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How to Replace the Tesla Model S Headlight Bulb (Non-Tech Pkg)

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by loganss, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. loganss

    loganss Spaceman

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    #1 loganss, Nov 8, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2015
    How to Replace the Tesla Model S Halogen Headlight Bulb (Non-Tech Pkg)

    I guess I've got one of the rare Model S cars that has no tech package. The headlight bulbs for these cars are the 9005 type (HB3 12V 65W). The only instructions I came across for replace the bulbs on the these cars was slim so here's my attempt to fill the void. I went ahead and tackled this with my typical "how hard can it be" mentality. I got the job done but my goodness, REALLY Tesla?!? I've got to replace a bulb through the wheel well? The maintenance ergonomics were not well thought out and I felt like crushing the little push-in fasteners at the end.

    Tools/Items Used:
    • Sylvania XtraVision 9005 Halogen bulb (Appears comparable to the OEM Philips bulb that was in my car)
    • 1.5mm Allen wrench
    • 2.0mm flat head screwdriver
    • Uncut fingernails, preferably the thumb :O
    • Bucket-load of patience since this method doesn't involve taking the wheel off

    Instructions:
    1. Raise the suspension to Very High
    2. Turn the tire all the way to the side of the headlight bulb your replacing. This will give you the most room to work with.
    3. Enable Jack mode in the suspension menu
    4. Open the frunk
    5. Take off the frunk trim piece closest to the fender, by unscrewing the bolt with a rubber head and lifting the trim piece out. See the images below for the red areas where there are clips secured by adhesive to the fender (another bad design choice) and other green locations where the trim tabs are slotted into to keep it from moving around
      IMG_20151107_181259_900x1200.jpg
      IMG_20151107_181323_900x1200.jpg
      IMG_20151107_181349_900x1200.jpg
    6. Pop out all the push-in fasteners closest to the headlight in the wheel well and the one underneath the bumper. In my car there were 3 long fasteners and a bunch of small fasteners. I don't remember the number of small fasteners. This is the step where I had to use my fingernails, screwdriver, and Allen wrench to wiggle some of the fasteners out. These fasteners are great when new but once dirt gets in they are a pain to operate. See the image below for the location of the long fasteners.
      IMG_20151107_161131_900x1200.jpg
      IMG_20151107_161624_900x1200.jpg
      IMG_20151107_161421_900x1200.jpg
      IMG_20151107_145957_1600x1200.jpg
    7. Bend back the wheel well cover to get access to the headlight. Slowly flex the bumper toward you as you bend the wheel well cover towards the wheel. There are areas where the wheel well cover can get snagged so slowly guide your hand around the wheel well as your bending the wheel well cover towards the wheel.
      IMG_20151107_161322_900x1200.jpg
    8. Bend back the next protective covering. It's lighter than the wheel well cover and bends easily.
      IMG_20151107_162007_900x1200.jpg
    9. Pull off the rubber seal for the headlight bulb
      IMG_20151107_162151_900x1200.jpg
    10. Twist the existing bulb counter-clockwise to unlock it, pull it out, and unhook the wire it's attached to.
    11. Replace the bulb following the opposite of the previous step in the instructions. DO NOT TOUCH the bulb with your hands or get dirt on the bulb. Doing so will result in the bulb failing prematurely. Some wear gloves, I just carefully put the bulb in try to touch as little as possible. The approach that worked the best for me was to put the bulb in from the wheel well but to twist the bulb in I put my hand through the frunk area. The angling was better that way to get the bulb properly seated into the headlight housing. See the image below for how the headlight housing looks (up in the picture is up on the car)
      IMG_20151107_172600_1600x1200.jpg
    12. Turn on the headlights to make sure it works.
    13. Clean out the dirt in the fasteners and exercise their operation by opening them fully and closing them
    14. Replace all the wonderful fasteners, bolts, rubber seal, and trim. Enjoy!

    Additional picture of the headlight housing:
    IMG_20151107_163734_1600x1200.jpg
     
  2. William13

    William13 Member

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    Wow! Thanks for the tutorial with pictures.
     
