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Exterior & Lighting Heeltoe Explains Universal Fit Blogging

Car 101: What color is my car? Honda/Acura Paint Codes, Names, and Variants!

Surprise…your car is not SILVER. It might be hard to describe your color properly, but when you have the color code at your disposal, you’ll get the right parts every time!

So here is how to know for sure what color your car is (at least, a Honda or Acura!)

Here we have the #HTSpecMDX. What color is it?

Step 1: Pop open the Driver’s door. Notice the sticker that says “Color?” That’s your car’s color code!

But what is the name of the color?

Step 2: Visit your car’s page on Heeltoeauto.com’s HTGarages (here is the HTSpecMDX’s page). Edit your “Vehicle Specs” and start typing in the color code. The field auto-searches and reveals your color (if you’ve got a custom color or your is not listed, type and save it to add it! Be sure to save changes!

Awesome! Yeah? Now you know your car’s color! But wait, there is more…

Just because you know the color code, does not mean you will get the “right color” from a paint shop with just this information.

There are actually slight variations in colors depending on where and when they were painted. Colors like Satin Silver Metallic and Nighthawk Black Pearl have widely used Honda colors applied to numerous models over many years and applied in various manufacturing plants. Because of these variances, colors that are the same code need a little extra info to tell paint shops what specific variation of the color is applied.

Step 3: Look at the 11th Digit of your VIN, to confirm what factory the car was painted at. Without this information, you cannot get the right tone of the color and you are going to get your parts painted juuust a little bit off.

So, if a paint shop sprays your car’s front end and the bumper doesn’t quite match…it’s probably because they got the pearl mix or metallic content off. Don’t let someone tell you that the color comes out differently just because the bumpers are plastic and the fenders are metal. If done properly that really isn’t the case.

So there you are! That is how you know what color your Honda/Acura is!

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Exterior & Lighting Heeltoe Explains Universal Fit Blogging

Car 101: Right Side Left Side, Driver Side Passenger Side

Many people feel confused when discussing which side of the car they need to buy a part for. Some feel it is best to call out “driver” or “passenger” to try and get clarity.

The problem with this is, not everyone’s car has the driver’s seat on the same side! We mostly deal with Japanese cars here at Heeltoe, and in Japan, the driver sits on the right. “Driver’s side” would maybe buy you the wrong side.

Some might say, “Hey, this is ‘Merica! We all drive on the LEFT side.” Well, that is true if you live in America or most other countries on Earth. But, the importation of JDM cars to the US is on the rise. Likewise, Heeltoe ships parts all over the world! We’ve got customers in the UK, Japan, and even many places such as Barbados and Jamaica where they could be driving just about anything. As customer service experts, how are we to clearly know what side is the driver’s side?

If you wanna tell us what side of the car you need a part for, just say, right or left. All directions are indicated as if you are sitting inside the car. To turn right, you use the right blinker, which is on the right side of the car.

Wherever this notion that right would need any more clarification than the surface definition baffles us. It must have been started because someone didn’t know right from left, and started calling it driver’s side for left.

That’s it! So don’t get confused by looking at the front of the car and thinking your right is the right side of the car. And next time you say “I need a left fender,” and the guy behind the counter asks “driver’s side?” say, “No, left side.” It might be fun.

FUN FACT: Honda part numbers are coded in such a way that the first 5 digits tell you what a part is. Bumper, piston, emblem, etc. if there is a right and left for a part, the right side is always numerically lower number. So for a 1997 Honda Civic headlight:

  • Right side: 33101-S01-305
  • Left side: 33151-S01-305
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Exterior & Lighting Heeltoe Explains

Differences in 2004-08 Acura TSX & Accord CL7-CL9 Headlamps

In an effort to The North American 2004-08 Acura TSX, known everywhere else in the world as a Honda Accord, has a few different headlight options we will clarify for you here.

2004-08 USDM Headlamp

The Acura TSX comes with this lamp, with DOT required amber turn signal reflectors and diffusers facing the front and side.

Note that the HID ballast (standard on all NA TSXs) mounts on the bottom of this lamp. There is a variance between the 2004-05 mount style and the 2006-08 mounting style. That is true for all global 2004-08 TSX/Accord lenses in both the mounting configuration as well as the year change.

2003-05 JDM Honda Accord Headlamp

The JDM Accord comes with the same basic housing and lens as the USDM vehicle with a couple of differences.

