1. Welcome to Tacoma World!

    You are currently viewing as a guest! To get full-access, you need to register for a FREE account.

    As a registered member, you’ll be able to:
    • Participate in all Tacoma discussion topics
    • Communicate privately with other Tacoma owners from around the world
    • Post your own photos in our Members Gallery
    • Access all special features of the site

Best replacement headlights for '96?

Discussion in '1st Gen. Tacomas (1995-2004)' started by BarnBoy, May 21, 2018.

  1. May 21, 2018 at 7:43 PM
    #1
    BarnBoy

    BarnBoy [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2017
    Member:
    #238274
    Messages:
    537
    Vehicle:
    96 Tacoma 2wd
    My '96 Tacoma 5 lugs headlights are pitiful. Terrible. I mean a pen light is almost brighter than these things. Can anyone recommend some good (cheapish) replacements? Prefer not to have to deal with rewiring anything.

    Thanks
     
  2. May 21, 2018 at 8:19 PM
    #2
    jbrandt

    jbrandt ......LOADING

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Member:
    #51038
    Messages:
    14,082
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Justin
    Sacramento, CA
    Vehicle:
    '04 TRD Tacoma 4x4 DC
    Kings, J59's Total Chaos UCAs Custom skids Sticker mod
    You have a few options, depending on your budget. The "best" might be HID retrofits, but those can cost upwards of a grand, most are in the $500ish range I think. Maybe less if you you are handy and willing to DIY, but I haven't really looked into that for the 97's

    The 97's have the sealed beam headlights, correct? If so, there are some sealed beams that work really well, I don't remember which ones but @crashnburn80 has really good incite on the issue.
     
    crashnburn80 likes this.
  3. May 21, 2018 at 8:24 PM
    #3
    BarnBoy

    BarnBoy [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2017
    Member:
    #238274
    Messages:
    537
    Vehicle:
    96 Tacoma 2wd
    Phew, 1 grand is way out of the budget. Was hoping less than $100. I know I wont get a whole lot for that but can always upgrade later I guess. Yeah '96 is sealed beam I think.
     
  4. May 21, 2018 at 9:21 PM
    #4
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 Vehicle Design Engineer

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2015
    Member:
    #156893
    Messages:
    10,435
    Gender:
    Male
    Kirkland, WA
    Vehicle:
    2015 DCSB TRD OR MGM
    Go Hawks!
    Best bang for the buck by far is ditching the sealed beams for a Hella 200mm H4 E-code conversion.
    https://www.amazon.com/Rectangular-Halogen-Replacement-Headlight-Standard/dp/B000FLWSX6

    E-codes put less light in the air than DOT spec and focus more light on the ground where you need it with sharper cut offs, making a drastic difference in illumination. There are cheaper ones out there, I've run a few. The glass is usually thin being prone to rock breakages, optics not as sharp, and may not fit securely in the bucket causing them to bounce or rattle. The Hellas are superb quality, top notch, the quality is evident in the weight just holding them compared to a cheap alternative. I'd only recommend the Hellas.

    Converting to an H4 bulb puts out significantly more lumens than a sealed beam. To take it one step further, purchase a set of high efficiency stock wattage H4s like Philips Xtreme +130 for excellent improvements in distance projection:
    https://www.amazon.com/Philips-X-treme-Vision-Headlight-Bulbs/dp/B00QJWUPC6

    The E-code H4s conversion plus a high efficiency H4 bulb will be a vast night and day improvement over the sealed beams, for under $120.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
  5. May 21, 2018 at 9:22 PM
    #5
    MikeWH

    MikeWH Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2017
    Member:
    #209164
    Messages:
    566
    First Name:
    Mike
    Colfax, CA
    Vehicle:
    1999 TRD 4x4 (x2)
    Try the Hella E-Code housings, I’m on my phone or I would give you a link.
    Look for the ultimate headlight upgrade in 2nd Gen forum

    Edit- looks like I got beat.
     
    crashnburn80 likes this.
  6. May 21, 2018 at 9:24 PM
    #6
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 Vehicle Design Engineer

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2015
    Member:
    #156893
    Messages:
    10,435
    Gender:
    Male
    Kirkland, WA
    Vehicle:
    2015 DCSB TRD OR MGM
    Go Hawks!
  7. May 22, 2018 at 9:22 AM
    #7
    BarnBoy

    BarnBoy [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2017
    Member:
    #238274
    Messages:
    537
    Vehicle:
    96 Tacoma 2wd
    Wow, ok not bad. Checked them out, they look like really good lights and not as expensive as I thought! Will they require any modification to fit the Tacomas or are most 7x6 lights the same with mounting and stuff?

    Also do you have trouble reading signs on the road with them? Like overhead signs and such?

    So I could just go E-codes only for now and have a much better set of lights, and I could upgrade down the road right? Will they require any wiring harness modification?

    Thanks so much
     
  8. May 22, 2018 at 12:50 PM
    #8
    Glamisman

    Glamisman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2016
    Member:
    #200436
    Messages:
    2,881
    Gender:
    Male
    one problem with aftermarket H4 housings is the lens itself might be plastic... nice new hot H4 bulb next to plastic...
     