  3. FlatSix911

    FlatSix911 918 Hybrid

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    Great DIY write-up and photos. Next time to may want to convert to an HID bulb and ballast kit.
    (The average halogen bulb lasts between 500 -1,000 hours and the HID bulb last over 2,000 hours)
     
  4. sickfox

    sickfox Member

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    This is a great DIY tutorial. :smile:
     
  5. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    For what it's worth, many cars nowadays have headlamps changed through the wheel well. My 2010 Traverse has the same "feature" (said with a few cursewords).
     
  6. FlatSix911

    FlatSix911 918 Hybrid

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  7. demundus

    demundus Member

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    I was thinking about ordering these and trying... the dimensions are pretty close but it is a little long. I would be afraid of putting the ballast too close to the plastic and melting it or causing a fire. Could this be done with the size discrepancy?

    This link has the sizes for the LED LED Headlight Kit - 9005 LED Headlight Bulbs Conversion Kit with Built In Fan | High Beam and Low Beam Headlight Bulb | Front Exterior LED Bulbs | LED Lights | Super Bright LEDs

    And this link has sizes for a hallogen 9005 http://www.perdeauto.com/images/9005-65-BX2_specs.jpg
     
  8. FlatSix911

    FlatSix911 918 Hybrid

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    I have done a number of LED retrofits in other cars and the bulb base is a bit larger, however the LED is much lower temperature than the Halogen.
    The only way to really check the bulb size for sure is to do a test fit on your Model S and locate the LED and ballast in the fender well area. Good luck!
     
  9. loganss

    loganss Spaceman

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    I'm glad people found this how-to useful.

    Thanks for the HID suggestion. Maybe I'll tackle that next year. There are other projects I want to do first.
    What are the downsides to the HID conversion?
     
  10. FlatSix911

    FlatSix911 918 Hybrid

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    With a good quality HID conversion kit the only downside is cost ... $50 for the kit vs. $15 for halogen bulbs.
    The HID upside has many benefits:

    - Longer life LED bulbs (2000 hrs vs. 500hrs)
    - Lower wattage draw (35W vs. 55W)
    - Higher light output (3500 lumens vs. 1200)
    - Higher white light color temp (5000 vs. 3500)
     
  11. seanmccutchan

    seanmccutchan Member

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    Thanks Loganss for pioneering the way here. Just changed my non-tech MS60 (S11063) halogens. In a pinch I had to buy NAPA version LMP 9005's (high beam), which are made in china as opposed to the OEMs phillips bulbs made in Germany. Tesla uses the high beam spec bulb and does 2-levels of voltage through them to get the high/low beam effect.

    I used a low profile jack to quickly remove the wheel. Then I slid the wheel on its side under the frame/body just forward of the wheel well. This safety measure prevents the car from crushing me should the jack fail while. As others have pointed out, there isn't a great way to get a jack stand under the car so far as I know. I found with the wheel removed, the body fasteners where relatively quick and easy to get out. A flat head screw driver and ratcheting wrench (think it was 10mm) was all that was needed.

    One puzzling observation: Two of us, plus the steering wheel digital display showed the driver's side headlamp not illuminated prior to my fix. I changed the driver side bulb only to find the passenger side wasn't working. I hadn't even removed the car from the jack! It's impossible this is coincidence. And, I'm VERY sure we didn't make a mistake on which side to change as we replayed the scenario of what bulb was out several times and I recall it being the side closest to oncoming traffic was not lit. It seemed as though the car was somehow aware I changed only one bulb, or aware of an amperage difference between the two sides. So, back to NAPA, removed wheel 2, and replaced bulb 2. Everything now works fine!
     
  12. Cyclone

    Cyclone Active Member

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    I always change paired bulbs at the same time anyway. I personally can't stand to see a car with two "shades" or brightnesses in their headlights or taillights, so I just do them both. Invariably the other one would have failed soon enough anyways.
     

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