Once again turned into the same polarized debate with the same players. Why don't we take an object look at this instead of breaking it down to one side claiming the results are awful and the other saying they are great? This is exactly what I did with '09. It is impossible to get any facts from these threads that turn into a flaming session so I did my own testing and bought a DDM 35 watt 5k kit. I figured the $35 was worth a try and if it didn't work then...it was only $35. Keep in mind I had no agenda when installing these, other than getting objective info and maybe a set of acceptable HIDs.
Here is what I found:
- This is really a no-brainer. There is additional hardware since you are installing ballasts in addition to the different bulbs so more hardware will logically increase the likelihood of failure. Also, make no mistake that DDM, no matter what kind of warranty they offer, is substandard when comparing to OEM quality. There is a reason these kits cost $35 and it is because DDM buys thousands of them at a discount from China (or wherever) and if you have a warranty claim you have to deal with shipping costs and being without headlights possibly for weeks.
My experience is that they are in fact substandard. From day 1 of installing these, one ballast has had issues of igniting the bulb. Once ignited it is fine but it is about a 50/50 chance that it will ignite.
- Again, pretty obvious--they are illegal, period. You can't argue any other way because you are installing a system that is not DOT approved. If you run into a knowledgeable cop or inspection station they can fail you.
- I was rather surprised with the results. From the pictures I had seen with comparisons to halogen bulbs and cutoffs, I was expecting it to be pretty bad...but not really. A minimal amount of light does get above the cutoff but it certainly isn't blinding. I have had a few months to ask friends and have my wife drive the car so I could see for myself, and they are not as bad as some OEMs, e.g. Range Rovers and Acuras, but they are also worse than others. Sidenote: although anecdotal, I have never been flashed with these lights on.
Improved Visibility (?)
- Big question mark on this one. I'm not convinced there are clear benefits. In some situations they look brighter, others not so much. I think changing the color temperature is confounding so the only way to compare would be to put in a set that is the same as halogens.
I have noticed that the 35 watt kit is not even close to the brightness of an OEM setup. Many times I have been driving next to a car with factory HIDs and they ALWAYS illuminate the road better than mine. I'm not sure if they run higher wattage and/or it is function of better optics but there is a difference. The difference is huge for some cars. And if you go to a 55 watt kit you are 100% guaranteed to blind drivers so don't do it.
- Meh. I do like the look of a whiter color but near the cutoff there are all shades of blue and purple (much worse than any OEM). This is highly subjective so I won't say anything else.
I really don't think that these 35 watt HIDs in my '09 halogen projector create more glare than some OEM sets, which is probably why there is such a debate. I regularly see HIDs in reflector housings and the result is always terrible but I would put these in the acceptable range. At the same time, I see no clear benefit to installing these either. You're installing substandard equipment leading to questionable reliability. At a minimum, I would suggest buying 2 sets so you have backup ballasts and bulbs with you at all times. And who knows if they actually increase visibility.
As for my set, I will eventually take them out and go back to the halogens. My WRX will eventually turn into my wife's daily driver and I don't want her worrying about lights that might not work or potential harrassment from the police.
Let the flaming begin. I'm sure there will be some from both camps claiming BS about my objective approach...at least objective in my opinion.