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SLK R170 General Discussion SLK 200, SLK 230K, SLK 320, SLK32 AMG

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#1 Old 05-15-2012
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Take me to headlight school

I just received a new grill. I'll post pics as soon as it's installed. Now, on to the projector headlight questions. First off, I'm satisfied with the performance of the stock lights and they are in like new condition, showing no signs of fading or yellowing. They just look a little dated and I really like the looks of the new projectors. I need some confirmation of my understanding and lack thereof of the various systems.

I assume the car has xenon lights since they self-adjust when they're first turned on?

Is HID equivalent to xenon, bi-xenon? If not, what are the differences?

Are the new headlights compatible with the xenon system? Plug and play?

Is HID for low beam only or both hi and low?

Can HID lights be bought complete or is it a retrofit kit?

Is the light output satisfactory with the non-HID lights? Online reviews are definitely mixed.

Is Spyder the primary manufacturer/importer of all the ones seen on Ebay and various online parts stores?

Six months ago there were ten or more Ebay vendors selling the same apparent lights. I looked today and could find only two. What's up with that?

The bottom line is, while I like the looks of the projectors, I'm not willing to sacrifice performance for aesthetics. Lots of deer and wild hogs roaming the Texas roads at night. I've seen what a 200 lb hog can do to a Suburban and it wasn't pretty. I can only imagine what an SLK would look like on the losing end.

Thanks in advance for your input.
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#2 Old 05-15-2012
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I can tell you something in generic but not specific to the aftermarket headlamp assembliy for the R170.

HID = High Intensity Discharge, synonymous with Xenon (the gas used in HID).

Bi-Xenon, means the HID lamp is used for both low-beam and high-beam applications, hence the term Bi-Xenon.

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#3 Old 05-15-2012
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Correct, in an automotive context HID is synonymous with Xenon bulbs; and any setup where a single bulb provides both low- and high-beam by use of a movable shutter is called "Bi-xenon".

Halogen bulbs require only a parabolic reflector behind the bulb. Xenon bulbs require 1) a parabolic reflector behind the bulb, 2) a convex lens in front of the bulb, 3) a shutter to limit the height of projected light. This whole assembly is sometimes called a projector.

The manufacturer can put a convex lens in their headlight assembly regardless of what type of bulbs are fitted. I.E. a halogen bulb will still work with that convex lens in place.

My R171 had an aftermarket xenon kit retrofitted which I removed. It did slightly hinder my night driving compared to halogens. One difference between my old xenon bulbs and regular halogen bulbs was that it took about 1 second for the xenon bulb to ignite after activating the switch -- compared to the halogen bulbs where it's instantaneously on. I don't know if this delay is inherent to all xenon bulbs, to MB bi-xenons, or just to my kit. If you see a similar delay, you probably have Xenon bulbs too.

Xenon and Halogen bulbs have a completely different shape too. You can google pics of both.

In order to be legal in some locales, HID's have to 1) self-adjust to the car's attitude (to prevent additional weight in the car from blinding oncoming traffic) and 2) include washer mechanisms.
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#4 Old 05-15-2012
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MrG,
if your car has stock xenon lights, they are $800+ each brand new.

There has also been problems with some aftermarket halo's, the low beams being fine, but the high beams pointing up into space.


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Last edited by leapyfish; 07-02-2013 at 09:11 PM.
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#5 Old 05-15-2012
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Originally Posted by leapyfish View Post
MrG,
if your car has stock xenon lights, they are $600+ each brand new.

There has also been problems with some aftermarket halo's, the low beams being fine, but the high beams pointing up into space.
That's what I'm worried about. I'd like to have at least as good lighting if I'm going to go to the trouble and expense to swap them out.

Thanks for the responses. I'm learning!
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#6 Old 05-15-2012
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Short answer, factory HIDs are BEST!
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#7 Old 05-16-2012
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I installed the Spyder Halo Projectors on my wife's 01 SLK 320 to update the look. Bought these off Ebay for around $200. As stated in a previous post when you get the low beams adjusted the high beams are way out of wack. There is only 1 left/right and 1 up/down adjustment for both high and low beam. They look cool and the Halo's are neat, but the headlights kinda suck. I'm open for suggestions on aiming them properly. We don't do much night driving so it's really not that important but I would like them to function properly if at all possible.
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#8 Old 05-16-2012
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Another question. Has anyone replaced the factory xenon lights with the non HID projector lights?
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#9 Old 05-16-2012
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Not sure why you'd want to do that?

