Modifying Sealed Beam Headlights for HID Installation

Jake Mayock

Meet Jake

Jake is a founder of 8020 Media and has been creating automotive content online since 2017. He has been the lead writer for Chevy Trucks and has transformed it from the old and outdated site it was into what it is today. Jake creates a ton of GM related content for the 8020 Media YouTube channel and specializes in Duramax and Vortec information but has a wealth of knowledge across all GM cars and engines. Jake believes the L5P is the best diesel on the market today.

Modifying Sealed Beam Headlights for HID Installation

If you’re the owner of a classic car or truck, there’s a measurable chance that your vehicle is equipped with a sealed beam headlight array. While a stylish and practical design choice for many vehicles, the setup of sealed beam headlight units becomes somewhat problematic when it comes to modifying a classic car’s headlight system. Since sealed beams contain all the major high and low beam components in a single unit for each side of the car, getting down to individual components for alterations is more time consuming than it would otherwise be. So if HID headlight installation is on the horizon for your car, follow these steps to ensure proper functionality and operation.

To begin, make sure you already have a suitable kit from the many available aftermarket HID Kits at the ready, as well as your automotive tool kit. You won’t need the HID kit just yet, so start with the tool kit. Depending on the classic vehicle model you own, you’ll have to make adjustments to the following steps, but most should be similar in their required approaches.

Start by removing the headlight units, either by snapping them out of place if your car allows, or removing panels that may be preventing removal. Sometimes, the front bumper and grille region components block access to this area, so removing them first will allow for greater accessibility.

Once removed, you should have the headlight casings for both the high beams and low beams in front of you, now separated from the sealed beam unit. Oftentimes, the low beam casings are easier to fit the HID bulbs into, so start there. With the casing for one of the headlights in hand, examine it. At the back of the casing (the rounded part), you should notice a circular stopper, generally made out of rubber. Remove this piece, cutting it out if you have to. By cutting around the circumference where the casing meets the stopper, you should be able to remove the plug and any screw as needed. Once the plug is gone, you can simply pull out the stock bulb and put it aside.

Now it’s time to examine whether the new xenon bulbs will fit into the opening you just created. Sometimes, larger xenon bulbs won’t fit, particularly with older headlight casings and sealed beam hardware. If necessary, you may have to cut into the back of the headlight casing to expand the opening, but be sure to keep the opening circular, and buffer any sharp edges to avoid wire damage later on. Once the bulb and accompanying connectors have been pushed through the opening and are secure, seal off the casing again with appropriate materials, such as silicon.

The rest of the installation is remarkably similar to conventional HID installation. You’ll have to secure ballasts to cool, flat surfaces under the car’s hood. You’ll also have to connect any remaining wires, such as the bulb-to-ballast and ground wires, making extra sure to tie together strands of wires to prevent them from getting snagged in other operating components under the hood. Once all the connections have been completed, you can insert the individual components back into the sealed beam units, secure all removed components back into the main body of the car, and you’re ready. Now, you can reconnect the battery, turn on the engine, and test the lights.

Note: Be sure never to make skin contact with HID bulbs. Use gloves or other barriers rather than using hands.

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