  • The side diffusers do not have a reflector in them and are a smoked-shade.
  • The projector lamps and cut-offs are set for a right-hand drive vehicle. Meaning, the light is higher on the left side than the right side.
  • If the lamps are from a EuroR model, the chrome inside the housings will be s smoked-shade.

2003-05 EDM Honda Accord Headlamp

These lamps are the same as the JDM 2003-05 Lamps, except they will be set to the left-hand drive configuration. Additionally, they have leveling motors inside, which is normal equipment on these cars.

2006-08 JDM Honda Accord Headlamp

The 2006 model year brought a facelift to global CL7-CL9 chassis Honda Accords and Acura TSXs. As mentioned above, the ballast mounting changed. We are unsure if any function or specification of the ballast changed, but the mounting location definitely did.

The newer style lamp also had some visual changes. The front-facing blinker lens is now clear instead of amber. Also, the side facing diffuser has a textured/mild pattern over an otherwise clear, blue lens.

Again, EuroR lamps are denoted by a smoked-chrome inner housing.

Retrofitting a JDM right-hand drive Accord Cl7-CL9 lamp to left-hand drive spec.

2006-08 EDM Honda Accord Headlamp

Like the earlier generation lamp, the only differences here are the left-hand drive configuration and the presence of a leveling motor (the JDM lamps may have the leveling motor as well…to be confirmed).

Aftermarket DEPO 2004-08 Options

DEPO is a Taiwanese manufacturer that produces very good quality aftermarket reproductions of factory lamps. Often used in collision repair, they offer lamps that are DOT approved, meaning they have the required diffusers and reflectors.

Recognizing an aftermarket opportunity to replication a clear-corner option, the first release DEPO lamps had clear side diffusers and front-facing blinkers. The side molds were the same as the USDM replacements with the reflectors in place. Also, the lamps in North America are configured to left-hand drive spec.

The housings themselves are modeled after 2004-05 lamps, with that ballast configuration.

Smoked and clear options were made, but the side reflectors did not connect well with aftermarket tastes. People preferred the look of the 2006-08 JDM/EDM side diffusers which were devoid of reflectors and had a blue color.

DEPO responded by changing the diffusers to the blue reflectors seen on the later model 2006-08 JDM cars.

However, DEPO did NOT change the ballast mounting location. Owners with 2006-08 TSXs found that while the DEPO lamps bolt in place well, the 2006-08 ballasts would not mount properly. Custom mounting of the ballast was needed, and detailed in this article.

Another concern with the DEPO lamps was the change in projector lamps. The Factory TSX/Accord lamps use very high quality, die cast projector housings and cut-offs, while the DEPOs are cheaper stamped metal. While the difference could be noticed by the most finicky users, the DEPO lamps have proven to have a still very good projection pattern and lens cut-off.

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Exterior & Lighting Heeltoe Explains

2004-08 TL Lip Kits: A-Spec versus Type-S, and inter-changability

It is pretty normal for a Base TL owner to look longingly at a fully kitted Type-S TL and want that look for themselves. It prompts them to ask the question, “Will a Type-S lip kit fit my Base TL?”

To that, we have a couple of things to clarify. First, there are no Type-S lips; just A-Spec lips. Second, the fitment of an A-Spec lip from a Type-S to a Base is very possible.

TL-S vs A-Spec

Type-S is a trim level, determined by the VIN. The engine and other equipment on the car are specific Type-S specs as the car rolls off the assembly line.

A-Spec is an option group. There are different parts that are dealer-installed items that comprise an A-Spec kit. Acura offered suspension, brakes, wheels, and the aero package as A-Spec upgrades. A-Spec parts were available for all TL models…Base and Type-S. So a “Type-S” rear lip is really just an “A-Spec” lip for a Type-S TL.

Maybe this is the point is semantics but it makes a difference talking to people when you know what you are saying is accurate.

Model year splits

For 3rd generation TLs, there are 3 different bumper styles to consider.

  1. 2004-06 Models
  2. 2007-08 Base Models
  3. 2007-08 Type-S Models

Front lips (Front Under Spoiler)

Here is a 2004-06 front. Notice there are no fog lamps and the lip has a low profile against the side of the bumper.

Here is a 2007-08 Base front. This lip differs since it accommodates the standard front fog lamps on the newer TL bumper. Also, this lip does have a low profile, similar to the 2004-06 lip.

