How To: Morimoto Mini H1 7.0 HID Projector Headlight Retrofit on 2008 Subaru Forester Sports XT
There are plenty of posts online about how bad it is to use cheap eBay HID kits in a standard halogen projector headlight. To summarize, the HID bulb is physically different in design than a halogen bulb. When you put an aftermarket HID bulb into a standard halogen headlight assembly, the light from the HID bulb is not properly reflected off of the halogen reflector bowl and the result is scattered light. This results in poor visibility despite an aesthetically bright-looking light. More importantly, it blinds oncoming traffic because of the non-uniform scattering of the light. The degree to which the light is scattered varies from car to car, but generally stock halogen housings are bad at focusing light from an aftermarket HID bulb.
Thus... A retrofit of an actual projector housing into a stock halogen headlight assembly is essential in order to properly upgrade halogen headlights to HID projectors.
Fortunately, there is a company that has pretty much cornered this market. Appropriately named The Retrofit Source (TRS), this online market place has tons of products and staged kits to get you rolling on your retrofit.
This is my second time retrofitting HIDs into halogen headlights, and I've used the same kit from TRS in both cases. For reference, here's a write up of my first retrofit. The Morimoto Bi-Xenon Mini H1 7.0 Stage III kit has everything you need to perform the installation, including projectors, bulbs, ballasts (required for HID systems), wiring harnesses, and shrouds.
How to install the kit
You won't need any special tools to do this installation:
8, 10, 12 mm sockets w/ ratchet
An oven, or a heatgun
A Dremel rotary tool with cutoff wheels
This first thing you'll have to do is remove the bumper. It's not as difficult as it seems. There are 15 clips that hold the bumper onto the car. Open the hood, and unclip the 6 easy fasteners on the top of the bumper. Then get under the car and unclip the 7 fasteners on the bottom. The 2 fasteners on the upper corners of the bumper are the tricky ones. You'll have to peel back the fender liners to access these clips. Once you locate them, they come out just like the rest. There are two types of fasteners used and both are a two-piece system. For the first type, you pry out the middle pin, then pull the housing out. For the second type, you use a phillips screwdriver to turn the inner pin 1/4 turn, then pry the whole thing out. It's likely if you've never done this that the clips have become brittle and they may snap when you try and remove them. If you really want to be prepared, you might consider buying a few spares beforehand. They're very cheap on Amazon, or at your local dealer.
Once the bumper is removed, you can remove the headlights.
There are 2 bolts on the front of the headlight you can reach with a socket.
There's another bolt on the top near the corner.
Finally, there's a 4th bolt and a snap clip on the side of the headlight assembly. This is why you needed to remove the bumper.
Bumper and headlights removed:
With the headlight removed, you need to then remove the metal bracket by removing these two bolts.
Next, remove the lens from the headlight. This can be done by using a heat gun and applying moderate heat to the seam until the sealant becomes soft. Or, you can put the whole headlight assembly into the oven. Note: you should look up the proper temperature and time to do this. I have never used the oven method, but I know it's popular.
Remove the bulb cover on the back of the headlight by turning counter clockwise about 1/4 turn.
Unscrew the 2 aiming screws, remove both low and high beam bulbs, and remove the parking light bulb.
Pry out the reflector bowl by carefully lifting up on the ball/socket joint with a flathead screwdriver (location of ball joint shown below)
Remove the bulb cover and bulb holder from reflector bowl.
This part is perhaps the trickiest. You have to remove a bunch of plastic material off of the back of the reflector bowl so that once you install the projector, the projector locknut will sit flush against the back of the reflector bowl. See the before and after pictures below to see how much material you need to remove. This is best done with a belt sander, but I did ok with a Dremel tool and cutoff wheels.
Once enough material is removed, you can feed the projector threads through the front of the reflector bowl and thread the washer and lock ring down on the back. Important note: the lock ring must sit below the face of the bulb holder otherwise the bulb will not seat correctly. Also, you don't need to fully tighten the lock ring down now; you will do this after you aim the headlights.
Front view with projector installed:
Now is a good time to wire up the harness and mount the ballasts. TRS offers great documentation on wiring the HID system, so I won't cover it here.
You'll want to mount the headlights in the above configuration (lens off, no shrouds) back on the car so you can aim the lights. There are also several online resources for proper aiming of headlights, so I won't cover those here either. Here's a pretty good one.
I will say this though: Now is the time to dial in the rotation of the projectors and secure the locknut down. Once you put the lens back on the headlight, you can still do vertical and horizontal adjustments, but you will not be able to do rotation adjustments. Tighten the lock ring down on the back of the projector once you finalize the rotation adjustment.
Test fit / aiming setup:
Once you aim your headlights you can begin cleaning up the wiring in the engine bay and you can also install your shrouds of choice. You should be careful with your choice of shrouds, as many of the larger ones won't fit into this headlight housing. I originally had the e55 shrouds because I like the look, but they definitely did not fit in this housing and would have required major cutting / modification. I ended up using the mini gatling gun shrouds, which look pretty nice too.
The method of mounting of the shrouds is another choice you must make. TRS sends their shroud centric rings, which are meant to mount your shroud to the projector with no adhesives. I can't speak to the efficacy of this method, but I would be afraid of the shrouds falling off. I opted to JB weld the shrouds to my projectors, but using a few dabs on the contact points was not enough, as the shrouds fell off (inside the closed lens!!) after about a week of driving around. Needless to say, this was a very sad day. Remember, in order to get to the shrouds, I had to: remove the bumper, remove the headlight, and reheat and remove the headlight lens. The point is, make sure your shrouds are very secure the first time before closing up the headlights.
I opted not to blackout (paint) the reflector bowl because I wanted to keep a factory look. With the mini gatling gun shrouds and no paint, the finished product has a very stock-looking appearance.
Once you have the headlights aimed, have the shrouds mounted, and have closed up the lenses with fresh sealant, you can finish up by reinstalling the headlights and bumper.
Beam pattern (not perfect, but pretty darn good):
This is definitely my favorite mod so far. It completely changes the look of the front end and the driving experience at night is completely updated. Visibility is improved substantially, and it's fun to watch your nice clean cutoff line bounce up and down as you drive around.
Good luck and happy retrofitting!