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Installing JDM or DEPO Headlights In Your 04-08 Acura TSX, And Converting JDM Lamps To Left-Hand-Drive

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 cutoff 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 an 06-08 applications. 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 mostly 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 Real 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.

Step 1:
Obtain JDM Headlights. 04-05 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

04-05 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

06-08 Accord EuroR Headlamps

 

Step 2:
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 3:
Remove the headlamp assembly by unbolting, then unclipping 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 4:
Move bumper cover bracket, sockets and bulbs over from the stock headlamp to the JDM one. Everything is a perfect fit if you stay in the right year set.

When you get to the HID lamp, follow these steps to convert the RHD lamp to LHD for use on USA roads 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

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

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.

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.

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.

5: Getting the third corner out is easy and you are home free!

Under the reflector sits the beam cutoff.

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:
Reinstall the ballast. This is a piece of cake and a perfect fit if you are putting 04-05 lamps in an 04-05 car, or are putting 06-08 lamps in an 06-08, or putting DEPO lamps on an 04-05. But 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 an 04-05 and want the updated 06-08 lamp look, or have an 06-08 and want to install DEPO headlights which are all 04-05 style.

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.

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


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DEPO JDM 2006-08 EuroR-Style Headlamp Set, Fits All 2004-08 Acura TSX
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1 Comments


 
jjose vasquez
03-20-2016 07:38 PM at 7:38 PM
I have a question? When you placed the ballast on the 06-08 lamp with the zip ties did you get any type of condensation inside the headlights? Cause I just purchased a pair of EDM 06-08 lamps but plan on using 04-05 ballast
Administrator Note:
No, we do not get condensation inside. However as good a seal as possible is recommended.

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