Blacked out headlight mod – B7 Audi A4/S4/RS4
I recently painted my inner headlight housings black (sometimes called the “Joey mod”) and wanted to share some quick pictures and a DIY of how I did this mod. I decided to do this after seeing my friend Blake’s RS4 with blacked out headlights and really liking how it looked on his car. Given there is very little chrome left on my car, I also felt the chrome headlights were starting to stick out too much and painting the headlights black might tie everything together nicely. Overall I’m very happy with it (despite some initial reservations) and think its a great way to make the front end just a little more aggressive than it would be otherwise…
Above you can see the before and after – I wasn’t so sure if I liked it at first as it looked a little too aftermarket (dare I say ricey?), but now that I’ve given it some time, I really dig it. In order to make it look a little more OEM, I added back in my orange turn signal reflectors, which I think helped keep the look aggressive without being over the top. In the picture above, I think you can see what I mean about the headlights sticking out too much when in the original chrome/silver finish, whereas below they blend in a little nicer with the red & white motif that I have throughout the car…
The great thing about this mod is that it’s very easy to do, costs virtually nothing (the cost of one can of spray paint and a small T8 torx screwdriver) and makes a huge difference to the appearance of the car. Best of all, if/when I get tired of it, it should be pretty easy to reverse by taking the inner housing out and painting it silver again. I may also experiment with a gunmetal color to see how that looks further down the road.
To do this mod, take off the headlights like you would for the clear corner mod detailed in this post – in fact, I’d recommend doing all mods to your headlights at this time – including LED DRLs, clear corner mod, new headlight bulbs, and any other changes to the bulbs or front-end appearance mods you have in mind. Pull the headlights apart by removing the 5 retaining clips and heating the glue (again, as described in the clear corner post above). Once the headlight is split in two, there are three screws holding in the inner housing pictured above – they are very small torx bits size 8, and you may need to pick up a special screwdriver to get them as most standard torx bits will be too big. A T8 torx screwdriver should be available at any home improvement store (Home Depot, Ace, Lowes, etc.). Once the inner housing has been removed, give it a light sanding then paint it the color you desire. Give it a few coats and then let it dry before screwing it back in and then reinstall everything. Also be sure not to get any fingerprints on the inside of the headlight housing, because if you do it will drive you nuts (ask me how I know!). Give the inside a quick wipe down with a microfiber to make sure there is no dust or fingerprints that may be distracting once you put the headlights back together…
The other thing you may want to consider doing at this stage is a headlight restoration if your headlights are badly pitted or discolored on the outside. When the headlights are off the car, it’s much easier to sand and buff them without worrying about scratching the paint (plus you can do it from the comfort of indoors). If you decide to do a headlight restoration kit, I like this one from Meguiars as it comes with sandpaper to really get out the pitting and imperfections you may have accumulated (the kits with only polish don’t really clean deep enough, IMO).
The only hard part is taking off the bumper and headlights, but it’s fairly straightforward if you’ve done that part before. If you haven’t, you can also just do one side at a time (without taking the bumper all of the way off, just half off) so that you can keep everything lined up nicely. If you take the bumper all of the way off, only tighten the headlights back on about half way before putting the bumper back on, then tighten and adjust the headlights last to make sure everything lines up nicely, otherwise you’ll end up with some funky gaps between the headlights, grille and bottom of the hood.
That’s all I have to say about the Joey mod/blacked out headlight mod – let me know what you think!
Looks Great Nick… Love your car.
Thanks Chris. I hope your S4 is back up to 100% health soon!
Great mod! What kind of paint and color did you use? Thanks.
I just used flat black spray paint I picked up from a local hardware store – nothing special!
Nick, how do you only take the bumper half off? By just keeping the screws from the opposite side wheel well intact? But removing the rest? Thanks Scott
Yeah exactly. Not sure if it really saves much time or hassle one way or the other but that’s what I did last time…
I like the hood on the Audi. What brand is that?
Hi Jeff – more info on the hood can be found here: https://www.nickscarblog.com/reviews/b7-audi-s4-carbon-fiber-hood-vented-by-aerofunction
Hey nick would you stray away from any plastidip for the black ? Like you I’m unsure if il like it an that would work best. Just nervous about heat.
I think the heat will be okay, if it can withstand being on wheels and the heat the wheels incur from hard braking, I think it’d be fine on headlights too. It’s not a bad option…you may want to post on DipYourCar.com and see what they think, they’ll know for sure…
Hey nick! Curious if you could plastidip them black incase you don’t like it ? Or would it not work well with the heat ?
Hello. Thanks a lot for this DIY, ive tried it today and wow 🙂 just one more thing i´ve do – ive brushed front of black plastic after painting, because on black car, i think the light can be all black little less visible from far look… so right now i have black them with little chrome line to they are still visible on a black car 🙂 photos here:
What do you think ? 🙂
PS: i´ve used thermospray which holds 700°C
Looks good, Moose!