  9. May 22, 2018 at 12:55 PM
    #9
    Wulf

    Wulf Die Historic - Live Again

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2015
    Member:
    #147523
    Messages:
    30,100
    First Name:
    Jake
    Southlands mall
    Vehicle:
    96 Tacoma WIP
    Trail damage
    For ebay housings yes, the Hella and Autopal ones aren't AFAIK.

    I've been running the Autopal H4 housings with 100+ W Hella bulbs and a relay harness for years without issue.
     
  10. May 22, 2018 at 12:57 PM
    #10
    se7enine

    se7enine MCMLXXIX

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2013
    Member:
    #102322
    Messages:
    18,513
    Gender:
    Male
    Reno, NV
    Vehicle:
    98 Tacoma SR5 Xtra Cab 3.4L
    I wouldn't worry about that on a 7x6 headlight, if it gets hot the glue holding the lens is more likely to let loose if the headlight is that cheap. I've had that happen to some corners that I got from Thailand.
     
  11. May 22, 2018 at 12:58 PM
    #11
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 Vehicle Design Engineer

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2015
    Member:
    #156893
    Messages:
    10,435
    Gender:
    Male
    Kirkland, WA
    Vehicle:
    2015 DCSB TRD OR MGM
    Go Hawks!
    They require no modifications other than changing out the old assembly as you would in a sealed beam headlight bulb change. The H4 conversion then allows you to swap out just the bulb in the future rather than the entire assembly. The assembly is standardized and used in many vehicles, there is nothing unique about the Tacoma's mounts.

    The beams still have the right upward slope to the beam, so it isn't that there is no overhead lighting. I don't recall any issue seeing overhead street signs.

    The H4 E-codes will be much better than sealed beams alone. I'd still recommend for the extra $20 to get the Philips Xtreme +130 too (linked earlier), as they will be much better than a stock H4 bulb and when the assemblies are out of the truck it takes hardly any time or effort to swap the bulbs.

    If you wanted to upgrade further with higher wattage down the road, you can do so with the Hella H4 conversion. You can run any H4 bulbs in the H4 conversion. Higher wattage bulbs will require a standalone harness, which is independent of the H4 conversion, but will work with it.

    Hellas are glass, very heavy duty glass compared to other H4 conversions I've run.
     
    BarnBoy [OP] likes this.
  12. May 22, 2018 at 1:01 PM
    #12
    se7enine

    se7enine MCMLXXIX

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2013
    Member:
    #102322
    Messages:
    18,513
    Gender:
    Male
    Reno, NV
    Vehicle:
    98 Tacoma SR5 Xtra Cab 3.4L
    If I were doing a retrofit I would actually prefer the plastic lens to the glass because the glass distorts the cutoff a little but that doesn't apply here. Hella E-codes all the way.
     
  13. May 22, 2018 at 1:08 PM
    #13
    Clearwater Bill

    Clearwater Bill Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can't see.

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2014
    Member:
    #140097
    Messages:
    16,144
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Billy
    Largo Florida
    Vehicle:
    '13 5 lug base AC w/convenience package
    A few OE parts from fancy trucks
    I ran Hellas in a Miata for 12 years. They were round, but pretty much the same.

    Heavy glass, awesome refraction. You'll never regret them, and you'll never wish for LED, HID or any other over priced and under performing alternative.

    On the highway, if you overdrive these lights, it either means you are speeding (a lot) or your brakes need work. :eek:
     
    crashnburn80 likes this.
  14. May 22, 2018 at 1:08 PM
    #14
    BarnBoy

    BarnBoy [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2017
    Member:
    #238274
    Messages:
    537
    Vehicle:
    96 Tacoma 2wd
    Ok good to know mounts are standard, that was one thing I was curious about.

    So what is stock wattage? And what is the limit that can be safely used with the stock harness? I think the Phillips bulbs you linked were 65/55 (or something close to that) so they should be good right?

    Thanks again for all the suggestions, pretty sure I am gonna go for the HELLA E codes as soon as time and money allow.
     
  15. May 22, 2018 at 7:19 PM
    #15
    crashnburn80

    crashnburn80 Vehicle Design Engineer

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2015
    Member:
    #156893
    Messages:
    10,435
    Gender:
    Male
    Kirkland, WA
    Vehicle:
    2015 DCSB TRD OR MGM
    Go Hawks!
    Stock wattage is 60/55w, which is the same wattage of the Philips bulbs I linked. They will work great.

    You can check your fuse for the circuit rating but going high wattage is best done with a harness as the stock wiring will experience voltage drop causing high wattage bulbs to dim, even if the fuse can hold it.
     
    BarnBoy [OP] likes this.
  16. May 22, 2018 at 7:23 PM
    #16
    BarnBoy

    BarnBoy [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2017
    Member:
    #238274
    Messages:
    537
    Vehicle:
    96 Tacoma 2wd
    Ok awesome. Not interested in going higher wattage at the moment, so 60/55 is good for me. Those Hellas look sweet, cant wait to get a set and try them out.
     
    crashnburn80 likes this.

Products Discussed in

To Top