Do you have an error light on your dashboard that looks like above with a yellow bulb pointing down?
That is known as a “dipped headlight” and this post is written to help you troubleshoot and fix it.
The truth is that even Audi dealerships are notoriously bad at fixing this problem.
Their remedy is typically to suggest replacing the bulbs and ballasts at full retail price, costing you several thousand dollars for a job that is something you could fix yourself for a tenth of the price.
After reading all of my favorite Audi forums, I found a host of information, some of it helpful, some of it conflicting, and some if it misguided. But piecing together the consistent recommendations as well as a little educated guessing and fact checking, I’ve figured out a good approach for anyone who gets this problem in their 2002-2008 Audi A4, S4 or RS4 and wants to try to fix it themselves. The steps listed here will probably also work for other Audis as well, although may differ somewhat.
Since originally posting this I’ve gotten hundreds of comments (literally) with others experiencing this issue on a variety of Audis.
Unfortunately, the dipped headlight warning appears to be a super common issue, and can also point to any number of issues with your headlights.
I’ve also updated this post with revised ideas to help you fix the problem easier, after years of helping others I’ve refined my approach.
First of all, what does “Dipped Headlight” even mean?
Simply put, “Dipped Headlight” is Audi-speak for “there is something wrong with your low beam headlight” and can mean a number of things.
This is part of why it is so difficult to troubleshoot and fix on your own, as the error doesn’t give you much information about what the problem is.
If you have a VAG-COM cable, or know someone who does, the cable can read your car’s computer and tell you the exact error code which will help tremendously. For some people this error message only comes on intermittently, such as when they’re driving slow, when the car first starts up, or in cold weather – for others, it comes on every time.
You can also pickup a cheaper OBD2 scanner on Amazon which can read codes and at least give you a specific error code and message to troubleshoot, like this one for $23.
Regardless this error light is a catch-all warning and therefore not very helpful – which is why this issue is so frustrating to have.
Typically there are several major culprits:
- Bad headlight bulbs – the bulb has gone bad, but isn’t completely out.
- Bad xenon ballasts – the ballast has started to malfunction, causing the error and likely harming your bulbs too
- Bad wiring in the headlight or xenon motor – the wiring and modules within the headlight is somehow damaged
- Bad ride height sensor or calibration – if the car can’t sense the right height level of the car, this will trigger an error
What to Check First
There are several things that most commonly cause this error after reading dozens of owners messages on Audizine, Fourtitude, Audiforums and other message boards. I’ve listed them below in the order of how’d I’d recommend checking and testing the problem.
It seems the most common issue is that a ballast has gone bad…the bad ballast then causes damage to the headlight bulb, requiring you to change the bulb too. If you only change one or the other, you do run the risk that you’ll have to replace it again due to damage that occurred.
If you are getting this issue only on one side, i.e. Dipped Headlight Left or Dipped Headlight Right, then this is a big clue for troubleshooting.
To isolate if it is the headlight bulbs, ballasts, or something internal in the headlight itself, simply swap both the bulbs and ballasts from left to right headlight.If the dipped headlight error on your dash changes from “Dipped Headlight Left” to “Dipped Headlight Right” (or vice versa) then you know that the issue lies in either the bulb or ballasts.
If this is the case, you should order one new bulb and one new ballast (using the links in this post) and replace the bad side and you should be good.
I strongly recommend changing both bulbs and ballasts – even if only the ballasts were faulty, the bulbs likely suffered damage from the bad ballasts and will need replaced soon, and replacing bulbs requires the bumper to come off so its best to do this all at once. It also eliminates all possible sources of the dipped headlight error, as this can be a tricky problem to resolve and it’s better to be aggressive on the treatment of it.
If the problem isn’t isolated to one side or another, and the above trick didn’t work, then you’ll need to troubleshoot the problem one by one in the order listed below:
Typically the best place to start is new headlight bulbs, as they are often the culprit and one of the cheapest and easiest things to fix – even if new headlight bulbs don’t fix the problem, you’ll eventually need to replace them anyway, so consider it preventative maintenance.
If you get the “headlight bulb out” message, see your headlights “flicker” on/off occasionally, or notice that your dipped headlight error only comes on in cold weather or at first start up, it’s likely your headlight bulbs may be on their way out.
