Improving headlights on hilux

Submitted: Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 02:05
ThreadID: 104400 Views:5276 Replies:9 FollowUps:9
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Hello all. I have a 97 twincab hilux. I'm looking for some advice in regards to improving my headlights. The standard headlights are fairly pathetic, they give out quite a weak yellow light, not very effective at all, be it on normal beam or high beam. I'm wanting to know if I can do anything with the existing lights, and/or add some spot lights.

In regards to my lighting requirements, I don't have the need to see 10kms down the road , just something to give me a bit more confidence when travelling in unlit areas, city or remote. For example, I went on a trip north of perth recently. Left at 3am, was dark for the first 300km. It really was very hard to see any distance ahead, even on full beam. Also when I was in exmouth and had to head back to coral bay at dusk, I was quite worried about the possibility of kangaroos and not being able to see far enough ahead to react in time.

I'm not looking for an expensive option, I'm after 'value for money' ( whatever that is). It's not high on my list of wants so really aren't looking to spend a lot of money.

Secondly, is it easy to find 12v camping lights that aren't cool white LEDs?. All I seem to see on the net are the cool white ones. I'm really after something a lot warmer and inviting. I have a battery box in the back of the ute to connect the lights to.

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Reply By: grunta1970 - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 02:10

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 02:10
AnswerID: 518457

Follow Up By: Kanga1 - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 07:33

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 07:33
Grunta, Narva and Hella make replacement headlights for your Hilux, I had Narva one in a 2000 Hilux, got them from Supercheap on Ebay for about $120 massive difference over the ones that were in it. Cheers, Kanga.
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Follow Up By: Kanga1 - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 07:35

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 07:35
Forgot to tell you, I had Halogen ones about 55W lo and 100W hi beam globes in them.
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Reply By: Member - a convict - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 07:34

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 07:34

Get an HID kit, Stay at the quality end of the market, get it
fitted by a licensed auto electrician, (with the transformers located
securely as high as possible up front) and you will be amazed.

..I was.


AnswerID: 518462

Reply By: Member - John - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 07:46

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 07:46
Please don't get HID headlights, in my opinion they are way too bright for general use.

Get upgraded globes for your headlights, Narva or Phillips, the links are to fleabay, not sure of your globe type.

Get a pair of HID spotlights if you need long distance and good spread.

Also, upgrade your wiring to the lights, make sure you get full voltage at the globes. If not confident of doing it yourself, get an auto electrician to do it for you.

Hope this helps.

Phillips GlobesNarva Upgrade headlight globes
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AnswerID: 518463

Reply By: Ross M - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 08:22

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 08:22
The problem you have isn't the headlights, it is the wiring to the headlights which, as most Toyotas commercials, have the wiring under spec'd and it acts as a resistor.

The normal response of adding higher wattage globes is useless unless you first fix the inherent problem of wire diameter/cross sectional area. Bigger globes just make the issue worse and worse becaus it lowers the voltage because of the wattage/amps draw tries to be more but the system can't supply.

I had a HJ61 Cruiser and made a headlight loom for both high and low beam,
The voltage across the headlight globes was 11v standard wiring.
After the loom the voltage was 13.8, both situations was with the engine running.
A vast increase in light output was achieved and using only 55W globes in the two extra driving lights, I had all the light I ever needed.

You can buy a headlight loom and fit it to improve the output of yours.
The loom will use relays which also removes most of the load off the stalkswitch contacts and if you power the relays from the back of the alternator you will get the most voltage to the lightfilaments.

Forget the globes and all the extra rubbish ans fix the wiring before anything else is considered. Minimum expense for maximum result.

Ross M
AnswerID: 518469

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 08:40

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 08:40
Most Hilux's around that vintage have deteriorated reflectors, no matter how much wiring mods you do it will never be up to scratch.
FollowupID: 798330

Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 12:05

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 12:05
Ross is right on the mark. Wiring your headlights directly to the battery via a loom and relays is a good stunt.

However - a lot of voltage drop to headlights is caused by rusty earths and corroded bayonet connectors.
You can generally improve lights substantially just by finding the earth wires and unscrewing the bolt holding it to the chassis or engine and sandpapering the contact areas until they're bright and shiny.
Don't forget there is also an earth strap between engine and chassis that is often overlooked.

As for the connectors, they get verdigris (the green mouldy-looking growth) on them from salt in moisture, and chemicals in the dust buildup from the soil.
Gravel road dust contains a high level of iron oxides that really encourage corrosion and verdigris.

I pull apart the bayonet connectors and check them for brightness, and soak them in a solution of CLR to clean them up. Once they're clean, flush them in clean water, dry them with a hair dryer and re-assemble them.

As part of this wiring cleanliness checking, check your fusebox for dirty fuses and dirty connectors in the fuse box housing. I seem to recall the Hiluxes have fuses for high and low beam.
FollowupID: 798346

Follow Up By: Ross M - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 16:15

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 16:15
He didn't mention the reflectors were stuffed, just the fact that the light was yellowish.
Poor Reflectors don't make it yellow like poor voltage does.
ONLY if the vehicle has travelled most of it's life with the headlights on will the reflectors be damaged to any appreciable degree.

