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Old 23rd September 2016, 22:42   #1
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Default Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

Ever since the Skoda Fabia was launched as the successor of the Skoda Felicia way back in 1999 based on the VW Polo MK4 platform or the VAG A04 platform it has been the answer to many who desire quality, economy and reliability (may not always be true in the Indian market).

The Skoda Felicia - the car on which the Fabia is based:

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-skoda_felicia_outside_robinson.jpg

Part of the Fabia's success was the fact that all of its mechanical parts were developed by or in conjunction with Volkswagen, but were offered in a package that is priced to undercut other models in the Volkswagen Group and the other to the launches of various trims with various engine options to facelifts and design changes the Fabia has seen it all.

My story with the Fabia began in 2009, when I had first seen it in one of Skoda’s Showrooms in Andheri (Mumbai) and instantly fell in love with it. It had to be my next car; what had to be had to be and in the summer of 2011 my stable (not a very large one yet – 2 cars, but will get bigger in due course) saw the very first tire marks of my beloved Fabia.

Now like Skoda, I too believe in refreshing looks adding something new, something exiting to my cars over-time…

From an upgrade to Lenso Project D alloys to Fog Lamps to Better Brake Pads (Brembo) to Cruise Control to Remote Control to Armrests to VRS’ing the car – I had done everything; or had I?

There was always going to be something amiss with the Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo version launching in 2011; as a salute to Skoda Auto’s Centenary and its tribute to its motorsport history – I wanted it so bad to launch in India as that would’ve increased the chances of getting those spares here easily. But in vain. Wait turned into upset and upset to disappointment when Skoda India decided to discontinue the Fabia in our market; leaving online the only means of procuring the parts required.

Superskoda.com is a good source but the Rupee Vs Euro condition doesn’t always help and I wasn’t willing to spend so much at that time…

The Beginning of an end

Come August 2016 I had already stopped thinking about the Monte Carlo edition (except for the times when my desktop wallpaper randomly reminded me) when on a drive to Lonavla one early Saturday morning I feel there’s lesser light on the road, I pullover to find my LHS headlight all black with the turn signal light kaput – I mean literally blown up; with all carbon deposits inside the assembly.

I couldn’t do much then as I was already very close to my destination – just waited for dawn and went my way.

Once I was back home, and upon proper investigation only the turn signal and the low beam fuse was out everything else worked fine upon replacing the fuse – even the turn signal worked after replacing the bulb but the entire headlight unit was covered with soot!

There was no way I could clean it up without removing the assembly, so I read up a few online articles and found out that there is no way the HL assembly comes off without taking out the front bumper first – what a pain!

But a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do!

Chronologically here’s what one needs to do remove the bumpers first (tedious but simple)

What you’ll need -
1. Hex 15 & 25 bits
2. 11mm socket square drive
3. A ratchet or screw driver (ratchets allows you to reach those small spaces easily)
4. A thin head screw driver (to locate the holes to while fixing the wheel claddings back on)
5. A large sheet – I used a tarpaulin sheet to keep the removed bumper on to avoid any scratches
6. About 1m wire x 2 (1 red and 1 black – helps keep live and earth identifiable in the future)
7. 1 relay harness with 15A fuse (without any sockets; h4 or h7 – I used a spare H4 relay harness I had)
8. Electrical tape / Heat shrink tubes
9. Male Pin Connectors (2 nos.)
10. Lots of time
11. Another hand if possible!

(This is the entire list for the retrofit as well)

The step by step method (the First go):
1. Disconnect the battery – you don’t want to set off any sensors here!

Here's the rest in a diagram (will explain this in detail)

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2. Remove both wheel claddings with the mud flaps; you have to steer left or right to give you space inside the wheel well

3. You start next with removing the fog lamps

4. Then the hex (2) right next to the fog lamp assemblies
5. Then there a lot of more hex(s) under the car which hold the bumper in place, you can either lift the car up a bit on jack stands or just crawl and remove those (please keep them safe as you need them to secure the bumper once done)

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_bumper-3.jpg

6. Now time for the main support – remove the hex from the top of the bumper in the engine compartment

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_bumper-4.jpg

7. And finally the 2 hexs at the side which hold the bumper in place as well

To access this, you need to put your hands from the wheel-well area and somehow manage to get a grip on the hex and unscrew (this itself took a good 15mins per side).

