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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Good morning folks,

Just so ya'll are aware, I'm currently doing everything that I can to get this ride in tip-top shape before we move. We're looking at relocating pretty much across the country and I'm trying to make it as safe and reliable as I can before we go (which was supposed to be next Monday, but now it looks like we might be pushing that date back a little as we wait for the sellers to put in a new septic tank before we close).

It's time to move onto the headlights. Since we live in the city at the moment, the headlights have never been given a second thought since we don't really 'need' them. But considering that we're moving to a state that has A LOT of deer, I started down the rabbit hole of headlights last night, and decided that I really should be looking into this before we go.

I did my research last night, and determined that the low beams are HIDs, the high beams are Halogen, and the DRL's and side lights are all regulation incandescent bulbs. I had to sift through the different information for the different years, but I think I got it all straight now.

I took out the passenger side headlight this morning and did my initial assessment. The HID had been replaced at some point, the color of the light was different, maybe 6500K as opposed to 5000K on the driver's side. The clip that holds the HID cable on the ballast was broken, and it broke a little more this morning during the removal, and there appears to be a pin missing on the connector of the ballast itself; although I haven't compared that to the driver's side yet. I've also noticed that sometimes the passenger side HID will come on, and sometimes it won't. We can't have that now.

Here's a shot of what appears to be a missing pin on the ballast:

IMG_20201006_073848.jpg

The passenger side fog light also does not work, so I'll need to address that. Even so, the driver's side fog lamp was probably about as bright as a nightlight, and the clear plastic lens on both is missing, so I'll be replacing the entire assembly altogether.

The HID's are very disappointing. For a Cadillac level of quality and cost, these things are incredibly dim. Is this a sign of an ageing ballast? I'm still pondering what to do with those; replace the ballasts and bulbs and/or upgrade to higher output HID bulbs, or just convert those to LED's.

Replacing the 9005's with LED's is a no-brainer at this stage of the game, I feel. That's pretty easy and straight forward. I'm also thinking about going with a good off-road LED lightbar for the fog lights.

I really like the 8-High mod, and I may do that in the future, but I'd like to wire those relays up to a switch so that I can have a "moose light" switch inside, as well as respect any laws that may prohibit having "every single light on simultaneously" in my new state.

What brands of LEDs does everyone like? Right now I'm leaning towards the JDM's for DRL's (thanks for the pics carguy75) and Marsauto 8000 lumens for the high beams. I'm seeing that 9005's typically have a light output of less than 2000 lumens, so 8000 for the pair should be more than sufficient. Is anybody familiar with Marsauto? I'm a bit on the fence about the sidemarker lamps, turn signals, and low beams as well.

Thanks for everyone folks, this forum is the best source of information currently on the interwebz. :)
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I took the liberty today to pull the driver's side headlight and confirmed that the ballast only has 3 pins as well. It appears that the ballasts are both working fine, and I'm going to chalk up my intermittent passenger lamp to just being faulty. It seems to be getting more and more difficult to turn on; I had to switch between the parking lights and the headlights about 5 times or more before that passenger lamp finally came on. So I might just need to replace both with new HID lamps in the 6K temperature range for consistency.

Today I replaced the driver's side high beam with the Marsauto 9005 8000 Lumen 6K LED bulb, the DRL with the JDM Astar 144 6K LED bulb, and the Sidemarker with the Marsauto 194 6K LED bulb. While I didn't trick the DRL's into coming on yet, I'm pretty impressed with the difference the high beams have made already.

Low Beams:
IMG_20201012_184802.jpg

High Beams:
IMG_20201012_184825.jpg

Granted, it's about a yard away from the garage door, but still, that Cataract of Sauron on the right is pretty pathetic looking. It'll be rather interesting to see the end result when I get the passenger side done and both lenses cleared up a bit.

I did a bit of research on the headlight laws in the state that I'm moving to, and they're pretty persnickety about intensity and colors, so I'm thinking about playing it a bit safer with a 6-High mod rather than an 8-High mod. That also shoots my idea of getting those green fog lamps all to heck, too.

When a motor vehicle equipped with head lamps as required in this section is also equipped with auxiliary lamps or a spot lamp or any other lamp on the front of the motor vehicle projecting a beam of an intensity greater than 300 candlepower, not more than a total of 4 of those lamps on the front of a vehicle shall be lighted at a time when upon a highway
So even a 6-High may be pushing it, but technically, only the high beam itself would be greater than "300 candlepower", the DRL's and HID's shouldn't quality in the "4 lamp" count, since they're considerably lower intensity. So in theory, I should still be able to do an 8-High with 8000 lumen fog lights too. I just hate arguing law with the police, though, it usually doesn't end well.
 

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310 Posts
So does the headlight still have trouble turning on or no because a common problem is the salder cracking and just being worn out inside of the dimmer switch causing problems with the headlights also could be a ballast going out.
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
So does the headlight still have trouble turning on or no because a common problem is the Sadler cracking and just being worn out inside of the dummy we switch causing problems with the headlights also could be a ballast going out.
Indeed, it is. Once it's on, it's on. But getting it to come on is the trick, for sure.

