Re: HID Bulb Question
What makes it sound like the bulb is the "only from the front, not the side" comment.
Tell you the truth, first thing I'd do is install a good relay harness.
Then second I'd order a new full set from someplace like DDM Tuning (my favorite, dunno about service, I haven't needed any from them!) and replace both bulbs and ballasts. Put the old ones in storage, marking them, in case you need a spare.
As to life - I dunno, I've got a couple of years on both of my sets, but they're high beam only (I run HIRs for low beams in the Cougar, and did in the Malibu until ... well, read my signature.)
335K miles on original motor and tranny (only motor work 2 x LIM replacement), Monroe SensaTrac struts front and back (new at approx. 300K miles), and Alero discs in back. LS fogs added with custom wiring. HID high beams, HIR low and halogen fogs. Raybestos Pro Grade front rotors and Bendix D747 ceramic pads on front.
Addendum: Rest in peace. Surge tank blew, motor overheated, I think she's lived a long and useful life.