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_bumper-5.jpg

The bumper will now come off the car easily – just a little nudge and it pulls right off. Keep it securely on the tarpaulin and you can begin the dis-assembly of the HL unit.

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_bumper-2.jpg

Now the headlight is held into place securely by 2 hex(s) and 1 nut (11mm); It’s very easy to remove the hexs (comes off with the bumper anyway) but the nut definitely requires the ratchet! Here’s a reference image –

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_screws1.jpg

Once this is done the nut which is also in a very not so helpful location – can come off too and there now the HL assembly is finally off.

Remember to unclip the power connector which goes to each HL unit before you take off the final nut.

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_controller.jpg

I tried to open the assembly using the DIY cardboard box oven – but it just wouldn’t budge! So I could only clean the lens with a microfiber cloth pushed inside with a flat plastic screwdriver!

Now I wasn’t able to take pictures of the HL’s condition before it was cleaned – but this is how it looked after:

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_spoilt.jpg

It wasn’t very helpful and another solution was required – I re-assembled the HLs and the bumpers again – made sure it worked and this is where the DREAM PROJECT was in the process of being incorporated!

The Development:

The search began and I was looking at replacing the headlights as just replacing 1 would look real odd; hence decided I had to replace both.

I called up Dashmesh Auto in Opera House and they had a Skoda Rapid; actually Fabia ;-) projector headlight pair in stock for 17k. Now this was expensive considering I was also tempted to install xenons (hence the projectors).

This whole projector, xenon, headlight b.s (for the lack of a better choice of word) made me think of the Monte Carlo edition!

Team-Bhp and Briskoda were the only websites I visited (not that I don’t now or before – but I’m sure you get the drift) in the search of any articles I could find on retrofitting these beauties.

What I found was not very encouraging though;

Problem no. 1

first was the cost (22k – just converted from 299 Euros on superskoda without shipping and customs) + the xenons

Problem no.2

Secondly, the fact that the amount of light on the road with the Montes’ is just not enough (as they’re bi-HLs; the projector works on Low Beam as well as High Beam with the help of a solenoid shutter) – so xenons are a definite requirement.

Problem no. 3

And finally, not everyone was sure this is a plug and play HL – the connectors would fit fine; but the switch may not operate the HL the way it is meant to.

I was looking at close to a 40k expense and a tough decision to make which with a very heavy mind (and a very very excited heart) I was about to make; when a friend who I was discussing my trauma (exhilarated excitement) with told me he had ordered the Montes about more than a year back but never installed them as the guys at Skoda told him they could not be fit on his Rapid (the 1st version – 2012 model) so he’s had them since and just kept them for a rainy day or me to have a conversation with him!

Now they weren’t kept very well, the original Hella box was destroyed and they were just kept in a plastic cover wrapped with newspapers; had a few scratches on them and were minus the headlight dust covers.

He told me these were lost when he had tried to fix them but gave up when the HL didn’t work with the car system (Problem no. 3 stated previously – will share a lot more on this one)

I can tell you though – they looked almost brand new; hell he was willing to give them to me for free (what are friends for) but we made a deal at 6.5K – a bargain if you ask me. But it still left me short with problem no. 3

The Test:

Now that I had the lights (wow) I just had to wait for the weekend to install them (knowing this I going to be a hit or miss – considering the difficulties at hand); but I had to give it a shot to understand the nature of the problem.

The same process of removing the HLs started and I fit the new ones into place (without putting everything back of course). They were snug into place and fit like a glove (even the connector is the same – already knew this)

I had already procured H7 bulbs (halogen) to check test the lights before going for a much more expensive xenon kit and this is what happened:

1. The low beam worked just fine (I was happy)

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_instal-1.jpg

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_install-3.jpg

2. When you pushed the stalk (on the left in our euro cars) – I heard the solenoid click but the light went off!

3. The same thing as above for when flashing lights (for passing)
So this was the problem!

This is why it just isn’t a plug and play, but I was sure there’s a fix but none was found.