I just ordered a new set of HID bulbs, mainly because of the difference between the colors on the two (went with 6K for consistency), so that'll be the first place to start.
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I haven't had a chance to install all of the new bulbs that I've gotten yet, but I finally did get done refinishing the lenses and they look AMAZING! I'm letting the sealant cure overnight before I pull the assemblies out and clean out the condensation from the inside (you can really see it in the picture). Then, when I put it all back together, I'll be putting in all the new bulbs, including the new HID's in addition to the new LED's on both sides.

I used the Meguire's Heavy Duty Headlight Refinishing Kit. Here's a before and after shot to show the difference:

Headlights before and After small.png

Not too shabby, eh?

(I mainly had to create the before and after pic for my wife, otherwise she'd have been like "What did you do? They're headlights; they don't look any different..." :cool: )
 

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Premium Member
2004 Escalade 6.0
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1,175 Posts
The condensation will return. Design flaw. My spyder headlights never got condensation.
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
The condensation will return. Design flaw. My spyder headlights never got condensation.
Yeah, that's why I'm not putting too much effort into it, and didn't really even consider it until I got the exterior refinished and I could actually see the condensation.

I mean, it's an Arizona vehicle and it still has condensation. If there's one place on the planet where the condensation shouldn't be present, you'd think it'd be here.
 

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'05 ESV Platinum, 310,000 still looking fine, really fine!
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1,161 Posts
CC, haha about the wife's would be comment, mine would be the same.

Nice work polishing them up, looks great!
 

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2 Posts
Indeed, it is. Once it's on, it's on. But getting it to come on is the trick, for sure.

I just ordered a new set of HID bulbs, mainly because of the difference between the colors on the two (went with 6K for consistency), so that'll be the first place to start.
I having what sounds like the identical problem. trouble coming on, but once on they seem to stay on (i havnt had it out for a night time drive since experiencing this, so i am not sure they will stay on for good). please let me know what you find out here.
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Nice work polishing them up, looks great!
Thanks!

I having what sounds like the identical problem. trouble coming on, but once on they seem to stay on (i havnt had it out for a night time drive since experiencing this, so i am not sure they will stay on for good). please let me know what you find out here.
Will do. I have a new set of HID bulbs, but I just have to get them installed. Once done, I'll have the issue either resolved or, at the very least, narrowed down to the wiring or the ballast.
 

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11 Posts
I installed the Fleece Performance all-lights-on module, pn GM-ALO-37. I know its cheaper to do it myself, but this module is a 10 minute install and also a 10 minute removal if necessary. Works as advertised.
There is a guy on ebay that sells lenses for the fog lights, I bought one for my old Silverado pickup and made a copy of the shape. When I needed one for my Escalade, I just traced it out onto plexiglass, cut it, and beveled the edges. Glue it on and use a rubber band to clamp it together until the glue dries.
Headlight Revolution has some LED good comparison videos on youtube and they test what they sell.
Great job on the headlight refinishing, that is on my to-do list.
 

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I took the liberty today to pull the driver's side headlight and confirmed that the ballast only has 3 pins as well. It appears that the ballasts are both working fine, and I'm going to chalk up my intermittent passenger lamp to just being faulty. It seems to be getting more and more difficult to turn on; I had to switch between the parking lights and the headlights about 5 times or more before that passenger lamp finally came on. So I might just need to replace both with new HID lamps in the 6K temperature range for consistency.

Today I replaced the driver's side high beam with the Marsauto 9005 8000 Lumen 6K LED bulb, the DRL with the JDM Astar 144 6K LED bulb, and the Sidemarker with the Marsauto 194 6K LED bulb. While I didn't trick the DRL's into coming on yet, I'm pretty impressed with the difference the high beams have made already.

Low Beams:
View attachment 588760

High Beams:
View attachment 588761

Granted, it's about a yard away from the garage door, but still, that Cataract of Sauron on the right is pretty pathetic looking. It'll be rather interesting to see the end result when I get the passenger side done and both lenses cleared up a bit.

I did a bit of research on the headlight laws in the state that I'm moving to, and they're pretty persnickety about intensity and colors, so I'm thinking about playing it a bit safer with a 6-High mod rather than an 8-High mod. That also shoots my idea of getting those green fog lamps all to heck, too.



So even a 6-High may be pushing it, but technically, only the high beam itself would be greater than "300 candlepower", the DRL's and HID's shouldn't quality in the "4 lamp" count, since they're considerably lower intensity. So in theory, I should still be able to do an 8-High with 8000 lumen fog lights too. I just hate arguing law with the police, though, it usually doesn't end well.
Can you shed some light on the DRL replacement bulb you ordered? Link? I couldn't find it on Amazon. Is it still working?
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I installed the Fleece Performance all-lights-on module, pn GM-ALO-37. I know its cheaper to do it myself, but this module is a 10 minute install and also a 10 minute removal if necessary. Works as advertised.
There is a guy on ebay that sells lenses for the fog lights, I bought one for my old Silverado pickup and made a copy of the shape. When I needed one for my Escalade, I just traced it out onto plexiglass, cut it, and beveled the edges. Glue it on and use a rubber band to clamp it together until the glue dries.
Headlight Revolution has some LED good comparison videos on youtube and they test what they sell.
Great job on the headlight refinishing, that is on my to-do list.
Thanks! I was really surprised with the way that it turned out.

