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Discussion Starter #1
So I have found quite a few threads discussing everything from retrofitting existing headlight housings for different color beams, different color housings, color Halos, Projection lamps and more.

Seems like a ton of work, of which I am rather consumed on time for the moment.

Looking to update the headlights on my sport design IS.

The actual headlamps that came with the car are a sport design dark slate gray - which of course I love (and I believe are not extremely common), but I have gotten exhausted having to sand, polish - sand, polish - expand step and repeat throughout the years.

First question:
I am concerned with how much I can continue to use "Headlight Restoration Kits" on these stock lamps. - Just never seams to remain crystal clear and the blinker location never comes out clear.
- I have tried about every restoration kit on the market - Of which, I felt the best kit was the 3M kit.
- Therefore, is there a general rule as to how many times I can take sand paper to these things?

Second question:
Based upon my rather impatient need to face-lift my IS, is there any great aftermarket kit anyone would recommend as a plug-and-play retrofit?
- CARid.com has some new stock lamps with Color Halos by Oracle Lighting~ has anyone had experience with these? They are around $500.00USD (pics of them on the car would be great)
- Technology has come a long way since 2004, would you share your opinions on new Headlight tech (LED, Projectors, Etc) for our platform?

Third Question:
Here comes the silly -
Auto-Leveling Indication lamps in the dash would tell me my car is equipped with HID / Ballasts correct?
- Never physically pulled the lamps out to look underneath them to see a ballast.
 

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Mr. Roo
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1) Essentially, the first time you sand the head lights with that 3M kit removes all protective clear coat from the lens. And that kit doesn't come with any kind of replacement for the clear coat, so the lens just goes bad instantly. Without a proper respray of the original clear coat, the lights will never last.

2) Stock headlights have the best output even today (of any aftermarket bolt-on option). Those Oracle head lights use aftermarket "stock" head lights, which are simply replicas. They just jack up the price because of the halos and installation cost. But the output on those (any aftermarket stock headlight) is terrible compared to stock. All projector head lights are also basically crap in terms of output... cheap and poorly designed optics.

3) Yes, all IS300s have HIDs. That auto-leveling indicator on the dash simply indicates that the auto-leveling system is functional (if the light is off). If the light is on, the system is broken. But it has nothing to do with the HIDs. It should be obvious from the color of the lights that you have HIDs.

If you are looking for the easiest and cheapest way to get more light from your head lights, I would replace the bulbs with authentic/genuine replacements, if not done so before. They dim with time.

If your lenses are crap, that can also decrease the light on the road. Sounds like you want new lenses anyway.

What you can do is buy an aftermarket set of head lights for around $100+shipping and separate all 4 lights in the oven and put the new lenses on your original old head lights. Good as new! And very easy to do with some confidence.

You can retrofit in projectors and do other things, but the stock HID system, when functioning like new, is very good and adequate for any situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
All great info!

1) Essentially, the first time you sand the head lights with that 3M kit removes all protective clear coat from the lens. And that kit doesn't come with any kind of replacement for the clear coat, so the lens just goes bad instantly. Without a proper respray of the original clear coat, the lights will never last.

2) Stock headlights have the best output even today (of any aftermarket bolt-on option). Those Oracle head lights use aftermarket "stock" head lights, which are simply replicas. They just jack up the price because of the halos and installation cost. But the output on those (any aftermarket stock headlight) is terrible compared to stock. All projector head lights are also basically crap in terms of output... cheap and poorly designed optics.

3) Yes, all IS300s have HIDs. That auto-leveling indicator on the dash simply indicates that the auto-leveling system is functional (if the light is off). If the light is on, the system is broken. But it has nothing to do with the HIDs. It should be obvious from the color of the lights that you have HIDs.

If you are looking for the easiest and cheapest way to get more light from your head lights, I would replace the bulbs with authentic/genuine replacements, if not done so before. They dim with time.

If your lenses are crap, that can also decrease the light on the road. Sounds like you want new lenses anyway.

What you can do is buy an aftermarket set of head lights for around $100+shipping and separate all 4 lights in the oven and put the new lenses on your original old head lights. Good as new! And very easy to do with some confidence.

You can retrofit in projectors and do other things, but the stock HID system, when functioning like new, is very good and adequate for any situation.
Wow Tobias all great info! I have updated most of the bulbs on the car,are the actual main bulbs for night time (I believe they double as HI-Beam) replaceable? Are these seen to deteriorate?

Auto-level lamp has been coming on and off since I bought the car. At the moment, It would appear I see a line of light through the middle of the lens. Are they pointing way too high? Or is this how they are supposed to be? Like I said, this is how the car has been since I purchased it back in 2010.

And you are right, my main problem is with the lens fogging and yellowing. No cracks, just hazy.

Next, Have you had any personal experience with installing halos? Might be a nice upgrade to add a little flashy look to the stock units. Is it a PITA?
 

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Mr. Roo
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Wow Tobias all great info! I have updated most of the bulbs on the car,are the actual main bulbs for night time (I believe they double as HI-Beam) replaceable? Are these seen to deteriorate?

Auto-level lamp has been coming on and off since I bought the car. At the moment, It would appear I see a line of light through the middle of the lens. Are they pointing way too high? Or is this how they are supposed to be? Like I said, this is how the car has been since I purchased it back in 2010.

