Navigation or xenon without the tech package?

Navigation or xenon without the tech package?

The only items I might want from the tech package are the navigation and xenon headlights.

(I saw that they have xenon lights available as add ins to existing roadsters.)

Any ideas of if it would possible - either through tesla or not - to somehow get navigation and/or xenon lights later on, without getting the tech package now? I'm open to speculation on future possibilities.

Thanks for your thoughts!

DTsea | March 29, 2013

they told me no.

I like the tech package now that I have the car.

Cattledog | March 30, 2013

I like it too, was uncertain I wanted all that, happy I got it.

elguapo | March 30, 2013

They could probably update it in the future for nav. No idea about Xenon. Not to sound like someone who wastes money, but you're buying an $80,000+/- car, does $3,500 break the bank? I appreciate frugality and thoughtfulness, but at the same time, it isn't a massive expense and could one day help resale value since it seems the majority of people have it.

stimeygee | March 30, 2013

Well, the whole thing breaks the bank. So anything that helps to break it less, helps. Besides at $3700 the tech package is, what, almost 5% of the price? It's not insignificant.

It's funny - one reason I don't mind (so much) paying it is because I know its a way for Tesla to boost profits. And Im such a fan of what they're doing that I almost am happy just giving them money. Crazy.

djm12 | March 30, 2013

I'm with @stimyg on this one. All I wanted out of the tech package was the Xenon lights and maybe the Nav - I think $3500 is 5-10 times a reasonable price. All the car makers do this to skim profits off people with deep pockets. Check MB or BMW - they have very similar overpriced tech packages. I wish that Tesla was different.

@stimyg - if you find a good aftermarket installer for Xenon, let us know. I can always navigate using free iPhone apps, but there's no app for good headlights!

gary.greene | March 30, 2013

I think the tech package is amazing! The on board navigation is awesome. Love how it puts a picture of the freeway offramp next to the speedometor. Love how all the mirrors darken at night to reduce glare. Love the extra bright headlights. Only thing I don't rely on is the reverse camera-still prefer to turn and look. All in all, very happy with it.

gsajsboone | April 29, 2013

I would also have loved to have just the navigation option without all the extras in the tech package.

RedShift | April 29, 2013


One way is to look for tesla model s xenon headlights (bulb, ballast and housing ) from a salvage yard.

Retrofitting just bulb and ballast into existing non-xenon headlights is not trivial, and somewhat 'ghetto' since its done by jerry rigging. ( speaking from experience )

cloroxbb | April 29, 2013


So you think the Tech Package should only be $350-$700 at the most?

NICE | May 5, 2013

I ordered my Model S without the tech package. I put the $3750 towards the biggest battery instead. So my plan is to install the an aftermarket HID Xenon or LED bulbs. Does anyone know what size bulbs are used?

GeekEV | May 5, 2013

@S-Car-Go - I'm trying to find the same information and plan to do the same. My attempts to get the information from Tesla have come up blank so far. How hard can it be for someone to walk down to the parts bin on the line and write down what's written on the bulb? Worst case scenario I tear the car down and find out myself - though I'd rather only do that once rather than twice...

viranjit | May 6, 2013

I don't have the tech package but would love to pay for the software upgrade for a navigation system.

herkimer | May 6, 2013

for all these reasons, I ended up going for the tech pkg

RedShift | May 6, 2013

Well, the xenon bulbs could be D2S. That's what I retrofitted into my old car, and regretted it. The housings leaked, needed constant realignment, and were a pain to deal with in general.

If you guys can snag complete Model S xenon headlights from a salvage yard, you might be OK. Otherwise, don't say you weren't warned.

NICE | May 6, 2013

@Geek EV
Like most cars, the headlight bulbs should be easily accessible. My S-car is still being built or I'd do it myself :(
You would do a lot of us a great service by finding out the bulb number. Once you do I'll find and post possible HID kits or LED bulbs. If we can use LED bulbs, in my opinion, it would be better than Xenons. I already have the license plate LED bulbs on order.

