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2003 Honda Element AWD EX 4AT "Galapagos Green Metallic"
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently, my headlights went out. They're HID. First the driver side, then the passenger side a few days later. I got the components from DDM Tuning in 2019 and have had zero issues until this happened last week and over the weekend. They said I could send in the components for testing and free replacement if any issues were found. The problem is I'm currently in van life mode -- living in my E -- so I really can't wait 2-3 weeks to ship the components out to California, have it all tested, and then shipped back. That's why I'm thinking of just ordering a new kit. If that fixes it, great! If not, I'll have spare ballasts and bulbs.

On my lunch break today, I popped the hood in the parking lot and probed with a multimeter. Looks like I'm getting 12V from one side of the connector and just under 9V from the other side. Shouldn't I be getting at least 12V from both sides?

And why would I lose one headlight and then the other a number of days later? If both headlights run off the one connector, shouldn't I lose both at the same time?

P.S. - And yes, I'm still battling insurance over my car... more than 8 months after the accident.

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2003 Honda Element AWD EX 4AT "Galapagos Green Metallic"
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Battery voltage across the posts is 11.90 V.

Voltage readings between battery (-) and the following headlight connector pins:
  • Batt (-) to Red/Blue: 8.62 V or 0.0 V when high beams are on.
  • Batt (-) to Red/Yellow: 0.0V or 11.78 V when high beams are on.
  • Batt (-) to Red/White: 11.77 V
I may need to clarify some of these values. I believe they are when the low beams or high beams are on, not while everything is off.
 

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2004 SOP EX/AWD/MT
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I think you mean LED bulbs?
An HID system would have a separate ballast, providing power to each HID bulb.

You might want to think about adding relays to your headlights.
If your aftermarket bulbs have been consuming more power, the additional draw could be slowly heating up your headlight circuit. Over time, the increased resistance would cause lower voltage output at the bulb socket.
 

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Battery voltage across the posts is 11.90 V.

Voltage readings between battery (-) and the following headlight connector pins:
  • Batt (-) to Red/Blue: 8.62 V or 0.0 V when high beams are on.
  • Batt (-) to Red/Yellow: 0.0V or 11.78 V when high beams are on.
  • Batt (-) to Red/White: 11.77 V
I may need to clarify some of these values. I believe they are when the low beams or high beams are on, not while everything is off.
It is not clear to me what you are measuring, but if you are measuring the stock, non-modified driver side connector before it enters your HID system then Red/yel is power, red/wht is low beam ground and red/blu is high beam ground.
 

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2003 Honda Element AWD EX 4AT "Galapagos Green Metallic"
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think you mean LED bulbs?
An HID system would have a separate ballast, providing power to each HID bulb.

You might want to think about adding relays to your headlights.
If your aftermarket bulbs have been consuming more power, the additional draw could be slowly heating up your headlight circuit. Over time, the increased resistance would cause lower voltage output at the bulb socket.
Nope. I mean HID. I have a separate ballast for each bulb along with a Morimoto MotoControl relay unit, however both headlights are triggered by the driver side factory headlight connection.
 

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2003 Honda Element AWD EX 4AT "Galapagos Green Metallic"
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It is not clear to me what you are measuring, but if you are measuring the stock, non-modified driver side connector before it enters your HID system then Red/yel is power, red/wht is low beam ground and red/blu is high beam ground.
Yes, I'm measuring at the factory connector on the driver side before it enters the HID system. I measured here to determine if the HIDs are getting enough voltage from the car. I will double check my readings later.
 

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2003 Honda Element AWD EX 4AT "Galapagos Green Metallic"
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This morning, I pulled the electrical tape off the factory headlight connector on the passenger side (remember, the MotoControl relay is only triggered by the driver side connector) and got the same voltage readings there.

Engine off:
12.36v @ battery terminals
8.99v @ high beams (red/blue)
12.18v @ low beams (red/white)

Engine on:
10.98v @ high beams (red/blue)
14.06v @ low beams (red/white)

I also got battery voltage between the negative battery post and both sides of the headlight fuses.

Seeing the higher voltages with the engine running makes me think it's not a wiring issue. And here's the thing... If I'm getting 14.06v @ the low beam then the bulbs should be firing. I think the lower voltage @ the high beams is irrelevant since HIDs don't use dual filaments. They're always on at 100% but the projectors use a shutter to control how much light is projected.
 

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This morning, I pulled the electrical tape off the factory headlight connector on the passenger side (remember, the MotoControl relay is only triggered by the driver side connector) and got the same voltage readings there.

Engine off:
12.36v @ battery terminals
8.99v @ high beams (red/blue)
12.18v @ low beams (red/white)

Engine on:
10.98v @ high beams (red/blue)
14.06v @ low beams (red/white)

I also got battery voltage between the negative battery post and both sides of the headlight fuses.