Here is a 2007-08 Type-S front lip. It is larger as it surrounds the entire lower grille areas. It comes higher up the sides of the bumpers, and more dramatically changes the styling of the front end.

As far as interchanging goes, with slight modification we know the 2007-08 Base and Type-S A-Spec lips will be able to be used interchangeably, but neither 2007-08 lip can go on a 2004-06 bumper very well, if at all.

Side skirts (Side Under Spoilers)

This one is easy. They are all the same. No matter what year or trim 3rd generation TL you have, the A-Spec side under spoiler option is the same part for all. The only thing they change over the years and models is the colors, as the color options did change.

Rear lips (Rear Under Spoiler)

All the Base model TL rear under spoilers are the same. Like the Side Skirts, the only thing they changed over the years was the color choice.

The Type-S did have a different looking rear lip. The tip cut-outs are larger to accommodate the quad exhaust tips, and there was a honeycomb center section that resembles a diffuser.

Installing the A-Spec lip on a TL-S involves cutting out the stock tip surrounds. By doing so, one can actually install the TL-S spec lip on a Base TL of any year as well. It fits perfectly well. Many people will convert their Base TLs to a Quad system by installing said lip. So the compatibility is there.

Other mentionables:

  • All the front and rear lips involve modification of the factory bumpers to install, making them all permanent installations.
  • While all colors were available new, as sales volume slows the supply of the different colors is fading. Acura has discontinued all colors as of this writing.

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Exterior & Lighting You Can Do It! DIYs

2004-05 TSX Wiper Blade Upgrade to Low Profile 2006-08 Wipers

You know, on the 2004-05 TSX, the wiper arms sure do get annoying to look at after a while. They are not horrible, but once you see them you can’t un-see them. I first really noticed them at the track where you are taking in so much information any bit of clutter or static really digs in and bugs you.

I decided to swap over to lower profile 2006-08 units.

Of course, the standard 2004-05 parts look perfectly normal, as just about every car has the same general design and layout.

Look how tall they are though…they come way up off the glass. Some people like to install some lower profile aftermarket blades that resemble 06-08 ones, but it is not a real solution because it keeps the standard arms in place.

Here you see a 2004-05 arm and blade against a 2006-08 assembly. The whole thing is so much lower profile.

Swapping them over is as simple as removing the cap at the end of the arm and getting a 17mm socket to remove the nut.

Behold the amazing disappearing wiper arms!!! I am sure it will wear off soon but the field of vision being uninterrupted really has me stoked to get behind the wheel. DEFINITELY a nice little mod to do.

These parts are available on Heeltoeauto.com for purchase!

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Exterior & Lighting You Can Do It! DIYs

How to properly install exterior car parts with 3M VHB double-sided foam tape

3M double-sided adhesive-backed foam tape–called VHB, or “very high bond” tape– is one of the greatest things to come along for car folks in a long time. It allows you to securely and permanently mount all manner of accessories to the outside of your car without making a permanent commitment.

However, amid reports of spoilers flying off, parts failing to stay put, and items being mounted crookedly, we felt the need to present some tips on how to best install items using this tape, as many items from Fastline Performance and ATLP use it for installation.

In this post, we are installing a Fastline Performance decklid spoiler on a TSX. You will use the same techniques involved with installing the spoiler in this post on any part that has double-sided tape; S2000 bumper caps, ATLP roof spoilers, A-Spec or OEM lip kits…anything that needs to mount in a specific location with double-sided tape.

Update March 22, 2020:

In recent years we have posted a video outlining the below process on YouTube! See it in living color here:

First, get all your materials ready:
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Blue Painter’s Tape
  • A clean rag (mine’s stained but clean)
  • Part with 3M tape pre-applied
Prepare the surface where the item will be mounted.

A clean, dry surface is required in order for parts to stick properly. Alcohol removes contaminants and evaporates quickly without damaging painted surfaces.

Prepare the tapes on the part for test-fit.

Here is where the special method comes in. Instead of pulling away all the backing and trying to stick the spoiler on, pull just an inch or two of backing away and attach it to the outer side of the part with the painter’s tape.

On many of the Fastline or ATLP parts, the strips terminate in the middle of the part as well as at the ends. I like to do a small section at either end of the tape strips.

Mockup the part on the car my lightly installing.