Did you retrofit the whole housing or just the xenon bulbs and ballasts? I've installed aftermarket HID bulbs & ballasts in my current car and don't have those issues. I'm keeping the Tesla housing intact so there shouldn't be any leaks or alignment issues. Just putting in a brighter and more efficient bulb. What I need to know is the halogen bulb type used. i.e. H4, H8, H13, etc.

For those who can afford it, this whole thread is a moot point. Get your car fully loaded :)
For me, the tech package is out of reach and I have a hard time paying for anything I can do myself for less.

GeekEV | May 6, 2013

Bulbs are meant to be changed, no? If one burns out you don't replace the whole assembly, do you? That's a bit like having to replace the entire wheel just because the tread wore out on your tires. Of course, if you do it wrong you could wind up with the problems you describe.

RedShift | May 6, 2013

Geek, you need ballasts with xenons. They are not just 'bulbs'.

Sure anything could be done wrong. Retrofitting xenons is one of those that has higher probability if that happening. Take it from an experienced DIYer who's worked on many many projects and takes pride in his work (except the xenon retrofits)

This is not an old ricer wannabe. It's an expensive high perf sedan. Proceed as you wish.

GeekEV | May 6, 2013

Oh, sure xenon's would be more of an undertaking, for sure. I was thinking more along the lines of aftermarket halogen bulbs with a whiter color temp or perhaps LEDs. Those should be simple drop-in replacements if we can just figure out the damn bulb size. As for it being an expensive high performance sedan, that's precisely why I'm trying to avoid doing it twice (once to find out the bulb type and once to install the new ones). The less you have to tamper with something, the better, obviously.

GeekEV | May 6, 2013

> ...I have a hard time paying for anything I can do myself for less.

@S-Car-Go - That's my rationale. It's one of the few things I wanted out of the tech package, but I didn't want it $3,700 worth...

GeekEV | May 23, 2013

So, I finally got an answer from the San Rafael service center that the halogen bulbs in the MS are 9005 type. After researching all afternoon, it looks like the best street legal option are the Osram Cool Blue Intense 9005CBI with a color temp of 4,200k. I've ordered some from Power Bulbs and will report back after I get them installed:

tiblot | May 24, 2013

Same here! I'm about to order a Model S but cannot decide on Tech. The only thing I want from there is the HIDs. I've done HID installs and it def is a huge pain.

You normally have to remove your wheels and install the blub + mount the ballasts by drilling somewhere.

ChasF | May 24, 2013

Other than color of the light, does anyone know how the type of replacement mentioned by GeekEV might compare to actual Xenons (brightness, etc)? If they are almost as good, why spend hundreds more on Xenon replacements?

RedShift | May 24, 2013

I tried on sylvania silver stars before xenon a 10 years back. Short answer: they don't perform close to the xenons. To others, though, they look whiter than halogens. You'd be a little less impressed, I think.

mitchdbs | May 24, 2013

Re turn-by-turn. I've been told that adding navigation is a hardware upgrade not just software (I don't know why). I just use Google maps on my android phone. You only need to go into blue tooth settings and tell the car to use it as a media player. If you do that and start navigation on the phone... It will come through the sound system.

ChasF | May 24, 2013

@Redshift - so if I understand, these wont perform as well as the Xenons side-by-side, but it seems they should perform better than the installed Halogens. Especially if these are 10 years ahead of the Sylvanias you reference.

tiblot | May 24, 2013

ALL Halogen bulbs use more power and produce more heat. If you put in aftermarket halogen bulbs, you're simply changing the color and possibly minor brightness adjustments. You'll never hit the HID color temps though.

Aftermarket HIDs are not complicated to install, however is time consuming. You'll remove your wheelwell, put in the blub and mount a ballast. DDMTuning has kits for cheap with lifetime warranty. However, this would involve drilling somewhere. Very simple install for a shop if you don't want to touch it. Typically 35w or 55w.

In addition, you'll end up with the wrong cutoff pattern. HIDs have a distinct cutoff via projector lens - else you'll blind traffic.

RedShift | May 24, 2013

+1 tilbot.