It doesn't automatically mean the reflectors are bad unlike the fact that all vehicles of that make have poor wiring sizing.
With the factors that Ron N has also mentioned the globe filaments don't have much chance to shine even in poor reflectors.

If you upgrade the wiring as suggested, then ANY lamp you run off it will then be produce good light output.
FollowupID: 798357

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 06:08

Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 06:08
Headlights in this model Hilux are sealed beams made by Koito...... he can try the wiring mod but I don't think it will help much.

Suggest replacing with a quality set of H4 lights.
FollowupID: 798400

Reply By: olcoolone - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 08:38

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 08:38
As said above, we fit Narva 72090 to a lot of Hilux's like yours, they improve output 200%, Hella are more expensive and are a better light due to quality but not much different on output.

Stay away from the cheap ebay lights or the ones made by no name Chinese manufactures....... you know the one's for looks more the performance.

You can get away with the standard wiring BUT I would highly recommend upgrading with bigger wire and relays...... the upgrade by itself would have to atleast give you 20% more light output if not more.

Don't use HID upgrades but if you have to (want to) stay with the 4200K kits, not the 6000K and adjust your lights accordingly.

A good set of driving lights would also be a real benefit.

You made the comment about not seeing 10k down the road...... distance usually equates to more light output making it safer and easier to drive at night, most better quality additional lighting comes in either spot or spread and in some a wide and combo lens configuration aswell.

In most applications we usually recommend one spot mounted on the drivers side and one spread on the passengers side. HID's are an advantage.
AnswerID: 518472

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 09:00

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 09:00

If you want good lights you need to start with headlights. Get a wiring upgrade (Piranha or ARB), replace the headlamps with Hella, Narva or IPF, then look at some of these new, bright halogen from Phillips. They're exxy, $70-80/pair but will give you good low beam too.

Then look for some HID driving lights, they're everywhere now, with prices from about $200 right up to Hella Predators @ >$1,000 each. LED 's are good too, but don't have the same distance as HID's.

HID headlamps are good but many people just wack them in and don't check the adjustment. Really "in your face", and it upsets plenty of oncoming vehicles.

If you're worried about roos, Grant, you've got 2 options as I see it. Don't drive at night, or spend at least a grand to improve your lighting. Good quality lighting will reduce fatigue, and you'll get to see most of the roos(except the one you will hit eventually)

You won't regret it if you get good gear,


Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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AnswerID: 518477

Reply By: allein m - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 16:17

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 16:17
I had my magna wagon done because we often driveAdelaide to Broken Hill at night new globes and the auto electrician put a relay onto the head light fuse and some thing onto the alternator a bigger relay small black thing .

he said many people upgrade the lights but forget extra load onto a standard electrical system

the difference is amazing and well worth the outlay

cannot beleive I used to drive Perth to Kalgoorlie in a 6 volt VW lol

I am no expert but what he did works well for me.

AnswerID: 518497

Follow Up By: allein m - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 17:22

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 17:22
I looked up the part number from the relay in the fuse box in the engine bay this is what he connected to the head light switching point

that takes the load off the mail light switch
FollowupID: 798362

Follow Up By: allein m - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 17:26

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 17:26
General purpose relays fit many vehicles. Typical applications include: lighting, starting, horn, heating and cooling. Standard ISO terminal footprint for Form A (SPST), Form C changeover (SPDT) and Form 2A (SPST, 2 terminals). Relays are available sealed and unsealed (unsealed are supplied with snap-in brackets.)

main light switch
FollowupID: 798364

Follow Up By: allein m - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 18:20

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 18:20

what he did was saddle the relay to the fues box wiring
FollowupID: 798370

Reply By: grunta1970 - Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 16:47

Friday, Sep 20, 2013 at 16:47
Thanks for all the replies guys . A few different opinions there. I think I will go down the road of better wiring then new head lamps. Once I see how that goes I will decide if spot lights are needed. Once again, thanks for all the opinions
AnswerID: 518499

Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 00:05

Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 at 00:05
Juts to sumarise and clarify some issues.

You hilux almost certainly came with old style sealed beam head lamps....these aint real flash.

You can get considerably improved results from a good quality pair of halogen head light inserts and good qulaity lamps.

Unless you have upgraded the wiring & relaysn DO NOT fit 100 watt high beams.....the problem is two fold....

the dipper switch in the steering column stalk carries the full current and is not up to the load of 100 watt high beams long term, failures associated with 100 watt lamps are common.

the headlight wiring in most of these vehicles is very light and very little advantage comes from running 100 watt high beams......spend more money on good inserts as a better option.

An upgraded headlight loom with good quality halogen headlights will give the maximum legal low beam brightness

You must refocus you head lights after you change the most 4wds high beam straight and level is not correct...the repair manual will give correct aiming instructions.

DO NOT fit HID lamps.....these is simply no reasonable way of legally retrofitting HID headlights in any form where they do not exist from manufacture.

HID lamps in existing halogen headlights are most definitely not approved and not legal

AnswerID: 518518

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