With just a small section of the backing pulled away, you can put the part where you want it to go, without having it stick in place so much that you can’t reposition it.

Thoroughly examine the positioning of your part, making sure it is centered and matches the curvature of the mounting surface.

On this spoiler we have gotten it to a good position. Now we can peel the rest of the backing away to stick it in place exactly where we have it.

Gently pull away the tape backing with the part in place.

Check out the technique here…the backing can be pulled out from under the spoiler from the side.

Here is a side view. Gently pull the backing out, putting light pressure on the part to keep it steady or in place as needed.

You can even do a double move. I am peeling from the middle here. Usually, I like peeling from the middle first, toward the edges.

Press the part in place.

Once all the backing is peeled form under the part, apply some really firm pressure for about 30 seconds in all mounting places. The 3M tape needs to bond with the mounting surface, and it needs pressure to do this. The part will seem like it is stuck on but keep pressing for at least 30 seconds.

Step back and admire.

And there you have it, mounted flat just where you want it! Now for some gratuitous shots of our Fastline Performance Decklid Spoiler for the 04-08 Acura TSX 🙂

This spoiler was modeled after the EDM Ducktail spoiler, which has a nice, low profile look but is fiendishly hard to get and is very expensive.

We are proud of this part. It is definitely a cut above eBay quality, for sure. Also available in carbon fiber.

Thanks for reading!

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Exterior & Lighting You Can Do It! DIYs

Installing JDM or DEPO Headlights In Your 2004-08 Acura TSX, with RHD/LHD & HID Conversion

One of the most desired mods on a TSX is switching the headlamps for JDM parts because they remove the amber corner lenses in favor of units that are more subtle colors and come without reflectors. Another notable difference is the slightly smoked chrome of the inner housing which has a more toned-down look than the factory bright chrome housings on the USDM car. The real JDM lamps are not inexpensive and serve as somewhat of a status symbol among the community. Here we outline the installation procedure and the process needed to convert right-hand-drive lamps for use on USA roads.

DEPO is a Taiwanese company that makes DOT approved replacement lamps for OEM applications, and they do make a replica of the popular 06-08 JDM lamp. They are less than half the cost of real lamps however there are some caveats. Most significantly they do not have the same projector and cut-off pieces as stock. They are set up for LHD, and they do function very similarly to stock, but they are not the same. Also, while they are visually a replica of the 06-08 lamps the ballast mounting location is set up for 04-05 fitment, making the ballast mounting custom fit on 06-08 application. Lastly, and this is a minor point, the chrome housing on the DEPOs is not a darker shade.

Headlights are assemblies that do a lot more than simply shoot light out the front. The TSX comes factory equipped with an HID lighting system that produces a very clean light. But anyone who has turned on a light bulb knows the light eliminates out in all directions. In a headlamp, it is most beneficial to aim the light forward in a way that shows the driver the road ahead. In order to prevent blinding oncoming traffic, the beam is directed away from the center of the road. Naturally, the “center of the road” is on the right in a right-hand-drive car, and toward the left in a left-hand-drive car. Thus installing a right-hand lamp in a left-hand car can have the exact opposite effect as intended on oncoming drivers. I personally don’t feel the difference is too drastic to warrant much concern, but if you are installing authentic JDM headlights in your TSX it is easy enough to swap the projector lenses over from your original USDM lamps, so why not do it?

Going further on headlight design, there is also a cut-off feature built in to keep the light from shining too high like a high-beam. The cut-off in the TSX is so sharp and clear, and the projectors are so well focused, they are largely considered the best projector lenses on the market. Enthusiasts of all sorts of car makes prefer the TSX projectors when converting their non-projector cars. I was first introduced to the idea in the E36 section on M3 forums. As a TSX fan, it was pretty flattering to learn this fact!

04-05 vs 06-08

2004-05 JDM lamps are different than 06-08. It is possible to bolt 06-08 lamps into an 04-05 (and vice versa), but a retrofit is needed to the ballast, which is covered later.
The 04-05 have a smoked corner lens and an amber turn signal:

04-05 JDM Accord (TSX) Headlamp
2004-05 JDM Accord (TSX) Headlamp

The 06-08 Units have a blue-crystal looking corner lens and a clear turn signal:

06-08 Accord EuroR Headlamps
2006-08 Accord EuroR Headlamps

Remove & Install

Step 1: Remove radiator plate and bumper

Remove your OEM Radiator Plate and front bumper (there are screws and clips in the leading edge of the front fenders and along the under-side of the front bumper). To remove the clips without breaking them, you might want to pick up a clip-popping tool on Heeltoeauto.com.