I'd like to differ on 'easy to install'. Sealed headlight housings need to be heated in 250f oven to open up, do all the drilling and stuff to install the new projectors, ballasts. Then they need to be sealed back. It's a minimum 2-3 days effort with a day job and no family time.

Toughest part is getting the new projectors to fit in the OEM brackets in your original headlights. All brands of HID projector brands have different dimensions. Next toughest is to not have any leaks, post sealing. After that, you need to make sure everything is very tight inside and outside, coz vibrations and bumps that are part of everyday driving will loosen things and you won't be happy to do this all over again.

You could trust a shop to do this. They are going to have to do the above steps as well. Keep that in mind.
Some even put desiccants in the housings to ward off moisture.

All of this, I have personally done to my car long back.

Easiest is to install bluish tint halogens, but refer to tilbot's post re. performance.
Next easiest: purchase Model S HID headlights from the factory or salvage yard if you can.
Lastly: have a shop retrofit these, or do them yourself.

Fred O | May 24, 2013

I'm pretty sure that in Europe it is illegal to only replace the light bulb. Xenon lights require automatic adjustment to prevent blinding oncoming trafic. I agree the package is expensive but this car is a once in a lifetime extravagance (for me anyway).

GeekEV | May 30, 2013

I just completed install of the replacement halogen bulbs. I took pictures and intend to write up a how-to, but it might be a while (busy next couple weeks). The upshot is that unless you can find whiter halogens (I couldn't) it's probably not worth doing. Projecting against my garage door these bulbs are only marginally whiter. The good news is its relatively easy to do. Tesla's made it very easy to work on. Also good news is the way it all goes together I believe a HID conversion would be quite easy. There should not be any alignment issues or watertight issues, etc. I may undertake that next. Stay tuned.

GeekEV | May 30, 2013

FYI, according to te LightSpectrum Pro app on my iPhone, the new bulbs measure about 800k whiter than stock.

Jolanda | May 31, 2013

When I look at pictures of a non tech car, it looks to me if there are projector lamps on the car. With this kind of lamps you only need te replace the bulb with a Xenon bulb, drill a hole for the connecting cable an mount the ballast.

I did this with my Ampera (European Volt) and it took me one hour to complete the job. It took me this long because I wanted the cabeling to look stock. I have seen other people complete this job in 20 minutes.

My car seems to have the same type of construction in the headlamps as the Model S. I did this 1 year ago and have not had a complain of other drivers in this time.

Pro: much lower price (€ 200 $ 300 for the most expensive set) than stock Xenon and a lot more light than the standard bulbs.
Con: my digital radio suffers a lot from the emf radiation of the ballasts, I had a lot of problems with the quality of the set (died on me 3 times), the color of the light breaks up at the cutoff edges (blue edge).

So I would do it again if there is no possibility to get it as a standard option in the car. On the Model S I orderd the Tech package.....

GeekEV | May 31, 2013

@Jolanda - I agree, which is why I say it should be very straightforward. In fact, I just ordered a HID kit and will try that next. I don't think you even need to drill holes. The cover for the opening is a soft rubber "boot". You could easily run wires out from under it with no modifications. Given the way the car is constructed, there's no reason why this would cause water leakage issues either.

ajamison | May 31, 2013

I am more torn over weather or not to get the Music Pro package then the tech package to me the tech package is a no brainier for me anyway.

RedShift | May 31, 2013


It's not leakage but condensation. Any gaps in the rubber covers result in moisture condensing inside the lights, ultimately dripping water inside. That's what happened to me, coz there were some pin hole sized leaks in the housings and the rubber covers. I sealed them but they came back after a few months due to the vibration during everyday driving.

Hope you got the HID bulb bases changed to fit the halogen bases. They are usually jerry-rigged by the supplier if so specified.

Lastly, the cut-off will still be for halogens, not HIDs. The lights may need to be aimed down to not blind the motorists at night.

illioilli | June 12, 2013

@GeekEV - Which HID Kit did you order? Any success? Thanks for the info!

illioilli | June 12, 2013

I'm also looking at replacing the fog light assemblies (i like the side lights, although I don't think they'll function the same as in the tech S). The San Diego service center said I could buy the parts for $900; not sure if it's worth it for the two cool looking side lights.