Follow this DIY for tips on picking the right bulbs and how to install them:https://www.nickscarblog.com/diy/replacement-d1s-headlight-bulbs-for-b7-audi-a4s4rs4
The ballasts are also known to fail, which can cause this issue – even worse, the failed ballast burns through bulbs, so if you’ve had a bad ballast for a while then you’ll need new bulbs too. Rumor has it some ballasts have been recalled by Audi, in which case you can check with your dealer to see if your car qualifies for the recall, in which case the service and replacement should be free – problem solved!However, if you’re not covered by recall and your ballasts are indeed bad,then you havea few options:
- Have your Ballasts Rebuilt – Contact Phil at tbm850 @ gmail.com – he can rebuild your factory ballasts to fix whatever is wrong, and actually strengthen them so it doesn’t happen again. He only charges $170 per pair for this and can turn it around in about a day then overnight ship it back, so you’re downtime is minimal. I’ve worked with Phil before and he knows the B7 Audi headlights better than pretty much anyone out there, and he’s an airplane mechanic so it’s a professional job.
- Buy New OEM ballasts – the ballasts are shared by a lot of manufacturers, so don’t order through Audi. You can pick up the ballasts on Amazon for about $110 a piece:
B6 Ballasts (2002-2005)
B7 Ballasts (2005.5-2008) WITHOUT AFS:
B7 Ballasts (2005.5-2008) WITH AFS: https://www.ecstuning.com/b-magneti-marelli-parts/xenon-bulb-ballast-priced-each/8p0907391~mm/
Either way, I strongly recommend new bulbs if you had a bad ballast, as that bad ballast likely caused premature wear on the bulbs and they’re likely to burn out soon – best to replace both while you already have the headlights off the car!
This is also a great time to do the clear corner mod, LED DRLs, and/or LED City Lights since you’ll have the headlights off the car anyway…
Auto Leveling Sensor
If you recently lowered your car, or hit a really hard bump to your drivers side front or rear wheel, this could be the problem. For cars equipped with auto-levelling sensors, the sensors themselves are located in the wheel wheels near the lower control arms so they can adjust the headlight aiming based on the suspension load. For some people when they lower their car, the sensor is out of range as the suspension has been altered. For others, a hard bump to the front wheel could potentially break the sensor or cause it to become unplugged. To access the sensor, take off your drivers side front wheel and look near the bottom of the suspension. The sensor bridges the lower control arm to the body and looks like this:
If it is damaged or the wires have frayed, you can order a new one here:http://www.ecstuning.com/Audi-B6_S4–V8/Lighting/Headlights/Leveling/ES440960/. If you are lowered, you may just need to bend the upper part of the bracket so the top of the sensor is higher again. Once you have inspected and either repaired or replaced the sensor, you will need to recalibrate it using vag-com. Follow this DIY for instructions on how to do that:http://www.a4mods.com/index.php?page=webcontent/pages/autolevel.html&category=6
Headlight Swivel Module
This is the issue I had after replacing the bulbs and ruling out that issue. It turns out that while I was replacing my DRL bulbs, I must have knocked the main headlight swivel out of place, preventing the headlights from being able to aim correctly. The swivel is VERY sensitive, so if you’ve been in accident, or were tinkering inside of your headlights too aggressively, it’s possible you broke a swivel arm or knocked it out of alignment. Looking closely at the headlight I could see the projector lens on my driver side was pushed forward and not aligned the same way my passenger side was, so I reached inside the headlight housing (much the same way I did when replacing the bulbs) and pulled the projector lens “back” away from the front of the housing until it clicked back into place. I then recalibrated the headlight adjustment using the DIY on A4mods and cleared the codes and the problem went away:http://www.a4mods.com/index.php?page=webcontent/pages/autolevel.html&category=6
If you run the vag-com on your Xenons and find error code02769 or 02770, it is likely your projector lenses are out of alignment and you may be able to manually push or pull them back into place. It is also possible the motor inside the headlight has malfunctioned or stopped working altogether, in which case you’ll need to buy an entire new headlight housing – like mentioned earlier, eBay is your best bet for that, and expect to pay about $200-300. But hopefully you may just be like me and have to massage the projector lens back into place and reset the headlight adjustment via VAG-com and the problem will go away 🙂
VAG-com adjustments (reset to factory spec)
If you change anything other than the bulb, you may also need to recalibrate your headlights and reset the adjustments to factory. To do this, follow the A4mods.com DIY mentioned earlier. For me, I fixed the projector lens being knocked out of place then recalibrated the headlight adjustments using VAG-com to fix my errors.
