HID (High-intensity) Headlights 5th Gen 4Runner
HID Headlights or LED Headlights on 5th Gen 4Runner – Thought Process behind HID Headlights or LED Headlights
We have had some serious coverage on 4Runner headlights and fog lights in the blog so far. Most of what we have covered is the LED headlights, the Xenon Depot high and low beam bulbs, and the Philips fog light bulbs. Today, we are looking at what it takes to get a set of HID bulbs installed on the 5th Gen 4Runner.
HID headlights are known for being incredibly bright. Much brighter than a set of LED bulbs. Whether you are looking at the low beam (H11), the high beam (9005) or the fog lights (H16), HID lamps will be the brightest light you can get.
Even though HIDs come with such a great benefit, they still come with their downsides.
What is an HID Headlight?
HID (High-intensity discharge)
High-intensity discharge lamps/ bulbs produce light through an electric gas-discharge. The HID bulbs produce this gas through the arc between the tungsten electrodes housed inside a translucent fused quartz or fused alumina arc tube.
Basically, the gas is pushed through two closely spaced electrodes which creates a very bright light output. There is no easy way to explain or understand how HID headlights work. Just know that they are bright, incredibly bright.
What color HID should you buy?
Pure White or Crystal White?
There is a big difference between pure white (5000K) and crystal white (6000k). Pure white is exactly what it sounds like, white. Crystal White is a cross between blue and white.
While some manufacturers will market their bulbs as crystal white, just be careful as these bulbs will have a slight blue tint to them. And, they may attract unwanted attention from the police. So, it is always best to stick with 5000K bulbs as these are as close to white as you will get.
HID Headlights or LED Headlights?
LED is street friendly, HID… not so much.
HIDs are very bright. They are so bright that oncoming traffic may view them as high beams. You shouldn’t let this one point throw HIDs out the window, though. With a 5000K HID headlight, you should be fine on the road as long as you aim your low beam headlights down. Basically, you won’t get flashed too often. There will always be that car here and there that will give you a flash.
With many late model cars out there coming stock with pure white LED headlights, it is becoming more and more common to see brighter headlights on the road. With 5000K LED headlights, you will definitely have a better-looking color headlight along with better light output, but just make sure you are buying a quality brand. Weigh the pros and cons. LEDs require no adjustments while HIDs might force you into adjusting the tilt on your low beam housing.
The best option for 5th Gen 4Runner?
On-road, off-road and consider your daily commute.
I would consider my daily commute first. If you have long stretches of road where you are on one-lane roads constantly hitting other cars in the face, you should go LED. If you are a freeway commuter and REALLY want bright lights, go HID. It is so hard to recommend one over the other because both HID and LED headlights do look great in the 4Runner.
The LED headlights are like the Borla Exhaust, a classy yet elegant gentleman’s exhaust. The HID headlights are more like a Magnaflow Exhaust, slap you in the face, loud and slightly obnoxious.
If you have off-road lights like the Baja Squadrons installed, you likely don’t need HIDs because you already have so much light in your fog assembly or mounted as ditch lights. But again, if you want to go as bright as possible, the go with HIDs.
I will probably go with HIDs as my permanent solution for my headlights. LEDs are bright but at the end of the day, seeing these HIDs compared to the already installed Xenon Depot LEDs we have now, is a huge difference. And, after passing hundreds of cars on the road over the last week or so, I would say HIDs are the way to go as we only got flashed 3 times and that’s without adjusting the tilt.
2010-2013 Housing Vs. 2014-2019+ Housing
If you are a 2010-2013 owner, you have a reflector housing. The reflector housing is not really built for an HID bulb without a full retrofit to a full HID projector housing. The HID bulbs are too bright for the reflector housing on 2010-2013 4Runners.
Retrofitting is the process of installing an HID projector into a reflector based halogen headlight housing.
If you are a 2014-2019+ owner, you have a projector housing. With the projector housing, you can easily upgrade to an HID bulb without retrofitting your housing. Just because you have a halogen projector housing doesn’t mean you have a “true” HID housing.
The halogen projector housing in the 2014-2019+ 4Runner was not built for HID bulbs either. By installing HIDs in this housing, it will cause your beam pattern to be much higher than your OEM halogen bulbs (almost like high beams). This is where and why you might get flashed by oncoming traffic.
Adjusting HID Headlights (HID Headlight Tilt)
You never want to be the guy on the road that could possibly put others at risk of losing focus. This is why you want to angle your headlights accordingly. DOT (Department of Transportation) has specific requirements for headlights.
You need to have your beam pattern at a certain distance off the ground from a distance of 25 feet. Some say the distance is 36″, some will say 39″ and some will as much as 48″. So, what is the exact distance that your headlight beam pattern needs to cut off on the wall?
