Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Aquitaine, France
Help me change xenon headlights to halogen
No, I'm not trying to save money or fit "worse" lights to my wife's 2014 UK supplied C-Max 2.0TDCi Titanium X - that she absolutely loves, has low mileage and is is in almost showroom condition.
Please read on. This is a common problem that is seen on Ford help websites across the globe - lots of people asking - nobody coming up with a solution.
The car is fitted with Bi-Xenon headlights as is standard. We have moved to France and in order to pass a "Controle Technique" ("CT" - equivalent to MOT) obviously the headlight pattern needs to follow that for driving on the right hand side of the road.
There is no way to change the UK (LHD) pattern to European (RHD) pattern - the car's manual says "consult your dealer" and both the supplying UK dealer and French dealers just scratch their heads in as much disbelief as me on discovering THERE IS NO WAY to convert xenon beam patterns to the opposite side of the road. Even the advice spat out of Ford (nonsense involving cardboard patterns and sticky tape is both WRONG and DANGEROUS - as well as being totally ineffective and clearly not likely to impress a vehicle inspector.
The closest I have come to discovering what SHOULD be done (for a temporary trip abroad - not a permanent solution) is for a Ford dealer to reprogram the LCU (Lighting Control unit) so that the motors controlling the xenon projectors deliver a flat beam on both sides. By eliminating the "kick" (that extends the reach of the inner headlight to let you see further) this will stop you blinding oncoming road users - but begs the question of what on earth is the point of fitting hugely expensive xenon headlights if they end up putting out no more light than a pair of torches! And ... having paid a dealer to program the lights on your way out of the country you need to pay them again to restore the beam pattern on return. Madness!
To anyone who regularly travels between the UK and the continent I say DO NOT BUY A FORD - buy something with a dash-mounted switch that sets the correct beam pattern.
Here's my problem - I have so far spent 2,000 euros on TWO sets of brand new Valeo headlamp units (refunds awaited). All 4 units have been delivered here smashed beyond use as they are inadequately packed at the Valeo factory (just a bit of shrink-wrap to supposedly hold the headlamp unit in place on a flimsy cardboard base - no foam, bubble wrap or other packing - so the headlamp units rattle round inside the box during transit, the fixing brackets punch through both inner and outer cartons before eventually snapping off and the internal damage is so severe that parts of the silvered reflector (actually a hefty plastic molding) and various bits of motor mountings etc come loose and fall out as soon as you remove the bulb access caps).
It is clear from talking to major parts suppliers across Europe that until Valeo (the ONLY company that makes xenon headlamps for this model) change their packing there is little to zero chance of having a new pair of working xenon lights delivered here any time soon. And I need my wife's car back on the road.
I could buy Ford packaged units - but the Valeo units are IDENTICAL (they are the OEM for Ford) and are costly enough at over 500 euros per headlight - the Ford branded units are a whopping 1,200 euros per headlight - from a discount parts supplier! The local Ford Dealer quoted 3,500 euros to supply and fit the "correct" lights.
I also have a 2013 Ford Galaxy 2.0TDCi Titanium X and have already changed the headlights on that car (it took me all of 20 minutes) as the OEM is Hella and they pack their headlights in several inches of high density foam for transit so it was a simple job to remove the old, unpack and reinstall the new. Job done!
If only Valeo would spend a few pennies/cents on a bit of foam.
So - I have to find another solution.. I am technically competent with both vehicle electrics and computer systems.
Before anyone suggests buying some second-hand units from a scrapyard or eBay, sorry, already tried that. As left-frontal crashes are most common here (drive in France for a week and you'll understand why) there are LOTS of RH headlamp units for sale - but no LH units. In any case, given the poor build quality of these Valeo units I don't feel like trusting anything that's already been involved in a crash - as the units can't even survive a trip in the back of a delivery truck.
The solution that presents itself to me is to fit new right-side-drive (LHD) halogen headlights (which are produced by several manufacturers - all of them better than Valeo) and fit them with LED bulbs to regain similar brightness to the xenons.
From what I have already researched, the physical electric connection between loom and headlight is the same 10-pin plug. BUT - the on-board electronics would have to be told about the change of lights as the halogen units have no levelling or beam swinging motors and the distribution of bulbs for dipped/full beam is different (Bi-xenon uses a solenoid operated shutter, halogen uses a second bulb). Hence the voltages and on/off switching of several wires would have to be changed (by the LCU) as well as the LCU not triggering errors complaining that the headlight leveling motors are faulty.
So, my question is - how can I reprogram the Lighting Control Unit (I have laptops and don't mind buying a USB-OBD2 connector or buying a hand-held programmer if someone can recommend a model capable of doing the job).
Can anybody here or at Ford please tell me the procedure, codes and (if necessary) changes to LCU required in moving from xenon to halogen?
The local Ford dealer (we live in rural France) is useless and no Ford or non-franchise garage within 2 hours drive has any idea how to solve the problem - other than take 3,500 euros for 20 minutes work ... on a car whose value is probably no more than 9,000 euros as it stands.