ASquared's E90 LCI Headlight Retrofit

ASquared

Corporal
Nov 6, 2016
119
34
0
Las Vegas
Hey Guys,

After seeing all these E92 headlight modifications and not being able to stand the ugly chrome housings in my E90 LCI lights anymore, I was determined to tackle my lights myself and do a complete overhaul with DTM halos. To further push me to do this myself was the outrageous quotes I received from some of the big players in the game....I'll get to that later. As most know, the E90 headlight is far different than the E92 and a little more difficult to work with. E92 lights are sealed using Butyl tape which reacts to heat and allows the lens to pry off, while the E90 lights are sealed using permaseal and requires the seal to be physically broken. So as I was planning out my project, I decided to snap some pictures along the way of some things I did that will maybe help some others if any of you decide to take this on.

Before I went into my lights blindly, I did some research and realized there are two ways to approach the opening. You can heat the whole light up and gently pry back the upper edge to expose the lens, then pry open or some of the vendors cut the upper lip of the groove on the headlights to expose the lens. I believe it was confirmed that was OSS' method. I watched a video on youtube of a guy "Rocko" doing this in order to fix one of his projectors. I decided this was the method I was going to do as it was quick and really wouldn't be noticed once the whole assembly is back on the car. Just had to ensure the lens sits back on cleanly and seals properly. So I went out and bought a broken, unusable E90 LCI headlight for like $75 to practice on. Using a dremel, I was able to make a clean cut and get the lens completely off within an hour. After accomplishing this, I felt much more comfortable taking a dremel to my own headlights. I took the "practice" light a step further and quickly painted a color scheme I wanted to go with to ensure I was satisfied. Here are a few photos and some with the halos loosely mocked up.
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Now it was onto getting my headlights off the car and opened up. I didn't document the steps of this, but there are several other guides on how to remove the bumper and get the headlights out. I also took a video of where I cut to show a buddy who is planning his mod as well.
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At this point, I had also purchased clear Morimoto lenses from retrofit source in order to swap my stock ones out. However, Retrofit source has shitty information and clearly had no idea that these do not work for the E90 projector. It was creating too much of a hotspot. Evan from Vision Auto Lab also confirmed with me that the E90 does not have the ability to swap in a clear lens without drastic amount of modification due to its fixed lens position and inability to be spaced properly. Keep in mind I have the adaptive headlights. Needless to say, Retrofit source didn't want to acknowledge their mistake initially, but have since reached out and allowing for return. Although I have to pay for shipping back which is trash, but whatever. Probably won’t order from them again. Big ups to Evan though for clarifying that for me though and saving me the trouble of messing with it. The depth and diameter are also off so if you are E90, don't waste your time with it.
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Now before painting, I wanted to test up the halos and line them up. I opted to buy some halos off Amazon that weren't $300+. Let's be real, all LEDs are coming from China anyways. Worst case, Amazon return policy would allow me to return without issue. What I did was also got a H8 plug and spliced them into the halo wires to allow for simple operation within the headlight harness just like the standard H8 bulb. I tested this out prior to starting the project and everything worked flawlessly with no errors, halos looked nice and bright as well. I did realize however that I would need to cut into the cornering light lens in order to get the inner halo to line up correctly within the diameter of the shroud. The only picture I had of the actual cut was after paint, but note that I made the cut before painting of course. It also took a lot of trial and error by putting the light back on the car and using double face tape to make sure things were straight. Lining them up straight was a little more difficult than imagined. The inner halo ends up getting mounted with epoxy. I will get to the outer halo next.
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So onto the outer halo. Epoxying the new one onto the old one was always an option, but never the cleanest way and since I was doing this big of a job, I wanted to do it cleanly and right. My biggest thing was trying to maintain that floating appearance. So obviously none of the big headlight modifiers reveal their methods, but between my buddy in Canada and I, we had a couple ideas. One was to cut the stock halo pretty much in the middle and insert the new one by epoxying the tops and bottoms. I drew a shitty diagram below demonstrating this for my friend, but the stock halo and mount are just too flimsy. So I quickly realized this was not going to work. Now it was on to Home Depot. I grabbed a couple packs of 1" cornering braces and some 1" flat braces. I ultimately ended up bolting two corner braces together and it managed to clear the shroud perfectly when using same bolt and mounting hole as the stock halo. Then I put the 1" flat brace into my vice and hammered it in half to make a seat for the halo. After trial and error using double face tape and electrical tape to mock mount the halo to the bracket, I epoxied everything all together. I also painted the brackets black as well prior to epoxying the halo. That way it blends in with the rest of the paint and looks somewhat invisible.
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Since Halo mounting issues were resolved, it was onto painting. I knew I didn't want flat black since I have shadowline trim and gloss black grilles. I opted to go for a semi gloss look. To somewhat achieve this, I ended up going to O'Reilly's and getting low gloss black engine enamel and engine enamel clear coat. I used engine enamel for its heat resistance properties. I live in Las Vegas so summer heat can be brutal and I'd rather just have that piece of mind. After sanding everything, I hit 2-3 coats of primer, 2-3 coats of low gloss black, and then 2 coats of clear. I also decided to add some contrast so I painted the turn signal fins color matched to my blue water metallic. I was very satisfied with how it all came out.
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While I was waiting for paint to dry, I figured this would be a good time to find a place to mount my demon eye. On the E90 with adaptive lights, space is very limited and running the wires could be tight. I ended up buying the Diode Dynamics RGBW demon eye from Lightwerkz. Lightwerkz customer service was top notch, they literally shipped my item within an hour from talking to them. With the DD demon eye, they include a mount for Mini H1 projectors. Obviously there was no way I was mounting the demon eye with any screws so I ended up cutting up part of the mount they included and JB welding it to the cutoff plate, low enough to clear the high beam cutoff. I then ran the wires off the side and epoxied them there so it doesn't interfere with the adaptive lights when they turn. The problem I am currently having is hooking them up. When drawing power from the angel eyes, all they do is flash and are not responsive. I'm assuming due to the fluctuating voltage when the halos are full bright and then dim when lowbeams on. I even tried hooking them up to a relay and drawing the power still from the H8 Halo harness, no luck. So at this point, they are installed, but not hooked up. I just ran the wire towards the back cap for later access until I figure out what the best way to wire them up will be.