A few of us (Penguin & Mi10) too had installed these HLs but none of them mentioned these difficulties in their posts (may be the newer Rapids had a different switch).

Anyway; I spoke to my car mechanic and he to his electrician who said it is possible to configure this, then I went to other road side mechs – they too said it isn’t possible, finally to another car accessory store guy I buy regularly from and he’s been around; his electrician too denied that this would work.

I knew this was something I had to do then; myself! So the troubleshooting started the troubleshooting process:


The Fix:


What I knew:

1. The Low Beam worked fine (no change required here)

2. The High Beam switch on the stalk powered the solenoid but the power to the bulb cut off (same with the flash)

Which meant that the Low beam needed power when the solenoid gets it too (which wasn’t happening right now – as mentioned earlier the Bi-xenon or Bi-halogen Projector bulbs (H7) don’t have an extra filament internally for high beams; they work with a shutter mechanism which opens the cut off when the high beam is on and the whole light beam is projected).

Upon closer inspection of the Monte Carlos (sorry I didn’t take a picture – was too engrossed in fixing it) I found that the power going to the shutter mechanism had another wire which was left blank and didn’t connect to anything. It was something like this.

Figure 1

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_existing-connection.png

And then I modded it a bit to connect the live cable (spare which was already part of the HL internal harness) to the live input on the bulb adapter; since that is what needed power along with the solenoid once on high beam it would end up powering the bulb too – like this:

Figure 2

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_modified-connection-1.png

This too had the same result – it switched off the bulb when the high beam was pressed!

This is when I realized that possibly something was amiss internally with the wiring and decided to use a relay to power the beam (so it is seamless without stressing the original switch) when the high beam powers up the solenoid.


What needed to be done was as simple as adding a relay to your existing light set-up when one upgrades to a higher power bulb – well at least the logic was the same!


So here’s what I did:


Figure 3

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_modified-connection-2.png

Now let me explain before I tell you the results (which you may have guessed already) –

1. Use the power from the solenoid (high beam switch) as a separate switch – solenoid’s the switch now

2. Connect the input from the solenoid to the relay (both ‘+’ and ‘- ‘)

3. Connect the relay outputs to the bulb adapter both ‘+’ and ‘- ‘and add the same to the other set by running the cables to the other HL unit

4. Connect the relay ‘+’ to the battery ‘+’ and to ground.

5. Power up the solenoid

This worked! I don’t know how elated I was this actually worked!
I now had a working set – high beam with low beam or just high beam or just low beam – you know what I mean by now I’m sure (I’m still elated!)

The Xenon Upgrade:

Now that the HLs worked perfectly fine – it was time to get the xenon conversion kit.

I had already done some pre-work on this and closed in on an Osram HID Kit 4200K 35W H7 for Rs. 9500 (with 1-year warranty)

Installation was pretty simple (as it is with these kits nowadays). I fixed the ballasts on the mounts given in the box and lit the road up!

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_osram1.jpg

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_ballst2.jpg

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-img_20160917_120414.jpg

I have levelled the lights – but I still feel I can do better, will do this when I can (finding an appropriate wall with a 25ft. distance available is difficult!)

I even bought Osram 6000K pilot lights (LED) to add to the look.

It really is a big upgrade, in terms of light on the road, here are a few pics of the car:

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_showoff1.jpg

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-hl_shwoff2.jpg

... and few more on the road and dirty!

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-dscf5936.jpg

Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-dscf6034.jpg

The Final Say!

My Fabia looks rejuvenated! I love the look, cant get over it!

Now this is only the beginning, as I had said earlier there’s so much more to learn, so much more to do – let’s see what else I can do for me, or wait; for my Fabia!

Thanks so much for reading this really long post – I’ve enjoyed writing this! Let a few pictures describe my feeling; you’ll see the other add ons I’ve made too; to give her the look Skoda gave her in 2011 – well I guess retro is back!


