Category Archives: Audio & Visual

Restoring Faded Plastic Trim with Back-to-Black

The foreground shows the "after" while the background shows the "before"

Oxidized plastic and rubber really shows the age of a car. Want to help make your old car look new off the show room floor? No amount of polish and cleaning will do it if the unpainted black plastic surfaces and rubber moldings look nearly white from UV exposure.

Project Lexus' cowl area was starting to look pretty rough after 10 years of sun exposure and the rubber weather sealing strips could use some help as well. So I wanted to share with you this quick detailing tip and share my results.

Mothers back-to-black is a product that restores black rubber and plastic surfaces to their original black color with pretty amazing results. While it's not a permanent fix, it does last a long time and the results are certainly worth it. You could buy new panels, but aside from the expense, they'll eventually wind up the same way as well so it's easier to simply treat with back-to-black occasionally. (more…)

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Review: Maxlux D2R vs. OEM Lexus (Phillips OSRAM) HID Bulbs

maxlux D2R compared to OSRAM D2R

Maxlux (right), Phillips OSRAM/Lexus OEM (left)

OEM and even aftermarket HID replacement bulbs are expensive, but I found a set of bulbs so cheap it's almost unbelievable.

The other night the passenger side bulb on project Lexus turned a nice shade of purple. The next time I turned on the lights, the passenger bulb was dead.

I priced the OEM bulbs at about $90 each bulb! ouch! $180 to replace bulbs? There are full HID conversion kits for less. Aftermarket bulbs varied around $40-80, each bulb, still in the $80-160 range for a pair.

I wanted to keep the standard 4300k temperature rating as I don't care for the "blue" or "purple" lights and my understanding is that the closer to sunlight (around 4300-4500k) you are the better your actual visibility. 6000k and beyond actually have less visibility than the typical OEM color which is around 4300k. The number has nothing to do with how bright it is, everything to do with the color.

Anyway, I found a "generic" bulb on Amazon from Maxlux that I thought I'd give a shot. It was $36.99 for a PAIR which is so stinkin' cheap that even if they sucked, it was worth a try at least. Maxlux seems to offer other HID bulb sizes too (D4R, D2S,=, etc) as well as some kits which I can't say anything about as I've never used them. None the less, worth looking into if you're looking for HID bulbs.

The bulbs are slightly shorter than the factory bulbs and the base is slightly different but fitment was perfect. I replaced the passenger side bulb first and drove around with one factory and one Maxlux bulb for about a week. There was no significant color difference and if anything the new bulb was brighter (probably more due to being new than anything) and closer to white than the factory one (also probably due to age). (more…)

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Replacing OEM Navigation with a Retrofit

In Project Lexus, I decided that the OEM navigation was far too outdated to deal with. A few IS300s came with factory navigation which at the time (2002-2005) was still sort of a new thing.

Many people now are stuck with OEM navigation which seemed like a great idea at the time but any $100 GPS unit from Wal-Mart can probably blow the OEM system out of the water. This is a story of retrofitting a portable navigation unit into a car with navigation, but I'm sure this could also be done with some non-navigation vehicles for very little money.

This was the case with our IS300.


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