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Headlight issue: Replaced the bulbs, ballast issue?

267 Views 17 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Mimmi
Hey y'all dealing with a headlight issue and wanted to get some guidance -

I recently acquired a 2006 Saab 9-5 Wagon - it was a family members who picked it up a few years ago - driven very rarely. Re: headlights - the passenger side headlight was super dim and the driver's side was flickering. I dropped the bumper and replaced both bulbs with Osram S1s. Found that the passenger side bulb had dropped out of it's clips and was rocked back in the housing. This was the reason it was dim.

Re - driver side - the original bulb was flickering. The new bulb isn't flickering - but it seems to dim and then get brighter and then dim again.

Does this sound like a ballast problem? Also - these ballasts are crazy expensive. Any non-OEM alternatives that anyone could suggest? What about used ballasts?

Thanks for nay words of wisdom or guidance!
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I assume you got Osram D1S bulbs. Assuming they are genuine (always a gamble from eBay), they would be the correct bulbs.

Is there a yellow warning light lit on the dashboard, kind of like a headlight with an exclamation mark in it? (In fact, that's what it is supposed to be.)

How is it getting brighter and dimmer? If you park the car a short distance from a wall, does the entire output from the LH headlight become more intense and the fade, or what?

If you are ambitious (you have already pulled the bumper once!) you can swap the ballasts across the car and see if the issue moves with the ballast or stays with the headlamp/bulb. If it stays, then you can swap the bulbs across. Maybe the Osram is no good (and maybe not genuine?)

It really is unusual for a discharge bulb to brighten and dim. They are either on or they are off. I'm not sure what is happening here. Maybe some of your answers above will give a clue.

The ballast unit is shared with the 2002-2005 9-5s with HID, and I expect with the newer 9-5 right through 2009.

A used ballast could be installed. Nothing horrible should happen.

Keep in mind that a Tech II tool is highly desirable to properly set things up. The headlight should work with any old used or new ballast dropped in, but ideally the system should be calibrated. And of course the ballast programmed to be the correct side of the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply! I had a typo in there - I ordered the Osram D1S bulbs from a Saab parts site. They appear to be legit. I was able to get a video of the phenomenon - please see below. I think the link is good for 24hrs.

IMG_0974


After the bright flicker, the bulb starts to dim again and then every now and again it will flicker.

Re: Tech II tool - would this tool allow me to calibrate the system? (Including programming the ballast?)

Any thoughts would be much appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Also, there is no warning light on the dashboard - (although the check engine light did come on after this install - I have a diagnostic tool on the way to get that figured out - which I may return for the Tech II if it has way more advanced capabilities.)
 

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Watching with interest. My ‘08 9-5 started doing this on the driver’s side soon after replacing both D1S bulbs with (what I believe are) genuine Hella 5000K purchased from the Hella Store on Amazon.

I’ll probably put the old bulb back in to see if it fluctuates, but I suspect it’s a bum bulb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
@kingkhan Thanks and will do!

@bob3000 Unfortunately yes on the bumper. It's possible to remove some components in the engine compartment and get the job done and while removing the bumper is a bit of a pain - with some specialty body tools - it went smoothly. Being able to take the entire headlight housing out also gave me the ability to really get a good view on the whole unit. I'm in the process of doing some more repairs and seeing how the whole front end fits together was pretty helpful in considering what will be necessary for those repairs. TL/DR - completely inconvenient but worth it in the end!

@EdT would love your comments on the Tech II tool - would this tool allow me to calibrate the system? (Including programming the ballast?)

Thanks all!
 

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@EdT would love your comments on the Tech II tool - would this tool allow me to calibrate the system? (Including programming the ballast?)

Thanks all!
I don't own a TECH2, I'm lucky to have a local shop that does T2 stuff for free, eventually I will have to get one and learn.

TECH2's are everything for the Saab DIYers.

 

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You said that you have flickering with new bulb. So I'd start with swap bulbs and check if issue follows.
Typically flickering means bad/worn out bulb.
Bulb change do not need bumper removal, I have size 10 hand and I never need to remove bumper.
Generic OBD reader do not read AHL, you need TECH2 for that.
 

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Bulb change do not need bumper removal, I have size 10 hand and I never need to remove bumper.
If you've never had the bulb out before, it's a lot easier to see what's happening with the bumper cover dropped. Now that I know how it works in there, I can do it without dropping the bumper cover, and just moving the MAF (on passenger side) and the battery cover/battery on the driver. My hands aren't big (I'm not sure what size 10 means) but it's a lot easier to remove those few things and have clear access, though it's still hard to see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
You said that you have flickering with new bulb. So I'd start with swap bulbs and check if issue follows.
Typically flickering means bad/worn out bulb.
Bulb change do not need bumper removal, I have size 10 hand and I never need to remove bumper.
Generic OBD reader do not read AHL, you need TECH2 for that.
@Mimmi what is AHL?

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@Mimmi Thank you.

I swapped my bulbs and I am still getting the weird behavior out of the driver side lamp. I am going to replace the ballast on that side. Regarding that - does anyone have experience with non OEM ballasts? The price difference is huge - wondering if the non OEM are total garbage or if folks have had any good experience with them.
 

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I would look for a used OEM ballast. These should be reasonably available. If you don't have any Saabs in a junkyard near you, look for used Valeo OEM ballasts or contact Saab specialists like Goldwing.

I don't see aftermarket ballasts being sold by RockAuto, so if it's eBay items, their functionality is going to be totally unknown. And D1S bulbs aren't cheap.
 

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You can use Valeo LAD5G ballast.
But you need to cut wire from headlight pin 5, because Saab use special version of ballast and warning light operation is opposite.
 
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