The last resort is to pull Fuse #10 if you have adaptive or auto-leveling headlights – this disables the feature entirely, which should also disable the warning light. This isn’t the best way to fix it as your headlights might be out of alignment still, and you lose the adaptive features, but hey – at least it gets rid of that pesky warning light and beeping 🙂
The Last Resort – Replace the Whole Darn Thing
At a certain point, you may be better off replacing the entire headlight assembly as you can usually find complete headlights (including ballasts and bulbs) used on eBay for a reasonable price.
This also covers you in case the problem lies elsewhere in the headlight housing, and since you’re going through the trouble of removing your headlights this is probably worth the extra $100 over the cost of a ballast to not have to remove all of these parts more than once.
If your car is older, chances are it’s pretty easy to find used headlight assemblies on eBay from wrecked cars that work just fine, and they’re usually pretty cheap, or you can pick up a new set on Amazon here:
Make sure you have the right part number prior to ordering – the part number can be found on a white sticker on top of your headlights which you can see simply by opening the hood – compare this to the eBay listing to confirm you’re swapping “apples to apples” with the replacement housing. The biggest thing to watch out for is AFS vs non-AFS, as you can’t mix these up. AFS is Audi’s “curve lighting” system which has its own wiring to power this motor, and switching between them is not easy to do.
To swap out the headlight housings, follow this DIY: http://www.audizine.com/forum/showthread.php/234131-B7-A4-S4-Clear-Corner-Mod-Removal-of-Bumper
Still stumped? Leave a comment, I’ll do my best to help…
If you are getting this issue on the one side (left side), then to detect and isolate; if it is headlight bulb, ballasts or something internal in the headlight itself, simply swap both the bulbs and ballasts from left to right headlight and check if the dipped headlight error on your dash board changes from “Dipped ...What does dipped headlight mean? ›
Dipped lights are the brightest lights your car has that won't dazzle other road users. Therefore, as a rule to remember, always use them when visibility is poor e.g at dusk or night time, and in bad weather.Why does my Audi headlight keep going out? ›
It seems the most common issue is that a ballast has gone bad…the bad ballast then causes damage to the headlight bulb, requiring you to change the bulb too. If you only change one or the other, you do run the risk that you'll have to replace it again due to damage that occurred.How do you fix a low beam fault? ›
- Find the blown out bulb. ...
- Buy the replacement bulb. ...
- Get your tools ready. ...
- Disconnect the negative terminal on the battery. ...
- Remove the trim pieces. ...
- Find the headlight holder. ...
- Disconnect the cables from the headlight. ...
- Remove the headlight bulb from the bulb housing.
Adjusting Xenon Headlights on Lowered VW and Audi's | Project S4How do I know if my xenon bulbs are bad? ›
Xenon HID headlight bulbs that are buzzing, dim/losing brightness, flickering, randomly turning off, changing colors, or if they are simply not turning on are not necessarily the victim of a bad ballast. In fact, the issue can be related to one or more of the other components found in lights.Are dipped headlights the same as headlights? ›
In fact, dipped headlights is just another way of saying “headlights”. The reason they are sometimes referred to as dipped, or low-beam, is because they are angled downwards—giving you enough light to travel by when visibility is poor, without dazzling other drivers.What bulb is the dipped beam? ›
Dipped beam headlights are located at the front of the vehicle and are designed for increased visibility when driving at night time. They are located next to your main beam headlights and sidelights and the dipped beam bulbs can be Halogen, LED or OE Xenon – depending on your vehicle.What does dipped headlights look like? ›
Dipped headlights are the most commonly used headlights; brighter than sidelights, but not as bright as full beam headlights. They get their name as they are angled downwards, towards the road.Why does my headlight keep going on and off? ›
The problem you describe about the lights going off and on are usually caused by the headlight bulbs overloading the head light switch built in circuit breaker. I would recommend replacing the headlight bulbs with factory specified bulbs and then if problem continues then replace head light switch.
If one of your headlight bulbs has burnt out, you should look for a replacement pair as soon as possible. The typical car headlight can last 500 to 1,000 hours, but there are a lot of factors that can change that. In fact, some headlight bulbs are efficient enough to last well over 30,000 hours.How many miles do headlights last? ›
These average between 2,000 hours and 3,000 hours of use before they need to be replaced. That works out to around 90,000 miles, so you'll be driving a long while before these lights burn out.How much does it cost to fix low beam headlights? ›
The average cost for headlight bulb replacement is between $113 and $137. Labor costs are estimated between $43 and $54 while parts are priced between $70 and $82. This range does not include taxes and fees, and does not factor in your specific vehicle or unique location. Related repairs may also be needed.Is there a fuse for low beam lights? ›
If your headlights have stopped working, locate the fuse in your car connected to the low-beam headlights circuit. The fuse box is typically located under the hood or behind the dashboard. You can often find this information in your owner's manual or on the inside of the fuse box cover.