This headlight mod, historically speaking, has been the one mod that I’ve wanted to do, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. It looks KILLER on your s4. In regards to headlight restoration while disassembled….mine are pitted, almost to the point where I don’t want to refinish them. My question, with the adaptive xenon, do you know if the glass (plastic) headlight covers are interchangeable between the halogen/bi-xenon/adaptive bi-xenon? I want the new new headlight look, without having to pay the price for OEM adaptive xenons, figured I would just source cheaper headlights and swap the covers to the afs’.
Yes, you can definitely interchange halogen vs xenon outer lenses. I’ve been told you can actually just by the outer lenses from Audi direct as well, but haven’t been able to confirm. Good luck!
Awesome! Thanks man, I knew they were very similar, I just wasn’t sure if there were subtle design varients to adaptive headlight housings. I didn’t want to find out the hard way.
AWESOME blog! just got my first Audi an 07 A4 Avant – really enoying reading your mods thanks for sharing your experiences with us! I’d like to pick your brain on a few mods ok if I do that?
No problem, fire away!
Hi Nick, well you said I could ask…… so:
Love this headlight mod. Id really love to put an LED strip in each light any thoughts on that?
BTW My B7 is halogen not bi zenon if that makes any difference…..
Thanks for taking the time to answer and keep up this amazing blog!
just had my first A4 Avant snow day – why didn’t I do this years ago so much better than my V8 Treg in the snow.
There is a guy named Phil that does this mod, but I haven’t done it myself. He goes by fly300kts on Audizine, you can hit him up for pricing: http://www.audizine.com/forum/showthread.php/292619-Got-LED-B7-Headlight-LED-V3
Personally, I don’t mind it, but I don’t love it. If I were you, I’d invest the money in upgrading to xenon lights first: https://www.nickscarblog.com/diy/halogen-to-xenon-conversion-for-b7-audi-a4s-2005-5-2008
Hey nick, I just got a 2005.5 S4 and was very interested in doing this mod. I have a quick question, how did you real seal the headlights? Did you just heat up the original adhesive? Since my car is used, I have noticed that the headlights do not have weather strip/seal on the top portion of the headlights, where can I get this weathering seal? I have searched Audizine and couldn’t get anything. Any thoughts? I also wanted to ask you if you are ever coming to be back in Arizona, would love to meet up and just talk cars. Love your blog and especially your car. Thanks!
Nice purchase, Luis! You don’t really have to worry about resealing these too much, there is so much glue in there that all you need to do is reheat the glue a little once you put the clamps back on and it will be just fine – even if you skip the reheating step, the engine heat will be enough to reseal them pretty quickly! In terms of the weather strip, mine are long gone too, I’ve never worried about it. If you really want it, try to find someone selling used halogen headlights for cheap and then you can take it off those, and then also pull the inner plastic pieces out to paint black (or grey, or whatever color you want) and then you have a spare set of chrome ones if you ever want to go back to stock, too.
I come back to AZ from time to time, but mostly to visit family and whatnot. I’ll let you know if I’m out there again anytime soon!
I just did the joey mod, cc mod and blacked out the grill, on my white 2.0 tdi b7, with help from your site here. Thanks! 🙂 great site, beautiful cars. 🙂
Thanks Kasper, glad it was helpful!
Hi Nick, love this blog,
When reattaching the headlights together again after doing this is there a sealant or anything needed?
There is plenty of sealant in there already (too much, really), so no need to add more. Just reheat the sealant and the bond will reset, good to go!
Just completed this mod using Rustoleum Hammered Black Gloss finish. Looks pretty awesome, thanks for the write-up. I also painted the piece that holds the chrome inserts in the same color….really nice look.
Will this work on halogen headlights? Dosnt affect the visibility?
Yes it works just the same – I didn’t notice any impact on visibility, the inner shrouds don’t really reflect any light and are more for aesthetic purposes rather than functional.
Hi Nick, does this mod hurt the effectiveness of the headlights at all? Also, I’ve got a silver ’07 S4 Avant and I’m thinking about painting the mirrors black to stand out more from the rest of the car. Do you know if it’s been done before or have any ideas on what kind of paint I should use?
No, I didn’t notice any difference whatsoever in light output or effectiveness. I just used a can of black spray paint, use gloss or matte – whatever finish you prefer.
Nick where did you get your fog light covers/mesh?
They are made using the mesh from OEM RS4 lower grilles that are then cut out and mated to the stock s-line/S4 grill surrounds…check out this post for more info: https://www.nickscarblog.com/reviews/rs4-grille-lower-grilles-installed-plus-other-goodies
Okay, got it! Thanks Nick
How did this mod hold up over time?
Did you strip the chrome paint off before spraying the pieces black?
I sanded it yeah – held up great. You could also vinyl wrap the housings if you’re handy with that – but they’re in a sealed housing so wear and tear isn’t really an issue…