I posted this in the Murano forum but figured this is probably a more fitting forum for it.
My wife has a 2003 Murano and quite frankly the halogen bulbs suck. I decided to look into doing the conversion. I talked to a dealer to see if they could do it and how much it would be and they quoted me over $1300. They were telling me they would have to put in the new housings, a new wiring harness, and a new computer.
I then searched around online junkyards (www.junkyarddog.com IIRC) and found a place that had two of them. They quoted me 300 each and I offered them $400 for the pair which they accepted. This included the housings, the attached ballasts, and all bulbs except for the Xenon bulbs.
I then ordered some OEM Xenon bulbs from Daniel Stern lighting (awesome guy, btw – knows his stuff). $158 for 2 bulbs. I honestly don’t remember if they’re H1/H6 or what. I knew then.
So ventured out to check the connector in hopes that it would be a straight plug and play. To my delight the old connector fit the new housing! GREAT!
After I received the new bulbs I installed the bulbs (careful not to touch the bulb with my fingers – that’s a big NO-NO) and then went out to put the new housings in. Well, it wasn’t as easy to take them out as just removing a few screws. I was able to access the screws on the top but there is a bolt on the back side and one on the front side. The front bolt was accessible by taking off the front grill – somewhat of an annoyance but do-able in about 10 minutes with some clue as to what you are looking for.
The rear bolt (more specifically the side near the wheel well) was more of a challenge to get to. I ended up turning the wheel to gain access, pulled back the splash guard in the wheel well, and found that bolt. I had to use a ratcheting box end “happy wrench” to get it off – it was a PITA but it came off with some work. At that point all bolts were off and the housing was free to move around. I went to remove it from it’s place only to find out that the support beam going from above the radiator curving around to the side was blocking removal of the housing. “Great” I thought – another thing to remove. They came off easy, though.2 bolts and they’re off. I had to take one off each side. So finally the housings were able to be removed. I put the new ones in place (or rather connected up the harness to test to make sure it actually worked). Turn signals, parking lights, regular lights – everything worked.
So I set the lights in place, put the bolts back in (the ones on top, the one in front, and the one on the side), put the support members back in, put the splash guard back in place, fastened those fasteners, put the grill back on and I was good to go.
From start to finish actually putting the lights in the car took me about 2.5 hours but that’s because I was scratching my head a good majority of the time trying to figure out why the light wasn’t coming loose, found the side bolt, tried to figure out how I was going to get to that bolt, etc… Now knowing how to do it I would say it would take about an hour.
So I had everything put back together and informed my wife that everything was working. All that had to be done now as to aim the bulb shades later when it was dark so as to get good range but not blind people. That was easily achieved by turning using a phillips head and turning the shade varying knob – it’s a little cogged plastic thing accessible from the top. Turn it one way and the shade goes up, turn it the other way and it goes down. There’s also another one to vary them in / out but I didn’t have to mess with that one.
Well, I thought I was done. Nope. We later found out that when the high beams were pressed the lights would shut off. No high beam bulbs either. This seemed strange to me. I did some research and found out that for high beams on the Murano with Xenon bulbs, it actually moves the bulb shade up so as to project the light upwards more. It basically moves the cutoff up. The pinout of the connector is the same as the halogen with one exception. In the halogen bulb one pin goes to the low beam filament and another goes to the high beam filament. When you switch to high beams on the halogen setup the low beams turn off and the highs turn on. On the HID version, the “low” powers the ballast which keeps the light on and the “high” actually powers the high beam solenoid which actuates the bulb shade and moves it up. So in the HID setup the lows have to stay on all the time basically. Great, how to change that?
In order to get this to work it is first important to understand from where it is controlled. There is a little box in the engine bay to the left of the plastic cover over the engine. It’s about 2″ x 6″ plastic cover with a bulge on the left side with some wires coming out. That is the IPDM or Intelligent Power Distribution Module. I looked in the factory service manual to find this out.