Cheers,
Aayush
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Old 26th September 2016, 14:13   #2
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Default Re: Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

Looks really good! Why don't you consider getting the housing for the fog lamps painted black as well?

Do they have a cornering function where the extended portion of the reflectors need to be silver?
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Old 26th September 2016, 14:32   #3
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Default Re: Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

Hi,

Not really, these are the ones which are on Rapids, so no DRLs / extended reflectors.

Next up, in line actually!

Cheers.
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Old 26th September 2016, 21:10   #4
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Default Re: Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

That's a good mod. I got mine done recently although i had a blackened version about a year ago. This time I got the Hella Evo Projectors which has a brilliant throw. I went for a matte black finish inside which has come out really well. Also got the chrome light switch which blends well with the interiors.
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Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-fullsizerender.jpg  

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Old 27th September 2016, 08:07   #5
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Default Re: Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

Nicely done man!

Please do post a pic of the cutoff.

How about swapping the old Skoda monograms on the front and rear with their recent ones?
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Old 27th September 2016, 08:44   #6
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Default Re: Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

Love what u've done. I'm a big fan of these subtle mods. She looks really good with the black reflector finish! Any guesses as to why the cardboard oven method did not work? I'm planning a projector install on my motorcycle and was thinking of using that method.
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Old 28th September 2016, 18:30   #7
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Default Re: Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

Quote:
Originally Posted by anuragbagur View Post
That's a good mod. I got mine done recently although i had a blackened version about a year ago. This time I got the Hella Evo Projectors which has a brilliant throw. I went for a matte black finish inside which has come out really well. Also got the chrome light switch which blends well with the interiors.
Really appreciate your efforts to open headlamps. I can see how well you have removed the glue and kept the locking pins intact. I damaged my Figo headlamp while doing same.
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Old 30th September 2016, 15:47   #8
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Default Re: Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitahirrao View Post
Really appreciate your efforts to open headlamps. I can see how well you have removed the glue and kept the locking pins intact. I damaged my Figo headlamp while doing same.
Haha. This was done by an experienced person in the shop where I got this done. I don't trust my abilities with such delicate work.
Yes, it has to be done meticulously as one needs to install it back with sealant.
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Old 2nd October 2016, 17:32   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpitt View Post
Looks really good! Why don't you consider getting the housing for the fog lamps painted black as well?

Do they have a cornering function where the extended portion of the reflectors need to be silver?
Hi guys,

Just as mrpitt had mentioned, I've just finished painting the fog lamps black, went for a glossy black color as the HLs are the same will update the process soon but here are a few pics of the after math!
Attached Thumbnails
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Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods-1475409736294.jpg  

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Old 4th October 2016, 12:11   #10
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Default Re: Skoda Fabia DIY: Monte Carlo edition mods

Quote:
Originally Posted by aayushnair View Post
Ever since the Skoda Fabia was launched as the successor of the Skoda Felicia way back in 1999 based on the VW Polo MK4 platform or the VAG A04 platform it has been the answer to many who desire quality, economy and reliability (may not always be true in the Indian market).

The Skoda Felicia - the car on which the Fabia is based:


The Xenon Upgrade:

Now that the HLs worked perfectly fine – it was time to get the xenon conversion kit.

I had already done some pre-work on this and closed in on an Osram HID Kit 4200K 35W H7 for Rs. 9500 (with 1-year warranty)



I even bought Osram 6000K pilot lights (LED) to add to the look.


Cheers,
Aayush

Hi Aayush

The facelift with the new projector lights look good. The car looks the part and now looks quite mean.
Well done!.

I used the same Osram HID kit for the projector lamps on my XUV 500. The high beam was on a different console, for which I used the Osram night-breakers H7. So I did not face the same problem as you did, with the installation and management.

The HiD with 4200 K light does make a world of difference to the lighting and visibility at night. It also looks cool, with a more whitish light.

Cheers on your ride and good luck with further mods to come.

Cheerio!
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