. On top of that you'll need some decent LED drivers/error cancellers which I bought from Lightec-Autostyle. I have doubled up on those to have H7 LED bulbs in the full beam too. I figure they are "ok with a reflector" as you wouldn't be driving at anyone with your full beam on would you? They give amazing light like that.

Your shopping list will look something like:

Projectors. £25, I didn't buy these but they look the same.
H1 LEDs £30, You will need to file these I expect to make them fit
CANBUS Decoders £15, these seem very cheap
Optional full beam kit £53

My total is around £180 with the pair of lamps that I also bought so it's not a lot for what you get. I'm looking at proper LED projectors for the next incarnation so it will probably be double this cost so I hope it's worth it.


Again, choice of bulb will be down to preference, these LEDs work brilliantly but were a bit more effort to fit than I think HIDs will be but HIDs will need a fairly big ballast to hide somewhere and all this stuff I've managed to get inside the headlamp so far so it looks stock under the bonnet and I haven't had to drill holes in housings to make it work.

That about covers it, hope I didn't miss anything.
 
Thank you. I tried night breakers years ago and thought they were ok but not really much of an improvement in real world testing.

I just bought some cheap projectors from eBay.

I have another headlight on order now so I will have a pair built and hopefully fitted in the car over the weekend then I can test them in anger.

Assuming that is successful I intend to invest in a better kit and upgrade the lamps that will come out of my car, then swap them back over and sell these ones on to recover my costs. If you're interested we can talk nearer the time but if you want to do your own set you can buy a set of 2.5" projectors from eBay. You'll also need some H1 bulbs which I have found the LED ones had to be filed down to fit as well as opening the housing slightly. It's aluminium so easy to work with and I don't think it will be an issue for the heatsink as it will soak into the projector housing anyway. When I do the next ones I'll go for H1 HID rather than LED as I think they'll work better. On top of that you'll need some decent LED drivers/error cancellers which I bought from Lightec-Autostyle. I have doubled up on those to have H7 LED bulbs in the full beam too. I figure they are "ok with a reflector" as you wouldn't be driving at anyone with your full beam on would you? They give amazing light like that.

Your shopping list will look something like:

Projectors. £25, I didn't buy these but they look the same.
H1 LEDs £30, You will need to file these I expect to make them fit
CANBUS Decoders £15, these seem very cheap
Optional full beam kit £53

My total is around £180 with the pair of lamps that I also bought so it's not a lot for what you get. I'm looking at proper LED projectors for the next incarnation so it will probably be double this cost so I hope it's worth it.


Again, choice of bulb will be down to preference, these LEDs work brilliantly but were a bit more effort to fit than I think HIDs will be but HIDs will need a fairly big ballast to hide somewhere and all this stuff I've managed to get inside the headlamp so far so it looks stock under the bonnet and I haven't had to drill holes in housings to make it work.

That about covers it, hope I didn't miss anything.
Thanks for the update, please keep me posted on the progress as I do need to sort something out for my car.
 
Hi, brilliant job, well done. I've never been happy with mine, so I'm interested in yours, although the other end of the country. I have been looking at these, pricey, I know;

 
Are these headlamps different for LHD and RHD? Or is it the same for here and for the Continent? And do they have a RHD/LHD switch, or do you just put a sticker on the glass (plastic), i.e. as you would with the basic Halogen headlamp?
 
I have been looking at these, pricey, I know;


I looked at those and for what you get (decent light) I don't think the price is too bad. The DRL part is really tacky IMO so for that reason I wouldn't go near them.

Are these headlamps different for LHD and RHD? Or is it the same for here and for the Continent? And do they have a RHD/LHD switch, or do you just put a sticker on the glass (plastic), i.e. as you would with the basic Halogen headlamp?

Not sure if you're asking about mine or the linked ones. For mine, they are for RHD. There is no switch as the shape of the beam is generated by a metal plate that is cut to lower the beam to the right. so you'd need a sticker for the continent.

In my Mustang it has a flat beam from the factory so doesn't upset people on either side of the road, basically the trade off for that is not getting that slightly higher beam one side of the car.
 
They are in and WOW, what a difference. I didn't bother to do a comparison because if you have halogen lamps in your CLK, you know how poor they are by today's standards.

Apologies for my editing skill but mostly for my awful voice.

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That’s bloody impressive.
Fantastic job - well done 👍🏻
 
That’s bloody impressive.
Fantastic job - well done 👍🏻
Thank you. Took the family to LegoLand today and that meant that the lights were tested in anger this evening. Kids asleep in the back, I woke my long-suffering wife from her snooze to try to capture the light output on an unlit motorway. 9:15pm, Dipped beam, 70mph, disgruntled photographer using a phone, the result:
50310060892_0ac7a70340_b.jpg


Now I'm looking to improve on this with my next build as I'm going to do the original lamps that I removed from my car.
 
I've had two CLK's which had halogens on both occasions I managed to source genuine xenon headlights.

For the benefit of others they do need to be coded otherwise they will flicker, its pretty straightforward as long as the person knows there way around the star machine. I can dig out online where on the star machine they need to go to if anyone needs to know. If i recall correctly its just a setting that needs to be changed

The factory xenons will work without the levelling sensors, pass the mot no problem and the levelling can be manually adjusted if required

I still have the second set of my original halogen headlights, if anyone is interested in purchasing drop me a pm :)
 
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