Basically it is a board with a CPU, some relays, and some fuses. The way it controls the lighting is that it switches the grounds for the two lighting relays. The CPU is different between halogen / xenon in that it switches the ground for the low on only when in low beam operation and then off when in high beam operation on the halogen setup. The xenon setup maintains the ground switched for both high and low beam operation. As you recall, the “low” stays on but the “high” actually actuates the bulb shade solenoid in the xenon version. The fix was quite easy though a little complicated to get to. The IPDM needs to come out. Taking it out is easy.
To take the IPDM out you lift the two tabs and pull the top cover off. This will expose the IPDM. There is another little cover over the wiring harnesses that you will also have to remove. In order to get to those clips you’ll have to loosen and move (not remove) the coolant reservior – 2 8mm bolts (IIRC). Move that, remove the 2nd little cover and you’ll be able to pull the IPDM up a little to gain access to all the plugs.Disconnect the plugs (don’t worry about which one is in where – they only plug back into one place – they can’t be put back wrong). So pull them out and then the IPDM will come out.
Once that is out you’ll have to remove the bottom cover of the IPDM. In order to do that you’ll have to have 4 thin “things” to put in the 4 clip holes. I cut a wire hanger into 4 short pieces and pushed them through. There are 4 more small clips that you can’t fit the hanger through but you can put them in the large end and then pry it off with a small screwdriver. Remove those 4 in sequence and the bottom cover will come off. Don’t worry – almost there.
Once the bottom cover is off you’ll have to take all the relays and fuses out. Take a picture as to how they are in there or set them out in the same configuration in which you remove them – whatever way works so that you’ll put them back in correctly. Some of the relays are in there quite stiffly so they might require some needle nose pliers or vice grips or something. Don’t crush them – just put enough clamping force on them so you can wiggle them out.
Okay, so the relays and fuses are out. Now you can just lift the top cover off and you’ll see all the relay connectors and wire traces. The CPU and associated circuitry is under the plastic cover still in place. The two contacts that you’ll be concerned with are on the low beam relay and the high beam relay which if the CPU is situated on the bottom left are the top right two most relays (low on top then high underneath it).
To make it so the lows stay on when the high is turned on you’ll have to install a diode from the low beam terminal to the high beam terminal. See here:
What I ended up doing was bending the diode leads such that about 1/4″ would go down into the plastic to seat it against the proper connectors and then dabbed just a tiny bit of solder on there to hold it in. If you are sure to get it down in you probably don’t need solder – I just did it for good measure since I had some handy. Make sure you put some electrical tape on the trace that will be under the diode so it doesn’t short out. You’ll also have to clip / file / dremel out a little bit of the plastic on the cover that you will put back on to prevent it from placing force on the diode leads. This will all be revealed as you start actually looking at it.
So you have the diode in – now you have to put everything back together. Re-install the IPDM cover, put the relays and fuses back in, put it back in the slot, reconnect the wiring harnesses, put the covers back on the IPDM, reinstall the coolant reservoir, and make sure if you spilled any coolant you clean it up.
Start it up and test them out. You should maintain your lights on and you’ll hear the bulb shades reposition when you go to high beam operation. That’s it – you’re done.
In retrospect I know that pictures would have been a lot more help. At the time I was doing it I wasn’t quite sure what avenue I was going to be taking and didn’t even know with 100% certainty that it was going to actually work. If anyone is interested in doing this and is in the Northern VA area I would be more than happy to help and then we can document it with pictures. You’ll have to of course get everything beforehand.
$400 – Murano Xenon housings with ballasts from a junkyard. Lowball them – they might go for it!
$158 – Set of proper HID bulbs.
$2 – Standard diodes from radio shack. I used 1A diodes but they really only need to be rated for about 100mA.
Some time and patience.
I would guess that for a first timer doing this entire thing would take about 6 hours total for everything. Don’t forget though that you can break it up in two pieces – the light install and then the high beam fix.