As I was reviewing my modification sequence in my mind palace, I realized I neglected to discuss a very important addition and one of the first things I changed about my Toyota 4Runner – the stock low and high beam headlights were terrible.
This is something I don’t fully understand. I’m confident people smarter than myself could explain this, but why outfit a vehicle with projector headlamps and NOT fit it with a higher output light, like xenon or HID bulbs? The aftermarket cost for the consumer is relatively inconsequential at $150, give or take – the cost for a manufacturer at scale would be even less consequential.
But I digress.
The stock lighting stunk and the fix was easy – especially with the projector equipment.
Low Beams were First
I did plenty of research on the forums, talked to plenty of my fellow 4Runner’ers and the consensus seemed to be that XenonDepot’s Extreme HID kit was the gold standard – so I ordered a set (I believe in 6500k hue).
Installation was pretty straight forward, I just followed along on the instructions MTN4RNR put together online. I will add 2 things to his installation:
- Spend the extra 15 minutes it takes to actually take the front bumper cover off and unscrew the headline housing to make access easier – you’ll thank me. Otherwise it’s a tight fit and a bit frustrating.
- When you drill the hole in that little plastic screw on cover thingy, silicone the gasket into the hole to prevent any water seepage into the headline housing. This happened to me, and it was a little bit of a pain to dry out.
The stock low-beams were dingy yellow halogens that left much to be desired. The upgraded HID’s from XenonDepot were a spectacular replacement that improved my forward-facing night lighting better than fresh Italian bread with salted butter lathered on top.
The funny thing was that after I upgraded my low-beams, the high-beams paled in comparison – it was as if they didn’t add any increase to the backroads lighting show.
The the High Beams
In full disclosure, the guys as XenonDepot sent me a new version of their Extreme LED high beams to test and comment on, to which I replied that they were fantastic. They were considerably brighter than the stock high beams and really complimented the upgraded low beam’s lighting output.
There was one downside though – the high beam on the 5th gen Toyota 4Runner actually doubles as the daytime running light (DRL). XenonDepot provides an anti-flicker module that basically changes the signal so that if you choose to run the DRL’s, the output will just be the same as the high-beams. When you really think about this, it’s not really a big issue, since you’re only running DRL’s during the DAYTIME and increased visibility is an added bonus (motorcycles run high-beams during the day), but if you take the anti-flicker module out of the circuit, you can actually have dimmer LED DRL’s. But they flicker a little.
Actually, the flicker is almost imperceptible, almost. To be completely frank, I never run them. I didn’t like the bright DRL’s, and I don’t like the very faint flicker of the dimmer variant. But when we were kids we were always disabling the automatic DRL’s anyway right?
Up Next: The Fog Lights
The high and low beams were upgraded and I was super happy with the result, the next logical step was to upgrade the fog lights. I actually put this off for quite a while because I was determined I was going to replace them with some of those fancy ones from Baja Designs – you know, the ones that have the factory housing replacement to fit some of their Squadron Pro lights. But the issue was price. I’m sure their premium price-tag is worth every penny, I just wasn’t willing to shell out the cash just yet. The housing and lights all together was just shy of $400. Hey, I’m all for premium pricing products, that’s how I price stuff in my business – I completely respect the business model of providing high quality products or services and charging a lot for it. But it doesn’t always mean I’m always going to pay the higher price!
As a side note, I now have a tiny, cute little Baja Designs S2 Pro Amber Spot on the rear of my 4Runner for increased visibility on the trail. Love it but it was a pricey little guy.
I knew I wanted an amber fog light to help cut through rain and snow (when I see it someday) – plus I felt like the yellow/blue color combination would look cool.
And again, I reached out to the XenonDepot guys for a solution and they, again, took great care of me. I added their Extreme LED fog for my 2016 4Runner with the amber lens on it to my fog light assemblies.
Installation was literally plug and play, too simple to even justify a write up for.
Long Term Update
So, there is a huge factor in upgrading/modifying a vehicle that only plays out in the long term. The thing is, you don’t actually know how good something is until you have USED IT, and used it over an extended period of time. Every change you make, every part you add, every modification you make – you will never know how well it works, how good the quality is or how it will hold up in whatever environment you put it in until a period of time elapses. How much time should elapse before something fails is completely relative to you and what you’re doing.
When I put the BFG KO2’s on my truck, I had no idea I was going to be happy with them. There were a ton of things to consider: how long will they last before I have to replace them, will they perform in the environments I put them in, will they hold up in the terrain I drive in, will they be noisy, etc. etc.?
What about my sliders – will they hold up when I jack up the vehicle with them, what will happen when I slam them down on a boulder, etc. etc.?
It’s a crap shoot with everything you do, it’s a calculated risk – assuming you’re doing some calculating. Sure, you mitigate that risk through research, talking to others using the same products, reading reviews, etc., but it’s a risk nonetheless.
I first installed the HID’s in July or August of 2016 – and they still work great today, I still love them, I still have great things to say about them, I still recommend them to anyone who asks and I still talk to Steve (the owner of XenonDepot) regularly. I recommend them as a company, I recommend their products and I continue to be happy with them.
Sure, I’m completely biased. They’ve sent me free product and they’ve been extremely generous with me. But I still use their products and I still love them. I would happily pay for them again and again.
Their Latest Greatest High Beams
A few weeks back, they sent me their latest greatest high beam offering, their new Xtreme LED Pro high beam bulbs. I’m sad to say I have not installed these yet. BUT, I fully plan on getting them on soon! This is the holdup: I wanted to do a more in-detail movie about lighting that will not only include the simple installation of these new bulbs, but go into detail on the other lighting (discussed above) and the other lighting I have on my 4Runner. I’ve had a lot of content in the pipeline and I’ll actually be filming my lighting movie this week or next.