Step 2: Remove headlamp assembly

Remove the headlamp assembly by unbolting it from the core support, then unclip the harnesses leading to the bulbs and ballast.

Headlight mounting bolt locations.
Headlight mounting bolt locations. The fender garnish needs to be shifted aside to access the top-outer screw.
Step 3: Transfer parts to new lamp

Transfer bumper cover bracket, sockets, and bulbs over from the stock headlamp to the JDM one. All these parts transfer over perfectly if you stay in the right year set.

Step 4: RHD/LHD Projector Reflector conversion

When you get to the HID lamp, if you have JDM RHD lamps, the following steps are to convert the RHD lamp to LHD for use by swapping the USDM reflectors and cut-offs into the JDM lamp housings. Reflector swapping is easy once you have the method down. It’s just a tight fit and you need to do it just the right way, or you’ll get really frustrated!

Again, if you have DEPO lamps you can skip the reflector swap. I don’t believe the OEM projectors will fit in the aftermarket lamps.

Remove HID Lamp Cap
Reflector swap step 1: Remove HID Lamp Cap by cutting the lock-tab and turning it clockwise. If you have a proper tool for removing this screw use it.
Remove Screws Holding Projector In Place
Reflector swap step 2: Remove the screws that are holding projector in place with a long screwdriver, indicated with circles. Be careful not to drop them!

***For the next step I switched lamps and rotated the lamp assembly 180 degrees. Note the orientation of the lamp housing and reflector mounting holes. Try not to get tripped up, the process is correct but may be mirrored depending on the side you are working on.

Work reflector out of the lamp housing.
Reflector swap step 3: The projector assembly consists of a reflector, beam cut-off, and a lens. Work reflector out of the lamp housing at this corner first.
Pry the next corner out gently.
Reflector swap step 4: Pry the next corner out gently using a screwdriver. Moderate force is needed to bend the plastic enough to work the reflector out.
Getting the third corner out.
Reflector swap step 5: Getting the third corner out is easy and you are home free!
Under the reflector sits the beam cutoff.
Reflector swap step 6: Under the reflector sits the beam cutoff. You’ll be swapping the left JDM lamp’s reflector and cutoff with the left USDM ones, and the same for the rights. Try not to get them mixed up 
Step 5: HID Ballast Swap

Transfer the ballast from the old lamp housing.

These combinations are 100% plug-n-play with the existing ballast on your car.

  • 2004-05 lamps on a 2004-05 TSX
  • 2006-08 lamps on a 2006-08 TSX
  • DEPO lamps on a 2004-05 TSX

These combinations the HID is not plug-n-play:

  • 2004-05 lamps in a 2006-08 TSX
  • 2006-08 lamps in a 2004-05 TSX
  • DEPO lamps in a 2006-08 TSX

If you want to swap the years then you are going to have an issue mounting the ballasts correctly to the under-side of the lamp housing. This happens if you have a 2004-05 and want the updated 2006-08 lamp look, or have an 06-08 and want to install DEPO headlights which are all 2004-05 housing style.

Easy solution, costs money, works awesome:

Get a set of ballasts that match the housing style you are in stalling. Get a 2004-05 ballast if you are installing 2004-05 TSX or DEPO lamps, or get a 2006-08 ballast if you are installing 2006-08 lamps.

Tricky solution, costs nothing, works pretty good:

You’ll need to get a little creative with zip ties and such, but this is a doable swap. I drilled some holes in the tabs adjacent to the screw holes.

Seating the ballast on the housing may require that you open up the mounting location hole a but, and it will not be perfectly flat. However, the foam-rubber seals should seat well enough to keep water out.

Step 6: Reinstall Everything

The installation of the JDM lamps is the exact reverse of the removal. Once the lamps are in and the bumper is back on, you might need to adjust the beam using the markings on your radiator cover. In general, you should aim them so that the cut-off is about 24 inches off the ground at a distance of about 6 feet in front of the car.

JDM 04-05 Lamps Installed
JDM 04-05 Lamps Installed
JDM 04-05 Lamps Installed
JDM 04-05 Lamps Installed