GeekEV | June 13, 2013

@illioilli - I went with these and will be installing them tonight... with the 9005 bulb type and the 6,000k color.

illioilli | June 13, 2013

@GeekEV - Wow those sound great! Good luck with the install, looking forward to pix & details :).

NICE | June 13, 2013

Just in case you need this,

Let me know how it goes.
I've ordered LED bulbs to try first. They consume the least amount of power. HIDs like the ones you ordered will be my next option.

GeekEV | June 13, 2013

Oh, somebody already wrote it up? I guess I don't need to then. :-)

So, they look and work great. I'll post up more details later after reviewing that link S-Car-Go posted. FWIW, the kit came with a rubber grommet thingy around the harness. By carefully cutting a properly sized hole in the Tesla's rubber boot, you can fit the kits grommet in there for a very nice seal. There should be no leakage or condensation issues.

Here's a 50/50 install pic so you can see the difference:

GeekEV | June 13, 2013

So here's some pics showing you the color spectrum using the LightSpectrum Pro app on my iPhone. Some quick tests against known lights showed the color spectrum reported isn't entirely accurate (it runs cool), but it does give a good relative measure and makes for a neat set of comparison pics.

So, here's the stock halogen bulbs:

Here's the upgraded halogen bulbs I mentioned earlier in this thread:

And here's the HID kit. What's interesting is they were so bright/white the app wouldn't even give a reading. But you can clearly see the difference:

GeekEV | June 13, 2013

That thread S-Car-Go linked to even looks like the same kit I used, or very similar to it. I've got more detailed pictures than it does though. I'll do my own writeup and pics at some point (maybe next week).

NICE | June 14, 2013

Nice install. I have flash blindness from the last picture :)
Do write it up, with pictures please. Start a new post and copy the link here.

I'll do the same once I get the LEDs and install.

NICE | June 14, 2013

Try this next. It's super easy. I did it in 5 minutes.


I chose blue LEDs but there's white LED's too.

illioilli | June 17, 2013

@GeekEV - Nice Job! Looks to be well worth the effort and cost. I ordered the 10000K kit to try something different, hoping the spectrum will go well with my metallic green S and offer good contrast to the DRLs. Not a big deal if I dont like em and switch to the 6000k since the price is right :).

@S-Car-Go - That looks awesome! What brand/part/price?

Any thoughts/plans on customizing the fog light assembly or adding led strips across the dual fins next to each fog light assembly?

hademarco | June 17, 2013

Oooh S-Car-go very nice!

RedShift | June 17, 2013


Be careful: the higher the color temp, the lower the lumens. Also, higher the color, temp more, the eye fatigue.

Generally accepted principle is that around 6K is enough for HIDs, 10K is almost purple. Also, highly likely to get you pulled over.

RedShift | June 17, 2013


Nice! Hope you enjoy the HIDs. Once you go HID, you will never want to go halogen again.

Good luck with the seals too. Make sure you seal them with the best sealant you can get. These are 'lifetime' bulbs, very unlikely to fail during the lifetime. (Though they start to become bluer and then slightly purple as they age towards 10, 15 years)

GeekEV | June 17, 2013

@RedShift - Yeah, I had HID lights on my Prius and LEDs on my LEAF. I didn't *want* halogens on my MS either, but I wanted $3,700 more than I wanted the HIDs. ;-)

NICE | June 18, 2013

They are 36mm Festoon Blue LEDs. I got mine on eBay.

IMO 10k HIDs are perfectly blue. It will be plenty bright. The blue hue is actually easier on the eyes. It will distort some colors if you even care about that.

I'm still waiting on my LED headlights .
Get the DDM 55Ws if you want super brights. That's what I'm planning to do next if the LEDs don't work out.

Glad you asked about the grille. I was thinking of using Plasma glow

You should give it a try. Dirt cheap and super easy mod. 4 Philips screws to unscrew, pop in new bulbs, and screw the lens back on.

"Be careful: ... Generally accepted principle... is enough... Also, highly likely to get you pulled over."
Really??? Your street cred just went down, LOL