4Runner Headlights & Fog Lights

 In 5th Gen Mods, Lighting

Headlights, Fog Lights & Lighting Options for the 4Runner

Squadron-R Pros Fog Light Install with Bezel 4Runner

Low Beam (H11), High Beam (9005), and Fog Light (H16) Options

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This is a general overview on LED bulbs, HID Bulbs and HID Retrofits. We cover a little area of fog lights, but if you want to get deeper on quality fog light options, check out the overview of the Baja Squadrons or the installation of the Philips H16 bulbs here.

We are not getting specific on brands, although we are covering Amazon, Xenon Depot, and The Retrofit Source.

LED Bulbs Vs. HID Bulbs Vs. HID Retrofit

There is a big difference between an LED bulb an HID retrofit and an HID bulb.

HID retrofit kits are a bit more advanced in terms the install. HID retrofit kits typically cost more, and take longer to install but they produce correct, better, higher quality light output compared to an aftermarket LED bulb or an HID bulb inside a halogen projector (which is what our 4Runner has).

With an HID retrofit, you convert the halogen projector housing to an HID projector housing and use an HID bulb. You can always throw an HID bulb into our factory halogen projector housing but it will never be a “true” HID headlight. Read more on HIDs here.

LED bulbs are great because they are affordable, easy to install and give you a solid solution to the factory halogen bulbs. LED bulbs will produce less light than an HID retrofit or an HID bulb, but they allow you to run brighter low beams than stock while not getting flashed by other cars on the road.

HID Bulbs

HID (High-intensity) Headlights 5th Gen 4Runner

A Common Misconception (HID is better?): There is a common misconception that the HID bulb is better. Well, that might be the case because they are in most cases “brighter”, they are not always the best for your specific 4Runner needs. There are some guys out there that want the HID bulb because they off-road often and want the brightest light possible into dusk and night. If this is your goal, the HID headlight bulb and or retrofit kit will likely give you the brightest output from your headlights.

While the HID bulb or retrofit kit might be brighter off-road, it might be too bright on-road. And, like we mentioned above, you may get flashed by oncoming traffic with your low beams on. This is no fun, and you really don’t want to be that guy on the road that is causing others visibility problems. If you are that guy, there is a solution.

Simple fix for HIDs: With the HID bulbs in your factory projector, there is much brighter and “wider” light, meaning the beam pattern of your HIDs is going to be greater and wider than your stock halogens or an LED kit for that matter. If you want the brightest light possible and you still want to use your HIDs on the road without getting flashed by oncoming drivers, you should simply angle your low beams down.

LED Bulbs

4Runner LED Headlights Diode

LED Bulbs from China (Amazon and eBay?): While most LED bulbs are a good replacement of the stock halogens, some are just terrible. With all LED bulbs, you have a “diode” that is located somewhere on top of the center of the bulb housing. Some brands of bulbs will have diodes scatted across the entire light.

Most of the Amazon and eBay brands are a universal fit and more than likely made in China. But, it’s not that its made in China is the problem because everything is made in China. Your iPhone was made in China and we all love our iPhones. The point is most shoddy brands are manufactured in shoddy facilities that have sub-par production and quality control.

What this means for you is that the one size fits all actually might not fit all. Some diodes manufactured in China with low prices on Amazon or eBay might not be your best long term or even short term solution for lighting. Lower quality diodes tend to burn out fast or emit incorrect lighting. This creates problems with correct light output and correct beam pattern on your halogen housing.

Choosing the right LED light bulb: What you want to find is an LED bulb with a diode that mimics the same diode location as your stock halogen bulbs all while being produced in a quality facility. This is more than likely a private party supplier who has high standards and who is never able to compete with an Amazon or eBay seller because of their cheap prices and wholesale imported products from China.

When you are choosing an LED bulb, you have options. You can buy a cheap set from Amazon which may or may not work out. Or, you can buy a much more expensive set from a company like Xenon Depot which is made of higher quality and produced with higher production standards.

Light Bulb Numbers (For reference)

If you want to do an LED swap, here are the common bulb numbers.