2. Headlight Fuse or Relay. All the electrical systems in your car, including the headlights, are protected with fuses. These are designed to 'blow' and break the circuit if too much power comes through them.How do you adjust the headlights on an Audi a4? ›
How to level B7 Audi A4/S4 halogen headlights! - YouTubeWhere are the headlight adjustment screws? ›
How to Adjust Your Headlights - YouTubeHow do you adjust headlight levels? ›
How to Aim and Align your Headlights Correctly - YouTubeCan I replace xenon bulbs myself? ›
High-intensity discharge, or HID, xenon headlamps use a higher voltage than ordinary halogen lights. When replacing them, the entire bulb assembly needs to be replaced rather than just the bulb. However, if you have an after-market HID xenon kit installed, you can replace the bulbs yourself.How long does a xenon bulb last? ›
Xenon headlights last a lot longer than halogen ones – 2,000 to 2,500 hours for xenon headlights compared to 400 to 1,000 for halogen.
There is a good chance that your ballast is the cause of your lighting problems if your headlights are dim, changing colors, buzzing, or flicker. When inspecting it for potential issues, any burn marks, leaking oils, or swollen casing are indicators of failure.Can you drive with a dipped headlight? ›
Although legally you can just use your sidelights at night so long as you're driving under 30mph in a well-lit area, most people opt for dipped headlights instead - they do a much better job at lighting up the road ahead. Do use your dipped headlights if you're driving at night.Do dipped headlights come on automatically? ›
With cars getting more and more sophisticated, many now come with an 'auto' setting for the headlights, which turns your dipped beam lights on when it's dark outside.Do full beam and dipped headlights use the same bulb? ›
They are designed to increase the brightness ahead of the vehicle which helps to improve the vision the driver. The main beam headlight will either be a separate bulb from your dipped beam or it will be the same bulb.Which lights are dipped headlights? ›
Dipped lights are the brightest lights your car has that won't dazzle other road users. Therefore, as a rule to remember, always use them when visibility is poor e.g at dusk or night time, and in bad weather. Move up to main beam headlights when you cannot see any other road users in front of you.Is H7 dipped beam? ›
Best Bulbs for Dipped and High Beam
They can't switch between dipped and high beam lights. Cars with single-filament bulbs will have two separate bulbs; one is for high beam and one is for dipped beam. Most styles of headlight bulb are single-filament. This includes H1, H3, and H7 bulbs.
Explantion: When driving at night in good driving conditions the dipped headlights of a car will typically let you see 30 metres ahead. So, you should travel at a speed that allows you to stop in that distance.How can you tell if a headlight fuse is blown? ›
Does My Car Have a Bad Fuse Or Bad Bulb? - YouTubeHow much does it cost to replace headlight switch? ›
The average cost of replacing the headlight switch or the dimmer switch is in the range of $150-$250. Sometimes, accidents can damage the headlight and you are left with no option but to replace the entire assembly unit.How do you check a headlight switch? ›
how to test wire troubleshoot GM headlight switch - YouTube
Thankfully, most modern vehicles have more than one set of headlights. The secondary headlights, however, are not enough to carry a full beam in the darkness. For this reason, our mechanics recommend installing both lights when one goes out. Factory-installed headlamps should last about the same length of time.Can Autozone replace a headlight? ›
Autozone will replace your headlight in most situations, if the headlight is readily accessible to the installer.Which headlights last longest? ›
Finally, LED bulbs last the longest of all three headlight bulb types we've discussed. LED bulbs can last as long as 30,000 hours. That's enough to make it through the entire lifespan of many vehicles, meaning you may never have to replace LED bulbs.How do you know you need new headlights? ›
- Sign #1: Your low beams work, but your high beams don't. ...
- Sign #2: Your headlights seem dimmer than usual. ...
- Sign #3: The light coming from them is flickering. ...
- Sign #4: You keep blowing fuses.
