I was recently asked by my sister in-law why one of her headlights on her 2011 Volkswagen Routan SEL was pink.

Naturally, this was my reaction:

…so I went into research mode.

Here’s what a Routan looks like (a base model pictured with its sister, the Dodge Grand Caravan, which is the platform the VW was built on, complete with the Chrysler engine) :

My sister in-laws’ van is the fully equipped SEL model, complete with xenon HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights. Here’s what a standard halogen headlight assembly looks like:

The larger opening in the center is what a usual halogen headlight assembly looks like. It uses reflective material behind the bulb to scatter the light. Here’s a projector style headlight that is used with HID bulbs:

It condenses the light into a more concentrated beam. HID bulbs are a much more intense light and much brighter than halogen and therefore must be focused rather than scattered. Don’t be fooled though and think that all projector assemblies house an HID bulb. Trucks like my wife’s 2005 Yukon Denali (not the one pictured) for example:

A standard setup for this generation Chevrolet/GMC truck uses a 9005 bulb for the high beam and a 9006 for the low beam, but not this one. These are projector halogens that use a 9005 for each bulb. Notice that the openings closest to the grille are halogen style? These are the high beams. The ones closest to the corners are projectors to to concentrate the 9005 bulb into a beam.

Here’s what a standard halogen capsule looks like:

Here’s what an HID capsule looks like:

A standard halogen bulb is similar to a light bulb in your house. It has a filament that is lit almost the same way. An HID bulb is filled with a gas (xenon) that is set alight by a ballast. HIDs have a much longer life than a halogen bulb, but for that reason are more expensive to replace. A typical halogen bulb costs about $6-$10, while a factory equipped HID bulb can be around $200.

You can convert your halogen bulbs into HID ones very easily, but to take full advantage of this you’ll also want to upgrade your reflective halogen assemblies to HID projector style ones. Otherwise you’ll scatter the HID light and anger drivers that you’re driving around at night. I know this as I did it to my 1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited and also to my 1996 Impala SS. The Impala has tinted euro-style assemblies so the standard halogen bulbs were simply not bright enough to light up the road, so I went to HID style.

 

 

Now, back to the point of this post. As I said, my sister in-law’s Routan had one light that was pink:

It’s hard to tell in the last picture, but there’s actually 3 different hues of bulbs. The passenger side HID bulb is blue, the driver’s side is pink, and the fog lights are white (halogen). The reason for this pink hue is due to a bad bulb. While an HID bulb can last up to 8-10 years, this one threw in the proverbial towel after 3. Thankfully her ballast was okay, because ballasts are another expensive component in the HID system.