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Mounting halos and test fitting lens was next to ensure proper alignment prior to sealing everything up. I was more concerned with getting the inner halo straight as I had some flexibility with the outer alignment due to the screw in bracket.
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After everything lined up, it was finally time to seal the lenses back on. I cleaned up as much of the permaseal from the housing and lens as I could, going at it with a razor and flathead. I then fired up my air compressor and blew through the headlight and lens to clear any debri from sealing in. I ran a line of morimoto retrorubber along the edge and started heating it up with my heat gun. This stuff heats quickly using the heat gun. I just kept going around the whole light in a steady pace so nothing would melt or burn. Once heated enough, I pushed the lens back on carefully and snug. Then used 2" wide spring clamps from Harbor Freight to hold the light together. Don't think I have any pics of the clamps as I was more concerned with making sure things stayed aligned. After the lens was on and the retrorubber cooled enough to hold the lens solid, I wanted to be extra safe and ran a bead of RTV silicone around the edges. Once it dried, I ran another bead to ensure a quality seal and no condensation gets in. I tried to make it as clean as possible, but nothing will be seen once back on the car. Here's a picture of the retro rubber thin enough to allow lens to be pushed on. Also a quick picture of what the seal looks like from under the hood.

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Here are a couple pictures of the finished product. I am waiting on my photographer buddy to take some decent day and night shots as I can't catch crisp shots on my phone camera. I'll update as soon as I get those. Just need to also clean up the lenses as well to clear some fine scratches and pitting. The whole project took about 1 week to complete juggling work, wife, and kids. If I had undivided attention to this, likely no more than 3-4 days considering allowing ample time for paint to cure and seals to dry. All in all total cost for halos, demon eyes, and supplies....under $300. 1/6th the price of what I was quoted, so I'd say I'm very satisfied although I can understand why the cost is high. Lots of labor, while not hard, very tedious and meticulous.
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doublespaces

General of the Army
Oct 18, 2016
8,940
4,144
0
AZ
Ride
2009 E93 335i
That makes sense. I don't have the money to do too much visual cuatomization. I'm already wanting carbon hood/deck lid.
 

langsbr

Captain
Apr 5, 2017
1,176
673
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Ride
07 335i 6MT e90
So overall were you happy with the quality and light output of the DTM halos you got on Amazon? If so, would you share a link to them?
 

ASquared

Corporal
Nov 6, 2016
119
34
0
Las Vegas
So overall were you happy with the quality and light output of the DTM halos you got on Amazon? If so, would you share a link to them?
Yeah I was super satisfied with them. I got them some time before I began this project and plugged them in to check them out. They are very bright, couldn’t be happier at the moment. In all honesty, you don’t need to pay $300+ for Chinese made LEDs that look good.

BMW Crystal Angel Eyes [NO FACTORY HID] Retrofit (4 Pieces) - DTM Style - Horseshoe White - E90 06-10 Sedan Only https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06Y1XSVLP/?tag=clicksource-20
 
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DaZuc

Private
Nov 7, 2016
35
5
0
Rockland, NY
Nice work!!

Were you able to find any information regarding purchasing new headlight lenses for E90 LCI?
I only see them available for E92's.
 

ASquared

Corporal
Nov 6, 2016
119
34
0
Las Vegas
Nice work!!

Were you able to find any information regarding purchasing new headlight lenses for E90 LCI?
I only see them available for E92's.
Honestly i didn’t look hard enough because of the ones i did find, they cost more than this whole project did. Mine weren’t terrible, but the imperfections from pitting show when the lights are on. I will be doing a wet sanding and polishing job on them shortly and will post up some results here. Just got a DA polisher and waiting for some other products to come in.
 

Krazi3azn

Private
Nov 7, 2016
29
13
0
Canada
Nice work. I did this for my e82 two years back but heat gun method. Regarding the demon eyes, run a ignition 12v wire form the fuse box all the way to the engine bay. Or from the battery terminal with a switch.

Also when you cut the lens, did you keep the black housing trim along the lens? Or did you remove it from the lens and epoxied it back to the headlight? Like this |__|