  • High Beam: 9005 – Check Today’s Price
  • Low Beam: H11 – Check Price
  • Fog Light Bulb Front: H16 – Check Price
  • Daytime Running Bulb (Same as High Beam): 9005
  • Front Side Marker Bulb: 194
  • Parking Bulb: 7443
  • License Plate Bulb: 168
  • Side Marker Bulb Front: 168
  • Turn Signal Bulb Rear: 7440A
  • Turn Signal Bulb Front: 7444NA
  • Daytime Running Bulb (Same as High Beams): 9005
  • Reverse Bulb: 921

Retrofitting Headlights in 4Runner?

When the term “retrofitting” comes out, some people might stray away from this. It is simple in theory. All you do is a swap in a new HID projector housing. Some lights need to be wired, but most of them are plug and play set-ups with upgraded ballast systems. Yes, you will have to be somewhat handy but anyone with basic shop tools should be able to get the job done. The more difficult route is modifying your own housing from a halogen projector housing into an HID housing.

What does it mean to retrofit a projector housing?

Retrofitting is the process of installing a xenon or bi-xenon projector into a reflector based halogen headlight. It is the best HID headlight upgrade possible since the projector will control the light into a properly dispersed, non-glaring beam pattern.” – The Retrofit Source.

Different Brands of Light Bulbs

There are hundreds of options when looking at low beams, high beams, and fog lights. You can opt for lights from XenonDepot, The Retrofit Source, brands from eBay and multiple highly-reviewed brands from Amazon.

Xenon Depot is probably the most trusted and well-respected brand of bulbs for the 4Runner. I am sure there are other similar companies, Xenon Depot just has a good history with 4Runner owners.

The Retrofit Source is also another commonly used resource for HID kits and LED bulbs. Of course, Amazon has many options but beware of Amazon sellers as most of them lack quality control and absolutely lack the vehicle-specific test control. Just read through the reviews and try to find a 5th Gen owner who likes their products and has good things to say before buying something.

Different Brands of Fog Lights

For fogs, you can go with brands like XenonDepot, The Retrofit Source, Philips, and also brands from Amazon and eBay. What makes your fogs different is there are companies that specifically make kits that are built for off-road use.

The two main companies for off-road fogs. They are Rigid Industries and Baja Designs, but there are many other companies as well.

If you are just looking for a simple LED swap, check out this set of H16 LED bulbs we installed in the 2016 4Runner. These bulbs are a good, affordable solution to upgrading your fog lights.

There are a handful of other popular options for fogs, but Rigid and Baja make the best trail products out there. If you want to stay with something street legal or at least street compatible (you won’t blind anyone), stay with lights from The Retrofit Source, XenonDepot or even Rigid Industries makes a DOT (Department of Transportation) safe off-road light. Most of the Squadron line from Baja Designs are for UTV vehicles and are not DOT approved for on-road use.

XenonDepot For Low Beams, High Beams, and Fog Lights?

Xenon Depot 4Runner LED Headlights (Low and High Beams)

One of the most common light resources for 4Runner owners is XenonDepot. XenonDepot is a good all-around source but it doesn’t mean they have the best lights out there for what you need.

XenonDepot carries a huge variety of bulb numbers. All of the XenonDepot lights are OEM quality and carry products from manufacturers like Philips, Osram, and their own brand; Xtreme LED. There are many other options for low beams, high beams, and fog lights out there. Also, some of these brands carry the same bulb brands as XenonDepot.

Some other brands to consider:

  • Philips
  • CougarMotor
  • Diode Dynamics
  • BEAMTECH
  • HIKARI
  • Lightning Dark
  • JDM ASTAR
  • OPT7
  • Kensun

The Retrofit Source For Lows, Highs, and Fogs?

The Retrofit Source is a quality website for your lighting needs. For the 5th Gen, you will want to look at the Morimoto Elite (Headlights) and the Morimoto XB LED bulb (Fog Lights). These are incredibly well-designed and well-made products that are damn near on-spec to OEM quality fit but pack much more lumens than your stock low beams, high beams, and fog lights.

If you just want to put HID in your factory halogen projector then you would need the H11 Morimoto Elite. For the fog lights, they have the Toyota Oval Morimoto XB LEB

Retrofit Source Relays and Capacitor Link?

For your 4Runner you will want to order the H11B bulbs and you will not need the capacitor link. You will want the HD Relay as well to make everything plug and play, the canbus relays are for German cars.

