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Behind The “Upper” Grill Lightbar Install & Review 5th Gen 4Runner

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

Behind-the-Grill LED lightbar Install of the upper top 4Runner grille

After I bought my 5th Gen 4Runner and started diving into the modifications world, I found lighting something easy I could tackle with my limited automotive skills.

As you might already know, some of the most popular mods are the interior courtesy lights, LED high and low beam, and fog lights, but probably the most popular is the “raptor style” grille lights. Well, I did all of the above already in the first few months of ownership and found all very useful with the exception of the grille lights.

I have to admit that I bought the grille lights mainly because they were so popular between 4Runner owners. But after running them for about 6 months, I started to dislike them and I finally got tired and removed them. At that point, I started to think to work on a new light upgrade that would actually be useful.

Behind the Grille – Upper or Lower?

So I did some research online about the installation of a small lightbar behind the grille. The majority of the solutions I found regards the installation of a light bar in the lower portion of the bumper grille (just above the front valance), but what I was looking for was something for the upper portion instead. I found a few options, but none of those totally satisfied me so I decided to work on my own solution.

The first step before deciding which way to go was to take a measurement of the space available behind the upper grille (more details on these later); after that, I went online looking to buy something that would fit that space.

After a lot of browsing and research, I found the perfect (at least for my needs) solution: a 25” long, white/amber single row dual LED lightbar.

The Lightbar

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

I’m not a lightbar expert by any means and I wasn’t ready to spend hundreds of dollars on some of the most famous brands when I wasn’t even sure I could make this project work, so I chose to give this lightbar a try.

Find It Online

I liked the fact that it’s a dual lightbar with a separate switch for each light and the reviews were mostly positive. Plus, according to one of the reviews, it looks like it’s made at the same manufacturing facility used by ExtremeLED (a more well-known brand).

Specs + Features

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

The white LEDs at the center function as a spot beam pattern and throw light quite far; the amber LEDs on both sides function as a flood pattern.

The main specifications according to the seller are:

  • 9600-Lumen
  • Cree 5w Chips
  • Aluminum Housing
  • Stainless Steel Brackets
  • Waterproof IP68

Looks good on the paper and I’m okay with a generic brand. It checked all the boxes for me.

The lightbar arrived well packaged, with the mounting hardware included, a wiring harness (pre-wired), and a control switch. The quality is decent and the construction seems solid. The wiring harness is quite long and it includes two relays and one add-a-fuse. The switch has two buttons to control the amber and white lights independently.

I never saw an ExtremeLED lightbar in person, but looking at the pictures online, they really seem the same item with the exception of the logo. The only defect I found in mine is that all the LED covers are lightly scuffed and a bit opaque. Not ideal, but not a deal-breaker either since it’s barely noticeable unless you’re looking very closely.

Additional Parts Needed

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

In addition to the standard brackets provided and in order to fit the lightbar properly, I had to use some additional hardware.

The main goal here is to gain at least 1.25-1.5” horizontally (away from the grille) and 0.5” inches vertically (upwards) so that once mounted the lightbar will be perfectly positioned behind the upper grill, without any cutting or additional drilling required.

In my case, I found that 2” brackets (holes 1.25” apart) and 0.5” spacers worked just fine. Also, make sure to prepare additional screws, washers and nuts beforehand to hold everything together.

Behind Upper Grille Light Bar Install

Behind Upper Grille Light Bar Install

The first thing to do is to pop the hood and remove the plastic cover by pushing and popping out all the clips that hold it in place (circled in red above).

Step 1. Access Backside of Upper Grille + Build Custom Brackets

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

Once the cover is removed, you will have direct access to the backside of the upper grille; no need to take the whole bumper down!

Now, take a closer look at that area and you will find two holes at both sides of big metal support (pointed by the arrow below). These holes will be the 2 mounting points of your brackets.

Next, we need to build the custom brackets. You can find my final solution pictured above. Again, the goal here is to push back and raise the lightbar’s mounting points. Feel free to experiment with different bracket sizes as you might find a configuration that works better for you.

Note: While not pretty, this configuration works well for the time being. In the future, I’m planning to have someone fabricate better brackets to have a cleaner and more robust support.

Step 2. Loosely Tighten Brackets & Install Onto Grille

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

Once you have the brackets assembled, loosely tighten them and install both brackets at each side of the metal grille support mentioned above, so that you will be free to adjust them while inserting the lightbar.

With the lightbar in place, adjust the brackets’ position as needed. You will need to fiddle back and forth a little since the fit will be very tight.

While inserting the lightbar behind the grille, be careful to not scratch the lenses! Once satisfied, screw the lightbar to the brackets and then tighten all the other screws down.

Finished Look

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

If everything went smoothly and fits well, this is what it should look like from the front of the 4Runner. Good job!

Wiring

Congratulations, you completed the most difficult part and got the lightbar in place. Now it’s time to connect all the wires and run the control switch to the cabin. Since the wiring harness is quite bulky, I recommend having it in place and secured with zip-ties.

Step 3. Locate Two Mounting Holes For Relays

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

If you look just next to the battery and the fuse box, you will notice there are two mounting holes already threaded. I believe I have seen some company selling a custom made bracket to fit in that space but for the time being, all I needed was just to mount the two relays.

Step 4. Use Small L Bracket For Fender + Relays

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

I looked into my spare hardware box and I found a small L bracket that looked perfect for this. I mounted the short side to the fender and I used the long side as the mounting point for the relays.

Step 5. Connect Wiring Harness To Switch

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

With the relays in place, the next step is to connect the wiring harness to the switch. Simply remove the rubber grommet on the firewall, fish the switch cable from the cabin, then connect it to the harness.

Step 6. Mount Switch Anywhere Inside Cabin

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

Inside the cabin, mount the switch wherever you prefer.

For now, I just attached it to the left side of the steering wheel (under the other factory switches). The switch itself is a bit flimsy, but it works fine. I think that eventually, I will replace it with a Toyota OEM-style switch for a cleaner look.

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

Step 7. Lastly, Connect (-) Cable To Ground Cable and (+) To Battery

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

To conclude, get back under the hood and connect the negative cable to the ground and then connect the positive cable to the battery.

Do a quick test to make sure everything works as expected and then zip-tie the loose cables. All done!

Final Results

Off-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4RunnerOff-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4RunnerOff-Road Behind-the-Grill LED Light Bar Install Overview & Initial Impressions For the 5th Gen 4Runner

This is my first lightbar so I have no way to compare it to other brands. From what I can see it works well enough for me and I really like the way it looks behind the grille, both when it is off and on.

Here are some pictures for you to judge. This was definitely a fun project to do and I would recommend it to anyone. If you have any questions you can find me here in the comments below or on Instagram @the_runn4r. Thank you for reading!

Comments or Questions? Leave them below!

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Nick
Nick
May 31, 2020 5:00 pm

Looks good! The only thing I would suggest doing is rotating the bracket for the relays to be vertical to mitigate water collecting in the terminals. Do you have any output shots in the night?

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