And you are right, my main problem is with the lens fogging and yellowing. No cracks, just hazy.

Next, Have you had any personal experience with installing halos? Might be a nice upgrade to add a little flashy look to the stock units. Is it a PITA?
Yes, the HID bulbs are replaceable, but they are only main beam. The high beam is halogen next to it.

I would not know anything about if your lights are too high or any other issues

The halos would require taking the head light lens off anyway, so if you are replacing the lens, you could install halos at the same time. I personally never did it, it seems like it could be easy, but IDK. Never really was my style.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
So,

(and I'm sure someone will say "It's better with soysauce")

I ordered a set of SPPC CCFL Halo Headlights to try.

Seen in link below here:
https://www.amazon.com/SPPC-Projector-Headlights-Black-Lexus/dp/B00JBIC77G/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1490218444&sr=8-3&keywords=is300+sppc

I order a new front bumper of Ebay (pre-painted) that I am looking to put on as well. Therefore, since I have to take the old bumper off to remove headlights anyways, I felt I could attempt to kill 2 birds with one stone.

Take bumper off, remove stock headlights.
Install Aftermarket lights and see output / fit / form - and perhaps a video review
Take stock sportdesign headlights to sand, buff, and seal - to get them back to looking like brand new stockies
(which now I am thinking a 3M Film may be easier and just as efficient as clear seal spray for the hazing issue)

If I hate the aftermarket headlights or am unhappy with output, revert back to refurbed oem lights
and Replace with new bumper

I know Tobias has already had his own dilemma with aftermarket headlights (after reading through some older threads) but I figured I take a shot.

Which, sort of, brings me to another question:
Are the Bumper Quick Release Fastners worth trying out? (to eliminate needing to pull back inner wheel well liner)
https://www.amazon.com/JDMSPEED-Chrome-Universal-Release-Fastener/dp/B01HMAGBAS/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1490218966&sr=8-4-fkmr2&keywords=is300+bumper+release+fasteners

Or are they worth the 10$? It looks like there may be some drilling involved.
 

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Why can't a company make a damn headlight with just a quality projector and none of that halo and LED crap?

Oh and as far as those quick release fasteners, the rubber will likely not last long because of the mother nature. You could always buy a bunch of spares though...
 

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I feel everybody on the headlight issue. You'd think there'd be better quality aftermarket support after these years. Course, the IS isn't exactly recently built.

I've got the bumper buttons myself. They were on the car when I bought it. they actually work decent and the rubber band is pretty pliable with no signs of wear. They are Super Ricey looking however.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I feel everybody on the headlight issue. You'd think there'd be better quality aftermarket support after these years. Course, the IS isn't exactly recently built.

I've got the bumper buttons myself. They were on the car when I bought it. they actually work decent and the rubber band is pretty pliable with no signs of wear. They are Super Ricey looking however.
Kris thanks for chiming in.

The main question is: do they function well? Do they securely fasten the bumper?

Function > Form
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Update! So swapped the ballast to the new headlights.

Update!

So I swapped the ballasts from the old stock lamps to the new headlights.

Below is what the final product looked like.

(I didnt get a photo of the headlights actually on... FML I forgot)
 

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Kris thanks for chiming in.

The main question is: do they function well? Do they securely fasten the bumper?

Function > Form
Sorry, didn't see your reply. Yes, they hold the bumper on quite well. I still have the screws holding it underneath, too. I've had the car a lil over year without issue from the buttons.
 

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Night time output?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So following up on the post,

The night time output on the SPPC's are actually much better than expected.
-Not sure if this was more a result of replacing the HID Bulbs or new headlight housings or a combination of both, but the HID lights are brighter than I have seen in years.

For the not so good:
Literally after 10 minutes of running the HALOS the other day, the left HALO will start to flicker on the passenger side and goes out.
- Contacted SPPC and they believe it is the HALO Ballast. Go figure... They are sending me a new HALO Ballast at no charge, but still, having to remove the front bumper, pull out the headlight, and swap ballasts was not something I wanted to do for a 3rd time now.

While I have been incredibly busy lately, I will try and add more (better) photos once I have a little more time on my hands. Overhauling the suspension this week.

As you can see, there is still more manual level adjustments that need to be done.

All in all, it is difficult to say if the quality / quantity of light during night-time is better or the same for two reasons:
1.) I really dont drive much during the night time or after dusk
2.) The OEM Headlamps were so hazed and I was using the original stock HID Bulbs (Couldn't believe they lasted for 12 years!)

On a side note* - The GF did say (while she was in the car) the new headlight setup was notably brighter... Or in her words "Incredibly Brighter".
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Since I am doing the suspension overhaul this week I thought this may be worth while pointing out.

When I replaced the headlamps I lost the stock Auto-Level Funtion.

While up in the driver side wheel well removing the strut assembly, I kept hearing this heinous creeking sound and found it to be the "Auto-Level" module.

Removed the connector and module to look closer at the piece and found the terminals completely corroded.

As a result, the entire "Auto-Level" module was removed. Creek is gone.
- Looks like I was loosing the Auto-Level Feature whether I wanted to or not.
 

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