Retrofit Source Ballast Options

  • 35w (XB35 – Longer Life/ Medium Intensity) – Recommend
  • 50w (XB55 – Shorter Lift/ High Intensity)

You have your choice of 35w (XB35) and 50w (XB55). All OEM HID systems are 35w, so this is the tried and true option. It comes with a five-year warranty and produces approximately three times the light of your stock setup. The optional 50w (XB55) ballasts are going to give you about 25% more light over the 35w system but at a shorter lifespan. Because of the shorter lifespan, the warranty is also reduced to three years instead of five.

Bulb Options (Color Options and Color Meanings)

  • H11B/H9/H8 – XB 3000k – Yellow/Amber
  • H11B/H9/H8 – XB 3800k – Mild Yellow
  • H11B/H9/H8 – XB 4500k – Yellow to White
  • H11B/H9/H8 – XB 5500k – Recommend Color (Bright White)
  • H11B/H9/H8 – XB 6000k – Recommend Color (Bright White/ Blue)
  • H11B/H9/H8 – XB 6500k – Very Blue

A color chart is provided on the kit page (in the photos), but OEM bulb color is going to be in the 4300K-4500K range. Looking at the bulb options, you’ll see nothing above 6500K since anything beyond that sacrifices more light in exchange for more color. We’re more focused on performance vs looks here. As you move up the K range, you’re getting more color but less intensity from the bulb.

All vehicles with factory installed HID’s run the brightest 4300K bulbs (where The Retrofit Source offers a 4500k in some cases, but no difference in color or intensity would be expected in the 200k difference here), giving you a warm white light. 5500K sacrifices a tiny bit of intensity but gives you a pure white light to enhance contrast. 6500K is still mostly white, but with a slight tinge of blue to it. Alternately, 3000K bulbs are super yellow, we really just recommend those for use in fog lights.

What Low Beams, High Beams, and Fog lights to Buy?

Lights are pretty important, to say the least. You drive with them every day, so you should grab a pair of headlights are in a mid-high price range as these are a pretty important driving factor and you will depend on them for a long period of time.

As Xenon Depot is the most popular choice among owners, you should consider checking them out. Xenon Depot has incredible customer service and backs there products 100%. There is a reason why a large number of 4Runner owners out there choose Xenon Depot for their headlights. They kick ass.

Also, some of the other brands are on Amazon and you know Amazon backs their products, customers, and sellers at all costs. If you do have any problems on Amazon, you know you can return the product at almost any time. Some of the more bad ass products would include anything from The Retrofit Source or Xenon Depot.

If you are looking for something quick and dirty, grab a set off Amazon. If you want to do it the right way the first time, grab a set of LEDs or HIDs from the Retrofit Source or Xenon Depot.

Questions or Comments – Leave them below

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Showing 5 comments
  • jason
    Reply

    Wow, this is the best overview on 4Runner headlights I have come across. With all the options out there, what would you personally recommend? It sounds like Xenon Depot and The Retrofit Source are great options but what does everyone think – real life experience, on-road and off-road… what is the best bulb or bulbs out there to run?

  • Ron Darnell
    Reply

    Glad I found this site. I have been looking for knowledgeable info on our gen 5 headlights. We are very close to trading it in just because of the headlights. It is a 2015 4Runner Limited. I think it has projectors for low beam? Whatever comes stock. They are dangerous at best.
    Daily commuter, rarely off road, what would be the best “cure” for these lousy head lights and fog lights?
    I have read a lot on here only to be more confused. lol.
    Looking for safety and visibility.
    Will these #’s fit my application?
    Low beam – H11
    High Beam – 9005
    Fog lamp – H16

    Or is there a better way to go?
    Thanks in advance

  • ROBERT F HUDAK
    Reply

    On my second 4 runner. Recently purchased a 2018 4 runner SR5 Premium. I’m looking for better lighting during night time specifically for snow, fog and rain conditions. Highway and country road travel. Not a off road guy. Mountain biking, back country skiing and hiking excursions are priorities.
    All HID or should I combine them with LED?
    Xenon Depot looks solid.

    • Brenan - Trail4R
      Reply

      I have LED high beams and HID low beams with the Baja Squadron Fogs. Love the set-up but switching the fogs to KC HiLites Fogs soon. Xenon Depot is great, you will love them.

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