At the moment, I'm not really giving much consideration to the fog lights anymore since the state that I'm moving to next week is rather upitty about headlights, their color, their placement, and their numbers. Once I get the new bulbs in all around, I'll see how bright it is with the new 16,000 lumens total when the highs are on, and decide if I want to add a little more to it with either a 6/8-high mod and some new fog lights.

Can you shed some light on the DRL replacement bulb you ordered? Link? I couldn't find it on Amazon. Is it still working?
Of course. I snagged the JDM ASTAR bulbs off of Amazon, but honestly, I haven't even checked to see how they look yet. As a matter of fact, I can't recall ever seeing my DRL's illuminated since the transmission work took priority, but now I'll be getting the headlights finished up in the next few days, so I'll know more after that. I wonder if my DRL sensor is shot.
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
I decided to tackle the headlights today before I got my hands all greasy and I've got them all replaced.

The low beams are Mega Racer HID D1 bulbs, the high beams are Marsauto 9005 LED bulbs, the DRLs are the JDM ASTAR LED bulbs, and the sidemarkers are the Marsauto 194 LED bulbs. The only bulbs that I haven't changed are the front turn signal bulbs (below the DRL's) mainly because I didn't realize that they were 3157's so I didn't get an amber pair.

The sidemarkers were a little tricky, and required bending the leads towards the outside of the bulb to get a solid connection since they have a little too much play.

The HIDs are fantastic and they both come on every time. When I was pulling out the old HIDs I noticed that the bulb that didn't illuminate reliably was the original bulb, and the other HID had been replaced. What is it with these crappy service shops only replacing one piece of a pair? It wouldn't have been bad if they were the same color temp, but there was at least a 1,500 Kelvin difference between the two.

The only issue left is that the DRL's don't appear to be coming on at all (the bulb was completely missing from the passenger side). I already checked the fuse and that was good, so I'll have to do a little more troubleshooting later when the wife gets home and see if I can narrow it down a bit.
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Gosh darnit, that new passenger HID failed to come on when I had the wife back up and drive forward to see if the DRL's were working.

Back to the drawing board on that one. Going to swap the ballasts and either rule out of confirm a failing ballast. Also, there is a noticeable color difference, which is weird since those bulbs are the same.
 

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2005 ESV
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78 Posts
Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
The plot thickens!

The DRL's weren't working. I noticed one night that one of the new DRL's was on when I unlocked the vehicle, but the other one did not. The next day, neither worked again. Plus now, I noticed last night, that NEITHER HIDs were working.

Pulled it all apart again today. 12V to the HID ballast, 300 mV to the DRL harness. Relays checked out, no fuses blown. I swapped the LED's from the DRL's to the turn signal, and they lit up great. Tried the incandescent bulb from the turn signal in the DRL, no light. At this point, the DRL's just are not getting adequate voltage. Also, checked the grounds from the harness to the frame and there was continuity, so it doesn't appear to be a ground issue. Going to table that one for next summer, I think.

Swapped the left and right ballasts and replaced the OLD HID bulbs and they both are working great. It appears that the new ones just failed after a week. Sending them back and will table this until next summer as well.

I was originally suspecting a ground issue with the DRL's since I noticed that the relay for the fog lights has been replaced, and the fog lights and DRLs both ground to G100. But, so do all the rest of the lights (high beam, low beam, turn signals, etc) so that really rules that out. At any rate, I'll have to revisit this next summer since I have only a few days left until I move and need to focus my time elsewhere.
 

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The plot thickens!

The DRL's weren't working. I noticed one night that one of the new DRL's was on when I unlocked the vehicle, but the other one did not. The next day, neither worked again. Plus now, I noticed last night, that NEITHER HIDs were working.

Pulled it all apart again today. 12V to the HID ballast, 300 mV to the DRL harness. Relays checked out, no fuses blown. I swapped the LED's from the DRL's to the turn signal, and they lit up great. Tried the incandescent bulb from the turn signal in the DRL, no light. At this point, the DRL's just are not getting adequate voltage. Also, checked the grounds from the harness to the frame and there was continuity, so it doesn't appear to be a ground issue. Going to table that one for next summer, I think.

Swapped the left and right ballasts and replaced the OLD HID bulbs and they both are working great. It appears that the new ones just failed after a week. Sending them back and will table this until next summer as well.

I was originally suspecting a ground issue with the DRL's since I noticed that the relay for the fog lights has been replaced, and the fog lights and DRLs both ground to G100. But, so do all the rest of the lights (high beam, low beam, turn signals, etc) so that really rules that out. At any rate, I'll have to revisit this next summer since I have only a few days left until I move and need to focus my time elsewhere.
It's either a failing headlight dimmer switch or like you said bad headlight ballast.
 
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