JDM Headlight Conversion

From The Editors Of Super Street: Project Garage FR-S Gets A Sweet Headlamp Makeover

By Bob Hernandez

October 09, 2012

Originally by Nate Hassler

For the first portion of the Garage FR-S project car build, we at Super Street were in charge of a laundry list of modifications, all of which are fairly simple and straightforward to perform. Duties included new wheels and tires, bucket seats and low sitting seat rails, as well as JDM headlights, clear side markers, fender badges and a nifty little “shark fin” roof antenna.

We’ll begin with the JDM forward lamps, facilitated by the fine people at Carson Toyota, who helped us source the parts from Japan (hit them up for your JDM 86 needs). The Toyota 86 lights come LED and HID equipped, where the US versions do not (the JDM version also boasts a self-leveling feature but we chose to not hook that up since it’s set up for Japanese roads).

In order to do a headlight swap, you must remove the front bumper cover, which is secured by an assortment of plastic clips and hex-head screws. The lamps themselves are attached to the car with still more screws and a plastic frame that seems to reinforce the pointy ends of the lights.

Okay folks, this is where it’s gonna start getting techy. To make the JDM headlights work properly, you will need to re-pin the factory USDM plugs since they are a different shape than the plug on the JDM headlights. This is actually very easy, but it can be nerve racking if you’ve never done something like this before. (PLEASE NOTE: Whether you have doubts or not, we highly recommend using a voltmeter to verify your own wiring information.)

The wires from the JDM plug are used as follows:

Small gauge wires: LED (white is power, black is ground)
Pink/red and black medium gauge wires: HID (Pink/red is power, black is ground)
Yellow and blue: these wires are not used; just leave them in the JDM clip so they don’t dangle around in your engine bay

To de-pin a plug, use a small screwdriver to remove the inner plug connector piece (in this case, white plastic) to reveal the individual pins. Now use the same screwdriver or a very fine pick to release each pin. You will be able to carefully push each pin up to release it from the plug and then it should pull easily out of the rear of plug.

Now, take your USDM plug from the factory headlights, and make note of the positions of the wires. Take a picture for reference later – that always makes it easy.

The USDM wiring is as follows:

Red and black: low beams (red is power, black is ground)
Green and white: high beam (green is power, white is ground)

The way this all translates from JDM to USDM is simple. The USDM low beams are the JDM HID, and the USDM high beams are the JDM LED lights. So, place the JDM LED lights into the spots on the USDM plug that are used by the high beam (green and white) wires. Then logically you know that the JDM HID wires will go into the place of the USDM low beams.

If you do everything correctly, you will end up with HID lights as your normal low beam headlights, and the LED lights as your high beams. The LED lights are also going to become daytime running lights (DRL), so when the light position is “off’ those will still be on.

Next time: more JDM!