Seeing the higher voltages with the engine running makes me think it's not a wiring issue. And here's the thing... If I'm getting 14.06v @ the low beam then the bulbs should be firing. I think the lower voltage @ the high beams is irrelevant since HIDs don't use dual filaments. They're always on at 100% but the projectors use a shutter to control how much light is projected.
I had a hard time diagnosing a bad ballast a few years back. Had to swap them out to find the bad one.
 

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2003 Honda Element AWD EX 4AT "Galapagos Green Metallic"
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I had been thinking about upgrading to better quality HIDs anyway. I may go ahead and swap everything out. Already placed an order for a new relay harness and Philips bulbs. Maybe I should go ahead and get new ballasts, too?
 

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I had been thinking about upgrading to better quality HIDs anyway. I may go ahead and swap everything out. Already placed an order for a new relay harness and Philips bulbs. Maybe I should go ahead and get new ballasts, too?
Have you ever had your alternator replaced? Sometimes a bad alternator/ aftermarket alternator that still works (but just not well) can cause weird electrical issues.
 

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2003 Honda Element AWD EX 4AT "Galapagos Green Metallic"
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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Wow, if you do replace it go OEM, don't mess with aftermarket. Our Elements are very sensitive in this regard. A cheap alternative may be having the OEM alternator rebuilt.
Definitely. I'll admit I'm kind of one of those OEM snobs. :rolleyes: I've thought about having it replaced, though. I figure after almost 20 years it's probably on its way out.

EDIT: Just to cover all bases, I went ahead and ordered new Morimoto ballasts, too, to replace the DDM ones.
 

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2004 EX AWD
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My guess is that you have a bad connection or corrosion somewhere causing resistance and dropping the voltage. Especially since you said this is occurring before the HID system. Check you resistance from the ground wire to the chassis to see if you have an issue there. I doubt it, since the ground is the same for both high and low and you are getting 14v in the high wiring. The run a resistance check on the positive side. If it will reach, run from the low beam slot in the plug to the fuse. My guess is that you will have some resistance there. Just my $.02.
 

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2003 Honda Element AWD EX 4AT "Galapagos Green Metallic"
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My guess is that you have a bad connection or corrosion somewhere causing resistance and dropping the voltage. Especially since you said this is occurring before the HID system. Check you resistance from the ground wire to the chassis to see if you have an issue there. I doubt it, since the ground is the same for both high and low and you are getting 14v in the high wiring. The run a resistance check on the positive side. If it will reach, run from the low beam slot in the plug to the fuse. My guess is that you will have some resistance there. Just my $.02.
OK, so...
  • Check resistance between low beam slot and the fuse.
  • Check resistance between headlight ground and the chassis? The H4 connector has a common positive, right? With low and high beam grounds? So check resistance between the low beam slot and the chassis?
  • And when you say "resistance check on the positive side," between what two points are you referring?
 

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2004 EX AWD
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In looking at your pics with the voltmeter, it appears there is the single ground where you have your black lead. The low voltage is found when you measure the positive by your index finger which you said is the high beams (I reveresed it in my earlier post).

So, since they both are using the same ground when you measured (where your black lead is plugged into), the ground should be fine.

Set your voltmeter to measure resistance (ohms) and leave the red lead plugged in by your index finger (as shown in your pics). Start taking resistance measurements as you work your way back in the wiring. The resistance should be close to zero. I'm not sure if there are any plugs/connections between that H4 socket and the fuse. Although I presume the headlight switch or a relay is between the fuse and the H4 socket (I don't know if our headlight circuit goes through a relay). I'll see if I can find a diagram.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Unless I'm mistaken (entirely probable), the pinout from that connector is, from left to right, high beam ground (red/blue wire), common 12V+ (red/yellow wire), low beam ground (red/white wire). IF that is correct then I actually had my leads reversed -- should have been red (+) lead in the center slot with the black lead measuring the slots to the left and right. Either way, I will check for resistance between the ground(s) of this connector and various points.

As for the relay, my understanding is that there is no relay for the low beams. Only the high beams.
 

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The fact your voltmeter read positive seems to indicate you had it right. The diagram I am looking at says common for the left headlight is red/yellow and the right is red. Red/blue is the high run back to the "multiplex control unit" under the dash. Red/white is the run back to that unit for the low beams. So I guess it is switched ground. From that control unit, it goes to the combo light switch and then to ground. So looking at it that way, you are right, red/blue would be the ground after the headlight.

With your HID kit, I am assuming you plugged into the left headlight socket and no longer use the right headlight socket?

I will try to scan in the diagram.
 
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