I have factory HIDs and love them! Except the cost of replacement bulbs....

If you want to update the look, you should be able to purchase whatever aftermarket housing (projector) as long as it works with a D2R (reflector style for non-projectors) or D2S (for projector applications) bulb. The factory HID wiring plus in/works with both D2R and D2S. So you buy your new housing, presumable you'd want projectors, so you'd buy housings which accept D2S bulbs and then get some new D2S bulbs (factory is D2R ), at which point you're plug and play with the original system.
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#10 Old 05-16-2012
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Thanks. That's the kind of input I'm looking for. Can I use the factory bulbs and ballasts with the aftermarket lights?
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#11 Old 05-17-2012
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I don't see why not....You'd just need to make sure the aftermarket housing you purchase is designed to receive a D2S or D2R style bulb, as these are the only bulbs which will work with the stock ballasts/wiring.

As an aside, the factory bulbs are D2R's, they have a built in 'blocker' to block the light in certain areas for the factory reflector design. They will *work* in a projector style housing, but your light pattern will not be ideal because of these blocker. If you use projector housings change to D2S bulbs and you'll get the correct light pattern.
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#12 Old 05-19-2012
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Just as another opinion, I have the spyder projectors, and I find them to be significantly improved lighting than my factory lights, and they look a lot better too.

The "brights" work 2x better, and the projector beem does wonders at "illuminating" items such as signs and markers. I had xenon bulbs in my fiero and I was very much disappointed. These spyders however I am very pleased and have no concerns with brightness.

With that being said I dont know what the stock ones were that I was comparing to. Some people mention stock xenons, I dont think I had stock xenons, I think they were just regular old bulbs stuck into the housing. So if thats the case, that may be the answer. Better than the base lightying but not as good as the stock xenons.

I dont think anyone would deny the brights dominate though, and the mixed-spectrum lighting of using the brights (which leaves on the standard bulb), is the same effect the higher end quad bulb settups do in some of the trucks and such. By using multiple light frequencies at the same time, while I dont know the "physics" behind it, visibility seems to exceed either one of them alone.

Just another POV!

To answer your other questions:

Is HID equivalent to xenon, bi-xenon? If not, what are the differences?
Typically yes, but HID just means High Intensity Discharge, so there are theoretically some alternative HID methods besides xenon, but xenon is most popular. As others have said in the forum, bi-xenon just means essentially high and low in one bulb (or in some contexts, two xenon bulbs)

Is HID for low beam only or both hi and low?
This isn't a one size fits all response. On my camaros, its both-its the "shutter" that moves between the two. On my spyder's for the SLK, its low-beam only because the "shutter" is fixed.

Can HID lights be bought complete or is it a retrofit kit?
Both- Complete is easier though, typically better, and retrofits kits are illegal in the US.


Is the light output satisfactory with the non-HID lights? Online reviews are definitely mixed.

(I think so!)

Is Spyder the primary manufacturer/importer of all the ones seen on Ebay and various online parts stores?

Thats all I could find, although if you buy just the projector unit there are other brands (without the whiole headlight assembly)
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#13 Old 05-19-2012
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www.hidretrofits.com

These guys provide fairly detailed technical description/information on various HID/projection topics.
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#14 Old 05-20-2012
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Thanks guys!
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#15 Old 07-05-2012
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Hey just wondering, does anybody have any pictures of halo projectors on their SLK? Thanks
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#16 Old 07-05-2012
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I can snap a pic tonight if you want.
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#17 Old 07-05-2012
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Hope this helps:
The black slk is my son's, the rest is mine...
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#18 Old 07-05-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simplyslk View Post
Hope this helps:
The black slk is my son's, the rest is mine...
Thanks for the great pics, are these spyder headlights or a different brand?
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#19 Old 07-05-2012
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Spyder and you are very welcome.


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#20 Old 07-05-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcflhrc View Post
I can snap a pic tonight if you want.
Ok thanks I would really appreciate it, the more pictures the better! If at all possible do you have any pictures taken in the daytime or anytime before sunset?
Thanks again
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