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Are OEM Toyota Headlights Better Than Aftermarket?

Do you have a busted headlight? Are you wondering if aftermarket headlights are worth the few bucks in savings? If your answer to both questions is yes, then this is the guide for you.

Headlights can be pretty expensive. So it's not surprising when Toyota owners explore aftermarket options. Are aftermarket headlights worth the savings? Let's find out! This post provides an in-depth comparison between OEM and aftermarket Toyota headlights.

Material Quality

Headlight cracks

We can't emphasize enough how important quality is when it comes to headlights. They ensure your safety at night. A headlight assembly with inferior materials can melt, become intermittent, or simply fail. Failed headlights will compromise your safety on the road at night.

Toyota makes a point to build its OEM headlights with high quality, reliable, and durable materials. Aftermarket headlights are a hit or miss - mostly miss - when it comes to quality. If you look on Amazon, negative reviews for aftermarket headlights are a dime a dozen. Many of them attribute their one star to the poor quality of their headlights.

"[My aftermarket headlights] appeared to work well until they were in for about 2 months," an Amazon reviewer wrote. "I hit a rough spot in the road, and the driver's side headlight went way out of adjustment." They went on to explain that they checked their headlights, and found that the area holding the bulb was in pieces. They also noted that both of their aftermarket headlights were very loose. "[These headlights] were so cheaply made that if you drive off road, they will break apart," they wrote.

Fitment

Toyota headlight assemblies are exact replicas of the headlights that came with your vehicle. Toyota has a line up of many different headlight assemblies. Each one is designed to fit certain models. OEM headlight assemblies are direct replacements. So you have the peace of mind that your OEM replacement will fit without any issues.

You can't say the same about aftermarket headlight assemblies. Aftermarket manufacturers don't have OE specs to work with. They simply copy an OE headlight as well as they can. Some will do a decent job, and others will produce poor copies.

On Amazon, the general consensus is that aftermarket headlights don't fit well. Here are a few reviews:

  • "One of [my aftermarket headlights] was missing a threaded insert for the bottom screw. I had to take one off of my old headlight to secure the new one. Some of the bulbs were difficult to fit. Overall they are very cheap, but it works. I would definitely buy OEM next time."
  • "[My aftermarket headlights] do not fit my 2003 Tundra as stated."
  • "[My aftermarket headlights] DO NOT fit a 2004 Toyota Tundra SR5 Access Cab 4x4 V8. The mounting brackets are totally different, which prohibits the headlights from fitting into the headlight socket."

Do Aftermarket Headlights Mess With The Vehicle's Electrical System?

In general, regular bulbs or even aftermarket halogen bulbs don't mess with the car's electrical system. Yet, LED bulbs can shake things up.

If you upgrade to LED bulbs from OEM bulbs, you may have trouble with the electrical system. To be more specific, LED bulbs draw very little power, as they don't use a lot of amps to light up. So some LED bulbs can trick the car's electrical system into thinking that the bulbs are burnt out.

On some Toyota models, especially newer ones, the warning light will come on. You would probably spend some money trying to figure out the issue behind the warning light. It would be a waste of money, considering how LED bulbs are causing the issue.

To get rid of the warning light, you would need to either:

  • Change your headlights back to halogen ones
  • Add new wiring to your aftermarket LED lights so they don't accidentally fool your vehicle's electrical system

Aftermarket headlights don't ruin the electrical system. But they can be quite inconvenient for you. You never have to worry about this problem with OEM headlights.

Why Are OEM Headlights So Expensive?

OEM headlight

Most aftermarket manufacturers sell their headlights at low prices. This attracts a lot of buyers. We don't recommend giving into the temptation to buy aftermarket headlights just to save a few bucks, though.

Aftermarket headlights usually cost more money than OEM headlights in the long run. It's because aftermarket headlights don't last as long as OEM ones. If they fail, it's likely that you have to buy a whole new headlight assembly. Aftermarket headlights rarely come under warranty, while OEM ones do. OEM headlights are cheaper when you factor in longevity.

Despite the downfalls of aftermarket headlights, some Toyota owners still gravitate toward them. The most common reasoning is because aftermarket headlights are cheap upfront. The fact that OEM headlights are expensive scares a lot of people away. We can't blame them. OEM parts can cost a pretty penny.

Why are OEM headlights so expensive upfront, though? Two reasons:

  1. Quality: High quality materials cost a lot of money. You get what you pay for.
  2. Markups: Toyota dealerships have a habit of marking up the prices for OEM parts by at least 30%.

Saving Money On OEM Headlights

Here's a secret: You can order genuine OEM Toyota headlights online at a really good discount. Since online shops have much lower overhead costs, they can afford much lower markups than dealerships.

Take our online shop, for instance. You can save hundreds of dollars on a genuine OEM headlight assembly by ordering one from us. Our overhead costs are ridiculously low, so we can offer wholesale pricing for our parts. Check out our catalog of OEM headlight assemblies and see how much money you can save on one!

Written by Jason Lancaster