The clown fiesta that was replacing my broken headlights

I love bright white lights. I replace all my indoor light bulbs with 4000K pure white bulbs because anything less than that feels yellowish and “unclean.” Naturally, I did the same with my truck—I replaced the stock halogen headlight bulbs with LED conversion kits with a color temperature of 6500K. That’s generally considered about the color temperature of sunlight; anything more and it starts looking more blue than white.

GMC Canyon at Mount Charleston

(Yes, I realize my headlights aren’t actually on in that photo, but it’s one of the pictures that I had conveniently available, and I didn’t want to go all the way downstairs and out into the residential parking garage to take a new photo just for this post.)

Unfortunately, the LED conversion kit has been a bit of a pain. When I first got them installed, they worked fine, but after a few months, the driver-side headlight randomly went out while I was traveling in California. When I took apart the headlight assembly and yanked out the LED conversion kit, I realized that the orb-like piece that actually emits the light was completely gone. I sent the photo in and requested warranty service, and CarID gave me a replacement conversion kit.

Broken headlight LED conversion kit

Another handful of months later, the passenger-side headlight went out… coincidentally, it was doing another California trip back in early July. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, the GMC Canyon’s passenger-side headlight assembly is literally about 20 times more difficult to access than the driver’s side headlight assembly, so I literally didn’t bother trying to get it fixed until now. I don’t really drive around too much at night anyway, and on the one or two occasions that I did, I just drove around with one headlight and two fog lights on.

I have another California trip coming up towards the end of this week, so I wanted to get the broken headlight taken care of before I left for travel again. If things go as they historically have, another headlight is due to go out while I’m in California, and if I don’t repair the passenger-side headlight, then I will have no headlights driving around out-of-state. Also, while in California, I definitely will be driving around at night.

The LED conversion kit that I originally purchased off CarID was a few cents shy of $150, and it was a catastrophic failure of a product. This time, I decided to buy a much cheaper LED kit off Amazon from an Asian manufacturer (Asian manufacturers tend to make very cheap products that are sort of hit-or-miss—they are either absolute garbage or godlike good, and I’m obviously banking on these being godlike good). I ended up picking the BeamTech H11 LED Headlight Kit.

The driver-side headlight assembly is just a cover that you twist and open, but the passenger-side headlight assembly has two large plastic pieces block­ing access to the headlight. In order to even get in there, I needed a T15 screwdriver, which I did not have, so I bought the Powerbuilt 646017 Maxi-Grip Handle Star Screwdriver off Amazon along with my new headlights.

The two products arrived in the mail today, so it was time to get to work. The parking garage of the high-rise condo where I live isn’t very well-lit (nor do I think any parking garages on the Las Vegas Strip can really be considered “well-lit”), so I drove my truck up to the rooftop of the parking garage where it was uncovered and had direct sunlight. Luckily, I did this early enough in the day such that the temperature was only in the 90s Fahrenheit (Las Vegas has been under a heat wave lately and temperatures have easily gone over 110°F), but I was still dripping sweat by the end of this.

What ensued was a clown fiesta of things that literally should not have been possible.

Driver side Passenger side Result
CarID #1 CarID #2 Original configuration; driver side worked, passenger side did not
CarID #1 BeamTech #1 I replaced just the broken side and it still didn’t work
CarID #1 CarID #2 I put the seemingly broken bulb back in the broken side and it started flickering but wouldn’t stay on
CarID #1 BeamTech #2 I replaced just the broken side with the other new bulb and it still didn’t work
Empty CarID #1 I replaced the broken side with the bulb that was working in the driver side and it didn’t work anymore
CarID #1 Empty I put the working bulb back in the driver side and it stopped working
BeamTech #1 Empty I put one of the new bulbs in the driver side and it worked fine
BeamTech #2 Empty I put the other new bulb in the driver side and it still worked fine
BeamTech #2 BeamTech #1 I left the working driver side as-is and put the other new bulb in the passenger side, and it didn’t work
BeamTech #1 BeamTech #2 I swapped the two new bulbs on either side and both worked fine

Now keep in mind, the passenger-side headlight assembly is difficult to work with, and I couldn’t actually even get half the push screws out, so I was trying to manage my way through two massive bendy plastic protective pieces to even access the headlight connection each time. On top of that, in order to not get electrocuted, I was taking my keys out of the ignition each time I tested a new configuration, so I was literally pacing back and forth over ten times.

Ultimately, my headlights ended up working, seemingly out of sheer luck because the configuration that ended up working definitely was not logical based off my series of trials.

Hopefully the California gods don’t smite one of my headlights this time around so I won’t have to go through all this all over again.