The primary reason your headlights keep burning out really comes down to either you are touching the bulbs when you are installing them into your assembly, or there is quite possibly a bad wiring connection somewhere along the line of your headlights.Should I replace headlights in pairs? ›
Professional automotive technicians and driving safety advocates alike consistently recommend that tires, brakes, shocks, and wiper blades should be replaced in pairs to make sure the vehicle is properly balanced and functioning safely. Lighting is no different and equally as important to driver safety.Can you replace a headlight yourself? ›
Fortunately, it's often easy to change a headlight. Most of today's halogen high-intensity-discharge (HID) or light-emitting-diode (LED) bulbs are simple to replace. They are held in place by thin wire clips or rotating bayonet-style retainers.Where is the headlight fuse located? ›
The front of the dash panel has a fuse panel on it.How much does it cost to change a headlight fuse? ›
Depending on the make and model of the fuse, the cost to have it replaced can vary. Most common fuses are $10 to $20, although some specialty ones can cost more than $100 to replace.How do I know if a fuse has blown in my car? ›
How To Check Car Fuses-How To Tell If They're Blown - YouTube
The likely cause is a fuse, headlight relay, headlight switch, dimmer switch or a wiring fault. About the only cause that is an easy fix is a blown fuse. Consult your owner's manual to locate the main fuse for the headlight circuit and replace that fuse with one having the same amp rating.What is Audi headlight range control? ›
With headlight range control, the headlights are pointed slightly lower while accelerating and are adjusted back up once you have gotten up to speed. This happens automatically as you drive and there is a corresponding light on the dashboard to alert you of any issues detected with this system.What is the ballast on a headlight? ›
A ballast is a crucial component of your entire headlight system. Its primary purpose is to control the intensity of your car headlight. It also controls the intensity of the bulbs so that they are not using up all your power.What is the difference between dipped headlights and sidelights? ›
Dipped headlights are the most commonly used headlights; brighter than sidelights, but not as bright as full beam headlights. They get their name as they are angled downwards, towards the road.What is xenon ballast? ›
A HID Ballast is a device required by a xenon headlight (bus also for fluorescent lamps) to regulate voltage and current supplied to the lamp during start. Also does it provides enough voltage and current throughout operation.How do you fix a dynamic range control fault on a headlight? ›
AUDI A4 B6 Yellow warning light Dynamic Headlight Range Control ...How can I tell if my Audi has adaptive headlights? ›
How Do I Know If My Headlights Are Adaptive? Knowing if your car has adaptive headlights may be as simple as going for a drive in the dark. If you notice your headlights changing their angle or brightness without you doing anything, your headlights are likely adaptive.How do you change a headlight control module? ›
How to: Replace E90/E92 Headlight Control Module (on a BUDGET)How much does it cost to replace a headlight ballast? ›
A replacement ballast costs about $10-25 depending on capacity and brand. The bite is that an electrician trip charge (which includes 30 or 60 minutes work) is going to be $75-150 probably - for about 5 minutes work on each light fixture.How do I know if the ballast is bad? ›
- Flickering. ...
- Buzzing. ...
- Delayed start. ...
- Low output. ...
- Inconsistent lighting levels. ...
- Switch to an electronic ballast, keep lamp. ...
- Switch to an electronic ballast, switch to a T8 fluorescent.
Take out your current bulbs and replace them with the new bulbs. If the bulbs fail to light up, then 9 out of 10 times the ballast is culprit. You could also try using a multimeter set to measure resistance.Can you drive with one dipped headlight? ›
Driving without proper working headlights is illegal. Although you may feel that one headlight is enough to see on the road, you are at risk of driving with no visibility if the other goes out whilst you are in motion.How do I switch from dipped headlights to main beam? ›
Show me Q12 How would you switch the headlights onto main beam?Where are my dipped headlights? ›
Dipped beam headlights are located at the front of the vehicle and are designed for increased visibility when driving at night time. They are located next to your main beam headlights and sidelights and the dipped beam bulbs can be Halogen, LED or OE Xenon – depending on your vehicle.Can I replace xenon bulbs myself? ›
High-intensity discharge, or HID, xenon headlamps use a higher voltage than ordinary halogen lights. When replacing them, the entire bulb assembly needs to be replaced rather than just the bulb. However, if you have an after-market HID xenon kit installed, you can replace the bulbs yourself.Can HID bulbs work without ballast? ›
All compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs require a ballast, which is often integrated. All HID bulbs require a ballast, which is sometimes integrated. No LED bulbs require a ballast, although some are engineered to work with an existing ballast.What does the ballast do on a xenon headlight? ›
When the lamp is turned on, the ballast provides a surge of higher voltage to the lamp. This helps establish an arc between two electrodes on the lamp, which is what causes HID bulbs to light up. The other key function of a ballast is to keep your lamp running and make sure the output is steady.