We have lowered ours about 6″ from the cutoff line on the HID headlights. We took our height on the HIDs from 40″ to 36″ and this seems to be working out good for us.
How to adjust the headlights?
To do this, you just need to find the headlight assembly adjustment screws. From here, you can adjust your headlights as much as you need to meet the DOT requirements. If you really want to do this correctly, you will need to do a complete HID headlight retrofit. We will do another full post on a complete retrofit and simply adjusting your headlights aim soon.
If you install HID bulbs, just do everyone on the road a favor and adjust the low beams. It is not difficult and you will have peace of mind on the road in knowing you are not the one causing problems.
We have all been blinded by someone on the road and then flipped them off in the dark, hoping they saw the finger. Don’t be a dick, adjust your headlights.
Different Brands of HIDs
There is a reason we all trust Xenon Depot… they kick ass!
One of the most reputable brands out there is Xenon Depot. This company is a well-known and well-trusted brand name for HIDs, LEDs and many other common interior/ exterior bulbs. For good reason too. Xenon Depot has a reputation with 4Runners and a ton of experience with 4Runner-specific lighting.
If you search deep and wide for 4Runner lights, the name Xenon Depot will pop up time and time again. If high-quality is what you are after, head straight to Xenon Depot.
Another brand name we can all trust is Total Automotive Performance as well as a The Retrofit Source. These are just a few names out there but not the only brands that will work. There are other companies that offer HIDs and LEDs which you can find on Amazon, which make buying headlights a little more convenient. Most of the brands on eBay are garbage but you can find deals on brand name products from time to time.
Budget-Friendly HID Bulbs
Budget-Friendly HID Headlights
We recently installed a set of HID bulbs off Amazon and were incredibly impressed. We bought the Kensun HID headlight bulbs for my girls 4Runner and it was a world of difference. We also have a set of Xenon Depot headlights going in our other 4Runner, but for the price on the Amazon brand HID bulbs, they were seriously bright.
These HID bulbs were a very easy install. The HID headlight install is incredibly similar to installing LED bulbs. The only difference is that you have to find a place to mount the HID ballast.
HID Bulbs Vs. HID Retrofit
To get a “true” HID retrofit, you either need to buy a new housing for your headlights, or an actual HID projector. The halogen projector we have is not an HID projector. You can custom make an HID projector to fit the 5th Gen 4Runner from other HID projector housings.
Some of these housings can be found and converted from Lexus models. You can cut off of the HID projector housing and then cut off the mounting plate from the stock halogen projector, and then merge the two together. This will give you the same mounting plate but you will end up with an HID projector housing.
If customizing projectors are not your thing, you can always buy a set of HID projectors from https://www.theretrofitsource.com. The Retrofit Source has a variety of HID projector housings that can be swapped into our your headlight housing with minimal effort. If you want a true HID headlight, this is absolutely the way to go.
Without a true HID projector housing, you will just have an HID bulb/ lamp in your halogen based housing. This is fine, but your beam pattern and the actual projection of light will be off.
Troubleshooting HID headlights
The engine compartment has no room for the ballasts
- Remove your battery from the driver side and mount to the firewall
- Remove the air injection pump on the passenger side and mount to the firewall (pump next to intake 5th gen 4runner).
HID headlights flash erratically
- Make sure the battery your HID headlights are connected to is running a minimum of 12 V.
- The voltage in your battery maybe unsteady and that might be what’s causing the HID lights to flash on and off.
- You can always buy a relay harness for an HID system but if this is happening you probably want to replace the battery.
I turn on the headlights in only one light turns on
- Check the connection of the bulb, igniter, and ballast
- Check to see if the bulb is faulty. You can do this by swapping the bold to the other side of the vehicle.
- You may need to reverse the polarity on your HID bulbs.
- Check your fuse box. You may need to upgrade to a 20 amp fuse but this is highly unlikely.
- Double Check all your connections
When driving HID headlights start vibrating
- Check to see if the Boulder securely attached to its socket
- Check to see if the bold is broken.
1 HID headlight light looks brighter than the other
- Check your headlight lens, check for damage to the housing
- Have headlight lens cleaned professionally
Ballasts make electric noise when first turned on
- This is totally normal, the ballasts are observing power from the battery to start up and they make noise while doing this
HID bulbs change color when first turned on
- This is also normal. At the beginning of the ballasts turning on, they are storing the power from the battery of the vehicle. Since the power has not been stabilized yet the Bob‘s may have a different color or even Flickr wall powering up. As soon as the ballasts are powered up and stabilized, the bulbs will become their natural color.
Lots to Consider with HID Bulbs
There is a lot more to consider with HIDs over LEDs but in the end, they are both good options for the 5th Gen. It really comes down to personal preference on both bulbs. Also, it highly depends on how you use your 4Runner on a daily basis. Hopefully, we were able to clear some things up with HID headlights here.